Coach's Corner

One of the all-time great Husky Hunters, Earl Nortvedt, passed away yesterday. With him went his legacy of having provided nearly 40 years of volunteer service to his beloved Washington Huskies.

Earl was active in Husky recruiting dating back to the Jim Owens era. He personally watched the Huskies rise and fall through decades of change and actively assisted a great number of Husky coaches in their constant search of talent.

Earl was particularly close to Jim Lambright and was once told by Rick Neuheisel that he must have been an important alumnus because he was on Coach Lambright's speed dial when that change took place.

I first met Earl when he and I began meeting every Wednesday night to review high school video tapes in the 80's. He was my extra set of eyes and was extremely diligent in showing up precisely at 7 pm, right after dinner, to begin a 4-hour session of looking at prospective athletes. I began to look forward to it and he actually got to watch my boys grow up as they always wanted to watch as well. I would estimate that Earl and I literally watched thousands of recruits together.

It was never an actual job. It was a friendship that he had started with Washington football in the 60's. I was just the lucky one to spend so many hours with someone who loved high school football as much as I did. Of course I was getting paid to do it but he and I would burn the midnight oil when the coaches were trying to win games.

Earl had originally gotten involved as a Hunter in northern California when he flew the coaches in his personal plane to recruiting visits as well as attending high school games almost every Friday from San Francisco to Redwood City. For almost a decade Washington had a great presence in that part of California. We got players like Kevin Gogan, Tim Peoples, and Tim Meamber. Earl continued to help Husky assistant Bob Stull after Coach Lambright moved to the northwest to recruit.

Earl made home visits with Coach Owens, Coach James, as well as assistants before the rules changed in the late eighties. He was part of the team. He was part of the coaching staff, and he will always be a part of Husky Football.

In those days the Alumni could accompany coaches into homes during recruiting visits and Earl was a great Husky salesman as well. Even though he was a lumber broker in California, his heart was in Seattle. He loved the Huskies and donated thousands of dollars and more important thousands of hours to helping the Huskies become and stay one of the greatest football programs in America.

Earl was one of the "giving" Alums. By that, I mean he was more interested in giving than taking from the program. He liked being behind the scenes with his cute little smile and his wonderful sense of humor. He also kept me on my toes. No chance of slacking off when you were with Earl. He was demanding and precise. He and I would be grinding away watching kids and if we got excited about a kid I would just pick up the phone and call the kid. I'd tell kid we were watching him and that we thought he was going to be a great player and all that other talk that goes with recruiting.

Earl became an integral part of the Husky network. If you were involved with the Huskies, you knew who Earl Nortvedt was. He was one of those guys that was going a million miles an hour, and always took the time for Husky Football. I could call him any time and tell him to go watch a kid for me and it was done. We wanted kids to know there would be a "scout" or Hunter at his game. The Hunters always wore Purple and that made them stand out at most high school stadiums. It impressed the kids to know we would be sending a scout to personally watch just them. He was instrumental in the Huskies landing one of their all-time players in Sonny Sixkiller. He was indirectly involved in hundreds of others.

When Barbara Hedges dismantled the Husky Hunters, Earl was extremely disgruntled. Earl told me at that time in 1993 that she would eventually bring down the whole program. I didn't realize how right he would be. When she dropped the axe on the Husky Hunters, it marked the beginning of the end for a network of people up and down the west coast who were simply dedicated to Washington Football.

Dismantling the Hunters was one of the stupidest moves she ever made. That program exemplified the fact that Washington had more "institutional control" than any school in the Pac-10 or the nation for that matter. Part of the Hunter program always involved a yearly "rules" meeting. The NCAA rules were regularly sent to the 400 or so members of whom Earl Nordvedt was one of the most significant. He knew the rules better than Barbara Hedges and took it personally when she capitulated to the Pac-10 by making the ceremonial disbanding of the program to impress the conference and the NCAA. It implied that they were some sort of illegal organization that was giving the Huskies an advantage. They did, but they represented all that was right and legal rather than the other way around. She was simply misinformed and running scared.

I am positive that Earl is now scouting for THE head coach now. He gave a major part of his life to Husky Football. He was a champion. He proudly wore all his Championship watches and rings. They were given to him specifically because of what he gave to the program. To me, Earl will always be my most valuable booster. He did more to assist me than any alum in the program. He helped me with the Purple and Gold Summer Camp, the Annual Husky Coaches Clinic, coordinating the weekly scouting assignment by all of our Hunters and of course the endless hours we spent watching together watching terrible high school video. Heck, Earl even helped when they were still using 8mm films, and believe me, that really took a lot of time.

On Wednesday nights Earl Nordvedt was a regular part of the Baird household. He watched my boys grow to men and when my son Brent knew Earl was attending his game, it is was really something special. He even traveled all the way from Portland just to see my youngest son, JB, play for the Interlake Saints. Like I said, Earl Nortvedt was part of the family. The Husky family.

It is sort of reflective of the current state of Husky Football that one of its greatest Huskies passes during this season. Earl's heart was broken by this recent fall from what was once one of the elite teams in America to one that has only one way to go. Up, which is the same direction that Earl Nortvedt took this week.
Editor's note: Earl, you will be missed. You were a big reason we do things the right way here at You taught us well and we will forever be greatful to you for sharing your wisdom. God Bless you. Top Stories