As a lifelong college football fanatic, I don’t remember ever seeing the college football landscape the way it is today. In just the last week or so, there have been so many schools that have decided to leave their current conference and jump to another for greener pastures. There has been so much talk about these schools switching conferences, Texas and others deciding to stay in the Big 12, that USC’s NCAA sanctions seem to have taken a back seat to all of this hoopla. However, it seems to be on the forefront of everybody over at UCLA, especially Rick Neuheisel. USC’s football program has been banned from postseason play for two years and will lose more than twenty scholarships. In addition, they will be stripped of its ‘04 National Championship and must vacate their entire ‘05 season, and Reggie Bush may have to give back the Heisman Trophy he won that same year.
Being USC’s rival is not an easy task. As you can imagine, both UCLA and USC seem to fight over the same blue chip recruits year in and year out, but things may have changed since last Thursday. Recruits usually choose USC over UCLA because they want to play for a National Championship and want to have a chance to play in the NFL. Now that USC will be banned from playing in bowl games for the next two years, these recruits will have to decide whether UCLA will give them the best option. It will be up to Neuheisel and his staff to try and figure out a way to use USC’s sanctions to their advantage and lure athletes to come to UCLA and play football for the Bruins. In ’08, Neuheisel bought a page in the L.A. Times for a large advertisement that read, “The Football Monopoly in Los Angeles is Officially Over.” The chance is here and the time is right but will Neuheisel be able to capitalize?
Rick Neuheisel joined the Dan Patrick Show to talk about how he thinks he is going to use USC’s punishment to his benefit, how close he was monitoring the possible Big 12 and Pac 10 merger, and what he thinks about Utah joining the Pac 10 and whether he thinks it is a good fit.
How he reacted when he heard the news about USC:
“It had been so long and had been so many rumors about it, I just kind of took the news in stride. The idea that there was going to be some sort of sanction. It had been well documented around here but I don’t think it changes the game very much for what we have to do and that it what I focus on and the things that we have to do.”
How he thinks he is going to use USC’s punishment to his benefit:
“I don’t think we try to use it to our benefit. I think we just try to do the best we can. We have been competing against USC for every recruit since I arrived here. It is up to the recruits to decide what that means to them and what they decide whether that comes into play, they make their decision between the two.”
On using USC’s violations to his advantage when he talks with recruits:
“I don’t have to use it against them. What I get to do is just talk about the two universisites. The realities of what the two universities have going for them are apparent to the recruits. The recruits get to decide what is the best situation for them.”
What he thinks is more painful for a program: taking away scholarships or bowl games:
“That is an interesting question. It would probably be best posed to Alabama, who was the last team to have faced this sort of sanction. I think reduction of scholarships is a hard pill to swallow.”
How close he was monitoring the possible Big 12 and Pac 10 merger:
“I was like all other people watching ESPN. It was fascinating to watch. I am thrilled that Colorado is in the Pac 10. Having coached there I think it is a great school and a good fit for the Pac 10 conference. I was interested to see how the rest of it would fall into place. It may be down with it for this year but I don’t think it is down forever. I think eventually that these conferences, just as they almost did, will come into play. That is my own personal opinion.”
Tags: college football conferences are contracting and expanding, PAC 10 Conference, Rick Neuheisel, rival to USC, UCLA Bruins, UCLA Football, UCLA Football coach, UCLA happy about USC's NCAA sanctions