I’ll match your bet, and add my job

By Gus Bode

During the month of March, NCAA tournament pools pop up across the country.

March Madness spreads to various places whether it be a lawyer’s office or a third grade classroom.

Some play for money, others for bragging rights.

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Washington football head coach Rick Neuheisel played for money – a lot of it.

Neuheisel, who is no stranger to controversy, does not partake in pools with a $5 entry fee. His pool is said to have started at $5,000.

In fact, he’s partaken in this pool the last two NCAA tournaments.

At the end of the 2002 Final Four when Maryland defeated Indiana for the title, Neuheisel, who picked the Terrapins to win, left with quite a bit of pocket change.

While some pool winners walk off with a couple hundred dollars at best, Neuheisel left with about $20,000.

Most would congratulate him and ask for tips on filling out a bracket.

But then you realize he’s a collegiate head coach, and he just won money by betting on college sports.

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Granted, he was not betting on his particular sport. Heck, the Huskies were not even in the tournament.

The only team in the Big Dance from the state of Washington the last two seasons has been Gonzaga; and the ‘Zags don’t even have a football team.

Regardless, NCAA president Myles Brand was not amused and began investigating the incident.

This proved to be the final straw, and quicker than a Bobby Knight-led team loses in the tournament, a report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said Washington Athletic Director Barbara Hedges has put Neuheisel out on the street.

That may seem to be a harsh penalty.

Filling out a bracket should not cost you your job as the head coach of one of the best football programs in the country, should it?

Personally, I’ve been filling out brackets since grade school and continue to do so today. Last tournament I even filled out three or four different brackets.

But I’m not in charge of impressionable players who view me as a deity. Coaches are sometimes seen as such by their players who view them as a father figure who could do no wrong.

Others think of their coach as that jerk uncle who thinks he knows it all, but that’s for another column.

The point is, how can Neuheisel tell his players not to bet on sports and then turn around and do it himself?

If a player was caught winning $20,000 on hoops games, he would be kicked off the team quicker than a White Sox fan rushes the field.

Shouldn’t Neuheisel be treated the same?

Should he be treated different just because he knows his X’s and O’s?

The fact is Neuheisel has been mired in controversy ranging from his recruiting violations at Colorado to his trying to steal players when he moved to Washington to recently being caught lying when he said he did not interview for the 49ers head coaching job.

It’s hard to believe he let himself get caught with his hand in the cookie jar yet again.

Maybe he was just extremely confident, or cocky (corky for Cubs fans), that he would not be harmed by the pool.

Or maybe he’s just plain stupid.

Yeah, there was a memo issued by the school stating athletic department employees could take part in outside pools as long as they were not organized by the employees or run through a bookie.

But Neuheisel should have known better.

The NCAA does not tolerate any type of gambling and certainly will not look the other way because of a simple memo.

The chances of that are the same as the chances of Stewie finally being able to kill Lois.

A man with Neuheisel’s past should not risk it all for what to him is chump change. And if he is going to risk it, he should keep it to himself and not boast about his winnings to anyone and everyone who will listen.

But he did, and now he is exactly the same as former Washington State and Alabama head coach and strip club connoisseur Mike Price – unemployed.

The firing will not be the last we hear from Neuheisel. The now former Husky head coach has vowed to fight to keep his job.

If he is unsuccessful and does indeed lose his job, he will still be back somewhere.

Putting it bluntly, Neuheisel wins.

He won at Colorado.

He won at Washington.

Because college sports are about winning games and making money, Neuheisel will coach again.

Some struggling program in need of a shot in the arm will give him another chance.

When this happens, Neuheisel will have to become almost saint-like.

Another screw-up and he will probably be out on the street until the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl.

Even Neuheisel would not bet on that happening.

Jens is a senior in journalism. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Egyptian.

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