The first of a series of lasts came for UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel on Wednesday when he went through his last practice as coach of the Bruins at Spaulding Field.
He was carried off the field by his players, singing the UCLA fight song “The Mighty Bruins” and had to fight back tears a number of times during his standard post-practice interview session.
A video and transcription of his post-practice comments are below.
“Good practice. The wind kicked up and hopefully those are the winds of change in terms of what’s going to take place. I’m excited as I can be about traveling with this team one more time and looking forward to a great effort on Friday night. I don’t have any idea how this thing will go except that we know we’re playing a damn good football team in a tough environment but these guys are looking forward to the challenge and I’m looking forward to it as well. We’ll go do our best and see exactly how it turns out. I’m hopeful that we can catch lightning in a bottle.”
“(A better tribute) is tough to imagine but it’s meaningful when you work to create relationships and you want desperately for them to achieve what they’re capable of achieving. Despite the fact that we didn’t win enough games, I think they are achieving as people. I’m extremely proud to be a part of this team and I’m looking forward to a what is hopefully a grand finish.”
“They deserve postseason. We worked hard for postseason. It was a goal and I’m glad that they’re going to get to have that opportunity. They certainly are deserving of it.”
“It would be one of those things you talk about for a long time but rather than thinking about winning, I want to think about playing our asses off. I want to think about being furious with respect to the intensity that we play with. That will give us a chance and we’ll see what transpires but we are going to play like there’s no tomorrow because there isn’t. We’re excited about that opportunity.”
“You can make a case for doing things that you haven’t done but you have to do things that you do well and the things that you do well are the things that you do all the time. We can’t deviate from who we are and expect to go play one of the best teams in the country over the last several years. We have to be who we are. Hopefully we’ve got a couple things up our sleeve and we’ll see exactly how that works out but we’re going to go and hopefully play our best.”