A rabies checker
Richard Linde, 1 October 2008
Looking ahead, I took a realistic look at
the Huskies' prospects for the season some time back, spurred by Ivan Maisel's (ESPN)
optimistic forecast for the Dawgs. (See my article, "Depth Issues," 1
I wrote back then, "For several years now,
carpetbaggers carrying some sort of crystal ball and tons of arrogance
have bestowed their unbridled optimism on the Huskiesí upcoming season.
As the season spirals south, the resulting tailspin fuels discontent,
disappointment, and disenchantment among the fans."
Note, that last August, the Pac-10 media
wonks predicted an eighth-place finish for the Dawgs. Good for them.
A few of the wonks called the Dawgs'
schedule the toughest in FBS football. Right on.
So a 0-4 start for Tyrone Willingham -- with
a lack-of-depth, too-much-youth, dire forecasts and rough schedule,
these all in mind -- should come as no surprise to anyone, except to the
wonks who called for a win over the "tall Tree Cards" last week.
Losing that one game shouldn't have made so
much difference to those in the media about Ty's future, regardless of
Jake Locker's broken thumb.
But...Coach Jim Harbaugh seems to be working
the miracle at the Tree, we all hoped Ty would bring to the Evergreen
State. Harbaugh had a losing mentality to change, while Willingham had
unrealistic expectations left over from the Don James era to surmount as
well as the cultural stuff.
Willingham never had the full synergy of the
fan base, the players, the assistant coaches and the administration all
working for him at one time. Instead, at one time or another, the fans
were fractionated, one or more key players were sulking, a couple of
assistants were slipping in performance and the administration was
caught up in the stadium remodel.
Willingham brought law and order to Montlake
as a first step in repairing the football team; he was rewarded with
grousing and grumbling on the Internet.
He's the nicest coach I've ever met at UW,
so maybe I'm biased.
Example 1: Determining that both my wife and
me needed directions, he introduced himself to us, and then he and his
wife escorted us to the main lobby of a large hotel that we were
wandering about in. On the way to the front desk to register, we chatted
about golf and the Huskies.
Example 2: An impromptu, unsolicited visit
to our breakfast table the year before and talk about the upcoming
Example 3: Always gracious at Picture Day
and the band function held at the Don James Center.
Almost everyone agrees that Willingham will
likely get the ax at season's end. School president Mark Emmert gave him
one year to get his act together, which to most experts meant taking the
Dawgs to a bowl game. Willingham was a liz-franc injury away from doing
that in 2006.
Willingham must win 6 of the season's
remaining 8 games for his team to become bowl eligible. If Jake Locker
returns for the Apple Cup, I see a win there. But that's all.
With Willingham's future as Washington's
coach hanging by a thread, recruiting could take a resounding blow due
Scout.com ranks Washington's 2009 recruiting
class 71st in the nation, listing just 6 recruits.
four-star DT Deandre Coleman
is considered a soft commit and is looking elsewhere.
The defensive line desperately needs an infusion of studs.
But recruiting will most likely suffer
whether Willingham is fired now, resigns now or is let go at the end of
the season. Making a decision on him at this time just to salvage
recruiting seems untimely. AD Scott Woodward says Willingham gets to
finish the season, and then we'll see.
What happens if there are some blowouts along
the way, with evidence of the team quitting on the coaching staff?
What happens if there is a booster
insurrection, a rebellion of rabid ex-supporters making the current one seem
tame? What if boosters over at dawgman.com begin to froth at the mouth
as loses mount.
Rabies is contagious and we could have a whole dot-com filled with
frothing circuits spilling into the Internet, its gateways and IMPs. *
Locker's nonchalance on the sidelines after
he was hurt against Stanford was not a good sign. Perhaps, he was happy
to leave the debacle behind on the field. The Post-intelligencer quotes
him as saying, "I think you guys know me and the fact that, yeah,
it sucks being injured and not be able to play, but to sulk and feel bad
for myself and be a negative vibe is not going to help anybody --
especially those guys that are in the game and that I was out there with."
Some defensive lapses in the
last two games are also troubling.
Not even Gil Dobie (58-0-3) could survive a
player mutiny (which school president Henry Suzzallo said he started),
nor could a former Lieutenant Governor, John Cherberg. Jim Owens was
luckier with the outcome of his mutiny...I think.
At Washington, itís the bottom line that is
hurting Ty the most: a 0-4 season and 11-29 overall.
Keith Gilbertsonís losing record (7-16) has hurt him, too, and,
unconsciously, with many fans, that record is being added to Tyrone's
record. No bowl since 2002 is all certain fans see.
Both Gilbertson and Willingham stepped into
calamitous situations. What happened to Gilby -- and now apparently to Ty -- is not
But life is not fair and fans are fickle. It
is hard to feel too sorry for Tyrone, though. Along with his salary for
the year, Tyrone will receive a buyout at the end of the year that will
exceed that of what most hardworking Americans make in a lifetime.
Last Sunday, I had my eye on coach Lane
Kiffin during the Raiders/Chargers game. I wonder? Can he write a rabies
checker to combat the frothing integrated circuits infecting those of the
used to front the hosts on the old ARPA network. Nowadays they're called
routers. IMP=Interface Message Processor.