Ex-coach Neuheisel joins Pac-12 Networks

Rick Neuheisel spent the last few
weeks lurking around the UCLA campus, catching a sneak peak at spring practice.
He had more invested than just his beloved Bruins, he was also trying to catch
glimpses of his son, Jerry, competing for the quarterback job.

Neuheisel, just months removed from his position as the UCLA head coach, may
not be able to “hide out” around Spaulding Field in the fall. He has
a job.

 On Wednesday, the Pac-12 Networks announced
Neuheisel, former USC Trojan and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Ronnie Lott, along
with former Olympian and Stanford Cardinal, Summer Sanders, as on-air
personalities and the initial faces of the network set to launch in August.

Like anything he’s taken on, Neuheisel views his new post in television as a
challenge.

“This is a chance to embark on something fresh and exciting and like
anybody else we all look forward to new challenges,” Neuheisel said. “This
is a tremendous challenge. Getting involved in something on the ground floor is
very exciting.

“This was a no brainer. I’m as excited as I was when I walked on to UCLA
about starting something new and fresh.”

The former Bruins head coach is no stranger to TV. He was a national TV analyst
in his time between jobs at Washington and his move to the NFL with the
Baltimore Ravens. An opportunity he described as “alluring.”

In February, he provided analysis for National Signing Day. The broadcast sent
the Twitter world in a frenzy when Neuheisel interviewed new UCLA head coach
Jim Mora. It sparked one “awkward” tweet after another.

He’s now entering an arena where interviewing Mora again is certainly a
possibility and he’s certain to be put into a position where he’ll have to be
critical of the 11 other coaches in the conference he shares a bond with. It’s
a task he says he’s comfortable performing, but it won’t stop there.

“I’m also going to try to give the viewer an understanding of the
pressures that exist and the things that are going on that make that decision
more difficult than maybe people might realize as they stare at their (TV)
screens,” Neuheisel said. “There’s a lot of information that doesn’t
get translated across the airwaves about what coaches do whether it be game day
decisions or decisions about their personnel that I think can be told, and told
in such a way that is fair but also is honest.”

Neuheisel is deeply rooted into the Pac-12 Conference. He spent plenty of
Saturdays as a youth at Arizona State football games, where his father was a
professor.

He played at UCLA, going from walk-on to Rose Bowl hero, quarterbacking the
Bruins to a win in the 1984 Rose Bowl over Illinois. He went to USC Law School
and he’s coached at three different schools in the conference, compiling an
87-59 record, including winning a Rose Bowl as the head coach at Washington.

Neuheisel insists his new job isn’t something he’s doing for the time being.

“We’re all in,” Neuheisel said. “It’s a new direction. It’s not
something I’m going into to bide my time. It’s going to require a full
commitment.”

Neuheisel isn’t the first to go from the sidelines to a TV set and definitely
won’t be the last. There are some that have traded the bright lights of
television for the sideline altogether.

John Madden loved the commitment of TV so much that he’s known more for his
video games and color commentary than he is for leading the Oakland Raiders to
a win in Super Bowl XI as their head coach.

Jon Gruden is headed in that direction as well. The founder of the Fired
Football Coaches Association appears to have found a home in the Monday Night
Football booth despite being considered a candidate for numerous NFL and
college head coaching jobs.

Switching sports, Dick Vitale is recognized by many as the face of college
basketball.

However, Neuheisel is not quite ready to say he won’t be returning to the
sidelines.

“I still love football,” he said. “I’m not precluding a chance
of going back to coaching, but my mindset right now is 100 miles an hour for
starting this network with a bang and telling the story about Pac-12
football.”