On the March 8, 2022 episode of the Stick and Hack Show, Adam and Mike spoke with Rick Neuheisel, CBS Sports Analyst, College Football Coach, and Amateur Golfer.

This Q&A has been shortened for clarity. Listen to episode 409 of the Stick & Hack Show to hear the full interview. 

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SH: We’ll get to your golf stories in a bit, but first I have to understand what the life of a college football coach is. What is the college football pressure cooker like as a coach, and does it outweigh the pressure that you put on yourself? 

Rick Neuheisel: Pressure is an interesting word, because I don’t think the successful college football coach feels pressure. I think they see a job that needs to be done and they go about the task of getting the job accomplished however they know how. The more successful guys are the ones that trust their own instincts … rather than information from outside sources. At the end of the day, if it isn’t successful at least you can look at yourself in the mirror and say “at least I did it my way.”

I never worried about losing a game or losing a job,obviously eventually I did both. But I never worried about it. I just did the best I knew how and was always satisfied when I looked in the mirror that I did everything I could do.

SH: When you see the game today, are you happy with where it is or do you think its become too big of a business?

Rick Neuheisel:Well, the genie is out of the bottle, right? We are a giant business, we are an entertainment mogul. The question is, because the pie grew so quickly, and exponentially, were we mindful enough to monitor where it was headed? The answer to that is probably, as we speak today, no. 

There was a great deal of greed that accompanied what happened to college football, when a couple of schools, Georgia and Oklahoma, took on the Supreme Court back in the 80s. At that time, everyones television rights were owned by the NCAA, and Georgia said “we should own our own television rights, and we should be able to be on television as much as we’d like to be.” They won that case, and because of it, and because of the great popularity of college football, the numbers have grown enormously. [Those numbers] are the reason so many athletic departments today are so bountiful. 

The problem with that is that we never really paid attention to the workforce. We wanted to grow the pie of what we were giving them by way of a scholarship, which is a reasonable thing to do right? But as the pie grew, those resources needed to be allocated and we didn’t do that. We fought for this amateur model, and I say we as a college community, and because of it, now name image and likeness, and transferring, free agency … are both in play at the same time. 

There’s no contractual obligation to where you are. We all understand when the contract’s up, but there’s no contractual obligation for the student athlete, and he can go wherever he is more handsomely compensated. Even though name, image and likeness was never supposed to be a recruiting incentive, it clearly is, and so we have a long way to go to reel that genie in, if you will.

SH: Let’s talk golf – When we were offered the opportunity to talk with you, it was an instant yes, I’m not even sure you play golf to be honest with you. So here’s the question: Are you a stick or a hack?

Rick Neuheisel: It all depends on where your perspective comes from. I’ve loved golf since I was seven. The greatest Christmas present I’ve ever received was under the tree when I was seven years old, and it was this beautiful set of golf clubs. I just knew they were from my dad. 

I was one of those people who got up super early before everyone else and separated the gifts into piles. I have three younger sisters, so I did all of their piles and had mine ready to go just waiting for the next kid to get up and get after it. We got to the end of the pile, and my dad said, “Rick you forgot something.” I said, “no, I didn’t forget anything, I know I found everything that was mine.”

He said, “no, these golf clubs are for you!” We went and played that day. I shot 73. Now that was for 9 holes, but I’ve been a golf junkie since. I have a few club championships, I’ve been a part of some great events, I love golf. I’m a one handicap, a 1.2 index, and I can’t get enough. 

SH: There you go, Mike, another Stick. 

Rick Neuheisel: Does that qualify as a Stick?

SH: Absolutely it does. You’ve got a club championship, you’re a Stick. Period. I don’t care who you are. This could’ve been fifteen years ago, and it still counts. 

Rick Neuheisel: No, no… you can’t win on the golf course when you’re coaching. I have eight holes in one and seven of those were after I got fired. 

SH: So where do you play, who do you usually play with, what are some of your favorite golf stories?

Rick Neuheisel: My wife would love to hop on here and tell you, I belong to too many golf clubs. Because she pays the bills, so when you’re trying to explain why you’re keeping the expense, “it’s just too beautiful of a place” doesn’t go very far with the Mrs. But, I have an addiction. I don’t know what to say to you. 

I’m still a member at Bel-Air, which is right across the street from UCLA, it’s a great place to play. I now live in Scottsdale, Arizona, I play at Phoenix Country Club, where they have the Schwab cup. I’m the senior club champion there. I’ve been the senior club champion at Bel Air. I finished second at the senior club championship at Aldarra, which is near where I got fired at Washington. Every place I got fired, I try to win a golf championship, so I have fonder memories about the place, so that when I return I can focus on that rather than the fact that I got shone the door by the brass and the university.

SH: So when you talk about the golf addiction, what’s addicting about it for you? What keeps you coming back?

Rick Neuheisel: It’s where I get my competitive fix. Those of us who grew up as athletes, whether we were playing high school, college, professional, as you grow older and your bones grow a little weary and you can’t run or jump like you used to, golf is still there. And it is popular, and the handicap system allows for everyone to play one another kind of in an equal way. For that, you can play until you’re under the ground. Most people do.