Thank you to those of you that submitted questions for the "Ask Dawgman" column. It was an interesting two weeks of "49er-Gate," but I am so glad that it finally went away. Now, on to the letters. Tomorrow will be Dick Baird's first crack at answering his mail, so be sure to write in to Coach B and let him know you're there.

From Frank B in Ohio
Dear Dawgman
Hopefully you're in for a little rest after the season, second season, and getting ready for spring ball. Tell the gang thanks for another job well done. For RN and the coaches, another very impressive "haul." Not sure if that is the right word, but a great effort nonetheless. I am one, I think of a few, that really don't see anything wrong with Rick getting called up to look at positions. (I've been negotiating on and off with the UW for over a year now - do you think Rick would put in a word for me? I'd really like to get back to Seattle- it would be a hell of a lot easier to get to the recruiting banquet).

I think the bottom line is that it pretty much states that Coach Rick is considered a really strong coach. If he takes a position, good luck to him, the program is in better shape now than it was prior to his arrival. Anyway regards to the DM crew and thanks from this displaced Husky.

A: Thanks Dr. Frank. Always a pleasure to hear from you. I do think Neuheisel and staff had a nice recruiting haul. As for Rick interviewing for the SF job, I don't think many fault him for that. It was just the cluster-XXXX that ensued that could've probably been avoided. Let's leave it at that. Do I think Rick will put in a good word for you? Well, the staff can always use a great heart surgeon, especially a UW alum. I'll tell him to put in a good word for you. Keep in touch.
From Lone Dawg
Dear Dawgman:
I read in one of the newspapers on-line that UW has the most impressive collection of football assistant coaches since the Don James era. What's your opinion? Perhaps, in the midst of the latest flap concerning Neuheisel, overlooked is the hiring of two new assistants and the scare of losing Gilbertson to the 49ers. Perhaps, the addition of Snow as co-defensive coordinator and the hiring of Cozzetto as line coach and Pettas as the QB coach will result in a better win/loss record not only for next season but also in the seasons to come. One can only hope. Again, thank you for your fine web site and for your professionalism in covering the latest Neuheisel affair. Not everyone was so professional about it.

A: I think the staff got a great deal better, certainly. Losing Ax was tough but Pettas is a great addition, and he and Cody are already familiar with one another. The offensive line needed an overhaul and Cozzetto is the guy to do it. He and Gilby go way back. Snow will work beautifully with Hundley and Hart – all three know each other well. As for reporting on the Neuheisel affair, I'm glad you liked the way we did it, but we didn't do anything other than report the things had happened. That's all that really needed to be done, right? There was no need for us to throw anything else on the fire.
From Texas Dawg
Dear Dawgman:
A few quick questions from a transplanted dawg down here in god-awful Texas. 1) How good of a chance is Clayton Walker going to get at starting this year? I've heard you and others say how much of an animal he is so will he get a fair shot at starting? 2) Where is Francisco Tipoti? Is he still a Dawg?

Lastly, I'm tired of something. We gagged the holiday bowl away and even worse was the way we blew the Michigan game last year. It seems the dawgs come out asleep the last two years and when they finally wake up its too late. I would have put all my marbles into going after Mike Riley this year. He is the one who built Oregon State, Erickson just inherited his talent. That makes the Pac-10 even stronger which is incredible. Anyways I appreciate your site and would love to hear your thoughts on these issues.

A: With a new offensive line coach, you'd better believe that if Clay Walker is good enough, he'll start. He looks to be a great interior line prospect with some nasty. He'll need to beat out either Todd Bachert, Aaron Butler, or Robin Meadow to earn that title, though. As for Cisco, he is buried on the depth chart at tackle. As of this date, he is still a Dawg to my knowledge. Your point about Mike Riley is a good one – he did build OSU from the ashes of the Jerry Pettibone era, and Erickson inherited a fine program. With Riley back, OSU remains a very tough team.
From Eugene in Bellevue, WA
Dear Dawgman:
First I would like to commend you on the great site! I'm a die-hard Dawg fan, you may have seen me at games with a helmet on. I heard from a friend that if Rick did leave to the 49ers, there had been talk about Jim Mora to take the helm. Have you heard anything regarding this issue? On another note, I also heard that Maurice Clarett will see some time at LB. Do you think he'll be able to manage playing both sides of the ball against the Dawgs? See you in Columbus! Go Dawgs!

