Ask Coach Baird

Spring has sprung, and Coach Baird's mailbox has filled up again. Here are the answers to some of your most recent questions for Dick. Thanks to those that wrote in.

From Jake Eggimann
: Love the insight that you are providing for Dawgman. I can't help but think that Nate Robinson not coming back to the team next year is a bigger problem that Rick N. is willing to admit. Reggie W. might be the best player for the huskies, but the best athlete by far is Nate. Look at the way the defense responded to him starting last year. Rick mentioned that he didn't want give special treatment to players. Well, the reality is that special players get special treatment. It is like that in any organization. And for Rick to say that he hadn't seen enough of Nate to know what exactly will be missed is hogwash. It doesn't take a Nobel Prize winner to see this guy was a winner. Do you feel that Rick pushed Nate to make a decision, and if so, why not give Nate the option of playing both sports at least for one more year? I believe this could have an adverse effect when recruiting players in the future that are two sport athletes. (Dennis Dixon was last year's example of that). Your thoughts?

A: Jake, Nate Robinson has made his decision based upon the fact that he is a gym rat hooper. Nothing wrong with that. No question he is confident and helped the team last year when Roc went down. But the fact is, he simply didn't want to make the sacrifice it takes to be successful in the football program. Sometimes there is addition through subtraction. Nate was not the easiest player on the team from a team standpoint. I know he talks all of the time and can be overly feisty. He was kicked out of practice at times and rubbed some of his teammates the wrong way other times. It's time to let it go. It really has nothing to do with Rick or the football players. It has to do with Nate finding out that it is a very difficult double-duty to pull off, and that both programs are very demanding in their off-season program. Watch for Matthew Fountaine to replace him at corner.
From Shane Keith
: I have a question about the accessibility of the players. I have two younger brothers who are growing up in Oregon surrounded by duck fans, but have molded by myself to be Dawg fans. I plan have been bringing them up for football and basketball games over the last few years, but I haven't been able to get them to events where they might be able to get autographs. I was hoping you could clue me in on some events where they might be able to get a football signed by their favorite huskies? Thanks a lot coach.

A: After the spring game, there is an open autograph time with the players. Simply go down to the field after the game ends. It is held on April 26th and the game starts at 12:30. After this, the next real opportunity will be picture day in the fall. That is really the very best opportunity for fans to meet the players. Take your camera and autograph book that day for sure. will keep you posted but it's usually on the day of the first practice for the varsity. Then if they still want some specific player, email me and I'll take you right to the kid myself. The Huskies are committed to the fans!
From EJ
Dear Dick Baird,
: Coach, it's always fun to get your insight on the ins and outs of the Dawgs. You and Dawgman have talked about improved O-line play for 2003. Please tell us what the coaches will do this spring vs. last spring to make that happen.

A: The very first thing that I have noticed is that the O-line has their weight forward on their stance-hand, with their butts up, so they can come off of the ball. This, as opposed to the "sit back on your heels with butts down" for pass blocking. Trust me, Coach Cozzetto will have them all coming off of the ball for run blocking. Also, go watch the board drills the line does with the D-line and you'll see a big difference in technique. Have no fear, they will run better this year.
From Barry Jones
Hi Coach Baird,
: Great Husky Hunters article! We only helped the program and the athletes. Our job was really only to help the kids get an education, see a few ball games, and help get access to the business world after college. You were great, and I miss the interaction with the kids and the coaches. I used to write letters to the kids about after college, and what a UW education would mean to them.

A: Good to hear from an old Husky Hunter! If the program were still intact I would make everyone who reads an automatic member, and could regularly send out all the NCAA do's and don'ts to them. It would be a built in compliance network. was just getting it's feet wet when I was coaching, but now there are mini-Dawgman sites all over the country for every school. I haven't found any that are as good or as responsible as is, Husky fans are lucky. As it is now, Internet sites can really be more help to the enemy, as they find out all about in-state kids that you used to be able to hide. For the high school kid it is good exposure, but the college coaches I know would prefer to use their sites more like a private information source, if it could be done legally and within the rules. Don't ask me how that would work. I wish I had understood the medium better in the early 90's when I was coaching. Oh well, the Huskies do pretty well in-state as it is.
From John Ederer
Coach Baird,
: Thanks for the article about the Husky Hunters, Dick. As one of the originators of the program with Bill Stuht, Rick Menti, Bob Story, Jim Lambright and Mel Thompson, I can verify what you have said. I still remember that first year of the organization when Jim Owens was still coach and one of our thirteen or so recruits was a kicker out of Wenatchee. Another was a lineman from Juanita that never made it into school. But the hard work paid off. The next year was Don's first year and we got virtually everyone in state because, in large part, we had the program in place. Don's first night in town - with some assistants from Kent State upstairs(to start) - was a Husky Hunter party for high school coaches after a basketball game at the old Edmund Meaney Hotel. The assistants eventually came down and started meeting coaches and HHs. Don's first day on the job was interviewing Owens' assistants while the second day - New Year's Eve - he flew around the state for press conferences and meetings with state recruits that HHs brought to each airport. They all knew that if they had been offered scholarships they would be honored and virtually all came. The next program we started and had to immediately stop was one where we assigned alums to primarily freshman to help them adjust - primarily with a home cooked meal with a family once in awhile. We had Antoine Richardson and our three boys and he hit it off real well. That was considered a benefit not available to all students so it was dropped shortly after it was started.

