He also touched on his relationship with the late John Wooden during an emotional speech to a group of over 300 at the Orange County Dinner Celebration and Auction event for the UCLA Wooden Athletic Fund.
The timing of the event was intriguing to say the least. Barry Saywitz, a UCLA alumnus who hosted the event, had always wanted to be involved with building support for the Bruins in Orange County. Saturday night was a good time to do just that.
The attendees, that included special guests Jamaal Wilkes, Terry Donahue, Tyus Edney and Toby Bailey, were there to honor Wooden, the revered basketball coach who died June 4. They were also there to celebrate, as rival USC was dealt a stiff penalty by the NCAA three days before the event. Talk about the Trojans' two-year bowl ban and loss of 30 scholarships over three years filled conversations throughout the night.
Even Neuheisel opened his speech with a joke.
"I had a guy from the other school come up to me today and asked what I was doing tonight. I said I was going to a UCLA party. And he said, 'You guys are partying already?' "
Later, Neuheisel addressed the USC issue.
"With respect to what's going on across town, really we have no interest in that. Seriously that's their issue," he said. "We don't want to be a program that worries or gloats about anybody else's situation. We want to take care of ourselves. We want to do things the right way. We want to be proud of how we run our programs. We want to play with unbelievable integrity, unbelievable sportsmanship and unbelievable competition. I promise you that's what we're going to do."
Tim DeCinces, a former Corona del Mar baseball player who competed at UCLA, said the date of the event was set months in advance, as the organizers were careful to schedule before graduations and Father's Day.