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Neuheisel is ready for Oregon fans

October 07, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Familiarity does breed contempt. And UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel expects to get a dose in Eugene when his team plays Oregon on Saturday.

It's an understatement to say Ducks fans and Neuheisel are acquainted.

"We're typecast in our roles," Neuheisel said. "I got the black hat, so it wouldn't shock me if the Oregon fans had some things to say. In fact, I may be disappointed if it weren't that way."

It began when Neuheisel, then Colorado's coach, ran a fake punt play late in the 1996 Cotton Bowl with his Buffaloes leading the Ducks, 38-6. It escalated when Colorado beat Oregon, 51-43, in the 1998 Aloha Bowl, after which Oregon Coach Mike Bellotti pointed out his Ducks had dominated the stats. Neuheisel's reply: "Scoreboard, baby."

Things got even more contentious in 2002, when Neuheisel, then at Washington, criticized the recruiting tactics of Oregon and UCLA. Neuheisel was reprimanded by the Pacific 10 Conference -- as was Oregon for its recruiting practices.

"I probably wasn't mature enough to handle it the way I should have," Neuheisel said. ". . . What has happened in terms of the athletic department is astounding since I became part of the Pac-10 and have watched it develop. Their coach, their administration and Phil Knight have made that a big-time place."

Knight, founder of Nike, is a big donor to the Ducks.

Road hazards

UCLA has lost 11 of its last 14 road games, and Neuheisel said he would adjust how trips are approached.

"You can't do things exactly the same, something has to be jarred," Neuheisel said. "We're going to have to do something to give this a new focus in terms of effort and excitement. I don't know what that is right now, but I'll let you know if something comes to light."

The Bruins have lost four of the last five times they have played at Oregon's raucous Autzen Stadium.

Dye job

Freshman Tony Dye will require off-season surgery to place a pin in his left wrist to help a broken bone heal, but he will continue to play.

"He can play with a brace on," Neuheisel said. "He's not at risk. Eventually, he'll have to get it fixed."

The injury made Bruins coaches hesitant to use Dye. Now they are committed to him as the fifth defensive back in nickel packages. He received extended playing time in that role against Washington State, replacing Courtney Viney.

Dye, at 5 feet 11 and 185 pounds, gives the Bruins a more physical presence than the 5-8, 170-pound Viney.

Odds and split ends

Harwell dislocated one finger and sprained two others against Washington State, but X-rays revealed no broken bones. . . . Linebacker Joshua Edwards will be limited this week because of soreness in his right foot, where he has a stress fracture. . . . Neuheisel said he was hoping offensive lineman Micah Reed (strained knee) and wide receiver Marcus Everett (dislocated toe) would be ready for the Oregon game.


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