Coach's Corner

It's tough being on a losing team. Nothing feels good except finally getting it over. Last year's Husky senior class will not only will be remembered for having a losing season (the first after 27 years) but, for having the worst season in the school's history.

That is a tremendous burden that they will carry throughout their lives. At least the kids who were their teammates and are still on the team have a chance of washing that memory away.

They are now charged with the duty of turning this storied program around.

When you lose, it's everyone responsibility. That's one of the great things about team sports, you get to suffer together. Misery loves company. The seniors from last year started their careers with a 11-1 season and ended with a 1-10 one. Wow!

The Rick Neuheisel/Barbara Hedges era finally came to a tragic end and will forever be remembered as a rocket that burned out well before it's time. It literally self destructed and with it went the dreams and aspirations of a small group of Huskies who will forever remember the struggles, the pain, and the helplessness.

The calamity of errors that presented themselves to that group of players is by far one of the most unpredictable in Husky history. They went thru almost catastrophic circumstances that would have humbled any of us. They endured. For that they should feel proud. They finished the worst three year run in close to 40 years.

It's sad for them and even though most us are trying hard to forget it, it will never be forgotten by them.

My senior year in college at WSU we went 2-8 and I was the captain. Our coach also got fired, but not two of them in a row as Rick and Gilby were. We felt terrible going from one of the best teams in our school's history to one of the worst. Likewise, there were many things happening off the field that we had no control over. There had been over 100 in our freshman class and there were only 9 of us left at the end. Football had ceased to be fun. Losing was the pits and it became such a funk that we literally couldn't win for losing. Everything that could go wrong, did. Still, we had and have great pride in having survived. We had endured the best of the best and the worst of the worst.

Last year's UW class was a mix of 6 red-shirt seniors, a couple of true seniors, 1 JC transfer, and 2 walk-ons who gave their heart for free and still got to suffer.

There were only eleven of them left when it was all over following the only Husky loss to the Cougars in seven years. There had been 26 of them to start with and only seven made it all the way from their freshmen year thru their red shirt fifth year. Not only did they see winning leave but they also saw their teammates leave. Attrition was terrible and the toll losing took was sometimes over shadowed by injuries. The very best of the class never even finished their senior year, or at least missed significant time due to injury.

Khalif Barnes, who was easily the very best of his class, missed almost half his senior year as did Zach Tuiasosopo. Derrick Johnson and Jimmy Newell likewise missed key playing time and Charles Frederick, who was easily the most skilled of the group, could not play almost his entire senior season due to a hamstring pull. Certainly the Huskies' record would have been a lot better if these players could have played the whole year.

The funny thing is that many of them are as much winners as any kid that I have seen come through Washington. There is no way Newell and Barnes and Tuiasosopo are not some of the finest young men I've seen go thru that school. They are such winners as people and their teammates like Tim Galloway, Ryan Brooks, and Sam Cunningham likewise were proud Huskies who gave their all to the Purple and Gold. The two walk ons, Mike McEvoy and Eric Roy, both earned letters and are certain to have success in their lives outside the game.

Unfortunately for all of them, they will always be known for a negative. Funny how that works, but often times that's just the way it falls. Life isn't fair and for them, their time at Washington was one of hectic circumstances over which they had little or no control. I would take any of these men on my team. They have suffered enough for all of us who are Huskies.

I still think the players and coaches lacked the necessary support to help them overcome the scandals and administrative crap that co-existed with their time at Washington. They were simply there at the wrong time.

Now, they too can sit back and watch the rebuilding of this once great college football program. When it does turn around, they will know that they were instrumental the effort. They will always have each other in the bond that comes with being a teammate. They will have every right to be part of the turn around when it happens, for they endured the worst of the worst.

Like all other Husky fans I suffered with each loss. I felt terrible for these young men, because for most, I knew it was their last season playing a great and honorable game. They were beat up, beat down, and simply humiliated. It was a lesson that will always mean that they endured. They didn't quit. They accepted the challenge and the results and still came back week after week trying to change the outcome. When it was all over they were still standing and standing together. I salute them for their courage and their commitment to Husky Football. They represent what the game is all about. They were teammates and they were competitors.


Dawgman.com Top Stories