Can't beat 'em? Join 'em

Kent Baer was hired by old friend and colleague Tyrone Willingham to run Washington's defense. I'm sure Baer, who was in Seattle and on hand Monday for his first media requests as UW's DC, had to be shaking his head just a little bit at the irony of becoming a Husky.

"I've never won here," Baer said with a chuckle. "Even our Rose Bowl year with Stanford we lost to Stanford and then they lost to UCLA later. I've been through a lot of losses in this stadium."

He's right. In stints with California, Arizona State and the Cardinal, Baer is 0-6 in Husky Stadium, giving up an average of 30 points a game - 30.4 points, to be exact. In fact, his first taste of Husky mojo came in 1988, when the Golden Bears were up 27-3 with 9 minutes left in the third quarter.

That game still stands as the measuring stick for UW comebacks, as the Huskies pulled out a 28-27 win, worthy of ESPN instant-classic status.

And Washington's scoring defense in 2004, the defense Baer has been asked to resuscitate? They gave up an average of 30.4 points per game. The statistical difference between ND (369.42) and UW (369.45) in total defense per game can even be measured in real terms.

"We will be aggressive," he told the press Monday. "One thing we pride ourselves on is playing hard, being physical and playing hard. We'll be multiple and try to create a lot of turnovers, that's something we stress a lot. Offenses have changed a lot over the last five years, so we need to keep up the pace."

Numerology is truly a scary thing, but coachspeak can border on the criminal. Husky fans are hoping Baer won't have to eat his words after 2005, or worse yet - even sooner.

But all things being equal, it really shouldn't come as a surprise that Baer was hand-picked by Willingham to resurrect Washington's defensive pride. There's only one coach that has been on all ten of Willingham's former staffs, at both Stanford and Notre Dame. That's Kent Baer. Whatever the numbers say, it's clear Willingham holds Baer in high esteem.

"Coach (Willingham) and I talked a few weeks ago, and there were other things on the table, but it was something as soon as he asked me I was intrigued about," Baer said of the UW job. "All the years I was in the Pac-10, I thought this was one of the best programs in the country. All the championships they have had over the years and they were always so strong, so it was something I was excited about."

As was his want at ND, Baer takes his role of defensive coordinator literally. He Won't coach a position. "I just coordinated the defense and ended up being more of a GA with all the other assistants on the field," he said of his three years in South Bend. "It gives me a little more time to game-plan and look at situations and watch a lot of tape. I'll help wherever I can on the field during practice, that's just how it worked out."

For right now, the defensive coordinating will have to wait. Baer will be working on his frequent flyer miles, as he headed off to Los Angeles and San Diego Tuesday. "We hit the recruiting road tomorrow, see if we can finish this thing up as strong as we can," he said. "We need around 14 commitments, and we're going to try and get those guys the next four weeks. And next week during the convention I'm going to watch tape with Randy (Hart), Chris (Tormey) and Steve (Wilks) and evaluate the kids on our team and work on what we want to do defensively, talk about some similarities they did and what we did and start putting a package together.

"It's just a whirlwind, it's nice to be here."

And as Baer heads to Sea-Tac, the honeymoon is officially over. It's time to get to work.

Kent Baer College Coaching Experience:
Year      School/Team Assignment 
1973-1976 Yokosuka Seahawks (U.S. Navy) Head Coach 
1977-1982 Utah State Outside Linebackers 
1983-1985 Utah State Defensive Coordinator/Secondary 
1986      Idaho Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers 
1987-1991 California Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers 
1992-1994 Arizona State Defensive Coordinator/Inside LBs 
1995-1998 Stanford Inside and Outside Linebackers 
1999-2001 Stanford Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers 
2002-2004 Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator
2005-     Washington Defensive Coordinator Top Stories