Coach's Corner

I admit that the game of professional football is not my preference as I concentrate my energies on the college game and most specifically, Husky Football. It is my only beat and the only team I cover in my dabbling as a sports journalist.

I was an original season ticket holder in the old Kingdome and I am a loyal Seahawk fan simply because I am so provincial. I root for and follow all the local teams.

I was attending the Huskies spring scrimmage during the first day of the draft and helped my folks move the second. I cared only in so far as the Seahawks were concerned and any Husky kid who was lucky enough to hear his name called.

Two more Huskies were drafted in the fourth round and it was no surprise that it ended there. Two this year, one last year in the 2006 draft, and two the year before that (2005), followed the three from his first full recruiting class of 2004 (I'm not counting Cody Pickett who committed to Coach Lambright, and had red-shirted behind Tui). These eight represent the total number of players signed from the Rick Neuheisel five year era of recruiting.

Of course, the zero (none, nobody) drafted in 2003 probably falls in my lap as it was in the transition year between coaching staffs. This number properly reflects the struggles of Husky football over the past four years. It also represents the worst period the program has experienced in almost 40 years. Transition years can be tough on recruiting and unless it goes smoothly, you pay for it down the road 4-5 years later.

The one decent transition I remember was from Neuheisel to Gilbertson when the then recruiting coordinator, Chuck Heater stayed on board and helped finish a class before moving on to work with Urban Meyer. Chuck, by the way just signed the number one class in America (again) this year for Florida. A classy man who deserves good things to happen to him.

I wished I would have taken the same attitude Chuck did and maybe that 1999 recruiting class would have been better. I really felt I had a solid shot at kids like Marcus Trufant (WSU), Ryan Long (WSU), and Nate Burleson (Nevada), all kids I was personally in contact with. All were waiting for the new staff to consider them. They quit waiting and now they all play on Sundays.

What is interesting to me is that Stanford has had the second most players drafted next to USC over this same recruiting period and many of those kids were drafted by Coach Tyrone Willingham. I also noticed that in this just completed draft that Notre Dame was second with the most kids drafted, also all recruited by Coach Willingham.

Now, you all know I'm a "homer" and that I always be an optimist, but it's hard not to say that Coach is a very good recruiter and the kids they already have committed next year seem to substantiate that assessment.

I think the draft shows that although he was an excellent in-person and on the phone recruiter, Coach Neuheisel's evaluation system failed miserably.

The number of kids you get drafted is only one of many criteria you consider when evaluating your program. It is definitely an indication of your evaluation system but it ranks well below in importance with the number of championships, the number of graduates, the number of bowl games, the number of All-Americans and All-conference players, and the numbers of attrition and off the field problems. Those are the most important criteria for evaluating a program. Of course, you can say that the draft indicates the number of high end players you bring in and develop, but when you realize less than 5% of your kids are going pro anyway, it really only reflects the number of "elite" players your program turns out.

That being said, you can still graduate 80% of your kids, go to a bowl game every year, and have 10 kids drafted in one year, and get fired. Just ask Jim Lambright. Top Stories