Neuheisel to be high school QB coach
Posted: Wednesday August 20, 2003 10:16PM; Updated: Wednesday August 20, 2003 10:25PM
SEATTLE (AP) -- Rick Neuheisel, fired last month as coach at the University of Washington, started a new job Wednesday with his first practice as a volunteer assistant at Rainier Beach High School.
When the Vikings jogged from their locker room, Neuheisel joined them, dressed in a white T-shirt and blue shorts. He wore a blue Rainier Beach hat with an orange bill.
"Those are our colors," head coach Mark Haley said. "If you're going to be here, you've got to put them on."
Neuheisel, who officially will coach quarterbacks, introduced himself to players during warmups, then spoke briefly to reporters but took no questions. He recognizes that people might wonder why he would want the job.
"Because coaching is coaching," Neuheisel said. "It's what I do in the fall. I'm very thankful to the coaching staff here, to Mark, for allowing me to be a part of it.
"I hope to be valuable in some respect. I told him there's nothing I can do for you that will even come close to what you're doing for me, which is giving me an opportunity."
Neuheisel's attorneys have said they are preparing a lawsuit against the university and NCAA challenging his firing, which became official July 28. He said he couldn't discuss his legal situation.
"That's for another time, another place," Neuheisel said before turning and returning to the field.
Washington athletic director Barbara Hedges fired Neuheisel for betting in neighborhood gambling pools during the past two NCAA basketball tournaments. She also said he wasn't forthcoming when first questioned by NCAA investigators.
Neuheisel has acknowledged betting in the informal pools but maintains it wasn't against university rules. He's denied the accusation that he wasn't forthcoming.
Rainier Beach, which went 6-4 last season, is an inner-city school. Neuheisel landed the position by picking up the phone and calling Haley, offering to work in any capacity.
"I sat there and said, 'Is this really Rick?"' Haley said. "I recognized the voice. He asked me the question whether he could coach. I told him I'd check with a few people, and now you see him out here today."
Players weren't made available for interviews, but Haley's decision was welcomed by parents.
"Getting Coach Neuheisel is a very good asset for our team," said Demetrice Danzy, whose son, Shelton, is a running back and cornerback.
Danzy said Rainier Beach typically receives media attention "only when something bad happens," and that Neuheisel's coaching skills and national profile will be beneficial.
"You all are out here on a good note, which is very pleasing to me," she said to reporters. "For him to select us is an honor, considering that he's been at the college level."
Haley plans to give the pre-game pep talks but said Neuheisel will mentor players and help them improve their techniques. He'll also be offering insight into game plans and strategy.
"If I have any questions, I'll throw them at him," Haley said. "If he sees something, he'll let me know."
Some radio talk shows in Seattle were buzzing Wednesday with the suggestion that Neuheisel has a hidden agenda, but Rainier Beach athletic director Dan Jurdy said the move should be accepted at face value.
"This man loves football, he loves kids and his ego isn't such that he has to worry about working with a high school program," Jurdy said. "His true character is that he's here for those kids."
Jurdy said Neuheisel will be used "as a professor" for the players and coaching staff. He also said the school expects Neuheisel to honor a one-season commitment.
"Every game, every practice, every Sunday night when the coaching staff gets together to discuss strategy, he will be there," Jurdy said.