Open letter to Hugh Millen
Poor teams don't hire rich boys
February 24, 2005
As you know, I’m about the only guy left on the Rotten Ship
Neuheisel, still tied to the mainmast as the rickety craft tumbles aft over bow,
gaining momentum on an icy sea towards its inevitable collision. The sails billow
from a North Sea wind that casts its own dark shadow on the water.
I sleep in a hammock that swings just beneath the Go-Two
Guy’s, even though empty hammocks abound. That man smells of Pullman, of the
dung he sloshed across while travailing its pastures. When the light shines
vanity holds its strong chin high to the portal, much like Daisy's.
Another shipmate, a rugged helmsman, was airlifted to Iraq
in the height of a relentless storm. Jeff, you guys are doing great work.
Hugh Millen as the snitch? Now that is hilarious. One of
our own delivering our leader to the lynch mob does not flow with sanity.
Surely, the culprit is not within our midst.
Ferreting out the snitch that impaled Rick Neuheisel is as
likely as Coach Willingham finding a quarterback that will start in every game
this season. The rancid bugger – not the quarterback – is unlikely to come
forth and brand himself as the culprit for there is nothing for him to gain, his
reward borrowing on the short life of speculation, hand wringing, sorrow and
abject destruction that he, himself, has wrought.
The identity of the snitch is lost somewhere among those
people who attended the two auctions – if not them, then among their friends and
their relatives – and if not among them, then among their acquaintances and,
perhaps, among the acquaintances of the acquaintances. The list goes on; it is a
We all shed the same tears for what has happened, Hugh, and
for those tainted cheeks we are all bonded.
But, certainly, there are many more reasons, factors,
events and persons responsible for the collapse of our football nation than just
Rick Neuheisel. The real Neuheisel is the man we both saw at C-Dub’s and AV’s
funerals. Have you forgotten that man? That wretched scoundrel so painted, as
morphed by readable and viewable electrons, is too villainous to imagine. Those
most responsible for our dilemma must be delighted in our single-mindedness.
Neuheisel is the man who befriended an assistant coach new
to town, his son being ostracized and bullied by his schoolmates.
Rick is the guy who ate lunch with that coach’s son in the school cafeteria. He’s
the man who bought up all the parody cookies of himself and Mike Price so that
his own sons wouldn’t have to see them or be taunted about them. He was the
volunteer quarterback’s coach at Rainier Beach High School.
Not to ferret out the real villains responsible for our
footballers’ collapse leaves us prey to future shenanigans.
Hugh, you recently wrote on an Internet message board that
Don James told the Seattle Times, “It is really death for a coach to let the
word out that he is looking at another job. It hurts you with your players, with
the alumni. Believe me, they use it against you in recruiting.”
That was all the more reason for Rick to honor the
confidentiality agreement he had made with the 49ers management.
It was quite obvious to Bill Walsh just four minutes into
the interview that Rick was not interested in the job, that he was
interviewing with them as a favor to an old friend, Terry Donahue. This is the
version of the story that makes most sense, not ESPN’s.
It is doubtful the 49ers were really interested in
Neuheisel, considering the 2002 compensation increase addendum added to his
contract over a year before the interview. If the 49ers had hired Rick they would have
had to repay the $1.5 million loan he was given, as well as making good on $600
thousand worth of liquidated damages to the university. There were 2.1 million
reasons not to hire him, and Neuheisel knew it, being joined at the hip with
former AD Barbara Hedges, much like Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan.
However, when Neuheisel came to Washington in January 1999,
the reputation that preceded him wasn’t as nefarious as Gatsby’s; that’s the
time the other snitch -- this one at Colorado -- pointed the NCAA in Neuheisel’s direction for
a secondary violation that had occurred in January 1998.
The mega-reasons in his contract addendum are why UCLA
wasn’t interested in Neuheisel, even though a Seattle Times editorial had
altered us fans to Neuheisel’s schmoozing ways and the possibility of his
interest in the UCLA job. Five days after the editorial surfaced, UCLA hired
Karl Dorrell for a paltry $600 thousand per annum. Rick could have made as much as $1.8 million at the UW
annually, providing each and every incentive
in his contract were met.
The 49ers episode was all about Rick and the media, which
he lied to. The media knew that Rick was chained to Washington by contract; yet,
they continued to pursue him, playing a cat-and-mouse game.
As an example, after P-I reporter John Levesque had eavesdropped on Neuheisel’s cell phone conversation in the San Francisco airport, he could
easily have told Rick that he’d overheard him talking about the 49er interview –
i.e., “it went well” – that the jig was up. "Hey, come clean coach; I’ve still
got a story," he might have said.
Ironically, if Rick had luckily lost money in the two
auctions he might still be the head coach.
Tell Bruscas he’s doing a heck of a job covering the trial
Too bad about Barbara and Rick. As Daisy said, "rich girls
don't marry poor boys." Cast in yesterday's setting, Daisy might have said, "Poor teams don't hire
You da' bomb! The skies in Camarillo are blue again this
Best Wishes, Malamute
1925. "The Great Gatsby," by F. Scott Fitzgerald is
January 1998 – Secondary violation at Colorado involving
January 1999 – Neuheisel is hired by Washington; snitch-number-one
turns Neuheisel in for the secondary violation at Colorado.
January 1, 2002 – A salary increase addendum is added to Neuheisel’s contract
March 2002. Neuheisel participates in auction; snitch-number-two
December 14, 2002 -- Seattle Times editorial (Coach Rick
December 19, 2002 -- Karl Dorrell is named head coach at
February 9, 2003 -- Neuheisel interviews with 49ers;
Levesque eavesdrops on Neuheisel’s cell phone conversation with parents after
Neuheisel plunks himself down just six feet away.
February 11, 2003 -- Neuheisel denies interviewing with
February 12, 2003 -- Levesque spills the beans;
February 13, 2003 -- Neuheisel comes clean about 49ers
March 2003 – Neuheisel participates in auction; snitch-number-two
Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at