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The Fosbury Flop awards, 2003
By: Malamute, Updated 9 January 2004

These newest Pac-10 awards are named for Dick Fosbury, one of Oregon State’s finest student athletes.

The flopster broke the Olympic high jump record by clearing the bar with his back to it at the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City, leaving track and field traditionalists aghast. Conversely, the Fosbury Flop awards are given to members of the conference that have flopped the most this football season, each of them breaking the bar on his way down.

1. Keith Gilbertson, head coach at the University of Washington

Along with USC and Arizona State, Gilby’s Dawgs, 6-6 on the season, were one of the preseason favorites to win the conference championship. Not only did the Huskies miss out on the Rose Bowl, but they did not play in any bowl game this season. Up until this year, they had played in a bowl game every year since 1988, excluding those sanction years of 1993 and 1994.

Rick Neuheisel presented Keith Gilbertson with the keys to a brand new Cadillac; Gilby drove the Caddie into a carwash and it came out an Edsel, with a boy scout's compass replacing the navigation system, leaving Gilby as rudderless as Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

And then there were those perplexing lowlights of the season, which belong in the Pantheon of Husky Lows.

During the season, according to well-thought out headlines appearing on this site, the Huskies had “A Bearitable Nightmare at Berkeley,” were “Buried under the (Mike) Bell Curve” at Tucson and as “Choking Dawgs were Wolfed Down by the Wolf Pack” in Seattle. Jeez, how clever?

Teams they should have beaten, that is, California, Arizona and Nevada, beat them, 54-17, 27-22, and 28-17 respectively. The nation’s leading sackmeister, Dave Ball of UCLA, was the Huskies’ undoing in Pasadena, causing them to blow a first half lead and eventually lose 43-23.

Admittedly, the Neuheisel turbulence and an assortment of injuries and player attrition hobbled the Huskies but, just the same, Glibs must take responsibility for a misspent season.

With the quarterback situation in a state of flux for most of the season, look for the Huskies to flounder even more in 2004 and, perhaps, have their first losing season since 1976.

Besides taking the rap for the Huskies’ collapse this season, two egregious peccadilloes, which may be an oxymoron, sully Gilberton’s first year as head coach at the UW. He admitted participating in a 1999 office pool, but denied participating in 2001 and 2002 office pools run by former UW graduate assistant coach Ikaika Malloe. Malloe claims that Gilbertson participated in these pools, along with several other coaches and athletics personnel.

An anonymous complaint filed with the Washington State Executive Ethics Board alleged Keith Gilbertson violated state rules when he allows his family to fly for free to the Ohio State game on Aug. 30. Gilbertson's wife and three children flew to and from Columbus on a booster's private jet.

2. Mike Price, former coach at Washington State.

Price was fired before he ever coached a game at Alabama because he attended a strip club, woke up next to someone he didn’t know, and lied on his expense account.

Although he didn’t coach a game in the conference this season, his actions may have led to the ousting of Rick Neuheisel at Washington. According to rumor, some disgruntled Cougar fan, who didn’t like all the jokes about Price that circulated the web, snitched on Neuheisel’s gambling activities by sending over 100 e-mails to the NCAA.

3. Rick Neuheisel, former coach at Washington.

Technically, we don’t think Neuheisel broke any NCAA rules when he participated in two March madness pools in 2002 and 2003. And neither did assistant athletic director Dana Richardson misinterpret the rule when she said it was okay to enter such pools if done outside of the athletics department, as long as the participant was not administering the pool. However, Neuheisel used poor judgment by bidding on teams, since he should have known that, in spirit, the NCAA forbids gambling of any kind.  

Has any coach ever been fired for breaking the spirit of a rule?

4. Tom Hansen, Pac-10 commissioner.

After six years, Hansen has finally come to realize that the BCS algorithm does not take into account home and away games. Because of this, the BCS punishes Pac-10 teams that have home-and-home agreements with strong out-of-conference schools. If home-field advantage is factored into the BCS strength-of-schedule calculation, the Pac-10 moves from number four in SOS to number one in the country.

