'I wouldn't wish what happened to me on anybody'

Updated: March 8, 2005, 9:14 PM ET

SEATTLE -- Rick Neuheisel hopes his lawsuit against the NCAA and Washington won't discourage a university from giving him another opportunity to be a head coach -- if he choses to get back into college football.

"It would be a sad statement that if by challenging the NCAA it means you're precluding yourself from being part of that institution," he said. "I would think that's not a message they'd like to send."

The former Huskies coach settled his case against the NCAA and Washington for $4.5 million on Monday.

Neuheisel is focused on restarting his career as quarterbacks coach of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. He's eager to work with head coach Brian Billick and offensive coordinator Jim Fassel.

"I'm going to learn from two of the NFL's best," he said. "I'm just going to be a blank tablet and learn, learn, learn."

Neuheisel clearly was relieved but weary during a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press at his lawyer's office after the settlement was announced.

He was fired by Washington in June 2003, amid an NCAA investigation into his participation in college basketball pools.

Neuheisel had accused the university of wrongfully terminating his contract and the NCAA of encouraging Washington administrators to fire him.

He admitted lying when first questioned by NCAA investigators, but repeated his position that he was misled about the purpose of the interview and initially believed he had been linked to illegal gambling.

He also maintained he had permission to take part in the pools, citing an e-mail by Washington's former compliance officer that administrators said mistakenly authorized such participation.

"Did I get away with one? Let me say this: I wouldn't wish what happened to me on anybody," he said. "It was 21 months of going through this, with no assurances of how it was going to turn out.

"It was the all-or-nothing round, with respect to my resources. But I had to stand up for what I knew was right, and I was fortunate to have a family who believed it was the right thing to do."

Neuheisel said waiting months to tell his side of the story at the trial was frustrating.

"You couldn't say anything that didn't sound totally defensive. You just had to wait," he said. "My dad and my wife pushed me. They said to be strong, be tough. That was important."

Neuheisel declined to speculate about where the NFL job could lead.

His main concern, he said, is working with Ravens quarterbacks Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright. He compared it to his first college job, when he worked closely at UCLA with Oklahoma transfer Troy Aikman.

"What happens in our business, and probably in a lot of businesses, is often you start charting your course. I'm not going to do that," he said. "I'm just going to enjoy next season in Baltimore, working with Kyle.

"It's a return to grass roots for me. That's how I started with Troy."