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'I wouldn't wish what happened to me on anybody'

SEATTLE -- Rick Neuheisel hopes his lawsuit against the NCAA
and Washington won't discourage a university from giving him
another opportunity to be a head coach -- if he choses to get back
into college football.

"It would be a sad statement that if by challenging the NCAA it
means you're precluding yourself from being part of that
institution," he said. "I would think that's not a message they'd
like to send."

The former Huskies coach settled his case against the NCAA and
Washington for $4.5 million on Monday.

Neuheisel is focused on restarting his career as quarterbacks
coach of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. He's eager to work with head
coach Brian Billick and offensive coordinator Jim Fassel.

"I'm going to learn from two of the NFL's best," he said.
"I'm just going to be a blank tablet and learn, learn, learn."

Neuheisel clearly was relieved but weary during a 45-minute
interview with The Associated Press at his lawyer's office after
the settlement was announced.

He was fired by Washington in June 2003, amid an NCAA
investigation into his participation in college basketball pools.

Neuheisel had accused the university of wrongfully terminating
his contract and the NCAA of encouraging Washington administrators
to fire him.

He admitted lying when first questioned by NCAA investigators,
but repeated his position that he was misled about the purpose of
the interview and initially believed he had been linked to illegal
gambling.

He also maintained he had permission to take part in the pools,
citing an e-mail by Washington's former compliance officer that
administrators said mistakenly authorized such participation.

"Did I get away with one? Let me say this: I wouldn't wish what
happened to me on anybody," he said. "It was 21 months of going
through this, with no assurances of how it was going to turn out.

"It was the all-or-nothing round, with respect to my resources.
But I had to stand up for what I knew was right, and I was
fortunate to have a family who believed it was the right thing to
do."

Neuheisel said waiting months to tell his side of the story at
the trial was frustrating.

"You couldn't say anything that didn't sound totally defensive.
You just had to wait," he said. "My dad and my wife pushed me.
They said to be strong, be tough. That was important."

Neuheisel declined to speculate about where the NFL job could
lead.

His main concern, he said, is working with Ravens quarterbacks
Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright. He compared it to his first college
job, when he worked closely at UCLA with Oklahoma transfer Troy
Aikman.

"What happens in our business, and probably in a lot of
businesses, is often you start charting your course. I'm not going
to do that," he said. "I'm just going to enjoy next season in
Baltimore, working with Kyle.

"It's a return to grass roots for me. That's how I started with
Troy."