Ask Coach Baird

Well Husky fans, we are now entering the dead period between spring football and fall camp. Recruiting is just beginning to pick up, as this is the month where evaluations are done and the early offers get sent and pursued. With that in mind, here are Dicky B's answers to your latest letters….

From Dave Bosse
: Coach Phil Snow seems to bring great intensity to the defense. Something I think has been missed since the days when Lambright was coaching the defense. Also do you agree with the replacing of one deftense backfield coach that coached special teams over the last four years with all the coaches helping to coach special teams?

A: I think Phil Snow is exactly like Jim Lambright in terms of his teaching intensity and his approach to the game. I know that Phil always admired Jim and tried to learn from him. I also believe that if Jim had stayed with the defense after he became a head coach and continued to be the game day play caller for that side of the ball, he would still be the coach today. There weren't too many better than Jim at calling defenses. As far as effectively replacing Bobby Hauck, who did coordinate the special teams, I just think that any time you have a chance to get a coach like Phil Snow, you go get him and then deal with the kicking game later. There will be a change coming in terms of direction with the kicking game. Rick will redefine it when he is ready. What is more important is that the kids are ready, and they will be.
From T Brown
: Were you the recruiting coordinator when Marques Tuiasosopo was signed? If so and if you have seen his younger brother Matt play, how would you compare the two as High School quarterbacks and athletes overall? How important do you think it is for the Dawgs to sign him this year? I think he is the best overall signal caller in the state. Thanks.

A: I was indeed the coordinator with Marques, and I offered the entire family scholarships. Matt is said to be a major league baseball prospect so I would not be surprised to see the Huskies try a "sign and take you whenever we get you" type of deal. I think that the success of the Husky baseball team will keep Matt in town. That, plus it is really a strong family, and Matt could really use their support trying to do or pick both sports. I felt that he was a prospect as early as the 5th grade. His younger sister is probably going to be one of the best athletes in the state by the time she grows up as well. I think all the Tui kids should get Husky degrees.
From Clark Goodman
Dear Dick Baird,
: Hi Dick. I see you are going to the Coaches Tour in Longview...How about Portland? I seem to remember you having some pretty good times here in the past. Remember the fun days at Portland Golf Club?? Hope to see you here June 3. It's always fun to hear your thoughts, thanks for your column.

A: Great to hear from another old Husky Hunter. I've never been invited back to Portland for their golf outing but would certainly entertain coming again. Yes, I do remember getting in trouble there as well. Actually it started in Longview and I went a little over the top with the microphone and gave one of my off-the-cuff comments. Anyway the next day at Portland, I'm teamed with DJ and he doesn't say anything to me for two holes, so I break the ice and ask him if I got out of line the night before. He tersely says, "No, you didn't swear, you didn't tell any dirty jokes, and you didn't offend any women or children." It all sounded OK to me and felt relieved until Don reminded me, "You were absolutely bombed, Richard." That was the last thing discussed. I also remember one time on the Portland tour when my club head exploded on contact off the tee. It's always an interesting time down there. See you in June, Clark.
From Husky Heat Orsley from Akron, OH
Coach Baird,
: I know the defense has a lot of talent and speed coming back for the fall. There is a lot of talk on how the COVER-2 will be used by the Huskies. In your opinion, what will be the primary style for the DAWGS, and why?

A: I'm not sure that "cover-2" will have that big of a part in what the Huskies do defensively. If you mean that there will be two safeties, then yes, that will be the opening look for the opposing quarterback. However, you will see it as a disguise for other coverages such as Man, Man-free, 3-deep, as well as "quarters" and "halves". I think there will also be a little mixing, or combination coverages. If you're from Akron, then I hope you get to see the upset of a lifetime this fall. It can happen, believe it.
From Ian Olsen in Lake Oswego, OR
Coach Baird,
: Oregon "pumps in crowd noise." Puhleeze. That is absolutely laughable. Autzen is a great home field advantage for Oregon, but it is because of its fans not its sound system. You know better than that. From Mac Court, Hayward to Autzen--Oregon has an outstanding and vocal fan base that has always been as good as any school in the Pac-10—especially when considering the size of the school. I've been to every stadium in the conference and there is no question that the atmosphere at Husky and Autzen Stadiums are by far the best. The Rose Bowl is the best setting, but Oregon and Washington have much better home field advantages and game day atmospheres. Unfortunately, you Husky honks are too proud to admit you make up bull because it sounds better than having to compliment an opponent, huh, Dick? Get real.

A: Glad to hear a Duck would read my non-sense, Ian. I was doing the "tongue-in-cheek" thing when writing about their pumped in sound, but that's hard to translate in cyberspace. I do agree with you wholeheartedly about the crowd noise in these two stadiums. Husky and Autzen are by far the loudest stadiums in the conference. The Bay area schools are the worst crowds. The two in Pullman and Corvallis are always full whenever the Huskies or Ducks are visiting, making them probably the next loudest behind Seattle and Eugene. The LA stadiums are too big and too empty, and the Arizona stadiums only fill when their teams are winning, which doesn't happen consistently. I admire the Duck program more than most in this state and am glad that the rivalry is getting more civil. Thanks for your note.
From Kevin Hull
Dear Dick,
: Coach - based on your review of the film and what you have seen of this year's class, which freshman receiver do you see making the biggest impact in the fall? Also, is going to be hosting any events in Columbus for the game against Ohio State? I will be there rooting for the Dawgs! Thanks for your time.

