LOS ANGELES — We got it wrong all these years. Wrong. All of it.
From the moment in 1995 that Rick Neuheisel stepped into the spotlight as the 33-year-old head coach at Colorado, the media — and, most certainly, Neuheisel, too — created the image of a new kind of football coach.
Neuheisel attracted attention the way an iPhone does. He arrived on the national stage hip, glib, sharp and handsome, and like an iPhone, he stood out as a departure from all that came before him.
This couldn’t be a head football coach. He played his guitar for recruits. He played his guitar for the fans. Want to give the players a day off? Take them white-water rafting.
Players responded to Neuheisel. In four seasons at Colorado, he went 33-14 (.702) with two top-10 finishes. He went to Washington in January 1999 and won some more. In 2000, the Huskies won the Rose Bowl, went 11-1 and finished third in the nation.