Tim Meamber Redux

When former Husky and NFL linebacker Tim Meamber spoke out in detail about the poor defensive coaching last year, a public maelstrom ensued. The article came on the heels of a second half collapse against Ohio State, at a time when many fans were giving Coach Tyrone Willingham credit for hanging close with the powerhouse Buckeyes for one half.

Fourteen months have passed since that time. Willingham is no longer with the program, and recently-hired replacement Steve Sarkisian is beginning triage upon his new 0-12 team. In this time of tumult and transition, Meamber reflected recently on the state of Husky football.

"When that article came out, it obviously reverberated throughout Husky nation in a big way," Meamber said. "There was a lot of positive feedback from former players. There was some negative feedback from angry fans in the stands who didn't really understand football. At the end of the day, I was proven right. We were headed in the wrong direction. And we basically haven't won a game since that article came out."

Linebacker coach Chris Tormey, whom Meamber also criticized last year, did not return a phone message left Wednesday.

Meamber meanwhile had some mixed emotions in how the situation was handled on both sides.

"I felt bad that it came out with a critical tone," he said. "But in my own way, I was trying to grab some attention to the fact that we were heading in the wrong direction. I had been getting field passes from the coaches for the last twenty-two years. I haven't been able to get a field pass since that article. In looking back, I wish it had been handled differently by both me and Tyrone. I wish he would have called me in and said `We don't need this.' I probably would have agreed.

"But I had gone in and talked to Tyrone beforehand, and told him what I was seeing," he said. "His refusal to talk to me at the time—that lit me up. We've got former players like myself that live and die by Husky football, and we sold our souls to that program. The last thing in the world we want is to see it go downhill. I probably should have handled it differently, but it is what it is. I'm a middle linebacker by nature, and that's the way it came out. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and it came from my heart."

As the 2007 season progressed into November, Meamber had a meeting with then-athletic director Todd Turner. Meamber left the meeting with no doubt as to what would occur.

"I went in and met with Todd Turner for a good hour," Meamber said. "I told him my position and the things that I was seeing. Then I wanted to know his position. He left no doubt in my mind that Tyrone was safe no matter what. And they kept him.

"And then the 2008 season started out bad and got worse," Meamber said. "The thing about the season, at least from a defensive standpoint, is that everything was horrible. We couldn't tackle, we didn't pursue the ball well, and we couldn't cover. That was the interesting thing in not having a field pass for the first time ever was that I was up in the stands. I heard the chorus of boos getting louder and louder as the season progressed."

With the recent hiring of Sarkisian, a fresh new era has arrived for Washington football. While many fans question Sarkisian's inexperience, the hire has rejuvenated Meamber.

"I've been asking around the country and everyone is speaking highly about him," Meamber said. "As an alumni base of former players, we now want to throw our support behind the new coach. I know I speak for 20-30 Big W Club members that played in the 1980s and 1990s. We're excited about Sarkisian. From what I heard, he's talked about the type of assistants he's going to bring in. He was under Pete Carroll at USC. I played with the Minnesota Vikings when Pete Carroll was an assistant coach there. He was very enthusiastic and inspirational. It was easy to see that he could be a great recruiter in college. I'm sure many of those qualities rubbed off on Sarkisian."

In looking to the immediate future of Husky football, Meamber looked to the final games of the disastrous 2008 season.

"The positive thing about the final games was that you could evaluate which defensive players were still giving effort," he said. "There weren't many. The thing that Sarkisian knows he needs to do is to run the cancer out of the program right now. He needs to identify who wants to play, and who the hell doesn't, and then run them out. I would bet my bottom dollar that next spring practice will be one of the most spirited and physical spring practices in Husky Football history. I encourage Husky Nation to go watch spring practice, because it should be a lot of fun to watch.

"I have heard that Coach Sarkisian has a defensive coordinator in mind who is one of the toughest-minded in the country," added Meamber. "I hope that's true, because we've got to learn to hit again. We've got to learn how to work hard again. We've got to learn how to have discipline again. We need to see some toughness back in this program. It's going to take some time to change the atmosphere. To take it from one polar opposite to the other. But if we can't have wins right away, if nothing else Husky fans need to see some big hits."

As the Steve Sarkisian Era of Husky football begins, Meamber is single-minded of purpose.

"I'm going to set up a meeting soon with him," Meamber said. "I'm going to introduce myself and ask for my field passes back."
Derek Johnson can be reached at derekjohnsonbooks@comcast.net

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

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