Vandal Connections Add Intrigue

There can be no doubt the University of Idaho has had a big impact on the revamped Washington Huskies. Of the 12 coaches on the Husky staff, no less than eight have roots or ties to the Idaho Vandals. That should definitely add some spice to the game being played Saturday at Husky Stadium between Washington and Idaho.

Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt served the Vandals as both a Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator working under both John L. Smith and Chris Tormey before becoming the head coach in Moscow himself in 2004.

Doug Nussmeier, the Huskies' offensive coordinator was a Hall of Fame quarterback for the Vandals, where he averaged over 300 yards per game passing and accounted for over 10,000 yards of total offense during his career.

Linebacker Coach Mike Cox, a native of Couer d'Alene, Idaho, played at Idaho under both Dennis Erickson and Keith Gilbertson, and was a Vandal captain. He finished his career there with over 250 tackles. He also coached there from 1987-94, helping the Vandals win four Big Sky championships.

Dan Cozzetto, the Huskies Offensive Line Coach and running game coordinator, also played for the Vandals and then coached there as well from 1979-89 before leaving to join Dennis Erickson at Arizona State.

Jeff Mills, who was a Graduate Assistant for the Huskies when they won their second national championship in 1991, also spent five years coaching at Idaho under Chris Tormey and served as the Defensive coordinator in 1998 and 1999. He returned to Moscow to work in the same role with Holt in 2004 and 2005.

Johnny Nansen, the Huskies' Defensive Line Coach, as well as their Special Teams and Recruiting Coordinator, also coached at Idaho for five years, including a two-year stint under Holt (this after going to school in the Palouse at Washington State before starting his coaching career nine miles to the east in Moscow).

Joel Thomas, the Huskies' Running Backs Coach, was a star running back for the Vandals from 1995 to 1998. Like Nussmeier, Thomas was elected to the Vandal Hall of Fame, and finished his career with 765 carries for close to 4,000 yards and 51 touchdowns. He finished his four years as the all-time leading rusher in Vandal history. He, too, returned to Idaho to coach under Holt.

Finally there is Mike Anderson, who is Washington's Defensive Graduate Assistant. He also played at Idaho and is a native of Lewiston, Idaho. Anderson was a four-year letterman for the Vandals and a starter for most of his time and played under - you guessed it - Nick Holt.

All of these guys realize the Vandals are a team that cannot be taken for granted. They already respect their upcoming opponent because of a love for the school that helped them in their careers. Each of them will also have the added motivation of finally getting the Huskies into the win column.

Whenever you play your own school it always adds a little incentive to your preparation. You can bet these guys will get the attention of their players as the Huskies want to (and need to) get their first win in the last 16 games.

You play for the next game. That is the reality of the season. This game against the Idaho Vandals is the most important game of the season right now. It does have special meaning for many of the Washington coaches, but no more so than simply winning the game.

They should, and will beat Idaho. They are already favored to do so. That alone is something this program has not been used to of late. Beating Idaho is just as important as beating LSU. Beating Idaho comes before beating USC in the priorities of this program. This is the proverbial "must win" and these coaches and players will collectively make it happen.

Their ties to the opponent can do nothing but help the Huskies in that effort.


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