A: I didn't hear of any backup plans in the event that Neuheisel departed for San Francisco. Since Barbara didn't know that he had interviewed, I doubt that there was a contingency plan in place, however. Maurice Clarett at linebacker, huh? That would be interesting to see, considering how injury-prone he was last year. I would question that move. I'll definitely see you in Columbus.
From Ivar
Dear Dawgman:
I have been in and around sports for a good many of my 76 years. And, I have a few observations to make:
1. Far too many fans know more about any sport you could name than any Coach you might name. And, their comments are seldom of the positive sort. I much enjoyed attending High School sports until I sat in close proximity to parents of players. Predictably, their kid on the bench was clear evidence of the stupidity of a Coaches call.
2. While any Coach would be foolish to assume he, or she could maintain a "privacy" corner in and for their lives, the need of almost everyone to pry is a well-established fact of life. And, "putting the best construction" on anything a Coach says or does is not a dependable habit for those who pry.
3. Every truly successful Coach is wanted by a school or team lacking a coach. Forgive me if you must, but I would rather have a successful and wanted coach on the bench for a few years than a loser who dependably hangs on.
4. The vast majority of supporters are not what I would call "political animals." By that, I mean they don't beg space to voice their opinions. They offer their hard earned $$$ supporting the Tyee Club and fork over for their Season Tickets.
5. Our present Coach Neuheisel should not be put in a position where leaving the program is attractive only because the 'boo birds' get more than their share of the ink. He is a proven, successful Coach. Just check the record of wins and losses. Just check the loyalty of his student athletes. Please, name me a more successful Coach when it comes to recruiting. He has detractors, yes. Other Coaches regularly defeated by Neuheisel's troops don't choose him to be a "bosom buddy." They even use every conceivable opportunity to make him look bad.
6. Every successful Coach prepares his team with a game plan. The Coach and his assistants make painful and precise game plans based upon the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent as well as the strength and weaknesses of their team. And that plan is not submitted to the media or to spectators for their approval before being put into place.
And finally
7. Go Dawgs.

A: Ivar, every time you write me I enjoy your letter immensely. Please write more often, won't you? I love your views on things, and I wish everyone could put their tongues in their cheeks more often and not take themselves so seriously.
From DK in Bellevue
Dear Dawgman:
I'm amazed that writers and other in the media, who should know better, talk about filling needs during recruiting, based on graduating losses in the senior class, or perceived weaknesses in the present team. Truth is, other than exceptionally talented freshmen, the incoming freshman class is irrelevant to a team's current needs. Freshmen don't start counting until 2-3 years from now! Instead the focus should be on today's redshirt freshmen and sophomores.

A: Very good point. Coaches must forecast need based on class, and not just immediate concerns. That is why the need on the line wasn't as great as everyone thought – last year the Huskies brought in four linemen that they are very high on (Robin Kezirian, Clayton Walker, Daniel Milsten, and Stanley Daniels).. Those guys are the ones that will be filling the immediate needs, and not so much the guys in the current class. Although Jordan Reffett and Mike Mapu may fill the bill sooner rather than later.
From Todd in Olympia
Dear Dawgman:
Dawgman, I have a thought on the whole Neuheisel controversy that took place. My first reaction was that this was just one more example of a collection of "small mistakes" that were growing into a mountain. I am getting tired of all the continual controversy, whether it's recruiting violations, rumors of looking at other coaching jobs, whining about other Pac-10 coaches, or whatever. It would be nice to have an entire season with nothing to talk about but football and the players. I do think Rick has one opportunity to shed his "Slick Rick" image and salvage his career at U.W. If he uses this as motivation to 'circle the wagons,' take on an "us against the world" mentality, return to basic hard hitting, smash mouth football and take this team to the Rose Bowl, it could be the start of something good and go a long way in changing his image. Thanks for your articles.

