Ask Coach Baird

It's just about Gilby Time. Barbara sent her final response to Rick, and that's that as far as she's concerned. It is now in Norm Arkans' lap, a nifty treat waiting for him when he gets back from Europe. Arkans will rule on Rick's coming appeal, and after that (unless lightning strikes), Gilbertson will be named as Washington's 24th Head Football Coach.

From Buck Jim
: From reading your last column, now I know why your an ex-coach. Bring on that "Slick Rickless" team . I'm gonna love it!!

A: What does being an ex-coach have to do with being a friend? There are only two kinds of coaches in America when you think about it - those who have been fired and those who are going to get fired. Just because Rick is being fired does not take away from the fact that he always treated me well. I suppose you wanted me to kick him while he's down. No thanks, that's not me.
From Ken Franek
: I loved your article concerning the Rick N. matter. Like you, I love Husky football. Also like you, I wish this entire matter would be settled and we could concentrate on the upcoming season and recruiting. If we don't, both areas will be negatively affected for years to come. I never met coach Rick. But there was something about him that I liked. Not the games he played with the system but the way he handled players and his fellow coaches. I know he has his sights set on the NCAA. I think he'll bring them to their knees. The NCAA is the underlying issue to this entire matter. Right or wrong, decisions have been made. I just wish Rick and the UW would settle this before it gives the University a bigger black eye. Coach Gilbertson will do just fine. I can't wait to see whom he will hire as his Offensive Co-coordinator. You know it's going to be someone with a lot of ability.

Please keep calling them as you see them.

A: I'm sure all of us would like to get this over with, so the team can get a rudder on the boat. I do think the NCAA prejudiced his case with comments made prior to even their own investigation. I think there were forces out to get Rick and that he slipped up one too many times. It's too bad because I think he would have continued to develop into a fine coach. Gilby is in a tough spot because he is still loyal, and a friend of Rick's. The sooner this is all worked out, the better. Unfortunately, lawyers don't always work that way. Most of them get paid by the hour. Hopefully it ends soon.
From Steve @
Dear Coach Baird,
: Coach, loved your last Coach's Corner segment - especially with regards to Neu's 70/70. I had not realized what a great accomplishment that is. With that said, I hope your analysis of Neuheisel's fate is wrong and your thoughts about the OSU game is right on. Lambright got shafted, but I loved the Neuheisel hiring. My question is, do you think that the upper ups are really considering the overall goodness of the program or are they really just concerned about image? Because it appears that there is no cause for termination regarding the pool, but he will get released because no one likes him....much the same way Lambo got fired. This of course is regarding your thoughts that RN will be let go.

A: No question that image is very important to Barbara Hedges. The upper powers that be finally got fed up with a continuing pattern. If the NCAA does not declare Rick's gambling on the NCAA pool a major infraction, then the grounds for termination become very weak. I think the school knows more than we do about what the NCAA is thinking. When you mention "The overall goodness of the program," I think you are referring to what is right for the kids. I don't think it's good for the kids to be always worrying about their embattled leader. They need to concentrate on their schooling and their preparation for the coming year. I'm sure that the power brokers (IE: big boosters, or "pipe fitters") want it to go away soon as well.
From Todd Harrison
Coach Baird,
: Hey coach, love your input to this site. It is much appreciated. A Husker fan had recently posted the following statement on the board:

"I follow both Nebraska and UW and IMO the cops, newspapers and community are far more tolerant and forgiving in Seattle than are the same group in Nebraska. I have never understood that. The latest big flap in Nebraska was that the coaches were getting free cars from dealers to use in exchange for a couple of season tickets and every school does that including UW. It is also not against any rule and no tax dollars are involved. In fact, Nebraska is about the only school that provides dollars from it's atletic (sic)programs to the schools general funds."

Do you have any comment on the regional bias in college football coverage? Are some areas indeed much worse, and/or others turn a blind eye? How does Seattle compare in your opinion? How about the free cars for tickets? Do you have a '96 Olds in your garage? Ever hear of that (tickets/cars) in the Pac10, let alone UW? (If it's an NCAA no, no.... just omit a response w/regard to UW, LOL). Any additional comments to this Husker statement are appreciated. Thanks again for your insight.

