Gilbertson talks about appointment

Keith Gilbertson met with reporters outside his Graves Annex office Tuesday afternoon with a smile on his face as he talked about his new job heading the football offices. Termination proceedings of Rick Neuheisel are ongoing. While he's unsure of his final position within the football program, Gilbertson was upbeat and anxious about getting back to 'business as usual'.

"I'm an employee of the University of Washington and they have assigned me a job to do and I am going to do it the best I can," Gilbertson said in his opening statement to the media. "Where that leads or where that takes us I have no idea. I just know that, for the time being, I've gone from player to coach to manager. But I'm going to manage the football program for the time being, until all of this sorts itself out, and I'm not going to speculate on what happens after that.

"That's how we left it."

In essence, Gilbertson has assumed role as head coach, although Neuheisel hasn't officially been fired. He'll retain those duties until there is a resolution with Neuheisel, and then the process will continue from there.

"I thought someone on the staff would," he said. "I think things kind of fall my way because of my years of being a head coach and my years of being a coordinator here.

"I'm fine. I'm excited about being here and working here. I'm always going to be emotional about that, but on the other hand it's just business as usual. We've got a great group of coaches here with a lot of experience. They know what has to get done and we sit down and say this is the direction we want to be going in and we go. We've gotten a lot done in the past couple of days and we know what has to be done."

Gilbertson speculated that, while not completely familiar with an exact timeline for Neuheisel's appeals process, it could take over a month before somebody is officially hired as the next head football coach at the University of Washington.

"He has an appeals process that is going through the University, so I haven't replaced anybody," he said.

But the offensive coordinator would not speculate on his chances for the head coaching job at the end of the process. "I'm not much of a lobbyist," he said. "If I was really good at that I'd probably have a different job."

There's no question Gilbertson has the support of many influential Tyee members. "It's flattering and a compliment that people you respect feel that way about you, but it's not time for that. I appreciate all that, but it's not time for that. That will come."

Right now, according to Gilbertson, it's time for evaluating recruiting and restarting the recruiting process for the high school seniors-to-be. He does have the authorization to offer scholarships, something he spoke with Hedges about. The coaches are also preparing for a high school camp which starts Saturday. And on top of that, they need to get ready for the current players that will be back on campus for summer school, which starts Monday.

"We also have friends and alums that also need to be commuicated with, so we have a full plate of things and those are things you deal with when you're the head guy," said Gilbertson. "We've been vacant in that position for about a week now, so it's time to get back on those things, and Barbara Hedges assigned me to that role."

Gilbertson feels there's no question the current staff will be able to deal with this adversity. "I'd say that the mood of the group in the office...we're a veteran, experienced group of guys who have been through a lot in their careers prior to Washington," he said. "And in this business, just when you think you've seen it all, you see something you've never seen before. But everybody's fine, they're working, we've got a lot to do.

"There's a game in seventy-something days and we've got fall camp to prepare for and a camp coming up. We've got our team back on campus starting the 23rd. We've got a lot to do.

"And I would like these guys to get a little vacation time too. We've been going hard as a group since August 1st of last year, so it would be nice for our guys to get a few days away from here."

Gilbertson admitted that recruiting will most likely take a hit because of the time lost. "It's an awkward position," he said. "I think you've seen over the past few years that juniors tend to commit earlier and earlier in the summer, and we're probably not going to be as out there and in front as we were. I'm sure there's going to be some questions about our staff now, so there are certainly some dangers.

"But I think we can convince our own players that it's business as usual right now. The staff is pretty much intact, so I think our own athletes are going to be fine. Each coach has spoken to their players. We've told them to just be patient and it will all work out. But I see it more with recruiting and that fallout is where we're behind right now.

"I would hope young guys pick a school based on the university, so that they wouldn't be jumping around. Our kids are resilient and have been through a lot in the past couple of years. Once this thing sorts itself out they'll be fine. I think they feel good about themselves and feel excited about their team and their season. This is a little unsettling, obviously."

Gilbertson has not spoken with Neuheisel since Saturday morning, which Keith characterized as a 'real short visit'. He plans on talking to Neuheisel more about the job.

Even though they are short a coach, Gilbertson feels confident the current staff will not lose a step in picking up where they left off.

"We met with Barbara this morning early," he said. "And then I got the staff together and told them what was going on. And then Barbara came in for about 5 or 6 minutes, told us her ideas and off we went."

When asked about a betting pool that took place in 1999, Gilbertson reiterated his participation. "I said, 'Yeah, I was involved in it' and away we went," he said. "I was upfront with Barbara about that and we talked about it again this morning. She said 'OK, we'll deal with it'. But I don't know where all that leads."

When asked if he had followed the interpretation of a 1999 memo sent out by the Washington Compliance Department that was very similar to a memo sent out earlier this year, Gilbertson just shook his head.

"I can hardly remember where I parked my car today," he quipped.

"Probably not," he added. "And that's not an excuse. And if it was wrong, that's no excuse. Let's just say that I did it and we'll leave it at that."

Gilbertson's involvement appears to have been with a very small amount of money, somewhere in the $3 to $5 range. The NCAA in the past has considered that type of involvement in such pools to be a seconday violation, usually with a reprimand to the individuals involved.

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