A question of credibility and approachability
Levesque catches Neuheisel in a white lie
Richard Linde, Posted 13 February 2003
According to the Seattle media, Rick Neuheisel now admits that he met with
49ers management on Sunday to discuss the 49ers head-coaching job vacated by
Steve Mariucci. He issued a statement of affirmation last night, following an
article printed by John Levesque of the Seattle P-I, in which Levesque claimed
that he overheard a cell phone conversation between Neuheisel and his mother in
a San Francisco airport, the subject of which concerned the 49ers’ job.
Levesque said that Neuheisel told his mother, “It went well,”
On Monday, the day after Neuheisel’s meeting with 49er management, he issued
“We talk (Donahue, 49ers’ GM) occasionally
about a number of subjects. I consider him both a mentor and a friend, but we
have never discussed the opening with the 49ers.”
Then yesterday, after the revelation by Levesque and by anonymous sources in
the 49er organization, Neuheisel issued this statement to the Seattle Post
"I replied I had not had any contact with them when in reality I had, and I
regret that a great deal. At the request of the 49ers I had traveled to San
Francisco on Sunday and met with (general manager) Terry Donahue, (owner) John
York and (consultant) Bill Walsh. I feel badly that I've misled anyone. I was
only trying to keep the confidentiality I had agreed to, but in the past couple
of days that confidentiality agreement weighed against my character and my
credibility. I made the decision that I need to set the record straight."
This outing couldn’t have come at a worse time for the
beleaguered head coach, who some call “Slick Rick,” a sobriquet he carried at
Colorado; Neuheisel is coming off a disappointing 7-6 season and a year of censure and
punishment. Since his arrival at Washington
in 1999, Neuheisel has had two run-ins with the NCAA concerning his recruiting
tactics. The latest peccadillo, his recruitment of quarterback Carl Bonnell, a WSU grayshirt, is being
reviewed by the National Letter of Intent Steering Committee for clarification.
During the course of one year, he has been censured by the
Pac-10 for a negative recruiting spat, along with Oregon and ex-UCLA coach Bob
Toledo, prohibited from leaving campus to recruit because of secondary
recruiting infractions incurred while he was Colorado's head coach, and
censured by the American College Football Association for failing to express
remorse while explaining the Colorado infractions to them.
Seemingly, Neuheisel’s name is continually linked to head
coaching vacancies, the most recent ones prior to this one involving job openings at UCLA and Notre Dame,
both coming within a year's time. In
each instance, Neuheisel stated he wanted to remain at Washington and finish
the job he started.
Neuheisel is caught between a rock and a hard place with
each job opportunity that mentions him as a coaching prospect. If he tells the
media he's interviewing for the job and is turned down, it makes him look bad.
If he nixes the job, it makes the coach eventually hired look like a second
choice. It's human nature to want to provide better living conditions for one's
family, so why pass up a golden opportunity?
Or in this latest instance, Neuheisel could have been returning a favor to an old friend, Terry Donahue.
Bringing in a litany of solid choices for interviews can't hurt Donahue's
status with the team's owner. The more the better, and Donahue is doing his
Three questions remain:
What will UWs AD Barbara Hedges say about her head coach’s dalliance with a suitor,
since she has worked very hard to keep him at Washington, upgrading his salary
this Fall with a loan and future signing bonus?
And are we to
believe that Levesque was just coming off vacation, needing to write a column
for Monday's newspaper, "when Neuheisel plunked himself down in a chair about 6
feet from” his? Coincidentally, they were on the same return flight to
Levesque’s paparazzi-begging scenario must make Princess Di stir in her
And then there's the lingering question about Neuheisel's credibility.
future job openings that mention Neuheisel as a candidate, he will have to be
candid and forthcoming about his suspected interest, as the press will hold him
to a double standard, one for him and another for college coaches who will continue to tell white lies
about coaching opportunities. That makes Neuheisel less approachable as far as
prospective suitors are concerned because it's de rigueur
to keep such interviews secret.
And that's good for Washington.