Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/27/11


Gather around, kids, and let me tell you a story about a college football coach you might now know as "Pistol Rick."

He first hit the scene in 1995 as the youthful, hip alternative to your everyday meat-and-potatoes coach. While his predecessor at the University of Colorado, Bill McCartney, was off founding Promise Keepers, a fiercely conservative religious organization, Pistol Rick was practicing his guitar to play on his coach's show.

In an ultra-cool town like Boulder, the 34-year-old coach seemed like an awesome fit. Led by prolific passer Koy Detmer, Pistol Rick's first team at CU played with a preternatural confidence to match the precocious coach. As is the case today with "It" coaching candidates like Gus Malzahn or Chip Kelly, whenever high-profile jobs came open, professional speculators inevitably brought up brought up Pistol Rick.

There were hints he might be more sizzle than steak – his second team at Colorado finished 5-6 – but Pistol Rick remained a hot commodity. (I mean, damn, he was just so cool.) He eventually re-located from Seattle Jr. to Real Seattle in 1999 to coach at the University of Washington Things looked OK on the surface at UW. The Huskies had four consecutive winning season and went 11-1 in 2000, winning the Rose Bowl. That one season aside, his teams were generally alright, but nothing to write home about.

Pistol Rick's shifty eyes never quit moving, though. For some reason, suitors continued to come calling. He flirted with the San Francisco 49ers in the aftermath of his fourth season, 2002, and was soon fired by UW, which eventually led to a successful wrongful termination suit against Washington and the NCAA.

Six years later, Pistol Rick got his shot at a return to the top of the football world when his alma mater, UCLA, offered him a job. He vowed to end the monopoly of the Bruins' cross-town rival, USC, over the city of Los Angeles. Yet, like much of Pistol Rick's career, the talk and hype way surpassed the results on the field.

A 50-0 drubbing at the hands of the Trojans last night ran the Bruins' record to 20-27 since Pistol Rick took over in 2008. At 6-6, his team did win the Pac-12 South Division by virtue of the fact that USC is ineligible. If the reports are correct, he'll receive his walking papers after Saturday's virtually assured thrashing from Oregon. He'll leave UCLA in as bad a shape as he found it four years ago, and if you were watching last night, you know that USC monopoly is alive and well.

At least for now, Pistol Rick is going back in the holster. He's misfired way too many times for anyone to believe we'll see him on the sidelines again soon.

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