A Visit with Scott Woodward

In 1983, Washington traveled 2,500 miles to the Bayou for a football showdown with LSU. To my 12-year old imagination, the valiant Huskies were venturing forth into an exotic land to do battle. Of course, fate had other plans that night. LSU, supported by a record crowd of over 80,000 fans, ravaged Washington 40-14.

The game was replete with questionable and inscrutable refereeing. To this day, that contest marks the only time the two football programs have met.

Current Washington AD Scott Woodward was there that night, as a student.

"I recollect that game, but I can't tell you specifics about it," Woodward said.

Recently appointed to lead Washington's athletic programs, Woodward now oversees a football program in a desperate freefall. Husky Stadium is in disrepair. Head coach Tyrone Willingham's job is in jeopardy. And UW remains one of two Division I teams without a win in 2008. Woodward has stated that he will wait until season's end to decide Willingham's fate. Nevertheless, the AD continues to closely monitor the Husky players.

"It's tough, they're having a tough time," Woodward said. "I don't want to sugar coat it. But kids are amazingly resilient. They're looking forward to this week and this game (against Oregon State) and focusing on it. But to tell you it's not affecting them being 0-5 would be a lie. They're human beings. They don't like losing."

Woodward recently expressed on KJR his deep concerns with the underclassmen and freshmen being played on the defensive line. Every opposing offensive line this season has had its way with Washington up front. With the defense ranked #118 in the country, the results have been brutal.

"You worry about the impact on all freshmen you would like to redshirt," he said. "I was just making the point that you would like your interior linemen to have a year in the weight room and at the training table to get bigger and stronger. Because it's such a huge transition. Especially compared to positions like wide receiver or running back. Your body changes drastically that first year as you get into shape. Our young men, who are playing valiantly on the defensive line, will be exponentially better next year and in the future."

Speaking of the future, UW's future largely depends on needed repairs and renovations of crumbling Husky Stadium. Some WSU rabble-rousers, emanating from Cougfan.com, have cried bloody murder over Woodward's request for state funds. Will their protests make any difference?

"I don't think any," Woodward said. "I think it's silly. The Cougs and our departments have great relationships. They know that as we go, they go. They receive state funds and we don't begrudge them that. In fact we applaud it. I think the reasonable Cougs, the smart Cougs, will realize that if the Huskies get a little public money, the Cougs will too.

"What we're specifically asking for from the public sources of money--which is the tourism fees and tourism taxes-- is that they fix the health, safety and ADA of the Husky Stadium," he said. "And then the season ticket holders and alums will pay for the upgrades and refurbishments."

Woodward also addressed Husky legend Steve Emtman's recent public comments of not feeling welcome around the UW program. "All of our former athletes are welcome," Woodward said. "I've had dinner with Steve in Spokane and I think the world of him. He's an athlete that we revere and honor around here. And if he doesn't feel welcome, then that is sad to me. Because he is always welcome here as long as I have anything to do with it."

As the laborious season of '08 plods toward conclusion, it seems changes are on the horizon. Husky fans can look upon next year as a fresh start. Husky Stadium's atmosphere should be electric on Sept. 5, 2009, when powerhouse LSU comes to town. And when the Bengal Tigers come pouring out of the Husky Stadium tunnel, Woodward's past and present, in a sense, will collide.

"That's always an interesting perspective," Woodward said. "I recently sat and reflected about life's ups and downs. Back in 2003, I was sitting in Tucson at the stadium and saw one of the best performances of my life of an LSU team when we just slaughtered Arizona. Then I was there again two weeks ago, when we at Washington had an absolutely terrible performance on that same field. It was about as low as things have been. It goes to show that life does have its ups and downs and things usually will come full circle."
Derek Johnson can be reached at derekjohnsonbooks@comcast.net

Husky Football in the Don James Era available at www.derekjohnsonbooks.com

Dawgman.com Top Stories