Ask Coach Baird

It's getting down to nail-biting time now, as AD Todd Turner leaves Seattle to go chat with some candidates face-to-face about the vacant Washington Huskies coaching job. It shouldn't be too long now, Dawg fans. Here are the letters from the past two weeks, with a few thrown in from Dawgman's pile of mail . . . .

From McGray
: To Coach Baird: Coach Don James' daughter married one of Coach James back in the "good old days." Was that S. Linehan? If so, wouldn't it be nice to have him back, grandkids ? and all?

A: You are thinking of Jeff Woodruff, who was at Arizona before becoming the head coach at Eastern Michigan, and has since been let go I believe. But your point about Scott Linehan is a good one, I believe he'd run a great program here.
From Gerald Pluth in Spokane
Dear Coach Baird,
: How is recruiting handled by a staff? Not necessarily by the current one, but generally. What is the recruiting coordinator's job?

A: The difference between the current coordinator and myself is so drastic it can't even be explained. Some programs like to have the recruiting coordinator as the point man in player personnel while others (like under Rick Neuheisel) have the head coach as the point, and they just keep things organized. Coach James trusted me a lot and gave me great latitude, so I ran point. He really allowed me to be the leader in all aspects of recruiting. Coach Lambright wanted to pull back some of that responsibility and take over some aspects as once the season ended. I think all 10 coaches have to contribute equally in order for recruiting to be really good. That hasn't been the case at Washington for the past 6 years.
From Dawgfan in SoCal
Coach Baird,
: You mentioned Johnny DuRocher in your last Coach's Corner, and is he redshirting this year? And if he does go to Washington, when will he be eligible to play? And how many years will he have to play? Also what is the status of (Keauntea) Bankhead, when will he be eligible?

A: Johnny sat out this year so he has satisfied the one-year rule for transfers. He took a trip to Montana as a fall-back plan, but he is waiting to see who the new Husky coach is for now. That is where he'd like to end up. Bankhead is working on his SAT score and I'm sure will attend Washington if he completes it. I think he is better than anyone in the state this year, but he may very well wind up at Dixie JC because he has a ways to go on his score.
From Jay Roberts
Coach Baird,
: I appreciate your positive outlook on this years Husky football program, hopefully we all can take what we have witnessed in stride and move on. I have to ask the redundant question regarding Casey Pause and Gilby. What could Casey have over every other quarterback in the program, I would venture to guess that of all quarterbacks Washington has fielded, he has got to be the least D-1 talented starter. This is college football and I understand that you are trying to prove a point to the other quarterbacks in the program that you have to give 110% on the practice field to see the playing field, but by playing the least talented of the three scholarship players, you have sent I believe the wrong message to boosters, other players and recruits alike. God bless Gilby and his family for sticking it out through these tough times, but I believe he is as much to blame for pure mismanagement of this program as RN is for poor recruiting. I like many others bleed purple and gold and can't wait for fall Saturday's to see and support or beloved team, GO DAWGS!!!

A: Nobody will ever know the real reasons behind the Paus decision except those who made it. There is no question when things go south that the coaches are just as much at fault as the players. For whatever reason they decided to go with him, it obviously was the wrong choice based upon hindsight. As good as leader and as good as person as he is, he could not get done as a quarterback and I'm not sure he ever will. Casey is a great kid but unfortunately not a very good quarterback.
From John Young in Kirkland
Coach Baird,
: A few weeks ago I was forced to watch one of the televised USC games. It was either that, or paint the bedroom. The one thing I began to notice was that when SC had the ball, their tailback appeared to be lined up ten yards behind the quarterback. When the ball was snapped, the tailback was already heading up to full speed by the time he was handed the ball from the QB. These types of plays happened so fast that the defensive linemen were still negotiating at the line of scrimmage and didn't have time to get into position to tackle the runner. The speed of the runner and the quickest of the play resulted many times in great yardage.

About two weeks later I'm watching the last Husky game on television and notice that our tailback's position behind the QB is probably have the distance of the SC back. Once our TB was handed the ball, he (they) normally stopped at the line of scrimmage and juked left or right, where ever the opening was. Unfortunately, too much time has passed and the supposed holes closed before the back got there. My point is he was basically stopped, not running at top speed. My question is, is this considered a flaw in design or a normal mistake by the runners?

A: Washington's backs got stopped at the line of scrimmage mostly because the defensive linemen weren't getting blown off the ball. Kenny James and Shelton Sampson aren't as quick to the hole like Reggie Bush is (nobody is, really). Thus their window of opportunity and decision making is much narrower. I saw times when Husky backs bounced things outside when there was a hole there, and that is a mistake when that happens. But the offensive linemen either have to blow their men off of the line and make them get back on their heels, or they have to hold their blocks long enough for the tailback to decide where the best running is. James is getting better and better at this, and Rankin may be pretty good at it by next season as well.
From Brenda Fisher
Coach Baird,
: For Dawgman: No matter how disappointing it may seem, race is an issue today, which is why I'd want Tyrone Willingham as our next coach. Race was an issue when Rick Neuheisel tried to recruit Kellen Winslow Jr. It had been my understanding Kellen wanted to attend UW, Kellen Sr wanted his son to play for a black head coach which is why he tried to persuade Kellen Jr to attend Michigan State. A compromise was made in which Kellen Jr ended up at Miami. Do I have it right? Or was it really personal with Rick being a scab quarterback for the Chargers? If it really was race, it's better for Washington's to hire an African-American for recruiting and for image.

A: Dawgman response: Yes, Kellen did want his son to play for an African American head coach if possible, but don't underestimate how much Winslow Sr. had distaste for Rick's scab participation for San Diego. But your understanding is good of the way the situation played out. I don't think race should enter into anything. Hopefully Washington will hire the most qualified coach and the guy that will be the most successful in the ways that Emmert and Turner want things done at Washington. In my opinion, that would lead me to hire Dan Hawkins. I'm very bummed that Washington didn't try that route. Pat Hill is another guy that I think could really be a good fit, but there is no smoke in the air there, either.
From Terry Fisher
Coach Baird,
: For Dawgman: I was about to say after this past basketball recruiting class, the Huskies really need a big man. Presently their best players are in guards but seeing all the big guys other PAc-10 schools have, the Huskies will be at a disadvantage after the current frontcourt is gone. Then I read a late signing of a 7 footer form Oregon. If he Brockman and Wallace and progress together, UW should have quite a frontcourt in a few years. If Joel Smith can continue to produce as he did in the first game, it shouldn't to huge a loss if Martell Webster should turn pro. Speaking of which based on a conversation I had with a Seattle Prep employee, he isn't ready unless he's progressed dramatically since last year. For a guy his size, his offensive skills need improvement and consistency. Otherwise he'll be another Doug Wrenn.

A: Dawgman response: I'm very excited about the future of Husky hoops. As for Martell Webster, coach Jim Shaw said that Martell is the most talented basketball player that he has ever recruited. And this man has recruited a lot of talent over the years to Oklahoma. I'd say that's a good endorsement. Joel Smith looks like he has a bright future. Kind of a strange release on his shot, but it's true. 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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