Ask Coach Baird

Congrats are in order to our own Coach Dicky B – he's become a grandfather since the last time he's answered his mail. Now that he's back from San Francisco, here are his latest answers to your questions. Thanks to those that wrote in.

From Tyler
: With an opening on Gilby's staff, is there any hope of getting you back on the sidelines? Besides every good coach needs a great recruiter like you.

A: I'm not sure Gilbs will be considering grandfathers for his coaching opening. Once the transition is made, then I see him going after a kicking coordinator who is also a proven recruiter. Personally, I have no aspirations to go back into coaching. However, if asked by Keith, I would do it. If Jerry Nevin were to leave his position then I would probably be interested and able to do that job, but really think I'm better at gardening and fishing. Thank you just the same.
From Randy Enders, class of ‘82
: I agree with you Dick, about Coach Neu, although I'm going to not give up hope that he will retain his job. It's puzzling to me why the media, primarily Steve "I hate Rick" Kelley of the Seattle Times, and the many of the on- air sports jocks at KJR, are trashing him. The most ludicrous things I have heard and read are from Kelley. Forces in the NCAA were out to get Rick, and if people would stand up for Coach Neu he would have a chance at keeping his job. Unfortunately, Steve Kelley, and others are keeping alive the "Slick Rick" notion that grew out of the jilted Colorado fans hurling sour grapes because they lost a great coach/recruiter/motivator. Rick Neuheisel is one of the best coaches I have ever seen. To lose him because of an asinine rule that had to do with basketball would be unfair to Coach Neu, and a disaster for Husky Football. I think Ms. Hedges is feeling pressure to not defend Rick for fear she is "weak" or "allowing" the coach to get away with gambling. I would say to her "defend Coach Neu because it is the honorable thing-and the right thing to do. And if the mean spirited, petty people come after you--stand up to them too!" In the last couple years the Huskies have been recruiting blue chip football players again, primarily because of one man. If Rick Neuheisel is allowed to be railroaded out of town by the "lynch mob mentality of the media" then Rick Neuheisel loses, the football team loses and I assure you, all the Husky Nation, that I'm a part of, will lose too.

A: Unfortunately, Randy, I think the dye is cast. I don't see the administration changing Barbara's decision to fire Rick. I only hope for he and his family that a fair settlement is reached and we can all move on. I think it was too early to consider Rick a great coach. He was certainly getting better at the job, but just like Coach Lambright, is getting fired just as he is starting to figure it out. I think it takes years for a coach to develop, just as it does for players. I just don't think there is much chance for him to get the job back but I certainly wish him well as he always treated me with respect, and for that I will always consider him a friend. I'm ready to embrace Gilbs and start getting this program back on track. I think we will see what a great recruiter Rick was this coming season. Stay loyal to the program because it's still the top football program in western America.
From Kirk DeGrasse
Dear Coach Baird,
: I've been a big fan for a long time and am happy to see you contributing to my favorite Husky site. I've been going to games since I was a kid, starting in 1978 and remain a huge fan. I remember being surprised to see your picture in the media guides when you were hired as the recruiting coordinator - I'd seen you at the Lenny Wilkens basketball camps where you were a counselor a couple summers in a row in '80 and '81 I believe. I don't think you've been given enough credit for the tremendous recruiting classes the UW pulled-in while you were there. Anyway, I work now as the animation lead on the Microsoft Xbox NFL Fever game, where I've been fortunate enough to work with guys like Tim Cowan, Pete Kaligis, Lynn Johnson, Willie Hurst and Mario Bailey in doing motion-capture for our game. They've helped a lot in making our game accurate, but there are still areas where I lack expertise. I'm a big fan of college football, but I never played organized ball so my technical knowledge is a bit lacking. My question for you (and this isn't really a question for your mailbag but more of a personal request) - I noticed in your latest mailbag you will be doing film studies and write-ups for the site. I'm sure reading these will help my understanding of the game improve, but I'm wondering if there's a way to sit-in with you as your watching game films and pick your brain on a number of things. Thanks in advance for your consideration, and I look forward to reading your columns.