A: The UW does have a car coach program and each dealer does receive two tickets because of their participation. This is common in this conference and throughout the nation. It is not an illegal NCCA activity but some states consider it an illegal inducement for state employees. As far as Nebraska being under more scrutiny than the Huskies by it's own media I can only point out that there is no other sport or team in that state besides Nebraska football. It is a very unique situation because there is no professional or competing collegiate program there. Consequently, it gets plenty of coverage because it is the only show in town. People out west simply don't understand the passion and overall social importance of college football like they do in Nebraska. I think their media is more focused there on the sport of football so that might explain why they scrutinize the Cornhusker program the way that they do. I personally have studied with their coaches and have always admired Big Red. Cars are provided in lot of businesses, so I can't see what the problem is in regards to that issue.
From Bill Zuehl
Coach Baird,
: Coach Baird, in regard to your article, "Time to win some games," posted 6/28, I like to say that your right on in your views and keep shooting straight. Dawgman is fortunate to have you on the staff. Whatever they pay you it is not enough.

A: I appreciate you comments and the opportunity to write for As you undoubtedly know, they are the best, the most fair, the most accurate, and certainly the most respectful site on the internet by a large margin. Take it from an ex-Husky coach - Husky fans are very lucky to have these guys. There are some real embarrassments out there. Also, writing for them and Sports Washington magazine allows me to stay connected to Husky football, which has been a big part of my life. I will wade deeper into the program as we go along. Watch for my film study sessions from Husky practices and games this fall. They'll be available here for Dawgman's subscribers this fall. I think that you'll like them.
From Kyle Hedington
Dear Coach,
: I'm an 18 year old diehard UW football fan and an aspiring journalist. I was only 7 years old when the Dawgs won the National Title (in my opinion they would've throttled Miami had they had the chance) and I just wanted to let you know how much I admire you for the mere fact that you had a part in working with that defense. I realize I've attended every home game since the age of four (the streak continues to this day) and I think its safe to say that I'll never see a collegiate defense as dominating as the Dawgs of 91'. Now for the real reason I e-mailed you. I'd just like to let you know how refreshing it was to read your article regarding Coach Neuheisel. It's a real shame how the press likes to "kick a guy when he's down." Yet, actually it seems they've been "kicking" Neu since he arrived at UW. It really bothers me how the press makes Neuheisel out to be such a bad guy but from my personal experiences it seems totally the opposite. I'm a good friend of Tahj Bomar's and when Tahj and I went to the UW vs. Stanford basketball game this last season I had a chance to meet Coach Neu. I have to say I've never met a nicer "celebrity" before in my life. Although our conversation consisted of him talking and me nodding in awe, I came away with the feeling that he was a genuinely nice guy. All of this makes me wonder why some journalists would want to portray him as such a bad guy? This whole situation has caused me to question whether or not I really want to become a journalist because I don't want to become a person who constantly bashes a good human being. This is why it was so nice to read your article to see that certain writers like you, although possibly biased like you said, can take a closer look and analyze a situation like it should be.

So Coach Baird, for that, I thank you!

A: Kyle, to tell you the truth, I was actually the sport's editor for the WSU Daily Evergreen newspaper when I was a senior in college. I have always enjoyed writing but these Dawgman and Sports Washington gigs allows me to cover a team that I committed a big part of my life to. I too, think we would have beaten Miami, as you said, but it really isn't important. We were undefeated and deserved at least a part of the national championship. I really respect your attitude of thinking about someone as they treat you and not how others portray them. I am not a true journalist because of my prejudices. I understand that some in the media can get vicious but I don't chose to be one of them. I'm a "homer" and will stay that way because I truly love the game and the young men who play it. By the way, I think Tahj is going to be a good linebacker for the Dawgs and think he is a cool kid as well. Stay the course, follow your dream, and become a writer. Keep in mind that you don't have to necessarily write about sports.
From Tom Wilkins
Dear Coach,
: Who knew when the Apple Cup was played last year that it would be the last time either coach would be on their respective sidelines? It's a darn shame in both instances. I think in Rick's case, he lost a lot of support when he interviewed for the 49ers position. I, for one, was a little tired of always wondering if he was going to take another job and leave the UW. I mean, if he was out interviewing after a 7-6 season, what would happen if he went 12-1 next year? He just didn't seem committed and if you don't give any loyalty, you can't expect any in return. But I am confident that the program is bigger than even this overblown scandal and this too shall pass. To that end, I am assuming that Gilby will be named head coach, at least on an interim basis. That would mean, would it not, that we need an offensive coordinator? Any ideas? I would love to see someone brought in with a high profile, like USC did with Norm Chow. He may be our best opportunity to chase away the demons and get everyone excited about Husky football again and quit talking about all this off the field stuff. Therefore, especially with the offense we have returning, we need a good guy who can take this group of guys and give them a chance to win. Who is the right guy?

