UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel happy to go back to Colorado


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Colorado joining the Pacific 10 Conference makes a reunion with UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel inevitable. How amiable the moment will be remains to be seen.

Neuheisel was the Buffaloes’ coach from 1995-98 before being hired by Washington after the 1998 season. During Thursday’s teleconference call about Colorado’s enlistment in the Pac 10, Neuheisel said: “I‘m personally thrilled that the University of Colorado is joining the Pac 10.… I have firsthand experience recruiting for Colorado and it is an unbelievable university, with all the virtues.”


Whether Colorado fans will have similar warm and fuzzy feelings about seeing their former coach is debatable. Colorado was placed on two years’ probation by the NCAA in 2002 for violations that occurred during the Neuheisel years.

Neuheisel pointed out that he already returned to Boulder, Colo., when Washington played Colorado in 2000. But that was two years before the Buffaloes were hit with the probation.

“Maybe there will be two or three people happy to see me and the rest will be wanting to give me the salute that maybe not all of us cherish,” Neuheisel said. “That is behind us, and my wife and I have fond memories of our time there.”

When hired at UCLA after the 2007 season, Neuheisel said he had grown and learned from past mistakes.

Neuheisel was pleased with the conference’s addition of Colorado, saying, “The proximity to L.A. is closer than L.A. is to Seattle. We got a lot of natural geographic relationships. It’s a natural fit.”

As to whether the road to the Rose Bowl had become a harsh one, with the possibility of Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech also joining the conference,” Neuheisel said, “I haven’t thought about that.”


But, he speculated, “if we have two divisions you will have to win your division and then win a conference championship game. We currently play a nine-game conference schedule and I can’t imagine anything tougher than that.”

Neuheisel had no concerns about whether programs like Texas and Oklahoma would have a recruiting foothold in Los Angeles.

“They are already in L.A.,” Neuheisel said. “The world comes to Los Angeles.”

-- Chris Foster