Random Thoughts: End of an Era

The twinkle in his eye when he talked about his players, the Randy-isms: "he could become a special player," or "That wasn't us out there today." They were all part of the Randy Walker era at Northwestern. Coach Roy spent more than a few hours watching Coach Walker's practices at NU...

So where were you when you heard the news?
I was out in the middle of Chesapeake Bay, on the bay bridge. A producer from ESPNews called me to see if I could comment on the latest news from Evanston.

You see, I had to get up Friday morning early and drive my wife to the airport, so I hadn't been able to check the morning news out of Chicago. She told me that she hated to do this to me, but that NU Head Coach Randy Walker had died from a heart attack Thursday night.

I'm sure my initial response was somewhat skeptical. This was Randy Walker, not quite my age, in a lot better shape. He'd had a cardiac event in 2004, but he was over that, besides Randy Walker was that kind of guy you expected to be there forever [or as long as we'd have him...]

Well, we no longer have him.

I did a couple of interviews today; in one I recalled the April Fool's joke he pulled on the team during Spring 2 years ago, and talked about his recruiting style. In the second, that recruiting style again came up, how he'd tell a prospect that he'd sign another kid for his position the next year and looking for character in his recruits.

You see Walker's recruits were "special," the kind of kid who would walk over hot coals to reach a goal, and they often did.

He was a great interview - he loved to talk about his team and his players. He loved to talk about how kids would grow up in their 4 or 5 years under his tutelage - how they'd come in not needing to shave and go out as young men.

He was proud of his players when they succeeded and knew when to lower the boom when they didn't.

When he came to NU he drew a lot of crticism for suggesting that the Wildcats could actually compete for a national championship. Doing that was actually on the list of goals in the football auditorium, right below be a Northwestern Graduate.

Last year he also was asked about losing assistants - his response was that in 10 years, if he did his job right, he should be the only one still sitting at the conference table, as the rest should go on to programs of their own.

Unfortunately, sitting at the table, along with the "as long as you'll have me" was not meant to be.
-- da Coach


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