Earlier this season, UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel had employed a unique tool as a way to see multiple potential recruits play in one night (and impress the hell out of them in the process): flying in on a helicopter. It matched the image of him as an aggressive, on-the-go coach whose high-energy style would attract young players. Plus, everyone knows that helicopters are awesome. (Not as awesome as, say, ninjas, but pretty awesome.)
Neuheisel had plans to take to the skies tonght to see two games - one in Mission Viejo and one in Ventura. But the LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that Neuheisel has been grounded. The reason isn’t that Pete Carroll has recently come into possession of a cadre of surface-to-air missile but something simpler - the helicopter is in use tonight.
And whose helicopter is it? A UCLA booster by the name of Larry Welk. And if you are wondering about the name - in fact, he is the grandson of ancient TV host and bandleader Lawrence Welk. Which takes some of the edge off of the whole “bad-ass flying in on a helicopter” thing when you realize that the helicopter is directly linked to Mr. Champagne Music himself. But then again, maybe some of the players are polka enthusiasts.
Larry Welk is a chopper pilot and reporter for the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, who in his station bio lists his grandfather as his hero (how sweet) but his favorite music as Miles Davis (how gritty and heroiny!). So glad to see there’s no media conflict of interest, like having a reporter provide special favors for the UCLA football head coach. No word on if he’s going to make it up to Neuheisel by letting him fly a UCLA banner over the 405 during rush hour.
All I know is this: if I hear about a KCBS helicopter “accidentally” dropping a bunch of turkeys onto the USC practice the week of the game versus UCLA, I’m crying foul. Or, perhaps, fowl.