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Fans go easy on Neuheisel

November 16, 2008|David Wharton | Wharton is a Times staff writer.

SEATTLE — UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel's anticipated return to the Pacific Northwest turned out to be much ado about little.

Neuheisel coached the Huskies from 1999 through 2002 until the administration fired him over his participation in a college basketball betting pool. He then sued the university and the NCAA, winning a $4.5-million settlement.

Saturday night's game marked his first time back but, with the stadium nearly empty when UCLA came out to warm up, there wasn't much chance of an angry reception. Neuheisel spent the pregame visiting with Washington players and coaches and, at a couple of points, approached the stands and appeared to talk with fans.

There was some booing when the Bruins ran onto the field, but none of it seemed particularly directed at their coach.

However, a grade-school boy in a purple Huskies jersey held a large sign at the railing above the tunnel. On one half was a picture of a weasel. The other had a photo of Neuheisel pointing confidently while he was Washington's coach.

Below the pictures it read: "Separated at birth."


Quarterback Ben Olson, who is recovering from a broken foot, did not make the trip to Seattle. . . . Olson, who is recovering from a broken foot suffered in the summer, has been trying to get back onto the field before the season ends.

He took snaps in practice during the week but had to back off. Neuheisel said he did not travel with the team because he would not have been ready to play.

Third-string guard Brandon Bennett also remained in Los Angeles. . . . Defensive line coach Todd Howard arrived in Seattle with his surgically repaired Achilles' tendon encased in a protective boot.

He coached from the bench.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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