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SEATTLE - With a coaching vacancy at the University of Washington, many are starting to speculate on who will be the next head coach. No one knows what the team needs more than the players themselves. With so many different coaching options, there are a couple key components that the players feel they need in their next coach.

"Generally the trait has to be someone who can come in and resonate with the 18, 19, 20-year old kids, someone who could really get through to those kids," said graduating senior Michael Gottlieb. "When I look back at my experience and what's gone wrong, I don't know if anyone could say anything better or different than what (Tyrone) Willingham said. It's a matter of how the players will respond, embrace it, and buy into it. I think it should be someone who could come in and change the structure of the locker room, someone who could make the team adopt a new standard."

The winning standard is something that not many of the current Husky players have experienced in a long time. For instance, Washington is 12-44 during Gottlieb's career. Losing takes a toll on a team, and the longer it continues the harder it becomes to change that culture. The challenge for the next coach will be altering the team's mindset into a winning one. With victories coming about as often as holidays for the self-employed, this could prove to be a hard task.

"I haven't been in a winning situation so it's hard to say what we're missing. From everything that I've talked to with the assistant coaches and guys in winning situations, it's more of a standard that's consistent throughout the locker room," said Gottlieb. "As far as the new coach goes I think it'll be good. Whoever it is, it will be like a breath of fresh air. Whoever it is will represent hope and change."

Hope and change also represent two of the last straws for Washington football fans to grasp on to. The next coach needs to act quickly and effectively. This means not only having the players buying into his system but also becoming a so-called 'players coach'.

With so many different types of players it's almost impossible to define what a 'players coach' is, but in general it seems to be someone that takes a deeply personal approach. He takes time out of his day to show that he cares and can relate to the team.

"It would be nice to have a player's coach come back," said senior defensive tackle Johnie Kirton. "That's what got a lot us here in the last few years. Even the guys before me, those seemed to be the best years of success for the university. Other than that a coach is a coach. You have to go by the rules of the program. As long us as players follow that program it's going to be successful. But it would be nice to have a little bit more of a players coach as well."

"A coach that has your best interest, that really understands what it's like to be a student-athlete," said sophomore linebacker Mason Foster, ticking off his personal pre-requisites for an ideal head coach. "One that can really help you on and off the field, a guy who is really just there for you. He's really just there for you all around, on and off the field. They're there to help you out and a guy you could come and talk to: A real cool guy that you could really relate to."

"I think when you talk about players coach it's somebody that really resonates with the players," added Gottlieb. "Someone who really connects to them (the players) when you're talking to them (the players). I think it comes down to a guy that can relate to his players."

Being able to relate well appears to be something both returning and graduating players agree on when looking for the next coach of the Huskies. But that is only one aspect of the search. Some players want to have a coach that makes them feel wanted on the team and feel appreciated. "I guess outside of coaching and whatnot, you get on that personal level," said Kirton. "There's little things, you can't put a word or sentence on everything. There's little things coaches could do to make you feel more wanted. You're going to want to be around more and therefore learn more and that pushes you to be successful here and at the next level."

Besides personal attention, a head coach needs to be able to drive his team to victory and make them believe they can compete with any team in the nation. Sometimes after a bad game or rough season, players need extra motivation to win, and a coach should be able to provide that.

"Someone that will get guys motivated," Foster said, noting his own priorities. "Not taking anything away from coach Willingham but someone that the guys really want to play for, someone that really motivates everyone. (He needs to be) A high-energy guy whose personality matches a lot of personalities on our team, a guy who the guys on the team really want to play for: (Someone) young, someone who is real energetic, real enthusiastic, and just motivates our guys to go out and play: Someone that a lot of guys on the team really trust in and put all their effort into and really trust what he does and go out and play hard for him.

"That's the kind of coach I think will come in here and be successful."

While the coach will be new, a vast majority of the players will be the same. And those players put some of the fault for this year's mess on themselves. "Honestly it's way more on the players than on the coaches," said Gottlieb. "As someone leaving, I'm trying to leave these guys with a perspective that there needs to be a different standard for them. They need to be able to really attack the opportunity with a different mentality. Regardless of whoever comes in, that is the most important factor in my mind."

The new coach will come in and bring his own system and players will have the choice to buy into it or not. The coach can try and persuade the team to follow him, but he can't force the players to believe. The players will still have to put in the time and effort to win football games; the coach won't be able to win games by himself.


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