A: Yes indeed, I was the Incredible "Dr. Noid", at Lenny Wilkens camp. I still remain close friends with Lenny today. I had more fun at that camp just being around kids and playing roles like "Dick the Brick", "Dr. Noid", "The Animal", and "Ruth" in our long running movie skit. I would be more than willing to do a video session with you and appreciate the desire. Maybe attending a practice together in the fall will work as well. Go luck at Microsoft and keep my stock going up. Call me at (PHONE NUMBER SENT PRIVATELY) or email me here.
From Dave Beaver
Coach Baird,
: What is the status of Nathan Rhodes? Does he have a chance to fully recover from injuries? Thanks.

A: Nathan has a disc problem in the lower back that will require surgery. Dawgman played golf with a UW coach recently and he was told that Nathan would never play again. He was certainly hyped enough to expect he would have been a great one. I think under Coach Gilbertson you will see the Huskies go back to using the "10 Tough Questions" as well administering physicals during the recruiting trip, and by doing so might be able to spot such injuries before kids are tendered scholarship offers.
From Tom Wilkins
Coach Baird,
: Got your response on the new offensive coordinator position and will trust that you guys know a lot more than any of us and all will be fine with the team next year. I do think hiring a big name offensive coordinator would generate some positive spin for the program at a time when the UW desperately needs some. Nonetheless, I hope this situation does not stop the team from progressing this summer and that they are working out as they would in a normal year, which this is certainly not. Regarding your comments as to Rick's reluctance to come forward with any information on his interview with the 49ers, I would respectfully take issue with that statement. I think if he had come forward and said exactly what you said in your reply, that being the head coach of 49ers was one of the best jobs in football, that he was flattered to be considered, and that he felt compelled to go there and see if it would be a good fit for both parties, I don't believe most Husky fans would have been insulted. But going there and then pretending not to, especially in light of the loan that Rick had negotiated into his contract, was a little much to take. Follow that strategy with some partial truths and other at least alleged deception, and you couldn't expect fans to be thrilled about the situation.

A: As for going and getting a big name Offensive Coordinator, we already have one in Gilbs. It is my hope that he stays with the offense like Coach Carroll does with the defense at USC, where he serves as their Defensive Coordinator. What is really needed is a good kicking game coordinator because, let's face it, we've been terrible in that part of the game. I, for one, believe that is the glaring weakness in the Huskies, not the running game as everyone else thinks.
From Aloha Mike
Dear Coach,
: If Coach Neu is history, what will happen to the recruiting process at U-Dub? Could Coach Neu still be a part of the recruiting process or does he have to be employed by the U? Would you consider being recruiting coordinator? You do have the ability to get people excited. Your pep-talk at the Longview Coaches Tour this year made me want to go to the U.

A: Aloha. No, I don't see Gilbs going to a guy older than himself to fill a position. Besides, it's too long of a commute from my cabin in the woods. I do love working with kids but I'm probably a lot healthier now because I don't coach, and I hope to stay that way.
From Steve @
Dear Coach,
: I know it's way too early....But what are our needs next year? Can you break down the numbers into groups of OL, DL, RB, etc.? Maybe we can look at your break down and see how Gilby does comes letter of intent. Obviously, RN has a rep. of being a good recruiter, but I'm wondering how Gilby will do once he has a school like Washington behind him in recruiting.

A: Gilbs will follow the simple principle of bringing in balanced classes. I think there will be subtle philosophical changes and certainly Keith won't try to be a Rick Neuheisel on the phone. He will just be who he is and that is a "ball coach". Kids recognize that right away and I believe he will be solid, effective, and honest in recruiting. You will see more emphasis on getting big guys. I know Keith well, and he believes the guys up front are the keys to football. 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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