Neuheisel Responds…Norton holds his ground

You would have to be walking around blind without a cane to not see how something like this was bound to happen. Slick Rick has a lot of expectations to live up to, even if those expectations have been dumbed down by the clowns from across town to protect the prodigal son.

Neuheisel has always been about making a splash and trying to pry Norton away from USC is just the sort of thing that he would love to make a splash with. I get it and I am fine with it. That its how he is wired and you can’t change that. If Norton wanted to go back to ucla could anyone really blame him? The heartstrings can be pulled pretty hard sometimes. As far as I am concerned if it’s within the rules its fair game but that doesn’t mean anyone has to like it. Negative recruiting is as old as the game is so it does not surprise me that things like this happen.

But if Neuheisel lied is anyone really surprised? This is a pattern that has been well documented in the past.

So, of course Slick Rick responds saying he never did it...

“In response to comments made by USC assistant football coach Ken Norton, let me say that I have an outstanding defensive coordinator in DeWayne Walker. He has done a great job for us and I hope he stays at UCLA for many years. However, if he has the opportunity to become a head coach, I know he would do a fine job and I would support him in any way possible.

“That being said, I was sorry to read the comments Kenny made in the Los Angeles Times. I have not told any recruits that if DeWayne left, Kenny would be the defensive coordinator at UCLA and neither have my assistant coaches. Despite the fact that Kenny is a great Bruin, we have more than enough positives at UCLA to interest recruits and convince them that this is the school at which they can flourish both academically and athletically.

“There has been a lot of speculation about Kenny’s return to UCLA in the media and on the internet, and perhaps that has confused people about who has said what.  If DeWayne leaves, I would consider several candidates for the defensive coordinator job. Kenny probably would have been among those considered, with no guarantees. However, his quotes in the paper say he is staying at USC, so we wish him well.”

The problem here is that if he is lying, he is lying about a guy with a pretty good track record when it comes to character. I have no doubt that Norton’s dream is to one day be a/the coach at ucla but I am pretty sure that this isn’t the way that he would go about it. Norton is not an idiot, he knows that Walker is in place and until he takes a job elsewhere its logical that Norton would be THE name in play. But until Walker is officially gone Norton realizes that he a responsibility to his current employer no matter how bad he wants the ucla job. I don't buy Neuheisel's line about "considering other candidates" for the DC job. This is guy Slick Rick wants if for no other reason than to poke USC in the eye...that's his M.O., always has been always will be.

Norton, once again taking the high road, stood his ground.

After practice Monday, Norton said he couldn't discuss Neuheisel's response that neither he nor his coaches had said such a thing "until I see it.''

But Norton did add that "You guys have been with me a few years and (you know) I'm not going to make something up . . . I just wanted to make it clear that I'm here and I'm recruiting here.''

Asked if that eliminated the possibility, as has been widely rumored, that he'd be the logical successor to Walker, Norton again said he wouldn't, or couldn't, answer.

"There's no job open,'' he said, Nor has there been any talk "nor has one been offered.''

But if there were an open job and it was offered, would he consider it?

"No comment,'' Norton said although Neuheisel's statement seemed to pointedly note that "Kenny probably would have been among those considered'' should Walker leave, but that "his his quotes . . . say he is staying at USC, so we wish him well."

Of course he would consider the job. Again, Norton isn't dumb, its a step up and it's at his alma mater, who wouldn't jump at that chance? But he isn't crazy enough to put that out there while still in Rose Bowl Prep. Norton is a winner and Slick RIck wishes he could have sniffed Norton's accomplishments let alone lived them himself. Neuheisel, has a quality coach in Walker who looks to be on his way out so ever the opportunist Neuheisel wants to kill two birds with one stone...he wants to get a coach that has name recognition, solid recruting contacts and a strong work effort while also poking SC in the eye to try and break that monopoly. It's lotto if he can pull it off...

But, it looks like he may lose both.

Wolf has an interesting time line to how we got to this point.

Regardless, to me the rivalry is fun again and it will test the mettle of both programs. A better ucla is important to us just like a better Notre Dame is. Getting Presely is good get for Slick Rick but with the so called dream team about to be broken up he needs another angle to use to sell recruits on the merits of ucla football.

Good luck with that...

The funny thing about all this is that the clowns from across town seem to think that Slick Rick "schooled" Norton.

Think about that for a moment...

Pete Carroll has just gone about his business in building USC football program. He hasn't had to pull stunts with other schools coaches, there is no evidence that he has ever lied to recruits and he has never made bold statements about what direction he plans to take the football program. His coaches have followed his example of staying focused and staying on message. It seem like Neuheisel has a bunch of different messages he has thrown out there.

Neuheisel may have the "Dream Team" but if you look carefully the personallities of those coaches do not fit his style. Slick Rick had little responsibilty in Baltimore as Billick called the plays so now is his time to shine and he will do or say anything to get his share of attention. Walker and Chow are simply worker bees in how they go about their business. Walker heading out on his for his own head coaching gig can be read a number of differnt ways. Chow is a freebie with Tennessee paying most of the freight and when that gravy train ends it would not surprise me if he moved on.

Neuheisel has some capital that he can use but not much...if he doesn't get results soon he may revert back to his old ways in order to get the results he so desparately needs.

This story is far from over...

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