Coach's Corner

Stand by your man. No, not the song by Loretta Lynn, but the tune that Barbara Hedges will sing if she's able to. Unless the NCAA gives her no choice, I believe that Barbara will stand behind her embattled coach Rick Neuheisel and wait until a new president is named before making any decisions about pulling the plug.

And I should also add, if she ever pulls it at all.

Rick is her guy and she and her legacy will weather the storm squarely behind him. Of course, the wind and sleet will hit him in the face, first.

An interpretation by Compliance Director Dana Richardson seems to counter the current feeling that Rick committed an unforgivable NCAA violation by betting on March Madness. Dana cites the passage which reads, "...any type of bet or gambling activity must be through a bookmaker, a parlay card, or any other method employed by organized gambling in order to be considered "gambling activities".

That interpretation of NCAA bylaw 10.3 means that Rick's bet was OK, and not a reasonable offense to warrant firing him over.

Considering that we just held a joint Husky-Cougar function at an organized gambling establishment over the weekend, it would seem stupid to fire your football coach over a bet with friends involving the spring basketball tournament.

I thought it was ridiculous in the first place that everyone in America could bet in an office pool except football coaches. With all the casino gambling, all the Lotto wagering, all the poker games, and all the golfing and fishing side betting, it's amazing that issue was taken with Rick's bet in the first place.

But then I never really thought that going to a topless bar could cost you a job, either.

Football coaches are held to a higher standard than Presidents and Judges, and it doesn't matter if it makes sense or not. That's just the way it is.

It's a good thing I never paid up on a bet I had with my linebackers one season. One fall I made the announcement at one of our first meetings that I would not be using the "f" word in any form, during the coming season. The kids asked me to put up a quarter for every time I slipped up, and that money would've gone into a players' fund for after the season.

Knowing that it would be an NCAA violation to bet and give the kids money, I copped out and never paid them.

Of course I should probably mention that I had transgressed over 1,600 times, and would've owed them $400 dollars.

Another interesting sideline to all of this happens during some bowl game excursions. Gambling situations present themselves and are provided for both the players and coaches on many of the trips. The Sun Bowl took us to the Horse races, the Orange Bowl took us to the dogs, the horses, and Jaialai, and one time we went on a cruise and the ship turned into a casino as soon as we got 3 miles offshore. The players gambled on one floor and the coaches on another.

So the rules say that it was OK for us but not for Rick? I don't get it.

Was it the size of the wager or just that it was because of who it was that was wagering? I think it was both. Sure $5,000 is a hefty wager but people who make a lot of money often bet a lot. The rich regularly make money at both the track and in the stock market by betting a lot for a little return.

Betting big to show is common practice and as it was in the Belmont, was there any doubt that when there were only six horses in a race that the favorite had a pretty good chance of finishing at least third?

To some, gambling is not morally correct. To others, it just another evil temptation.

If it's illegal, it should probably cost you your job. That, to me, is the bottom line in this whole affair. What Neuheisel did was not illegal, nor did it involve a "gambling establishment". It was not based on any "inside" information. It was not an intentional violation of NCAA rules.

It is not and shouldn't be grounds for dismissal from your job. I am positive that if it hadn't been Rick, this would never have been an issue at all.

When it all comes down, I'm betting that Barbara stands by her man. It will be tougher for her to do if the NCAA tells her that they don't give a crap about the interoffice UW memo, and are still going to come after Neuheisel. That is precisely what I think the NCAA's position will be.

We should know most of the answers by tomorrow. 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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