A: Very good to hear from you and I can't thank you enough for all you have done for Husky football. Certainly the Hunter program was an instrumental part of the Huskies winning a national championship. Of course, when the rules changed and they took alumni and boosters out of recruiting, the program was our compliance system. Anyone in it knew that we got screwed when the Pac-10 and NCAA accused us of "lack of institutional control". You and I both know that they railroaded us, and that, in fact, the Husky Hunters was not a devious and organized conspiracy, but just the opposite. We were the only school with a booster organization, so therefore it must've been part of an evil empire, and that must've been why the Huskies were winning. What an absolute crock! Too bad the University decided not to defend us because with lawyers like yourself we would have beaten it easily.
From David Stevens
Dear Dick,
: I am a longtime Dawg. Having been born in Longview and raised in Tacoma, I gained my passion for Husky football via KOMO radio on Saturday afternoons and KOMO TV on Sunday evenings. I graduated in 1992, so I was fortunate to be in attendance during "the glory years." I am glad to see that you have landed at the nations favorite source for Husky info and I wish you the best of luck in your journalistic ventures. On that note, I was wondering if you have thought about penning the stories you must have about those years. I know that I would gladly pay $20 for a hardback copy of such a book. Those must have been some of the best times that you've had in your coaching career and I doubt that I'm the only fan that would love t read about them. In any case Coach, I am now living in central Florida and I've got to tell you, the talent pool here is incredible. Could you tell me if there is something I could do to give the current coaching staff a chance at some of this talent? I would be proud to help in any way that I can.

A: Glad to hear we have Huskies in Florida looking out for prospects. I would send any info or articles to UW recruiting coordinator Chuck Heater in the UW football offices, and he would see if there is a connection of the kid to Washington. In reality, the only way you ever get a kid to come that far is if there is some kid of connection. To effectively recruit a top prospect you need to see him once a week during the contact period and the distance usually makes that impossible. We got three from there but it was only because we got the first one, John Anderson. Keep following the Dawgs on KJR 950AM, because I think we do a much better job of covering them than KOMO ever did.
From Craig Bigby
Hi Coach,
: I remember back to 1997 when we opened the season at BYU. They drove down and scored on us taking advantage of a very over aggressive defense waiting to put a lick on some boys. On the next possession, opening play, Brock Huard stepped back from the center looked both ways patting the side of his helmet with both hands. That audible he called was a draw up the middle to Rashaan Shehee. Rashaan took that handoff to the one-yard line. From that point on to the end of the 1998 season, Brock Huard was using the exact same audible sign, for the exact same play. My question is why was there not one single coach that caught on to this because I remember seeing middle linebackers come up and stuff the middle as soon as they saw Brock use that audible. I remember seeing Coach Lambright taking notes during games. How could he have not noticed this? It was so obvious that even a simple fan like myself was screaming "$#!t the defense know we are running a draw up the middle!"

A: The signal to the helmet meant that it would be an audible and that it merely alerted the wide receivers to be alert for the signal change. Often times when calling a certain play, the defense would require the QB to change the call. With Brock I am pretty sure it was just signaling "alert" as opposed to the draw play itself. If it happened to be a draw then it is an excellent run to call when teams are "dogging." Sure you can get stuffed but often times you can gasp a stunting defense. I really believe if the back was Corey Dillon, then anytime Brock called it, it was a good call.
From Tom Wilkins
: A common theme of every Dog fan, as we obsess over next year's running game, is to speculate concerning the changes that the coaching staff will make to improve 2002's pathetic performance. Likewise, there has been a lot of talk about running the option and whether or not Cody is the right guy for that job, etc. Maybe he doesn't have to be. I have personally watched Isaiah Stanback in high school and in my view he is a one-of-a-kind athlete. I have also read your comments, among others, on how good Stanback looks in practice. I have been following the Husky program fervently since the late 70's and we've never had anyone like him. He is going to be really special and will one day drive defenses crazy trying to deal with his combination of speed, athleticism, and arm strength. So what do you think about getting him on the field for a couple of series each week next year featuring the option, but with an undeniable ability to fool everyone with a surprise pass or two. Defenses would have an additional headache to prepare for and it would protect Cody from putting himself in harms way. Stanback would also get a little experience for the 2004 campaign. Since Cody is a record setting quarterback at a school that has graduated more than its share of quality signal callers, I am in no way suggesting sharing the position on any more that a limited basis. But there are some positives to this approach that I think are intriguing and I'd like to know what your thoughts are.

A: Tom, Isaiah Stanback will run the option for the Huskies. Period. He is so special that I doubt he will be used at all at WR this spring. It is too critical to get him as many reps as possible because there is no question of his natural talent. Cody can likewise also run real well and I firmly believe he will be running more this year. When you don't exactly know who your running back will be, then it's best to add the QB into the mix. "Run to win" isn't just applicable to the backs. columnist and KJR 950 Sports Radio personality, Dick Baird.
Dick Baird was an Assistant Coach (Linebackers) and Recruiting Coordinator at the UW from 1985-1998. He has joined the staff as a featured columnist for both the web site and Sports Washington magazine. In addition to his regular editorial columns, Coach Baird will try to provide some of his unique perspective by answering a few of your selected questions online. If you would like to send in your questions, please CLICK HERE.

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