After a busy offseason in which he overhauled much of his coaching staff and tried to fend off talk about his job security, Rick Neuheisel was as giddy as anyone when the Bruins opened training camp Monday.
“I’m excited as I’ve ever been for a fall camp,” Neuheisel said.
That’s because now, after seven months of thinking about what went wrong during a 4-8 season last year, Neuheisel can get down to the X's and O's of trying to fix the problems and leave behind the off-field drama.
It began with a coaching staff revamp that included dumping offensive guru Norm Chow from his role as offensive coordinator and dragged on for several months as Neuheisel tried to fill the defensive coordinator's job.
When that drama ended, new talk took its place: that of whether Neuheisel would lose his job if he doesn't win this season.
Neuheisel said the staff changes were far more difficult than the talk about his future.
"It was a tough transition making the changes in the coaching staff and making the new hires, but after that was solidified it was pretty smooth," he said of the offseason. "With respect to the conversations about my job security and hot seat conversations and all that, I haven’t really given all that much time or attention to all that because that’s not something I can concern myself with."
What Neuheisel is concerned with, he said, is turning around a program that has gone 15-22 in the three seasons since he took over.
"I'm looking forward to getting UCLA back closer to the top and over the hump," he said. "It’s been a while that we’ve been willowing in this valley and it’s time to figure out a way out of it."