UCLA FOOTBALL COACH
I was in thestands on Sept. 1, when the Bruins upset Tennessee 27--24. UCLA faces No. 18BYU on Saturday.
Dan Patrick: Idon't make many house calls, but when I think someone needs my help, I'm there.Coach, we're 1 and 0.
Rick Neuheisel:Dan, I looked for you. Were you talking to [QB] Kevin Craft in the firsthalf?
DP: I hid behindKareem during the first half. I didn't want to get hit by any of Craft'spasses. [The junior threw four first-half interceptions.] Does it help, yourbeing a former quarterback? I know you struggled when you had your debut forUCLA in 1983, but do you sympathize with Craft, or do you just want to shakehim?
RN: Well, both.You feel terrible for him because you've been there, and you know how thatfeels inside, your guts are just churning. But you also are trying to shake himout of it and trying to explain to him what's going wrong and why, and howquickly he can get out of it. Maybe the best thing that happened was that athalftime, the entire defense told him, We got your back, don't worry aboutit.
DP: Do you believeyou're one of the top 25 teams in the country?
RN: No. Because Ihaven't seen all the teams in the country, and I'm like you: I don't believethat it makes a lot of sense to decide who's the best right now.
DP: Who did youvote Number 1?
DP: Did you watchtheir 52--7 win against Virginia?
RN: Only as longas I could bear it. [Laughs.]
DP: Do you look atyourself in game tape? Because there are times when you look almost possessed.Do you see yourself and say, Do I know who that guy is?
RN: I don'tusually watch the television copy. But my wife tells me I look like I'm in azone, and I think that's a nice way to say, Who the hell are you?
DP: You don't havea good poker face, Coach.
RN: That's what Itried to tell the NCAA. [Laughs.] But you know, this is a passion-filled,emotional game, and I am living proof of that.
DP: I'm not goingto be there for you against BYU. Can you handle that one on your own?
RN: Oh, thatdisappoints me. I thought we were in this together.
The Bell HopMystery
IF IT TURNS OUTthat Tatum Bell has had his last NFL carry, at least he made it a memorableone. You've heard the story: Bell is cut by the Lions and walks out of thelocker room with bags belonging to Rudi Johnson, the man who replaced him. It'scaught on security video. Johnson gets the bags back, but his underwear, cashand credit cards are gone. Bell told me his version of events. (He was pickingup bags for a teammate who was cut, grabbed the wrong ones and then dropped thebags off with the teammate's girlfriend, who brought the bags back withJohnson's stuff missing. Now Bell can't find her.) My advice to Bell: If hewants to play again, he better track down Johnson's stuff. Bell told me theTexans were interested in him until this story broke. Teams will forgive a lotfor the right player, but Bell won't be welcomed into another locker room withthis kind of, uh, baggage.
East Carolina, which, with upsets of Virginia Tech and West Virginia is nowranked No. 14. But with a soft Conference USA schedule, do the Pirates have ashot at a big bowl? These steps would help.
1) JOIN the ACC(which these days should be happy to accept the help)
2) PLAY more teamswith Virginia in their name
3) HAVE coach SkipHoltz, son of Lou, talk up the competition—a skill he has in his genes
4) ASK thegovernor of East Carolina to intervene
5) NEW fan clubpresident: Johnny Depp
TIGER WOODS andTom Brady are two of sports' greatest winners, but here's a big differencebetween them: how their injuries will effect their respective sports. WhenTiger had knee surgery after the U.S. Open, fan interest in golf took anosedive. But Tom Brady's torn ACL could actually have a positive effect on theNFL if fans in at least a dozen cities now believe that their Super Bowlscenarios are more plausible.
THE FINE PRINT:Matt Ryan won in his Falcons debut. In a related story, Michael Vick made someextra money selling a wreath made out of old Twix wrappers.
Go toDANPATRICK.COM for more from Rick Neuheisel and other recent interviews, andhear live audio of Dan's radio show, 9 a.m. to noon ET, Mon.--Fri.
ILLUSTRATION BY KEITH WITMER
HOWARD SMITH/US PRESSWIRE (BELL)
STREETER LECKA/GETTY IMAGES (EAST CAROLINA)
STEPHEN DUNN/GETTY IMAGES (NEUHEISEL)