A bomb dropped in Los Angeles yesterday where it appears Rick Neuheisel’s penchant for being one of the dirtiest players in the game has reared it’s ugly head. Again. Frankly, I’m shocked.
According to the Los Angeles Times, USC Linebackers coach (and UCLA alum) Ken Norton Jr. was informed by several recruits that Neuheisel has used his name to lure recruits to UCLA. Norton claims that Neuheisel has told recruits that if current defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker leaves UCLA for another position (he’s up for the New Mexico State job) that Norton would be brought in to replace him. From the looks of things, Walker clearly wants out as he’s auditioned for every available head coaching vacancy and given his reputation as a recruiter, many recruits would probably be upset if he left. So apparently to ease their fears, Neuheisel has invoked Norton’s name, not only to keep his current recruits, but to lure current USC commits away.
Clearly, Norton isn’t happy about what he’s hearing,
“It’s coming from there and it’s wrong and it’s not true. So if you’re going to recruit, recruit what you have … Don’t try to recruit saying I’m coming over there. And I’m not saying I’m a big deal. I’m just saying you made it a big deal by using me as some kind of target or ploy or something.”
Norton went on to add, “It’s important that it’s known that I’m here and I’m staying here. I just think the recruits should know that. The fans should know that.”
Oh Rick, why can’t you just be the fresh-faced, clean-cut schoolboy we all want you to be? You just can’t help yourself can you?
Today Neuheisel denied any wrongdoing, saying that if Walker left Norton would have been on his short list for the defensive coordinator job. He claimed to have never told recruits that Norton would be on the UCLA staff.
The Times’ T.J. Simers asked USC head coach Pete Carroll about the situation and Carroll’s response was simple, “Talk to the recruits.”
From a few people I’ve emailed regarding this situation, it appears that several recruits brought this to Norton’s attention, it was not an isolated case. Take that for what it’s worth, since no one will name specific players or instances, but it wouldn’t make sense for Norton to bring this up out of nowhere if it wasn’t a real issue.
Neuheisel’s past transgressions, plus the ridiculous recruiting tactics he used at Washington (that link is fascinating by the way) land me in the camp that believes Norton. I just can’t bring myself to trust a guy who’s been a two-time loser. Maybe it’s just a hangover from the Kelvin Sampson era at my beloved Alma mater, but when you give someone a reason not to trust you, then do it again, good luck getting them to believe anything you say.
I compare it to a wrestling match with “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Just when you think he’s finally learned his lesson and is reaching to shake your hand, he goes for the quick eye rake, then hits you with a low blow. Never fails. The only difference is that Ric Flair is a champion, while Rick Neuheisel is just a douchebag.