Coach's Corner

It's sure about time to fade out of the Neuheisel era and into the Gilbertson future. I, for one, would really like the transition to have taken place yesterday.

It's not that I'm impatient. It's just that there is so much uncertainty remaining, and so many plans to be made in order to give the kids on the team the best chance of winning. Realize, of course, that July is the traditional month of vacation in the sport of college football. All the coaches and their families are doing just that, family. Consequently, not a lot of plan time has been missed. The coaches on both sides of the ball have already broken down the Ohio State video from all of last year.

Are you kidding? When you have a chance to play the undefeated national champions to open a season, you have a classic opportunity to make a statement about your program.

Keep the faith! There is always the chance of an unbelievable upset. The Huskies have good enough players to compete with the Buckeyes. Besides, you never know what is going to happen in the first game of the season. The team with the least number of turnovers at the end of the game will probably be the winner.

But reality tells us that the Huskies are going to be big underdogs and unless injury or ineligibility occurs (like Maurice Clarett), then Washington will be out manned, personnel wise. The Dogs already got one lucky break with the Buckeyes losing a returning starter at offensive tackle. This means that they will only have 10 returnees on offense instead of their whole team.

Whew.

Speaking of Clarett, wasn't it cool to see a university that holds a press conference with their coach, AD, and school president all united behind sports education? When will we ever see such a thing again? I believe that the professor at Ohio State did the correct thing in administering an oral test to a student with a learning deficiency. That school makes a lot of money on that kid's back, and to help him succeed academically would seem like the least that they can do for him. Call me naïve, but I commend them for their decisiveness. They are one of the great and committed football programs in America. There are reasons that they are champions.

They also present the greatest opening day challenge in the history of Washington football. They are the most worthy opponent possible for the Huskies.

So, lets get back to taking care of Gilbertson and giving him every chance of being successful. He already has the backing of most of the big hitters in the Washington program. He has earned their respect and support. He should be at least being rewarded with a three-year, $3M contract. That is the going rate in today's market. It has already been established that Washington is a million-dollar job. The bar was set with the last two contracts for Neuheisel. To play low-ball with Gilby wouldn't be a prudent thing to do. Not for the school's administration, and not for their reputation. The head football job at Washington should pay more than any similar job in the Pac-10. It is the top program, it makes the most money and it should be paid like the marquee job that it is.

To not compensate at the going rate would be a slap in the face. Gilbertson has more qualifications and pedigree than Neuheisel had. No interim label please! Throw in incentives like bonus for championships and graduation rates, but Gilbs deserves dignity and respect. I can only hope that the contract is already being hammered out and is ready for a smooth transition.

This saga will not end until the fight over Neuheisel's termination is moved outside of the football arena. Rick can't expect to prevail and return as the coach. These past three weeks have all been about settlement. Hopefully he and his family will receive a fair one. I would really like to see Rick and his legal team take on the NCAA. They obviously prejudiced his case and probably caused him irreparable harm. How could the UW NOT have been influenced by the NCAA?

Personal experience tells me the NCAA is far from fair. It borders on unconstitutional in that it's legal decisions for enforcement and penalty totally violate American judicial rights, but of course the NCAA is really a club, and as on "organization" it can establish it's own guideline and rules. Members voluntarily join and agree to abide by the club's rules. If you don't, then you don't get to play. Basically, once you join, then you forfeit your rights for all your coaches and players.

I totally disagree that people should ever have to forfeit their rights, and I hope that Rick busts them good. I also hope Rick quickly gets out of the way.

Regardless, it is critical that the transition take place quickly and smoothly. The assistant coaches all received new contracts and that was a welcome sign. They, particularly Gilbs, have been in a terrible bind and their loyalty has been tested. Loyalty is one of the building blocks in football. Those men are all loyal to Rick, but their immediate and most important loyalties are to their families. They need to take care of their kids and wives. They all expect Gilbs to be the coach but they are still soldiers and their loyalty follows the chain of command. Until the general is replaced of his command, they are forced to maintain divided loyalties. This has been a nightmare for all of them and they all need closure one way or another.

There are some great battlers on this staff and the kids know it. All they need to do now is get their orders. The sooner the better, as there are many battles to be won. The Washington Huskies will rise again.

Let's get it started.
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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