A: I couldn't agree with you more. Rick's entire focus will be to get the heck out of the spotlight and let his team and staff do the talking on the field. Husky football has been too focused on the head coach lately, and Rick would agree with that. I think you'll see that change and the press will be more focused on his players this spring and fall. I love the new staff additions, they definitely shout, "Hard-nosed football," something that Rick will admit has been missing. Expect Cozzetto and Snow to ratchet up the heat.
From Dennis G
Dear Dawgman:
For me the disappointing aspect of Rick is he ends up being such a target for everyone: fans, other coaches, the league and the media. His handling of the 49'ers interview is a good example. Rick is only the one-millionth coach to have interest in another job and interview for it, but tell the media he has no interest and he's staying put. It happens routinely. As recently as 2 months ago Mike Price downplayed his interest in the 'Bama job and denied he'd been contacted, then he took the job. Yet when Rick does this, he's a branded a liar. Did he lie? Absolutely. Isn't that what virtually all coaches do publicly when leaving a current job for another? Absolutely. So why is Rick treated differently? Why is the scrutiny of Rick more intense? I think it's because Rick is perceived as a perpetual rule-bender and a spin-doctor. He may tell the truth, but it's not the whole truth. Slick Rick is an accurate nickname. He brings his trouble on himself. I believe if Rick had never come to the UW but instead was coaching at a different Pac-10 school, our dislike of Rick would be off the charts.

A: I'll admit that Rick polarizes the Husky fan base like no other coach before him, but I think he'll turn it around and prove to everyone that he's a winner and can establish Washington as a hard-nosed football team that can run the ball. Rick learns from his mistakes, and he'll learn from his latest one, too. He'll never win a popularity contest among the coaches he competes against, but he's not paid to do that. He's paid to win ball games and to make sure that his kids graduate.
From HR
Dear Dawgman:
Hello Dawgman, It now appears that USC could be rising up to take over the conference once again with Pete Carroll firmly entrenched as coach. What is your opinion of his interest in leaving USC in the future possibly for the NFL? Why is it that they have such recruiting success down there every year also? The weather, the school? This year recruits seemed to be begging to play for Carroll and he had to turn them away. Very frustrating!

A: I think Carroll is very happy where he is, to be honest. He's having fun and he's made USC red hot once again. They are restoring a proud tradition down there, and the kids in the LA area that were once on the fence about leaving for school are now sticking around to become a part of it. The class he just pulled was nothing short of amazing. Now let's see what he does with it.
From Doug Parris
Dear Dawgman:
I was disappointed to hear you say the media don't really "invent stories." I know of numerous examples of precisely that, particularly in the political arena, including several front-page news stores in the Times and P/I that were complete fiction. The papers have a clear ideological axe to grind that is traceable and indefensible. Have you forgotten the vendetta of distortion and lies that resulted in draconian penalties to the Husky team and the retirement of Don James? Can you point to a single rules violation by any member of James staff? Are you unaware of the years of repeated references to the "cheating"?

A: I have not forgotten the penalties levied against the Husky team, but they were meted out by the Pac-10 institutions, not the media. I won't point to any rules violations by James or his staff, other than they didn't have a good knowledge of the summer jobs program in Los Angeles that was not, shall we say, "well monitored." Sure the media took up the witch hunt because of how successful the UW had become, but let me remind you that it was the UW itself and its former president that decided to have themselves investigated to the fullest extent and to fall on the sword at every turn, rather than defend their proud head coach and school. I don't blame the media for how severe the penalties were. But your view that the media invents stories is noted. Thanks for sharing your letter with us.
From JSM
Dear Dawgman
Will these kids be in the 2 deeps or at worst at least in the 3 deeps come late August? OL's Brooks, Kava, Vanneman, Sa'au and Tipoti? TE's Heater and Tyler and will Tyler RS? RB's Rankin and Moss and will both be RS, I hope so? Who will be the top 3 or 4 FB's on the '03 team? DL's (DE's & DT's) Alailefaluela, Lasee, Savicky, Coffin, Milsten, Conwell and Reffertt and will Reffertt RS? LB's Crutchley, Lingley and Jones? DB's Cunningham, Massey, Taylor, Ballew, Biddle and Shaw? At what position do you think Carothers will be playing come Ohio State? And will the staff this year try to RS as many kids as possible from the 2003 class, like they did with the 2002 class? it sounds as if there will be a few for sure from the 03 class play right away but will they try to RS as many as they can? Thanks for any info on these kids.

