Ask Coach Baird

Football season is finally here. Washington has a new coach, a new focus, and Baird has a bunch of new letters to answer. So let's get started . . .

From Pat Sprague
: Putting your coaching hat back on - If you were Gilby, what would be your primary objectives coming out of fall camp?

A: Gilbs wants to come out of camp with the team circling the wagons and ready to take on the Buckeyes. Finding a running back, punter, and kicking game will be foremost. Those are the most important missing ingredients to a winning season. He has no idea what James or Rankin can do and is anxious to see their development in camp. You can bet conditioning will have high priority, as that first game will be pretty humid. A continued improvement by the defense is a must and getting a balance offense will come with the identification of a running back. I think all the problems that have surrounded this team will have a galvanizing effect and you will see a return to toughness and commitment to detail.
From Michael O'Conner
: Lets see here: Neuheisel for football, Dollar for basketball....detecting a pattern here??? What's next, baseball? UCLA grads seem to be doing quite well for their schools right now while in UW positions, from the inside out, the sanctions are rolling in. What do you think the chances of getting our hands on an internal UCLA e-mail on the subject would be?

A: I think it's just a coincidence that they both happen to be UCLA graduates but I would like to see the UW stay more with UW guys or at least northwest . Of course, if we had done that we would never have gotten Jim Owens or Don James. UCLA people never get busted while they are there because the Pac-10 protects them, as they are the LA prima Donna school. Did you realize that the great John Wooden broke all kinds of rules by never putting Lew Alcindor on scholarship? That way they could pay him anything they wanted and provide him with housing and transportation throughout his four years as a Bruin. Or that UCLA brokered tickets for their football players for years and never really got busted, and their national championship softball team won the title with a girl they put on soccer scholarship even though she didn't play soccer. Everyone heard about their football players that used handicapped parking permits in order to go to rehab for injuries, then just kept the passes after they got better. Also, as many as six of their football players were busted just a few years ago for taking money from agents while they were still playing. I don't think the two coaches in question really thought they were cheating but they certainly knew they were bending. Regardless, UCLA is given special treatment by the conference while the "Evil Empire of the North" is regularly busted. Face it, this is not as big of media market. I know this is just another Richard rant going on but I get sick of the hypocrisy.
From Ken Franek
Dear Coach Baird,
: Let's get away from Rick for a minute. What is the status of these players:
Nathan Rhodes, Fred Baisy, and Dashon Goldson. Can we expect to see any of them in a Husky uniform any time soon?

A: Goldson is the only one we may see again and that may be a long shot. He is an excellent JC player right now and needs an AA in order to transfer back. I understand he is being heavily recruited and know it is tough to get JC kids into the UW because of the transferable credits. Rhodes will never play again due to a narrowing of the spine while Baisy is also working on his academics but has a tough road. It doesn't look good to see any of these three in Husky purple right now.
From Melodee
Coach Baird,
: Hi Dick! So you're a new grandfather...boy or girl? Name? How many grand kids do you have now? Always appreciate your views about Husky football and only subscribed to Dawgman for your column. Best Wishes!

A: The latest grandson is named Jackson Robert so I am now sporting my Phil Jackson look. Our other grandson is named Blake Richard. That is all we have for now but I have goal set for seven so my four kids better get busy. Certainly one of the greatest things in life is being a grandparent. Jackson will be a sprinter as his dad was a state champ in the 400m and Blake will be my fishing buddy. Got it all planned. Thank you for asking.
From Brian Donohoe
Coach Baird,
: In the last Ask the Coach column, you stated the following:
"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."
Is that really legal, per NCAA rules, to administer physicals during a recruiting trip? I remember Neuheisel getting slapped for having a free-throw shooting contest with a PSA. The interpretation was that the contest constituted a tryout. I would think that administering a physical during a recruiting visit might fall under this same interpretation. What do you think? Look forward to your reply. See you in Columbus.

A: We always gave physicals once they became legal to give. It made the kids think we were very professional and thorough. The difference between a physical and a tryout is that one tests a kid's athletic ability while the other merely measures their fitness and allows you to ask them questions about past injuries and rehabilitation. Technically, any sporting activity that allows you to analyze their athletic ability is illegal. Stupid rule in that a lot of kids play golf, ski, fish, bowl, and do other sports that require athletic demonstration of coordination. The key is that no coach can be present. So, as often is the case, hosts will shoot hoop or bowl with a recruit but no coach can be watching much less playing with the recruit. It would be stupid to not look and gather information about a kid's physical state of being prior to offering a scholarship. The problem with giving physicals is that they are very time consuming within the short window of their visits. Precisely why camps are so valuable because they allow the coaches to evaluate athletic ability on your own campus but because the kid is paying the NCCA says it's OK. Consequently, UCLA used to have $10 dollar camps to get key kids in and evaluated in the spring. If the UW did that though it would be called a sham and they'd be put on probation.
From Ron Jones in Burbank, CA
Dear Coach,
: Does a high school hopeful have to get on a major 'list' in order to get a scholarship offer? Do universities have any way to keep a pulse on the 'small school' player that might have D1 talent? Teaching at a smaller private school (Los Angeles Baptist), I wonder what the chances are that a senior with the ability to be a great division 1 player will get the chance he deserves to show himself. Allyson Felix, world-class sprinter graduated from our school this year and her talent was recognized because 22.11 200-meter times speak for themselves. I know we have a kid named Alan Walker this year that is the real deal, and yet, I wonder if stats or films of players from smaller schools get circulated enough to be considered at the next level. By the way, keep up the great work. I have been a diehard husky fan dating back to the Owens era.

A: After the Husky coaches read this column, you can bet that Alan Walker of LA Baptist will now be on the Huskies Radar screen. Whereas, most small school players get overlooked because of competition level and lack of coverage, there are many who make it big as the sprinter did. Lists are of great help but really it's having a system or network in place that helps you find a Braxton Cleman or a Rashaan Salaam, both players who came from tiny schools. There are always diamonds in the rough. You just have to be receptive to adding good kids no matter what level they play at. I used anyone and everyone for sources and that was before the internet. The Husky network lives on. 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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