Coach's Corner

I finally got back from the desert and had a wonderful time . . . except for the game. I still can't figure out this Jekyll and Hyde team, and I am pretty close to them. The best part of the game didn't even happen on the field.

The lunar eclipse is what I'm talking about. From the press box we had a great view of the moon that had been full the night before. To watch the moon move across the beautiful Arizona sky right above the stadium was spectacular.

It was fantastic to watch this piece of time elapse and see the full progression from light to dark, and then back to light. Realizing, of course, that all of us and our planet were the ones who were casting the shadow, it kind of makes you feel important.

It should go without saying that the fact I spent two paragraphs talking about it instead of the game should tell you that what was going on down on the field was pure horsesh*t.

I had to change perspectives, so I watched the UA students storm the field and try to take a goal post down. They were thwarted by solid engineering of the uprights, but it made me smile, and laugh, and realize how much fun it must have been for them. It was another wonderful moment of excitement. For them, anyway.

Perspective is a funny thing and can be very cathartic if you can find it. Once the game played out and we were dealing with defeat again, I have to admit that it was tough maintaining my optimism. That quality that so many tease me about is very important to me, but it can be pretty difficult to muster when you watched a nightmare, and you have upset Husky fans calling into your post game radio show.

Anticipating how disappointed the callers would be, I tried to get it my own glass back up to half full. That's not easy. I know I couldn't have done anything to change the outcome of the game, but why did I feel so sick? What exactly went wrong? How could the Huskies have lost to that sorry-ass team? How far has this program fallen? How can they get this thing turned around in one week and beat Cal? What about "the streak?" A team that had lost 8 straight and hadn't won a league game in years just defeated us. Did it really happen? Can a team win a game on only three big offensive plays? 3 running plays for that matter.

Oh yea. Running plays. You all remember running plays, right? They were what won the Oregon game. Damn.

I started getting sick again when I recalled the punt return for a touchdown called back, the missed field goal, a drop by a freshman receiver, and an overthrown pass.

We all know that no one play or one player determines the outcome of a game, but how about three of them? It was that close. Had Reggie been able to catch up to that last Pickett delivery and the Huskies would've won, how much would've changed? Would everyone have been happy? Would the coaching still be questioned, Cody still be questioned and the whole program be questioned right on up to the top?

Probably, but not 1/8th of the degree that it's receiving now. A lot of negative anxieties would've gone away as Washington would be bowl-eligible and many would've still thought we were OK.

Well, whether we're OK or not depends on your perspective.

From my seat, this is a pretty average team. It's not a bad team, but it sure isn't a good team, either. I can admit that. It is a team still searching for it's identity after a lot of off-season Hell. Wins would put it further in the rear view mirror, but the wins aren't coming like they would to a great team. No matter how you try to NOT make it an excuse, this is a team in transition after its coach was fired under the most bizarre of circumstances. They are desperate for more leadership, more confidence, and more consistency. The effort is there but they can't put it together.

When football programs lose, everyone gets the right to question and evaluate your job in the public forum. It is part of the gig, and anyone can ask whether or not you are the right person for your job. People assume that if your team loses, and especially if the loss is to an inferior underdog, that job capability and qualifications become a public issue to be discussed on radio, TV, the internet, and in the newsprint media.

What many who criticize or attack the coaching or playing don't understand, is that fixing blame doesn't work. It's not that simple.

People inside the game of football understand and accept the fact that when you lose, EVERYONE is responsible. It means you got out coached, out played, and out planned and out prepared. You share the blame as a group. Now we are talking about what it means to be a "team." Things like loyalty, courage, sticking together, pointing the finger only at yourself, and deciding how you can get your attitude and performance to a level that will help the team recover and win the next game. A coach has to figure out how to make that happen on his team, and leaders emerge to help him do it.

Those are the issues that Gilbertson is faced with, and will determine how successful he'll be. Right now, he's coaching a very average football team.

As badly as Husky fans are hurting right now, the coaches that are putting in all-nighters at the offices are hurting just as bad. So are their players.

This team has to beat Cal. It is not going to be easy, but they can do it. I just saw a lunar eclipse, so why not?

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