Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 11/29/11
To Rick Neuheisel, Taylor Embree is simply "Boby." Short for "Boby Shaq." It's a name that goes back to Embree's youth during Neuheisel's time as the Colorado head coach. "Boby" is closer to Neuheisel than any other player on the Bruins roster. As the son of a coach, Embree gets it. Firing is as much a part of the coaching profession as the hiring. But it doesn't make it easy. "It's rough emotionally. I've known Neuheisel for a very long time so he's more than just a head coach to me, so it's rough," said Embree. "Unfortunately I've grown up around the business of coaching. It's a rough business. You can be fired or hired at any second but Neuheisel's a helluva coach (and) a great person. I know he's going to rebound. He'll be fine but it's a hard way to see him go as player and a friend of his." In his fourth year of a five-year deal to coach his alma mater, Neuheisel was relieved of his duties on Monday. At an 11 a.m. Monday morning, about 40 members of the football team were summoned to a meeting with Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. There, the AD delivered a punch to the collective gut of the football squad. He let them know there would be a coaching change, but that Neuheisel would be allowed to coach them on Friday in the Pac-12 Championship Game. "It's a surge of mixed emotions," said Joseph Fauria. "I'm still a Bruin through and through but it's just sad how it worked out." The difficulty comes with trying to grasp it all. "You expect it but you don't know how you're going to react. When I saw it on TV I didn't know how to react. I was upset," said Fauria. "It's tough to accept that your head coach and your leader is going to be let go at a very untimely time." The news came four days before the Bruins are scheduled to play in the Pac-12 Championship Game in Eugene. However, it comes on the heels of a 50-0 loss to crosstown rival USC, which ended up as the undoing of their head coach. When asked if that loss was the last straw for Neuheisel, Guerrero said "anytime you lose to your conference rival it's not a good thing." Neuheisel was 0-4 in that area. That's one of many numbers that weren't in his favor. Five times this season, the Bruins were defeated by 25 or more points. Four of those losses were on the road. UCLA is 1-5 away from the Rose Bowl this season. "(There's an) understanding with how we performed on the road and how we performed when we lost but at the same time you got to look at the brighter points: we're in the Pac-12 Championship Game because we won the games that we won and that we had to win in the end," said Fauria. "I didn't think they would do it like this. I didn't think he was going to get fired at all. I really didn't expect them to do it the Monday before the Pac-12 Championship. I don't get why they did it," said Devin Lucien. The emotional toll of the day led to the players having one of their most spirited practices of the year Monday night under the lights. The enthusiasm on the field couldn't take away the thoughts the players had practicing for a coach, who really isn't their coach anymore. "There's an awkwardness towards it but at the same time you can't let that spread. You can't let it be a cancer. You have to treat it like it's another week. It's not easy. You have to be mature and you have to understand what's at stake and what's ahead of us," said Fauria. "I'm hopeful that I'm not a distraction. I'm hopeful that I can be of help," said Neuheisel. "I was told that they would like me to (coach the Pac-12 Championship Game). I would have asked had they said not to because it's important to finish what you start. Ultimately, I've tried to preach to these kids that it's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get back up." After this punch there are some players, like Lucien, that say they'll evaluate their future in respect to their role in the new head coach's game plan. There are others, like Brett Hundley that have every intention of remaining a Bruin and not transferring. "This is the school I picked. That's not a thought in my head. I trust the administration will bring in a good coach. This is the school I want to be at. I love this school. I made amazing connections with the guys and the people here in California. I don't want to leave," said Hundley." Meanwhile, Embree and Neuheisel will watch their UCLA tenures come to an end together. "Like Neuheisel said, they made him senior today. That's all they did. He's just going to graduate with the class that came in with him," said Embree. "We're ready to go to battle one, last time with him this week."
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