"I think that's the most important factor of all for us," Hansen said, "that we're playing the best non-conference schedules. There are obviously differences in geography. I always knew the Southeastern Conference teams were bringing in more opponents for home games."

5. Barbara Hedges, the athletic director at Washington.

She must take responsibility for the people she hired. As she said, responsible people need to act responsibly. In recent years, Hedges has fired Bob Bender (basketball coach) and football coaches Rick Neuheisel and Jim Lambright. She has dismissed softball coach Teresa Wilson for what appears to be a role in the “Dr. Feelgood” pills’ dispensing case, Wilson’s role at this time not being clear. 

Although there is no smoking gun linking Hedges to any wrong doing in pillgate, we believe she could have been more vigilant in light of early warning signs. We don’t have any hard facts, however, that would make a credible case for this conclusion.

So, what’s new on this site?

6. Dirk Koetter, head coach Arizona State Sun Devils.

See Keith Gilbertson above. Well, not all of it.

7. Lloyd Carr, head coach Michigan Wolverines.

His Big Ten champs were 0-2 in Pac-10 play, losing to Oregon at Autzen Stadium and to USC in the Rose Bowl. Pete Carroll handed Carr his lunch, packaged in a variety of sacks.

8. Pete Carroll, head coach, University of Southern California.

Carroll's Trojans should never have lost in triple overtime to California. Oh, sure we know the Trojans started the game sluggishly because of a bye week.

However, Carroll is sitting on a gold mine at U$C, which, coincidentally, is also known as the University of Spoiled Children. Have you ever seen those kids waving two fingers? That means I have two Ferraris, not one. With the collapse of UCLA, Carroll has his pick of the sun-kissed nuggets grown in California, the same formula John Wooden used to win all those NCAA championships in basketball. Add a Mike Williams out of Florida to the brew and Carroll has a perennial winner, not only at Starbucks, but on the gridiron, too.  

9. Karl Dorrell, head coach of the UCLA Bruins.

Because of his quick wit and talkativeness, Dorrell is also known as Karl Dullard on the pages of the Los Angeles Times. Two player defections and a dismissal mar his first year record at UCLA, along with his 6-7 record. Wearing headphones, quarterback Matt Moore overheard a conversation between Dorrell and Steve Axman that led to Moore's quitting the team. Dorrell told Axman to leave QB Drew Olson in the hopelessly lost game because Olson needed the experience for the future. Earlier this week, junior receiver Tab Perry was dismissed because of academic problems. Then yesterday, Ventura County's own Tyler Ebell quit the team.

10. The NCAA and Pac-10 officials who blindsided Neuheisel.

Neuheisel went into the infamous June meeting thinking that its purpose was to talk about a couple of minor NCAA violations, not the gambling incident. According to NCAA bylaw 32.3.6, Neuheisel was entitled to have his lawyer present at the meeting.

NCAA Bylaw 32.3.6 states that “When an enforcement staff member conducts an interview that may develop information detrimental to the interests of the individual being questioned, that individual may be represented by personal legal council throughout the interview.”

It is quite clear that the June 4 interview was detrimental to the interests of Rick Neuheisel; he was fired because of it, one of the reasons being that he initially lied to investigators in violation of NCAA Bylaw 10.1. Neuheisel has said that he was confused by the line of questioning and thought the investigators were discussing organized gambling.

The tape recording of that initial meeting with NCAA officials has been lost, misplaced or damaged. In any case, it’s not available.

NCAA Bylaw 32.3.7 deals with the disclosure of the purpose of the interview by investigators. In this case, the NCAA did not fully disclose the purpose of its interview with Neuheisel and UW officials.

"There were clearly things that they (Pac-10 officials) were interested in, but I found in my view that they were particularly troubled by the way the NCAA has handled this investigation. That is, the NCAA misled Rick for the purpose of that (initial) interview," Neuheisel’s lawyer said after the meeting.

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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