Coach's Corner

It took a dozen years, but Marques Tuiasosopo finally chose the Bruins of UCLA over the Washington Huskies. Having personally recruited Marques out of Woodinville High School, I have always had a great friendship with a "safety" who became one of the greatest Husky quarterbacks of all time.

Bill Diedrick, our Quarterbacks Coach at the time, and I convinced coach Lambright that Marques was not only the best athlete in the state, but also the best quarterback. I still believe that our insistence upon playing him at that position was the determining factor in his picking us over his dad's school, UCLA. That, and his family.

It is my understanding that he is taking a GA (Graduate Assistant) position, and this will allow him to actually coach the Bruin quarterbacks. As an assistant weight and conditioning coach, he really didn't have that opportunity with the Huskies, except in the off-season drills.

Strength coaches in the different position areas can run conditioning drills throughout the year during "out-of-season periods" when the nine full time assistants are not allowed to be present. In fact, they are often required to be in attendance for safety purposes, along with athletic trainers for all conditioning and weight training drills (throwing and catching are considered drills).

The rules however, prohibit them from actually working with players at practice and in preparation for games. GA's can do anything a full-time coach can do, with the exception of off-campus recruiting.

It makes perfect sense for Marques to take this opportunity, and it speaks well for coach Neuheisel to give him this break in developing his coaching resume. I am confident this was the determining factor in his decision. Tui might not be THE QB coach, but he could be an offensive assistant working directly with Rick and their new offensive coordinator.

He will probably be taking a pay cut, simply because the GA's can only earn a salary commensurate to a scholarship like the players, and must be enrolled in graduate school, thus the term Graduate Assistant.

Should Doug Nussmeier, Washington's Quarterbacks Coach and Offensive Coordinator, ever decide to move on to become a head coach or move back into the NFL, then I'm confident Tui would be first in line with coach Sarkisian to return as the QB coach, or he could go with Doug, or maybe he could be elevated at UCLA.

That's the way this profession works, and Tui is simply building his resume. Besides, Washington doesn't even play UCLA next year, so people will forget about this move by the time the two teams play again in a couple of years. It seems like everyone in the sport has coached at one time or another against his own school, so it happens. It happened to me.

Years ago, despite how we had surrounded him, Tui was not going to commit until after his UCLA visit. I was trying to count him in, and had dropped other quarterbacks anticipating he would end up committing. It wasn't easy, and he purposely made me sweat it out just to mess with me. I had seen him play football, baseball, and basketball since he was in the ninth grade, and worked closely with his older sister, Leslie, who was at UW playing volleyball.

Leslie and I met regularly at training table, plotting our strategy to convince her younger brother to join her at Washington. I had made a home visit and offered the whole family scholarships. We talked with him weekly. We'd had him in our camp and had made up our minds then we wanted his toughness on our team. We were convinced he could play quarterback.

We also thought he was the best safety in our state and realized his high school's offense didn't do him justice as a quarterback because they were so run-oriented. We had based our decision on camp evaluation. Tui would play quarterback for us, but I couldn't get him to eliminate UCLA. When he finally came on board we knew we had a winner and we knew we would win a Rose Bowl. We didn't, but the team eventually did.

When we got fired, he was firmly entrenched as the successor to Brock Huard, who had declared early for the pros. Rick Neuheisel had recruited him hard to Colorado, but Tui wasn't going there. Rick eventually got him when Barbara Hedges hired Neuheisel to replace Lambright at Washington.

They went on to have a great year in 2000 and a Rose Bowl victory to begin 2001, but UW really should have won back to back Pac-10 titles because they let a game get away in 1999 to none other than the UCLA Bruins.

So Tui finally becomes a Bruin, but remember it's just an occupational decision. Tui is and will always be a Husky, just like Leslie, Zach, Ashley and Matt (if he hadn't played baseball). Tui is one of the greatest quarterbacks and individuals who has ever played for the Huskies, and he won a championship and Rose Bowl to boot.

After what he has done for the program none of us should wish Tui anything but the very best. That, and we hope he returns some day. Top Stories