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An Open letter to Hugh Millen
Poor teams don't hire rich boys
February 24, 2005

Dear Hugh,

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 on him, 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 hopeless task.

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 at Kent.

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 rich boys."

You da' bomb! The skies in Camarillo are blue again this morning.

Best Wishes, Malamute

Editor's chronology:

1925. "The Great Gatsby," by F. Scott Fitzgerald is published.

January 1998 – Secondary violation at Colorado involving Rick.

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 e-mails NCAA.

December 14, 2002 --  Seattle Times editorial (Coach Rick Hamlet)

December 19, 2002 --  Karl Dorrell is named head coach at UCLA.

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 49ers.

February 12, 2003 -- Levesque spills the beans;

February 13, 2003 --  Neuheisel comes clean about 49ers interview.

March 2003 – Neuheisel participates in auction; snitch-number-two e-mails NCAA. 

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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