Ask Coach Baird

Hello Dawg fans! Spring ball is right around the corner, beginning April 9th, culminating in the final scrimmage of the spring on April 28th. And now, onto your letters . . . .


From Chuck Johnson in Lacey, WA
Coach Baird,
: I enjoy your take on Coaches and their Loyalty and its one of the reasons I don't like pro sports anymore. How can one really embrace ones home team when there is no loyalty by the players? It's all about money. Enough on that I would love to get your take on our Husky's 2007 class. Are you going to be back on the Husky's honk show for 2007? I enjoy all your insights.

A: I will be back on Husky Honks again this year and I'm hoping to stay until they go back to and win the Rose Bowl. I think their recruiting class was the best since the 90's. Keith Gilbertson brought in one good class but unfortunately many didn't pan out, like the Ballard connection. This class has balance, speed, and appears to have some tough guys. I have always thought that Chuck Heater was a solid recruiting coordinator but that he never really made the calls. I think the head coach did and even though Rick was excellent on the phone his evaluation ability was flawed and so therefore so was his final results in recruiting. I really think that Coach Willingham's staff is thorough in their overall evaluation particularly when it comes to character. I liked the hitters I saw in this class but then again all I have to go on was highlights. Washington football as we knew it was essentially dismantled by Barbara Hedges and it will take two full classes just like this last one to effectively restock this team. They can win now, but in order to keep it going they need depth. Stability is the most important thing for this program and Husky fans should embrace this staff and have patience for them to complete the rebuild.
From Bill Muench
Coach Baird,
: Back when I was a student, I was under the impression that the stadium was constructed under contract to the ASUW who ultimately owned it. I remember this argument back when they first talked about trying to get the first professional football team (the Seattle Kings?) to share the stadium with the Huskies until finally they were reminded that neither the school nor the state owned the stadium, but rather the ASUW. I searched thru my copy of "HUSKY STADIUM" coffee table book and didn't see that this ever changed. Am I wrong and when did the ASUW give up admin on the facility?

A: I am not sure that the ASUW still owns it, but what I will tell you is that I am in favor of remodeling Husky Stadium and think it will take place in 2010. The same year the Huskies return to the Rose Bowl and win it. That is precisely what should have been done when we were running hot in the early nineties. If football hadn't been deemphasized at that time it would have made sense to repair the stadium THEN - when you had everything going in the right direction. Nothing was done to improve football until Rick Neuheisel insisted on some cosmetic changes years later. Since then it has been a keep up with Oregon game, with Washington trailing both on and off the field. Washington has the best campus stadium in the conference and desperately needs to bring up to date.
From Kris Kuhn in Bellevue, WA
Coach Baird,
: I have seen the sketches of the proposed UW Husky Stadium upgrade. It look fantastic. Especially with the track gone, and the stands moved much closer to the field (and players). Also, I love the 2nd decks connecting around the west end. It will be very intimidating to opponents, especially when they come out of the tunnel. My only criticism of the plan is that the seating capacity in this plan would not increase, but stay the same. I think if we are going to put this much effort into an upgrade, part of a complete upgrade is to also increase seating capacity. Not to do so would be a nice cake without any frosting. If we are to plan for the future, and the resurgence of Husky football, we need to keep up with the TOP programs in the country. My father always said to us kids, "If you're going to do something, do it RIGHT." Let's do THIS right. I hope you agree with me on this. If so, I ask that you please let the athletic director and any others who have influence that increasing Husky Stadium seating capacity is really necessary for this upgrade to be truly worthwhile. There are future generations to think of here...not just the present. Not just the fact that we're not ranked. That is only thinking of now...we need to think of the future here!!

A: I totally agree with you. At least take the stadium to 80,000. Then when they win, they can lead the conference in attendance again. I also agree that taking the track out will really change the venue. This should all have been done 10 years ago when they could have afforded to do so. Unfortunately, football was taken for granted and little or nothing was done to enhance that sport. Now they are trying to do something and money is the determining factor and costs have skyrocketed. I'm not sure they will ever be able to do anything now except cosmetic changes. Too bad because Washington could have expanded to 80-85,000 years ago and probably sold out. Now they could expand but not sell the seats. I will settle for a remodel and upgrade but why not at least go to 80,000 so they can borrow against that potential increase? Believe me the Huskies will average over 65,000 next fall just based on the schedule they have. There couldn't be a better time to start to process. Wouldn't it be great to se the Huskies have a winning season and pack the Stadium this coming season?
From L Snyder
Coach Baird,
: THIS IS MY FIRST YEAR FOLLOWING THE RECRUITING PROCESS. IT'S BEEN EYE-OPENING FOR A NEOPHYTE. WHAT I'D LIKE TO KNOW IS WHY WASHINGTON SEEMS TO BE LAGGING BEHIND IN CONTACTING THE BLUE CHIPPERS OF 2008. EACH ONE THAT I'VE LOOKED AT SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN CONTACTED AND OFFERED BY OREGON, USC, CAL, STANFORD, AND THE ARIZONA SCHOOLS, AFTER READING WHAT MOST OF THE 2007 CLASS HAD TO SAY ABOUT THEIR DECISIONS, 7 OUT OF 10 WERE LEANING TOWARD THE SCHOOL THAT WAS FIRST (letters, phone calls, visits) WITH THE MOST (scheduled school visits AND SCHOLARSHIP OFFER). IS THIS THE WAY IT IS WITH WASHINGTON OR AM I JUST BLOWING SMOKE?

