Ask Coach Baird

OK, how much worse can it get? It is apparent that this program has hit rock bottom. It's extremely difficult to stay positive about a program when it's down like this one is, but that's who I am. I'm going to remain positive. And now onto your letters . . . .

From Parsh Dawg
: I enjoyed your last article. Reading to and listening to the LOUD voices of negative Husky "supporters" is becoming pretty painful. While I would like to see more winning, I understand that getting through this downturn will require a little patience and I am going to be positive and have fun at every ballgame. I don't know how any true dawgfan could not be enjoying themselves. My question is, as a program insider, how would you gauge the esprit de corps of the team this year? It certainly seems to me that Coach Gilbertson and the coaching staff have done an outstanding job of getting this team to work hard. I was at the Notre Dame game and I have to say, I was pleased with the way our boys came out and fought in the second half! It would have been really easy for this team to roll over and quit, but I see no signs of that. I think that when these talented young kids get a chance to mature and they can learn to avoid mistakes, we're going to be on our way to being at the top of the PAC-10. Does this team have the spirit and work ethic I think they do? If so, Coach Gilbertson is creating an important building block for the future. I know we all want that legendary Husky toughness back, are we on are way Coach? Your thoughts?

A: Very nicely thought out letter. I think you reflect what we all need to remember and that is this team has a very fragile ego. Their confidence level is very low particularly when adversity hits. They play inspired at moments only to swing into ineptness at others. It takes a lot to maintain good spirits when everything is crashing down around you. This is obviously the season from Hell and there will be a lot of lost souls along the way. Unfortunately when you lose it sort of snowballs and whatever can go wrong will. This is what we're in and it will take a major move top get over the hump. There are still four games left to play and these kids need to play much better just to win any of them. They need to quit hurting themselves and give themselves a chance to win. Then at the end of the season let the powers that be make the decision for the future. Thanks for the thoughts.
From Rick Drouet
Dear Coach Baird,
: I have been a loyal Gilby supporter and I do not believe that bringing someone else in will make any difference. I think that I have now convinced myself why! Using the resources here on Dawgman, I reviewed the recruiting classes dating back to 2000 (5th year Seniors). I also visited the rosters back to 2002. The stats are shocking. My count, 4 5th year Seniors left in the program. Not many of them are real contributors to this team. Many quit the program which I know many schools face, but I was alarmed at how many kids have left the program do to injuries that they brought with them from High School. And finally I count 12 Scholarship linemen who should be in this program as upper classmen (including terry Johnson) who have either quit or been injured out of this program. I don't think our previous coach didn't recruit lineman he just recruited lineman who brought a lot of baggage with them. Maybe you could review these classes and recruits and make more sense of it then I have. But Gilby must be given the chance to field a team from a full cupboard!!

A: I agree with your observations with regard to recruiting. I can assume some of the responsibility, but most of the damage has been done since I left. There have been too many quitters and too many guys who never came here in the first place. Too many previously injured kids came in or never played because they neglected to give physicals in their evaluation. That is the key word. Evaluation of character and ability was obviously questionable.
From Carolina Dawg
Coach Baird,
: You got beat-up pretty good today (AskCoachBaird of 10/15/04) on a number of issues. I'm not here to continue that beating. I'm like everybody else. All I want is to see the program rated in the top 10 every year. The rest will take care of itself. I only have a comment (or two). Yes, Defense wins championships but you still have to put a few points on the board. You still need a quarterback. After the defense, the second most important part of the team (in my estimation) is the quarterback. I can't believe that Rick N. did such a poor job evaluating prospects, especially at quarterback. I hope Casey proves me wrong. He just can't play scared, that's for sure and it's still too early to know what we have in I. Stanback. I still think he should be playing the WR position, especially when you consider all the help we need there due to injuries. I think Carl Bonnell will still prove to be the best once the smoke settles. The poor season has already taken a toll on recruiting. A couple of months ago Josh Portis said he wanted to be a Husky and last week he committed to Utah. A nice choice but it still hurts. This will definitely be the year that the Huskies sign the kids that REALLY want to be here. Let's hope kids like Jonathan Stewart (and others of his caliber) are included. In two years this team will be very good, IF, the defense continues to mature and we FIND a quarterback. I may be off base here with my comments because I live on the east coast and am unable to see all the games as you do. I still think you will agree with MOST of my comments?

A: Thanks for you letter and comments. I would have to say that I basically agree with you on almost all your points and don't worry about me and getting beat up because of how I see this team. Most of the people who are critical of my perspective have never coached or attended the number of practices that I have, watched the amount of film this year, or have the level of understanding of the big picture of football. They have a right to their opinion and I sometimes read their comments and just shake my head. It is not my nature to respond nor do I feel I have to defend my position. I am employed as an opinion writer and I try to always see the positives. Jonathon Stewart is not coming to Washington and has eliminated the Huskies from consideration. Recruiting is definitely on hold and will struggle until the season is over and a final decision is made on the coaching. Whatever happens there will be a definite negative impact and they will have to scramble to put together a good class. As for the quarterback question, Carl Bonnell is the guy, end of that discussion. Stay with us Carolina Dog. They will come back from this season.
From Loy Brd
Coach Baird,

A: I would think to think that the quarterback controversy is over. If it's not Bonnell, then I don't know what to say. When you watch the film as to what was supposed to happen and what actually transpired and the decisions that were made, it becomes very obvious. I understand your frustrations but let's stay with these kids and see if they can win a couple of games this last month of the season. The offense was terrible and has been most of the season because they have no play makers. Stanback faced a tough defense but proved to make as many bad plays as good ones. Carl Bonnell should be the quarterback the rest of the season if you are trying to build for next season. Film doesn't lie.
From Aloha Mike
Coach Baird,
: In listening to the post game show, I was encouraged to the comments from the listeners. For the most part the comments were positive, unlike past week's comments. Stanback did make a large impact on the team and the game. We sit close enough to the field that we not only saw Milsten's thumbs-up and his sitting up but we heard his encouragement to his team mates. How great was that? What are your feelings as to the state-of-mind of the team after yesterday's game? I am really excited for the rest of the season. The Huskies won the game in the competion of the game. They are going to be difficult to defeat the rest of the year!!

A: I think the war is lost, but I would just like to see the kids win another battle or two. There is a good future with this defense and after Bonnell gets a little seasoning, he will win some games at Washington. 1-6 and all the streaks are over. Time to start crawling back up and rebuilding the program. Stay positive. 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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