A: You make an excellent point about Rick's interviewing for the 49'erjob. Now you can see exactly why he would be reluctant to even admit it in the first place. He saw what interviewing elsewhere did to Bob Bender. We up here in our little corner of the USA are very provincial about our world. But really, the 49'er job is one of the best In football. It's an honor our coach would be considered. Yet, everyone views it just like you, as a snub to Washington. John Pettas was the offensive coordinator at Louisville and did a great job. Maybe Gilbs will remain as the Offensive coordinator and at least keep his nose in it. One of those two will get the job done, keep the faith. I hope you are the same Tom who went to Ingraham. If so, Middy and I both say hi.
From DC Dawg
Dear Coach,
: I just read your comments on the Neuheisel situation. I think your remarks were right on the mark. But it does raise a few questions. Why in the world would the UW take such drastic action before getting an official ruling from the NCAA? If the wording the NCAA put out covering this situation is vague, which I don't think any reasonable person would deny, particularly when the UW's own compliance person evidently misinterpreted the words, why would the UW unnecessarily expose itself to a lawsuit they just might lose? If the NCAA suspended Neuheisel for gambling, then it would seem that the UW would have just cause for firing him. As is, it would seem that the UW is doing the NCAA's dirty work for them, letting them off the hook for a clarification of their own rules. I can't imagine that the UW thinks that dealing with the NCAA would be any worse than possibly paying out 3.6 Million to Neuheisel plus legal fees to defend itself in a lawsuit. The only thing I can think of is that Hedges takes the attitude that "that lying little SOB won't get one more red cent from this University over my fired body." If that's the case, we're headed for devoice court (hell hath no fury ...), which would not be good. Any more thoughts? By the way, were you aware that there might be a football coaching position opening up at the UW? Interested? Let the cheers overcome the fears!

A: I really believe that Rick has a case against the conspiracy stacked up against him. The president of the NCAA prejudiced the case by making a public statement against Rick before the investigation even began. Rick lied to the media but to me it was justified in that he did have a confidential agreement with the49'ers. So did Dennis Erickson, who got the job. Anyone even know Dennis interviewed? The "crime" of betting in a basketball pool should not result in you losing your job. It's not even a major infraction. It could end up being a major after they think about it enough. When they realize if they don't declare it a major violation, they will not have grounds for termination. Watch closely, the NCAA, Pac-10, and the UW are all players in this drama. They will all be involved in the lawsuit and each has made some mistakes that could cost them all when it gets to a trial. Watch for months of bickering then all of the sudden there will be a settlement. Biggest problem will be Barbara's because all of the money that Mike Lude left has been spent on facilities upgrades. A $3 million dollar settlement will be painful if it comes to that.
From Carolina Dawg
Dear Coach,
: I thought by now we'd have at least 5-7 verbal commits. Texas has 11 and Oklahoma has 8. It seems like Washington is loaded with talent. Do you think the Tuiasosopo boys (Matt & Trent) will come to Washington? Do they want to play on the same team in college? Are they close friends or is it the name that makes them close? The comments Chris Fetters made in his June 14th article concerning the Oregon Nike Camp troubled me. It sounded like Jonathan Stewart is the next Cory Dillon. We can't let this guy get away from the Dawgs. How can he grow-up in Washington and say that Miami and Oregon are his top schools? I don't know how anybody can play anything in all that heat and HUMIDITY in south Florida. What do you know about Jonathan? Thanks for all you candid comments.

A: The Tuiasosopo cousins should both go to Washington. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. As for being worried about Jonathan Stewart, don't be. The UW hasn't even begun to recruit him with their A-game. If they deem him a prime target, just wait. I'm not worried about it, not yet. Too early.
From Carolina Dawg
Dear Coach,
: I thought by now we'd have at least 5-7 verbal commits. Texas has 11 and Oklahoma has 8. It seems like Washington is loaded with talent. Do you think the Tuiasosopo boys (Matt & Trent) will come to Washington? Do they want to play on the same team in college? Are they close friends or is it the name that makes them close? The comments Chris Fetters made in his June 14th article concerning the Oregon Nike Camp troubled me. It sounded like Jonathan Stewart is the next Cory Dillon. We can't let this guy get away from the Dawgs. How can he grow-up in Washington and say that Miami and Oregon are his top schools? I don't know how anybody can play anything in all that heat and HUMIDITY in south Florida. What do you know about Jonathan? Thanks for all you candid comments.

