Ask Coach Baird

Hello Dawg fans. August is upon us and camp Husky opens for action in one more week. I can't wait to head up to Seattle and go check out the battles live. Won't be long now until we get a feel for where the boys are. And now, onto your letters...

From Scott Searing
Coach Baird,
: I desperately want the DAWGS to start winning again. This is the most painful time that I can remember. I think we were spoiled for so long. Now we have the athletic department making remarks that the sell out crowds are a thing of the past...accept it. I have a dream that if we build it (the program) they will come! Just look at the state of Husky Basketball, who would have thunk it just three years ago. Things change and I think we can bring it back, bigger and better even. But we need to start building support again. Is our Athletic Dept and the UW Administration up to the challenge? I wonder...I really wonder and PLEASE! GET RID OF THOSE HORRIBLE GOLD PANTS WITH THE AWAY UNIFORMS! PURPLE! THE HUSKIES COLOR IS PURPLE!

A: I can't do anything about uniforms so I can't help you there either. Personally, I think Nike is the reason for all this changing of Husky colors and logos and tradition. I have never liked the weasel and I think there is a distinct difference between purple and lavender. I also like gold - not some hybrid tan. I think that the uniform styles of Oregon, WSU, and other Nike schools are too modern for this old coach. Subtle change is cool, but please not the radical crap that the Ducks do. Winning will come with time and implementation of a system. You can't change coaches like underwear and have success. Barbara Hedges did this to Washington Football. Not defending Coach James and then going thru three coaches in 10 years pretty much put this program behind the 8-ball. They had better stay with their guy now or they will certainly lose even more support. Any of the coaches they have had could have been successful with the right administrative support. I think Tyrone has that and that is why he will turn it around. Keep the faith. They will go back to the Rose Bowl by 2010 if not sooner. And you and I and all the other die-hards will be there with them.
From Larry Eberhardt
Coach Baird,
: My wife and I have really enjoyed meeting you in the past and also reading your articles in Sports Washington. My wife is the lady from Napoleon's home town (Lompoc). I am constantly getting questions about the apparent lack of interest in "star" prospects in this area from co-workers. What is the reason for that? Is it sometimes just need for certain positions? If I remember correctly a previous coach recruited too many "athletes" and it sometimes didn't work out.

A: First of all the central coast is a tough place to get to but I don't think there is any organized effort to avoid it. We had great success there because Chris Tormey worked it harder than other coaches did. I am positive that Coach Willingham and staff will take any kid who is interested in the Huskies no matter where he lives. It's always nice to get a pipeline going but they tend to run dry. Hopefully Washington will develop a stronghold there and in the state of Washington as well. The west coast is still their primary recruiting area. Another Napoleon or Mark Brunell would be cool.
From CalDawg1972
Coach Baird,
: There was recently an article in the Seattle Times that was about the football team's conditioning; or lack thereof. The article suggests that even though there were glowing reports of last summer's voluntary attendance, it wasn't really that good. It further suggested that over the past three years (at least) off season conditioning was terrible. can see that during the transition from Neu to Gilby there would be been a drop off, but a drop off from what? Did this poor off-season conditioning program begin with Neu? What is your opinion? Do you have any insight into off season workouts? Have you noticed the lack of interest in off-season workouts that the Times article alluded to? would certainly agree that the better-conditioned teams win games in the 4th quarter, and we certainly did that in Neu's Rose Bowl year with Tui. Was that more a function of Tui or good conditioning?

A: I read the same article and thought the same things. I can't give you an honest answer except that I do remember that the compliance system under Gilby specifically told him he could not make the kids stay during the summer. I do believe that things slipped during that period of ethics paranoia. Coach Neuheisel encouraged the kids to stay in town during the summers but I'm not sure what they actually did. You have to also remember that a kid died at Northwestern and at Florida State during summer workouts that were unsupervised so I'm sure everyone was a little shaky during that time. Coach Willingham wants the kids here for both conditioning and for their education. That is the exact reason why the Washington kids are graduating on time at a higher rate than just about anyone in the public sector. I know Pete Kaligis and Steve Emtman worked the kids hard during the summers but both expressed concerns about the quality of character and commitment by many of the players. I think it really goes back to ‘what kind of kid do you want in your program?' We won lots of games by finding kids that weren't rated high but would do anything to win and work as hard as we did.
From Tore Kragerud
Coach Baird,
: Now that recruiting is getting into full swing, exactly how many scholarships is Washington allotted this year and what is the breakdown of their needs.

A: Washington is always allotted the same number of scholarships in any one year per NCAA rules, and that number is 25 with a total not to exceed 85. It really doesn't make any difference how many you sign, it's how many actually enroll. This coming year they should have in the neighborhood of 20-22 scholarships to give. They have 19 seniors and because some kids have been declare as medical risks I believe they can take as many as 22. That said, Coach Willingham plays it pretty close to the vest and rarely offers a kid they won't take. However, they did sign some JC's who haven't made it into school and there is always attrition for some reason or another. I would say they will take 22 for this next class. The needs are at OL, TB, TE, and DE.
From Gordon Halverson
Coach Baird,
: Looking at the history at Stanford and Notre Dame, and the commits so far this year, Ty Willingham and his staff are obviously great recruiters - not to mention outstanding coaches. Last year the commits were maybe only fair by their standards, and understandably so given what's happened the past few years. What's your take on how long it'll take to get the program into the top 25 nationwide?

A: I can't put a timetable on the rebuilding process, but I do know that this program is improving. As a former coach, I really have no timetable to predict when it will get done, only that it is being accomplished. This season will give an indication of how far the program is back or how far it has yet to come. One game at a time. Beat San Jose State and take it from there. Let's face it, a 1-10 year followed up by a 2-9 year, would indicate that the level of talent probably isn't up to the standard it used to be. I think it is mostly belief. This group of players isn't that bad it terms of physical skills and size. They could probably become a faster overall team by better research in recruiting. I believe they know that and are taking measures to correct it. This season is step two in the Willingham restructuring of Husky football. I watch the program closely because I care a lot about the Husky Football. If they lose, then I want them to expect to win the next game. If they lose that one then I want them to expect to win the next one. Unfortunately, Gordon, I've been doing this for quite a few games in recent seasons. Let's hope they can beat the Spartans. 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. Top Stories