A: Vanneman and Sa'au will be in the two-deeps. Heater will be in the two-deeps, but maybe not at tight end. Wait and see. Tyler should redshirt. Rankin should also, but I think you may see Moss at safety. All of the defensive linemen you mentioned should challenge for two-deep status. Savicky looks like he has the furthest to go, and Reffett may need a redshirt year. Crutchley and Lingley aren't in the twos yet, but Jones certainly will be. I think Carothers will play strong safety at times and SAM LB in the nickel. As for redshirts in this class, look for 20 to sit the pine and learn. I think that both kickers, Mapu, Wallace, Moss, Chambers, Williams, and perhaps Shackelford could get playing time in 2003.
From Football Gr8
Dear Dawgman
Will Wilson Afoa redshirt? If he does not, will he get a good amount of playing time and at what position? I ask because I have seen him play in person and I do believe he could make good impact as a true freshman.

A: Wilson will redshirt. I think he'll wind up on the interior of the defensive line after putting on some weight. He is very athletic and runs well, boding extremely well for his future.
From Husky 713
Dear Dawgman
Thank You for this INCREDIBLE sight, we really appreciate the great work that you and your staff are doing. When Coach Neuheisel was named the Dawgs Head Coach, I was very happy and very excited, and NOTHING has changed. I am so very GLAD that he (and his staff) are with UDUB!! Coach Neuheisel, is a very intelligent, competitive, and highly motivated D1 coach. For the "naysayers," they should ask themselves how they would like it if Coach Neuheisel was coaching one of the OTHER Pac-10 teams? Ironically enough, one of my 3 BEST friends is a grad of CU and for many years when we talked, as we FREQUENTLY do of football, I was very envious that CU had a coach the caliber of Coach Neuheisel. One more thing - I would like to recommend a WONDERFUL venue for the Arizona game: it's a guest ranch outside of Tucson called the "White Stallion," every year we play the "mildcats" I stay there, it is really a lot of fun! Here's the URL if you will be going to Tucson: www.wsranch.com. You should try and make reservations now, in as much as the "White Stallion" is very popular and some rooms are booked a year in advance.

A: Thank you for the note and for the recommendation for lodging in Arizona. I would imagine that some Husky fans will read this and heed your advice. GO DAWGS!
From Mike M
Dear Dawgman
Whatever happened to Demar Baisy?

A: Fred is going the JC route and will be recruitable once he receives his AA degree.
From Chris P
Dear Dawgman
I really don't know what to think. Is Neuheisel really going to try to fix the running game or is he just telling us what we want to hear? Do we really have that much young talent or are they just over-hyped recruits? Can bringing in Phil Snow and some of these other new assistants really help our program? Why do we constantly lose coaches year after year? Do they know something we don't? You can only live on past tradition for so long and other than the magical Rose Bowl season a few years ago, we just haven't been that good. Average at best. What is it going to take to return to dominance? I know the landscape of college football has changed and with the balance of the Pac-10 being so competitive, I'm not looking for 12-0 seasons every year but how about above average seasons on a consistent basis? As Derek Johnson put it, Neu is a square peg in a round hole and just isn't good for Husky football. Even if he brings us our 12-0 season, he just isn't what I believe the University of Washington is all about. He will no doubt jump ship soon and leave us all feeling like a one-night stand. How about giving him what he deserves, a swift kick in the ass out the door and a lesson, you don't use people, manipulate or lie if you truly want to be a great role model and successful head coach. He has done far more bad than good since he has come to the UW and maybe we need to take a look at B. Hedges as well. Is this what she envisions for Husky football? Let's up his salary and give him what he wants while meanwhile, he moonlights around behind our backs to try to find a better position for himself all the while telling us he wants to be a Husky. Neu, in my book, you aren't a Husky, never will be a Husky and are a disgrace to the proud legacy of Husky football, which included the blood and sweat of my grandfather John Wiatrak and his two brothers.

A: I think Rick will prove you wrong. Only time will tell, but my money is on Rick turning this around. The staff additions sent a clear message to me that he knew that he had to get tougher coaches. You mentioned that you wanted to give coach a lesson – well, how about seeing if he's learned his lesson and watching what happens this year and next? He is a smart guy, too smart to not learn from his mistakes. I think Rick will prove you wrong if you give him a chance. If I'm wrong, I'll admit it.
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