A: The first day any NCAA school can send any correspondence other than a questionnaire to any student-athlete is September 1st of their junior year. Technically you can't initiate a call on the phone until the same day beginning their senior year. That is precisely why schools use email and talks with the high school coach because if they can get the kid to call them, then it doesn't count. I can't believe that people would be offering someone they haven't even talked to or met in person so I highly suspect very early commitments. I don't think Washington is behind because I know Chris Tormey operates according to this time table as that's what the rules are.

It is really more based upon how extensive your evaluation process is. Washington might not be throwing offers around as quickly as others, but I am positive that they have already offered many current juniors and will be adding offers as they complete their evaluation process.

Personally I think it is wrong to offer a kid until after he has completed at least the first semester of his junior year. Otherwise you don't even have half of the academics requirements completed and most haven't even taken the PreSAT much less the SAT/ACT. Another sad part about real early commitments is that they are not always honored as they are not binding agreements and they deny both the school and the kid a chance to do a thorough evaluation of each other. It also takes away an incentive to play really well your senior year. I always wanted to know how a kid matured during his senior year. What kind of leader did he become? What was his work ethic like? How well did he actually perform his senior season? What did he play like in the fourth quarter? Does he play both ways? Does he get thru his senior year with or without injuries? Does he play like an All league, all state, and all American type player? The point is there are so many answers necessary in your evaluation and you can't get any of them until they play their senior year.

Everyone is essentially offering kids sight unseen now days and I think it that is dangerous to both parties. Whatever, early signings are here to stay and I do admit to offering the whole Tuiasosopo family while on a home visit. We already had Leslie at the UW and so during the home visit I offered Marques, Matt, Zach, and Ashley all at the same time. I was serious and have remained friends with that family for life. My evaluation process then was based on character and character alone. I knew they were all winners and that Washington would benefit in lots of sports because of it.

Jay, I'm not sure what is going to happen with rule changes but personally I think people are jumping the gun all the time and there are more "bumps" and phone call mistakes as well as outright camp violations that result in lot's of these early commits. Rest assured though the Huskies are not behind in their offers. They just might be doing it correctly and according to their own process.
From Henry Helliesen
Coach Baird,
: With the rule change for kick-offs from the 30 yard line, how do you see the kicking game changing? Obviously there will be more runbacks. More kicks out of bounds in resignation to the 35 yard line? Will coverages or personnel be altered? Is there a chance of a third kicking position being created for kick-offs for traveling squad position or even a scholarship? Seems to me the best defense against the kick-off runback is a big leg that can put the ball deep in the end zone (or out) for a touchback. I have fond memories from my era of Jim Norton putting the ball thru the uprights on kick-offs. We thought that should have been worth 3 points or at least a rouge. Keep up the Andy Rooney imitation!

A: There has always been a premium on being able to kick off thru the end zone. Many teams employ two kickers because one has a stronger leg and the other is more accurate. Sean Douglas for example was a punter but also had a tremendous leg for kickoffs and was used accordingly as the back up and starter. There are many different coverages you can use but if the kicker has the full assortment of kicks then you need to cover for each type of kick" i.e., squib, bunt, pooch, dribble/pop, deep middle, deep right, or deep left.
From Scott Williams from Yakima, WA
Coach Baird,
: I enjoyed your article on the recent tournament selections and the Huskies omission from the NIT. While I have a decided bias (and proud to be) toward the Huskies, I believe the lopsided losses away to WSU, UCLA, Arizona and Gonzaga were the daggers that cut them out of these tournaments. However, as I emailed to Coach Romar (Who I wouldn't trade for any other coach in the country) I was so proud as a Husky fan of how hard they competed and the class they demonstrated in handling what could be demoralizing defeats. I am already excited for next season! I believe this group of Husky BB players and coaches will be on a mission! Dick, I continue to enjoy your columns and the occasions we see each other at the FB games.

A: Thank you for the kind note Scott. GO DAWGS!!!

Dawgman.com 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 Dawgman.com 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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