A: The Tuiasosopo cousins should both go to Washington. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. As for being worried about Jonathan Stewart, don't be. The UW hasn't even begun to recruit him with their A-game. If they deem him a prime target, just wait. I'm not worried about it, not yet. Too early. Don't forget that Daylon McCutcheon (USC, now Cleveland in the NFL)) told everyone that would listen that Washington was his favorite team throughout his junior season. So did Dominic Robinson FSU). You don't want to close the deal when they are juniors, because it does no good. You need to close the deal when they are seniors.
From Dave H
Dear Coach,
: I suppose you are going to receive many Gilby letters. Keith's early CAL departure can be traced to four specific events: 1).In his last year his best player, an inside LB was paralyzed in an auto accident a week before their first game...Ask Keith what that loss meant..2) The disloyalty shown by Artie Gigantino in feeding negative stuff to Glenn Dickey...3).The USC loss in LA where CAL was leading with seven minutes left and had momentum. A CAL player suffered a spinal injury and the game was stopped for 25 minutes. When play resumed CAL was a different team that went flat and lost..4).The last second loss to UW in Keith's second year. Collectively those events added up. If events had gone differently Keith might still be at CAL. If Keith now does get the UW job, I hope he calls Don and spends some time with him. Specifically he should ask Don what he said when Hedges asked him and Mike Lude at a basketball game in Tucson "why did Keith get fired at CAL." Don's answer should be helpful to Keith. In the meantime Keith is going to hear from everybody in the Husky family with advice except me. The only problem is Keith is a little bit like Lambo...he has 20,000 "best friends." Keep up the good work and start polishing off those Hedges stories.

A: I remember all the circumstances that undermined Keith at California. He was by no means a failure there. He was struggling because of a divided staff and you're right that Artie squarely planted a knife in the middle of Gilb's back. Keith had great compassion for his kids and a lot of them went on to the NFL after he left. His record was as good as Steve Mariucci as a Cal coach, and certainly the best bowl victory Cal has had in 50 years was under his direction. No doubt he will talk with DJ. However, Don is great about staying away unless asked specifically. You will also see Lambo more involved, provided of course, that Barbara does the right thing.
From Kirk Jones
Dear Coach,
: In your last Ask Coach Baird, you mentioned Jack Root's father. Would that be Reg Root, the Dean of Men back in the 60's? As I remember, his son went to Stanford. Dean Root and I had a huge go-around in the mid-sixties. What a guy. I can't think of a University of Washington person who I admired more.

A: It is indeed the same man. Reg Root was also a football coach besides being the UW "Dean of Men," a position that no longer exists. He was a brilliant man and really quite gentle. Jack did go to play for Stanford and was the leading ground gainer on a team that featured Gene Washington. Jack was a fullback and a very good one. I know a lot of men who think Reg was a good and fair man at the UW because if you ever got into trouble, he was whom you had to answered to.
From PW Dawg
Dear Coach,
: Looks like Gilby is inline. I really like him as a O- line coach but I can't stand his Big Sky Offense of throwing the ball 35 yards across the field - where several d- guys have a chance for an interception and a touch, just to gain two yards... I hate throwing the ball 50 times and averaging less that two yards per rush. If Gilby is named Head guy will we see more of the Big Sky offense and continue to average two yards per run instead of getting back to the good days of; NFL caliber O - linemen, tough hard nose runners and kick ass defense?

A: You are watching Big Sky ball right now because that is what Gilbs has to work with. The objective is to move the ball and score touchdowns on offense. It can be done both ways. Remember the Rams won the whole thing throwing the ball everywhere. Keith will balance up the offense once Dan Cozzetto gets the line coming off the ball properly. Keith has always been into balance but sometimes you take what they give you and sometimes you go to your strength. The run will improve and Keith will bore you with pounding it in there as soon as we get a running back going. A better defense will really be the answer. Let's hope he gets the job for good, and then after 5-8 years, make your assessment of his offense.
From Gary
Dear Coach,
: During your days as Don James' and Jim Lambright's recruiting coordinator, you seemed to have not only an eye for projecting talent, but also you guys did a better job than any other staff of developing those diamonds in the rough. Did you have a system for doing it, or were you just better at seeing what you were looking for? It's a pleasure to correspond with you, tell Dawgman that his web page is the greatest, and you are the reason.

A: I appreciate the compliments. I really thought that we put great emphasis on character. We asked a series of tough questions to each kid and they provided us with answers relating to work ethic and perseverance. We wanted hard workers and if they had talent to go with it, then all the better. Our players wanted to maintain the image of a tough program and teach the younger players how to work hard, practice hard, and play hard. That is the spirit of being a Husky. It is related to how hard they were asked to work. Hard workers were usually stronger and in better condition than often times better athletes. Recruiting is a crapshoot. You never know how kids are going to respond to the next step. If the kid is a hard worker though, somehow they figure out how to get the job done. 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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