Rick Neuheisel Press Conference Quotes
Nov. 26, 2001
General Remarks: 'Well, as the song goes in 'The Poseidon Adventure,' 'there has to be a morning after,' and there is. It certainly was a demoralizing and disappointing loss to Miami. We give them a great amount of credit. They are a fine football team - very well coached and certainly played a flawless game. Unfortunately we did not and we can point to all sorts of reasons. I have been racking my brain, but ultimately rationalizations don't do any good. We just keep a stiff upper lip. I take full responsibility for not having my team prepared to play in that kind of environment and to play the kind of game necessary to compete with a team like Miami. There is mentioning that now the series stands Washington 2, Miami 1, and hopefully we look forward to playing them somewhere down the road, again. They are two fine football programs and certainly this last game was not indicative of what we are capable of. That's just the way it goes. In competition you deal with it and you go forward. I am still very proud of our football team and the fact that we have at least assured ourselves a tie for second. We still have a chance - an outside chance, the people in Corvallis wouldn't probably agree with that - still a chance for a share at a conference championship, which has been our goal all along. I am looking at the bright side, as difficult as it may be to find. We are anxious to get ourselves back up and prepare for what promises to be a first-class opponent in a first-class bowl game. We are really anxious to move forward.'
On possibility of playing Colorado: 'I prefer to answer that question (the possibility of playing Colorado in the Holiday Bowl) after the game this weekend, to find out exactly who it is we are going to play. I do not want to sell Colorado short in their chance to be a Big 12 champion. Obviously they played terrifically against Nebraska and I am sincerely elated for all of those kids that helped get that done. There are a lot of wonderful people in the Colorado program.'
On injury situation from the game: 'Lots of wounded egos. The facts of the matter are we are going to be OK. Greg Carothers hurt his neck but that's not going to keep him out of a bowl game. There were lots of bumps and bruises. For the most part we'll be healthy, as healthy as we have been. We still have in January probably six to nine kids we are going to have surgeries that are still competing.'
On schedule in the near future: 'We are off this week (Nov. 26 - 30). Kids will be in the weight room and doing a little bit of running. Next week we will resume weight lifting and running and will have our first practice on Friday, Dec. 7 at 4:00. We will then practice again on Dec. 8 and I will be handing out a schedule to everyone on Dec. 7 for the rest of the bowl practices.'
On tentative date for heading to San Diego: 'Barbara Hedges and I have talked about that and the likelihood is we are going to leave on Dec. 21. Finals end on Dec. 20 and we will leave on Dec. 21 and spend a week down in San Diego and enjoy all of the hospitality that the 'Red Coats' provide, which is the host group in the Culligan Holiday Bowl.'
On the flight back from Miami: 'The flight back was somber. There is a great deal of pride in our program and a great deal of responsibility that we carry with us, not for the guys who were on the flight, but the people who have worn the helmet before. You feel badly about having that kind of effort in that kind of arena with that kind of attention, to tarnish not only our season but also our program. You hate the thought of that but you have to deal with those facts as they are dealt to you. We now have to rise up and continue to fight again. Last year when Miami played Washington, they played McNeese State to tune up for it a week before, and then they came over here and we had a great game with them and we found a way to win the game. This year, in preparation for them we played our arch-rival Washington State. It was a hard trip and as I said it makes no sense to rationalize it. Let's just move on.'
On the difficulties of road trips: 'Obviously to be a good team you have to win on the road and have to be able to set the tempo and not let the crowd set it for you. As we mature and improve we'll become a better road team.'
On moving on after the game and time span between next game: 'The kids are all in class and they have finals to prepare for. We are going to find out this Saturday night if we finish first or second in the conference. The bottom line is the world keeps moving and while it was a one sided defeat it is just one defeat. We need to use it as fuel for improving and getting our program back to a place where we are all very proud of it.'
On last two road losses: 'Yes, I am surprised that we were beaten and beaten soundly in both of those games. It is my job to make sure that doesn't happen. So I have got to improve. '
On instilling confidence: 'We were improving. We were playing better on both sides of the ball but have some things we have to fix. We just do. I am waiting for the offseason to deal with those issues. I don't want to deal with them publicly and I don't want to point fingers. That's not my style. The problem lies within me, I have got to fix it. So I am anxious to go about that. I have never doubted the lack of effort our players have given and I didn't doubt it on Saturday night. I thought we played hard, we just unfortunately turned the ball over seven times against a team you cannot afford to do that against. They had the ball only 24 plays in the first half, and they were up 37-0. That is remarkable but you can't do that to your defense, you can't keep giving them short field. Defensively you can't keep giving them eight or nine yards a carry. So we have to fix some things.'
On Pickett: 'Saturday night was a rough night for Cody. He is the kind of kid who will take full responsibility for it. Imagine yourself with a separated shoulder and playing against arguably one of the best defensive lines and pass rushers in college football. He is trying to get the ball out of there and Cody just telegraphed a few throws and Miami was opportunistic enough to take advantage of it. I am not blaming Cody Pickett or Steve Axman, it's a team that lost a game and I am the captain of the team. I am blaming me.'
On the Holiday Bowl Game: 'We are going to a bowl game and that's supposed to be a reward. We are going to the second place bowl in the Pac-10 which means there are eight other teams we have beaten and outplayed to deserve that situation. There are two teams that are currently tied with us for second and there may be a four-way tie for first. Of those two other teams we beat them both. I don't feel guilty about having fun and treating our players to rewards in San Diego. While we are doing it I know the competitive nature of our players, coaching staff and everyone associated with Washington football will also take very seriously our opportunities to improve. Hopefully we will play a very competitive game on Friday night in San Diego, on Dec. 28. We will have to because we'll be playing a great team, whether it will be Oklahoma or Colorado.'
On future of team and lessons learned: 'I think it will be a great springboard for success in the future because there were a lot of lessons learned from this season. Our young players came of age and there were some tough times. The losses, each of them were one sided, those are tough pills to swallow, but each time we came back. We found ways to win that weren't always pretty, but we found ways to win. As we mature as a football team we will become more of an efficient team that doesn't have to take it down to the wire. As we know in this conference there is always going to be a lot of parity because we all recruit from the same area.'