By John Sleeper
SEATTLE – Rick Neuheisel can make as much as $1.4 million this year as football coach at the University of Washington under a beefed-up contract announced Monday by UW athletic director Barbara Hedges.
“That’d be a good year,” Neuheisel said.
Under the new three-year contract, which increases Neuheisel’s base salary and academic and bowl incentives, Neuheisel will be paid $1.2 million in a package that includes a $425,000 in base salary, an annuity, a housing allowance, media and apparel revenue, a family travel allowance, country-club dues and a car.
Neuheisel will receive an extra $60,000 if 75 percent of his seniors graduate and an extra $40,000 if 90 percent graduate. In addition, the contract allows for as much as $150,000 more if the Huskies make the National Championship Bowl, $40,000 for a non-Bowl Championship Series game, and $100,000 for a BCS bowl.
The contract is for three years. Neuheisel and the university must mutually agree for the contract to be extended two more years.
Thus ends months of over-blown media speculation about the status of Neuheisel’s UW contract. Both parties have been repeatedly asked about an enhancement of Neuheisel’s $997,000 annual contract since Washington beat Purdue in January’s Rose Bowl.
But since then both had other, more pressing things to tend to than the contract. Recruiting engulfed Neuheisel and administrative duties kept Hedges busy. Neither said they felt a sense of urgency to close the deal.
“It was not a knock-down, drag-out negotiation in the least bit,” Neuheisel said. “As a matter of fact, it was not on the front burner for very, very long. It’s just was one of those things where I am where I want to be. I feel very, very fortunate.”
In his first two seasons at Washington, Neuheisel has led the Huskies to an 18-6 record and two bowl appearances. His 2000 team won a share of the Pacific-10 Conference title, defeated Purdue in the Rose Bowl, finished 11-1 and was ranked third in the both major wire service polls.
“Rick has done a tremendous job in his first two years at Washington and I felt it was appropriate to make these modifications to his contract,” Hedges said. “I think we have one of the very best football coaches in the country and we want to compensate him accordingly.”
Washington opens the 2001 season against Michigan Saturday at Husky Stadium.
For openers: Washington’s first depth chart has freshman Reggie Williams and sophomore Justin Robbins sharing the starting split-end position. Also, Matthias Wilson is listed as the starting fullback, ahead of Ken Walker.
Terry Johnson and Jerome Stevens still are battling for one starting defensive tackle spot alongside Larry Tripplett. Wondame Davis is the starting free safety, beating out Owen Biddle, who appeared to win the spot in the spring. Biddle is listed as the backup strong safety, behind Greg Carothers.
Also, Derek McLaughlin and Jim Skurski will vie this week for the punting job.
Short routes: Saturday’s Michigan-Washington game is a live national telecast, shown on Channel 4 at 12:30 p.m. Keith Jackson will do the play-by-play, with Tim Brant doing color commentary and Tim Harris on the sidelines … Michigan sophomore defensive end Larry Stevens, a reserve defensive who prepped at Wilson High School in Tacoma, recorded two tackles, including the third sack of his career, in Saturday’s 31-13 victory over Miami of Ohio.