Coach's Corner

"Come on, take the money and run . . . woo hoo hoo!" Medina's own Steve Miller said it best years ago and hopefully Coach Neuheisel will listen to that time honored classic today.

"How long has this been going on?" Another great lyric, courtesy of Pablo Cruise. With that in mind, it's time for this chapter of Husky football to reach a conclusion. Hopefully, UW VP for External Affairs Norm Arkans returns from vacation and finally puts an end to all this madness. It's beginning to feel like a lingering hangover, except we never got to enjoy the buzz the night before.

I'm ready for the Gilbertson era to begin and hopefully there is a quick transition from manager to head coach. Barbara Hedges should reward him with a fair contract so the coaches and kids can get back to finally playing football. Seven on seven drills and off-season conditioning is ongoing while I write this.

Rick can't really think he's going to get the job back but I commend him for battling for his family. I do know that he was offered a settlement and many, me included, can't understand why he didn't take it. I'm sure it has to do with the technicalities of the package, and probably the size, but it's difficult to separate that fight from the one that is going on to prepare for the season (IE: football related).

Let's be real. There is absolutely no way this team can have any chance of success if Rick were to prevail in his quest to return as the head man. It's not dissimilar to the situation at WSU when Mike Price told his team he was leaving for Alabama. After that happened and Price returned for the bowl game, did anyone honestly think that the Cougars were going to win the Rose Bowl? That is my alma mater, and I didn't think they had a prayer because of the distraction and sideshow that ensued.

Both Mike's and Rick's relationship with their players is forever changed and both will be mired in legalities for many months to come. WSU has moved on, and so has Alabama. In all fairness to the Huskies players, it would sure be nice if there was some closure to this mess in Montlake.

Remember back in late November when we all witnessed that epic battle in Martin Stadium? A triple-overtime thriller that was just a wonderful college football game. Now neither coach will be back and both programs have been turned over to well deserving and loyal assistant coaches. If you were to look for a silver lining in this sow's ear, it's that WSU's Bill Doba and Keith Gilbertson were both rewarded for their many years of service, hard work, and commitment to their respective schools.

Let's just hope there is no glitch in the Gilbertson appointment. I know she probably wants to avoid another Lambright situation, but of course you all know that I never thought Jim should've been fired. It's pretty obvious that we had turned the corner with talent and recruiting and probably would have faired pretty well with Marques Tuiasosopo at quarterback. However, once that decision was made and the dye was cast, we all realized that the best thing for the players was to move on and embrace the change.

The same principle applies now. The best thing for the kids on the team is to rally around Coach Gilbertson and get on with the mission of beating Ohio State and marching towards yet another Rose Bowl.

Coach Neuheisel's war is with the UW athletic department, the university, and hopefully the NCAA. He is now trying to reach the best possible settlement for his family. I really wish he was suing the NCAA like Coach Price is suing Sports Illustrated. There is no doubt that the NCAA made statements that prejudiced the investigation and were harmful to his situation with regard to gambling. Ms. Hedges was most likely being told to get rid of him by the Board of Regents and the influential boosters that will be crucial in raising the funds necessary to complete the facilities projects still on the board.

But now, to change the focus to the 2003 football team and all of it's members, particularly the seniors, Coach Gilbertson is ready and willing and more than qualified to take over the reigns of the wagon. However, as long as Rick's body is under the wheels, it can't go anywhere. We have a consummate coach already "managing" the program. The sooner he is officially named the main man, the better. This team is poised for a run at the Roses and if the defense improves as much as it did in spring drills, then the prospects are great for a contending season.

The problems that should be our focus now are finding a running back who can find a hole, teaching the secondary to find the ball on a pass, and most importantly, to find some continuity for recruiting and organization.

That can only take place if and when Coach Neuheisel decides to get out of the way. Go ahead and sue. Take care of your family, but it's time to get out of the way so our team can have a chance to get ready for the season at hand. Bob Dylan wrote that "The times they are a changin'". His words are very appropriate for the current tide at Washington. In reality, the change has already been made.

The late great Marvin Gaye sang, "Let's get it on." Man, does that ever sound good about now.

Time to get it on, Dawg fans.
Dawgman.com 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 Dawgman.com 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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