A: I am positive that at least two receivers will letter as freshmen this year. I have not seen anything other than highlight tapes, but in order, I liked Sonny Shackelford because of his size and confidence, Quintin Daniels because of his speed, and Corey Williams because of his size. I think Craig Chambers, because he is local, has the best opportunity if he takes advantage of it and goes to summer passing and workouts regularly.
From Rich H
Dear Coach,
: Do you have any idea whatever happened to Suipeli Malamala? What a Big man! I just remember he was a house and that the Jets drafted him.

A: Supey is married and living back on the Islands, according to my last report. He played long enough to qualify for the NFL: pension and was indeed a creature. Absolutely a neat guy but you didn't want to piss him off. Supe didn't play that game.
From Joe D
Dear Coach,
: Thanks for joining the internet, and especially for joining This site is the best site in America if you are a college football fan, and now it's got someone who's "been there." I love it. My question for you is, what was it like to recruit Cory Dillon? And who was your biggest decommit when you were the recruiting coordinator? Thanks so much!!!

A: I learned something real fast under Coach James - you can't worry about those that get away. You'd better concentrate on whom you get. After long hours on the phone with kids, not to mention all the correspondences and in-person contacts, it's really difficult to be told no. Especially after they had previously told you yes. Of the kids who I really wanted and was personally involved with, the ones who disappointed me most were OL Victor Rogers, (who we lost to Rick Neuheisel), Cory Minor (to Notre Dame), and Daylon McCutcheon to USC. I never really had commitments from them, but more real strong leanings. Another one that hurt was Jeff Shalda, an offensive lineman from Georgia who bolted on signing day. I remember it well because I got my ass ripped for losing him. Corey Dillon was the longest single recruitment of my career. I basically recruited him from when he was 15 until we signed him at 21. Even though we only had him for one year, I believe it was worth it. I am positive that my personal relationship with him was one of the big reason he finally became a Husky. He is, by my opinion, the very best football player to ever come out of my hometown of Seattle. He was a true "war daddy" and will always be my friend.
From Steve
Dear Coach,
: What is your opinion of Coach Neuheisel? Does his team reflect his character? Also, how do you feel about his offensive ideas? Is he too pass-happy? I'm not sold on him. Does he understand that Husky fans appreciate good defense more than anything?

A: Some interesting thoughts and questions. With regard to team character, I'm not a full believer in the reflection theory. That is, I believe that the program, not the coach, dictates the character. Of course, the head coach dictates philosophy but in terms of winning "character", I think it comes from within the kids themselves. In programs that have a history of winning, it just continues to perpetuate itself. With regard to Coach Neuheisel's offensive philosophies, I believe he is an intelligent adaptor. That is, he will build his offense to the strength of his skill position players. Everybody does it, but Rick being a quarterback, tends to do it around that position. Watch for the Huskies to become a more run-option oriented team over the next 3-4 years, once Cody leaves. As far as his overall philosophy, I know for sure he fully appreciates the Husky fans' expectations for defense and special teams. He knew that when he played against them in the early 80's.
From Darek Tillman
Dear Coach,
: It has been very exciting to read your additions to Dawgman. This has made a great site even better. I basically have one question: With the problem of depth at wide receiver, could Jon Lyon possibly be used as a slot receiver? If he truly runs a 4.57 and is 6' 6", but is having trouble blocking, couldn't he be a major weapon working from the slot? I don't know if CJ Wallace ends up as a safety or not, but I believe he is the best in this class. Barring injury, I think he will have the biggest impact over his career.

A: I really agree with your assessment of CJ Wallace. I, too, believe he is one of the real stars of this in-coming class. It seems to set up nicely for him to step in and get a chance to play as a safety. Right now I think both he and Dre Simpson have the best chances of stepping into the depth in the secondary. There was great improvement because of Phil Snow back there, but the secondary really seems to need one more big corner and one more great athlete at safety. Your first comment about Jon Lyon, the JC TE, is probably also going to be answered come fall. Jon might even redshirt depending on the development of the high school receivers coming in. If the taller receivers like Cory Williams or Sonny Shackelford appear ready then I'm sure they will opt for the speed over a flexed TE. I personally think the TE position is still up in the air. I believe that so far, only Toledo has shown he can handle playing at this level. The youngsters like Bandel show great promise though, and I'm sure Lyon will compete better after a summer of weight lifting. It's a big jump for JC's to play at this level and TE really requires being able to do two things well. He catches well already, and should only get better at blocking as he gets stronger and tougher.
From Jeff Koontz
Dear Coach,
: More of a comment than a question coach; it'll be interesting to see what Rick & Co. do in response to last weekends' Tuiasosopo incident. I'm all for "innocent until proven guilty", but I'm afraid it sounds like Zach was caught red-handed. The reason I think it's important to dish out some severe punishment (if he's found guilty) is because the coaching staff has been preaching "accountability" this spring. To just slap Zach's wrist would completely erase any accountability Rick has in my book. I realize there are a few more Tuiasosopo's coming down the pipe that UW would love to land, but I'm not sure letting something like this go unpunished would be favorable in the long run.

A: I'm more than positive that it has been handled, and not by Coach Neuheisel. I think his parents, Manu and Tina, were the hardest for Zach to face. When there are strong parents involved, it isn't very necessary for the football coach to penalize a kid that has found trouble. The law and his parents have quite a bit more jurisdiction than a football coach. The accountability factor is therefore not in Coach Neuheisel's court, but rather in Zach's. I will not say this is acceptable, but I'm positive the punishment has already been meted out. It was a stupid stunt. I know Zach well and I can assure you that this is out of character for him. 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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