Ask coach Baird

Recruiting is running down to the wire now Husky fans. It's the time when the "closers" in the Pac-10 go to work. It will be fun to watch Chris Tormey close this class, I think he'll do a great job. And now, onto the letters . . . .

From Scott Searing
: Hi Dick. I think it's a good thing to bring in JC help...but I have one caveat with that. Will they ACTUALLY be able to transfer their grades and qualify at the University of Washington? If not than why not? Why recruit a kid and HOPE that he will qualify? We need to recruit athletes who WILL qualify, enroll and play at the UW. I'm really getting fed up with recruiting guys who end up not being allowed to enroll at the U! i.e. Chris Handy and the kid who went to Arizona because THEY could get him in school! Both highly needed cornerbacks by the way! Why doesn't the UW have a sports or physical education degree?! It's really ludicrous and I think it should be changed.

A: I agree that recruiting a JC kid is only half the battle. Getting him admitted to a school that doesn't offer PE, Recreation, Sports management, or those kinds of majors is the second half. But, that said, it's pretty critical to get an infusion of talent there immediately. I think it's great they are trying and having some success. I coached at a JC and know exactly why the majority of those kids are at that level. Grades! Then when they get to JC and are living on their own, they take BS classes just to stay eligible at that level. Bowling and dance are hard classes to transfer in to the UW with.
From Josh Shaver in Anchorage, AK
Dear Coach Baird,
: I am curious about Crutchley, Benn and the 4-5 potential fifth year players that were told that their careers were over. Were these just guys that did not belong in D1 football, or were they not showing enough in practice to warrant a fifth year? I am saddened by the loss of Chambers and Shackelford as well, but maybe the loss of them and the aforementioned seniors will have attitudinal impact on the team.

A: The fifth year players you mentioned all are within range of completing their degrees. Scholarships are one year renewable contracts. There is no such thing as a four year ride or a five year for that matter. They have been going to summer school on the UW dime for 4 years already so should have their degrees by now anyway. Sometimes you have to clean house, so to speak. Also you can't worry about those who leave. I thought Chambers had a great ability to go to the ball except if he was catching it over the middle. Shackelford is back, I think you were referring to Sampson who left. Attrition happens in all programs but I felt all along that this program would need 3 straight classes of 22 strong to rebuild completely enough to win a Rose Bowl. I'll promise you there have been a lot of kids that quit every team in this conference. Say good bye, wish them well, make them promise you they will finish their degree and then concentrate on the warriors who remain
From Andy from Bremerton
Coach Baird,
: always appreciate your candid insight into the Football Program. I bleed purple & gold like a lot of the people that are members to this sight. I know the Husky's are relatively young & deep on the D-line but also banged up. What is the story with Jasper Henry? He came into the program maybe not as touted or heralded as Larry Triplett but cut from the same cloth. I know he was a track guy @ Dorsey & not just a field guy. I understand he ran on the 4x100 or 4x400. In your years of recruiting, you know the Dorsey High Track teams have tremendous sprinters. What is the hold up with getting him on the field or has he been hurt? He could add instant depth & athletic ability to the D-Line. One last thing we have some good young D-Ends Gunheim who could probably play at the next level and Rayford. When will we see more minutes out of Caesar Rayford? Thanks for you time & insight.

A: Jasper Henry has indeed been hurt ever since he came to Washington. I have watched him and I think he is short but explosive. He hasn't really been healthy enough ever to show what he can really do. Yes, Beno Bryant was one of my favorite Huskies ever, so I have always liked Dorsey. Gunhiem really came on strong at the second half of the season. I think he can be a Howie Long type player if he gets to 265 and keeps his speed. I think he will be a force next year. I really like Rayford as well but I don't know if he can put on enough weight by next year. Every time I walk by him he looks like a basketball player and I've never figured out why they don't look at both he and Chris Hemphill as a tight end. They would both be great big targets and it is obvious they need help at that position. The defensive line has plenty of inside depth but lacks the 4.5 kids coming off the edge. Enter Chris Stevens last year. I really like Afoa, Lobos, and the same goes for Donny Mateaki. I think Donny could break out as well if he too can conquer the injury bug. I wouldn't be surprised to eventually see Dan Howell as a pass rusher as well. Walt Winter just won't back down and that is a great quality. But the kid that I think is going to be the real deal is Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. Watch for him to emerge. I thought that White-Frisbee looked potentially great there as well. The D-line is pretty welled stocked. I think it just needs more speed off the edge.
From Brian Skinner
Coach Baird,
: Do you see the commitment to win from Todd Turner? My viewpoint is that he wants us to be competitive, but more importantly to be classy about it. Every time he talks about Willingham it isn't about wins/losses, he gushes over his "integrity" or "Honor" etc. etc. I am getting a little tired of the tripe and comments. I too like Willingham's approach to life, but if winning is not also at the top of the list it's not the Husky football I remember or will support with yearly increasing prices. If I did this to my customers (especially with the kind of product right now) I would not have them any more. We shall see if they lose any more season ticket holders and Tyees. I for one am on the edge. I am also getting tired of the few who suggest that real Huskies would never cancel their season tickets. That's B.S. It has not been fun for about 3-4 years now and it costs more than NFL seats at a much better venue!! Here's hoping it gets better real soon.

A: Todd Turner is obviously committed to Tyrone because he is his only big and significant hire since Turner came to Washington. His background was at predominantly basketball schools where they had great success at Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, and Vanderbilt. He is very astute and realizes the Husky culture even though many question his initial ticket raise following a 1-10 season. A daring move I might add. I think he has a much better understanding of what it takes to make football just as successful as basketball again and that Washington can be a power in both of the major revenue sports. I believe you will see that. Washington will win both titles one year under Turner because he is committed to those two sports. He certainly has a much better understanding of the sport of football than did his predecessor and that alone will help the recovery process for that sport.
From Ron Weeks, Jr
Coach Baird,
: First of all, Thank you for your time and energy you've invested into Husky football. My question is Do you think with the massive overhaul of personnel, attitude and dedication, that has already, and will continue to progress, that our Dawgs have a legitimate chance for a bowl game next year? I am not a patient man but I will be there every Saturday either way. If no, what about 2007? Thank you and Go Dawgs!

A: I thought the Huskies could have made a bowl game last year. Realistically they could have beaten UCLA, Oregon State, Air Force, and were right in the ASU game. They played USC as good defensively as anyone this past year. They were in the Notre Dame game. Cal and Oregon really tore them apart but they could've easily beaten the Cougars. They run the ball better, stop the run better, and greatly reduced their major mistakes such as fumbles, interceptions, and blocked kicks. Now they need to get out of the blocks with two wins and they could threaten for a bowl this coming season. They should win their opener then have to beat an always tough Fresno State. Winning in Norman will be really tough but then they only will have to go 4-4 in league and they are in a bowl. I know Tyrone Willingham intends to win every single game they will be playing in, including a bowl game. I say they go to a bowl next year and he is the coach of the year, Happy New Year. 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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