Wednesday, November 30, 2011
An emotional last practice for Neuheisel
By Peter Yoon
An emotionally taxing week ended in tears for UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel as the realization that he'd just coached his last Bruins practice caused him to well up during his post-practice interview with reporters.
UCLA players lifted Neuheisel to their shoulders and carried him off the field singing the UCLA fight song. He shook hands with and hugged several players before meeting with reporters and trying to keep things normal by giving a practice update.
Less than a minute in, asked to describe the tribute by his team, he lost it.
"It’s meaningful when you work to create relationships and you want desperately for them to achieve what they are capable of achieving," he said, fighting back tears. "And despite the fact that we didn’t win enough games, I think they are achieving as people. And I’m extremely proud to be a part of this team and looking forward to hopefully a grand finish."
UCLA will play Oregon Friday in the Pac-12 championship game and Neuheisel, fired on Monday, is sticking around to coach one last game. The team leaves for Oregon Thursday morning and will have a walkthrough but Wednesday was their final full practice.