Thursday, February 24, 2011
Tuiasosopo reuniting with Neuheisel
By ESPN.com staff
Marques Tuiasosopo and Rick Neuheisel made beautiful music together in 2000, when they both led Washington to a Rose Bowl victory and final No. 3 ranking. Now they are reuniting.
Tuiasosopo, one of the great Huskies quarterbacks, is leaving a post as an assistant strength coach at Washington for a similar job at UCLA, according to the Seattle Times.
While this is a minor staffing move, it's interesting to me.
I covered that 2000 team, which wasn't terribly talented -- the depth chart included few future NFL players -- but it just found ways to win. That's not what's interesting, though.
What's interesting is that Neuheisel's horrible parting at Washington transmogrified a certain segment of Husky fans, who decided to blame him for everything that befell the program afterward. And, of course, it forced these Neuheisel-haters to rationalize the 2000 season.
"It was all Tuiasosopo!" they would say.
"Bollocks!" I'd counter, ever the agitator "it was all Neuheisel." I'd then watch said Husky fan foam at the mouth. (A more savvy play for a Neuheisel-hater would be to cite offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson, who was masterful in 2000).
What is notable is the loyalty that a vast majority of players on the 2000 team show Neuheisel. When I visited UCLA preseason practices in 2008, Derrell Daniels, a linebacker on the 2000 team, was working operations for the Bruins. He told me that Neuheisel had taken a contingent of former Huskies out to dinner at El Cholo in Santa Monica, including Hakim Akbar, Matt Rogers, Pat Reddick, Chris Massey, Ken Walker and others.
Tuiasosopo probably has plenty of personal reasons for taking a job at UCLA. He surely knows that Neuheisel is under a lot of pressure to win in 2011.
But it's also fair to say that former Huskies seem to have far different feelings for Neuheisel than Huskies fans, including one of the greatest to ever wear the purple jersey.