Ask Coach Baird

The University of Washington should be very close to naming a new Athletic Director by now. The committee is pairing the list down, but in the end it will be who new President Mark Emmert wants at the helm. And now, onto your letters...

From Jim in Enumclaw
: In your last article about Lambo and graduation rates, why was the academic situation at the school in crisis? Why on earth was Gertrude Peoples fired? I noticed that Rick hired her back, but why was she let go in the first place? Thanks.

A: The first person BH went after when she got to Washington was Gertrude. For what ever reason, she felt Gertrude was not doing a good job of counseling. This great realization came after Gertrude was being recognized by her peers as the tops in America. You see, Gertrude never really finished her degree. Consequently, she was a target from the get go. Her real downfall came because everyone absolutely adored her. She was, and still is, the mother of Husky Football, only now it's more like the grandmother. Her popularity and power obviously threatened Barbara and it was this act of betrayal that totally convinced me that I had to watch my back. Believe me, there are very few people who have survived the BH era. She essentially eliminated anyone of strength and Gertrude was in her crosshairs as soon as she took power. I think it all stemmed from jealousy and envy. Whatever, I am going to write about it soon for Sports Washington magazine.
From Ken Franek
Dear Coach Baird,
: It sounds like the state of Washington will have a banner year with the number of blue-chip basketball players in the class of 2005. How do you think the Huskies will do in terms of keeping some of them home to play? Do you have any names?

A: I think Lorenzo is doing fine in recruiting and will get some obvious prospects of this state in the years ahead. What most people don't understand is that men's basketball has so much power over the NCCA because their sport generates all the income. Still, men's basketball does not have the same number of scholarships as the women. Consequently, they only have a few spots open each year. As for as keeping the Washington kids home, for some reason hoopers are more prone to go away to school. I don't know why because I'm really a family guy and think kids should stay home so their parents can watch them play. Both the men's and women's programs lose kids to out of state programs, and it always irks me that the local media gives so much play to kids who go away. Why else was the Rainier Beach center on local TV to announce he was going to Kansas? That it was his last moment of fame, and why everyone acted surprised when he went to the same school his parents had is beyond me. It just happens.
From Dick in Tulsa
Dear Coach,
: My condolences for your getting stuck with 'softy' on KJR. How could you let such an ugly thing happen? There must have been black mail involved. How could you ever let him catch you with something? As far as journalism is concerned, "softy" couldn't catch a cold. You must have self reported yourself?

A: Softy and I are really good friends and I appreciate his long standing loyalty to the Huskies. Sure he bitches but that's just him. He is really an engaging person and is really just a showman. He is very good at what he does and I thank him for making me part of it. It allows me to stay in the sport of football and be a fan of the Huskies, just like he is. Fear not, there is no blackmail, I really enjoy working with both he and Hugh Millen.
From Joe Plesha
Dear Coach,
: What do coaches look for when they are evaluating a high school football player. It seems like a hard task. In the pros, they can take accurate 40 times and even evaluate the player's football IQ. In college, it must be much more difficult. Some 17 year old high school players will mature physically and emotionally. Others may not. What do you look for?

A: There are three parts of evaluation. Athletic ability, academic qualifications, and character assessment. I believe in kids with a good work ethic and can run no matter what position they play. Start with big or fast and you cover a lot of the physical. The actual video evaluation is really easy because anyone good enough to win championships really jumps right off the tape at you. You don't need to make them players. I also wanted to find kids who really wanted to be Huskies. And, usually they were found in our own backyard. We always wanted a kid who really wanted a degree, was a captain in high school, or inspirational award winner as those two things always indicated a good team commitment. Still, you never know because each level requires another major step for kids. We had a series of tough questions to find out what kind of kid he really was. That is as important as a 40 time.

From Rick Drouet, AKA "Drewski"
Dear Coach,
: Could you give me a time line as to what the football staff does between now and the opening of Fall camp. Time off, camps, recruiting, conventions and alumni functions? Thanks, I always appreciate your valuable insight into the Husky program

A: Basically you have already named what the coaches do from now until they begin work again in August. Spring recruiting runs thru the month of May, then Husky camp comes in late June and the coaches traditionally take off the month of July to be with their families, although they do it in shifts so someone can always be in the football offices. It is really the only time when they get to see their wife and kids on a daily basis. Many come from outside the area so they have to go see their folks as well. In June, each coach takes a couple of opponents and becomes the offensive or defensive expert on those teams to share with everyone else in summer scouting reports. June is also used to game plan the first game and to project for the summer workouts and fall camp. Then you have to make sure your own position kids are staying eligible in summer school and help them get a part time job etc. It never really ends. The years just blend together. To be a really good college coach, you have to do recruiting of some sort every day. I think that is critical to a strong program. 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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