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Having fun with the media?
What if Neuheisel is caught in a lie?
By: Malamute, Posted 11 February 2003

Members of the media are desperate for story ideas—their editors as vicious as the NCAA—and they will do anything short of plagiarism to invent one. Since most media members are one standard deviation shy of a normal IQ, it takes a collection of their minds to proffer a half-credible idea. Editor: Maybe you should put a line with a loop at the end through that last sentence?

So…Rick Neuheisel, who was seen in the San Francisco Airport on Sunday, said he had been golfing with some fraternity brothers in the Bay area after cutting short a skiing trip to Sun Valley. That sighting sparked another round of rumors concerning Neuheisel and the head-coaching job with the 49ers, which led to a spate of stories published in major newspapers, as well as providing subject matter for talk radio. It was too much of a coincidence for the story-starved media, and who can blame them for running with an editor-placating story about Neuheisel and the 49ers’ job.

And then Slick Rick returns to Seattle and, on Monday, issues a five-paragraph release stating he isn’t interested in the 49ers’ job. He said:

"I want to respond to the speculation that I am a candidate for the head coaching position with the San Francisco 49ers. I have not been contacted by anyone from the 49ers organization about the position.

"I want to reiterate what I have said in the past. I am the football coach at the University of
Washington and I am very happy with my position and I am not interested in coaching anywhere else."

What’s the explanation for his behavior: that is, cutting short a skiing trip with his family to play golf with frat buddies in the Bay area, where rumors are swirling about his coaching future with the 49ers?

One explanation says that Neueheisel is having some fun with a media that has been on his case since he took the Huskies’ head-coaching job in 1999. Thinly disguised in each Neu-diatribe are references to his “bloated” salary and his untoward behavior, in that he’s pushed the envelope with the NCAA and its picayunish rules. The Neuheisel persona fits a long-standing media stereotype--just watch All My Children--and Neuheisel knows it. So he’s baiting them with each vacant head-coaching job--for which he’s ostensibly a candidate--and each coincidental sighting.  

As he lays each rumor to rest concerning his departure from Washington, media members become less credible.

Is Neuheisel playing games with the media or, just back from Sun Valley, is he snowing Husky AD Barbara Hedges?

A second explanation says that Neuheisel is not being candid about Sunday's foray into the Bay area. According to Hugh Millen's (KJR) sources, Neuheisel interviewed for the 49ers' job on Sunday. The Chicago Tribune also reported that Neuheisel met with San Francisco General Manager Terry Donahue on Sunday night.

Maybe both explanations are correct. After all, it's de rigueur for a talented person to interview for a job that might become more challenging and tell a white lie to one's boss, and then again, it's fun to keep the media dangling with a soft-shoe act mixed with jabberwocky, so why not show up for an impromptu golf game in the Bay Area and, out of curiosity, dispassionately interview with Donahue to perplex the paparazzi? If he turns down the job or Donahue nixes him, he makes the rumor-mongering media look foolish, while satisfying one's natural urges for a better life.

So, what if Neuheisel should be caught in a lie? No problem. Everyone does that, even presidents of the United States, and members of the media when they pontificate about their alleged objectivity. Of course, in the case of a "lie," the media will attempt to hold Neuheisel to their usual double standard, one for guys they like and another for guys they hate. They're all of the same mindset, and there's not that many of them.

I still say that Neuheisel won't leave Washington to become a 49er--and my editor doesn't need to strike that statement.


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