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Purple Patience
By Malamute, posted 13 January 2005

Husky fans, supporters, and alumni, it is time to come to the aid of the Purple and Gold, for some patience is needed over the short term -- and then over the long haul. In other words, just roll with the punches as Rick Neuheisel's lawsuit is resolved and as the UW tries the West Coast Offense on for size this fall.

The courtroom proceedings that apparently will take place on January 24 are sure to engender responses from the media that will be difficult for UW supporters to endure, considering the negativity the media has shown thus far when it comes to the UW's continuing travails. 

According to press reports this week, a King County judge denied the University of Washington's motion for summary judgment and dismissal of Rick Neuheisel's wrongful termination lawsuit and said he would announce his decision on a similar motion from the NCAA on Friday.

Bud Withers of the Seattle Times reported that Bob Sulkin, Neuheisel’s lawyer, argued that the termination letter (from Barbara Hedges to Neuheisel) noted a “bunch of things wrong,” in the Neuheisel’s performance and that “the contract doesn’t say you can add up all the acts.”

As I interpret the letter, these acts as a whole involved his poor judgment in entering the basketball pools, his recruiting violations at Washington and Colorado (as they affected his recruiting efforts at UW), his lack of remorse for these violations, and his lying about the 49ers interview and his initial lie to investigators.

According to Withers, in denying the motion for summary judgment, the judge noted the termination letter cited different instances of alleged misconduct and concluded the cause of Neuheisel's firing is "an issue for the finder of fact (the jury)."

We deal with these issues of alleged misconduct in our article entitled, “See you in court,” and speculate on an outcome.

Neuheisel is suing the NCAA and Washington for an undisclosed amount of money; it could be for as much as $3.7 million, considering that Neuheisel had a little over five years left in his contract that carried a base salary of $425 thousand per annum. It might be for more if Neuheisel believes his reputation has been damaged beyond repair. The speculative amount includes the loan of $1.5 million that he has not repaid to the university.

The name of the snitch, the guy who reported Neuheisel's gambling activities to the NCAA, could be revealed later in the courtroom if the NCAA's motion is denied on Friday. This could tie together some loose ends in Husky history if the snitch turns out to be Frank Blethen, a name that has been speculated upon by Husky fans on the Internet. Blethen is the publisher and CEO of The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times broke the Billy Joe Hobert story, a story that was not lost on The Los Angeles Times. That paper continued on with the kill, helping to end the Don James empire, with a certain journalistic fervor. It was the Seattle Times, of course, which broke the Neuheisel story on high stakes gambling.

Molding public opinion makes the choice of weaponry easier for the opposition, especially if the diatribe is overplayed.

Will the NCAA use the Seattle Times as a scapegoat-kind-of-witness in the courtroom? Did the Times really hold off on its gambling story so that Neuheisel could be blindsided? Will history repeat itself, kind of, with Neuheisel slowly morphing into a pitiable Torchy Torrance as time wears on?

Reportedly, the Blethens contributed to Torchy Torrance's slush fund in the mid-fifties, but the Times treated the fund as a breaking story, "as if nobody knew about it," after John Cherberg brought the slush fund to surface during a televised interview. Blethen as the snitch? Yikes, that's a wild guess at best.

Allegedly, Neuheisel was not too shy about discussing his winnings. The snitch could be anyone, which, ironically, in effect, could be Neuheisel himself.

More Purple Patience needed (over the long haul):

Some Husky fans yearn for the good old days, when the Purple gang bludgeoned ball carriers and ran the ball with impunity. In contrast, over the last two years, UW quarterbacks have scrambled and run for their lives, sometimes sliding at the feet of gargantuan behemoths. In some games, a running game has been next to nil.

Not everyone will be happy with Coach Tyrone Willingham's style of coaching. For example, he intends to install a West Coast Offense at Washington; that offense requires a skilled quarterback who can throw on timing and rhythm and a passel of receivers who can time their feet to his drop back tempo and throwing motion. Is there such as thing as a pocket metronome? [Er, hum, notice the scansion in the verse below. J]

Throwing on timing and rhythm is a luxury afforded a quarterback fronted by a skilled, brutish offensive line. Playmakers, both in the backfield and spread beyond the tackles, give life to an aspiring quarterback running a WCO. One, two, three, plant and throw. Count cadence, receivers all. My, what a luxury to have.

Willingham inherits a 1-10 team from last season, the leftovers of which feature a moribund quarterback situation. None of the three returning quarterbacks  can stand up and say with a straight face: Coach, I am your man. There are no established playmakers nor is there a proven offensive line. It will take time for Willingham to install his complicated offensive scheme. Willingham's defense is mostly in place, and should be better next season.  But considering the intricacies of the WCO and Washington's miserable offensive stats from last season, three wins in 2005 would be a good start for the new coach, with breaking even a goal for 2006. During the interim, fans, alumni and administrators at the UW need to exercise patience. In that vein, I dedicate this poem.

Purple Patience

Midst the sanctions, losses and one big sigh,
Are James, Lambo, Neu, and Ty;
Three have walked the proverbial plank,
One is left to clean up the skank.

James quit, not Hedge-ing his reasons,
He resigned, after X-glorious seasons;
Lambo was axed for sartorial tastes,
The shoes, the hats -- those purple pates.

Neu was fired for not just lying,
As Hugh-Millen-ating as the trying;
Sanctions, the lies, scant remorse do fetter,
It is all in Mrs. Hedges’ letter.

They say Ty is a six-win coach,
All of those smarmy nay-Sayers broach;
They say he is a stony recruiter,
As humorless as Portia’s suitor.

His history, his roots, his successes belie,
The dour words that his detractors decry;
Disloyal hopes sing a bleakest future,
Drinking success depletes its nurture.

A Street named for a woman is, oh, so rare,
For the precious Lillian this one does bear;
“L.P. Willingham” is like a Deville,
That Caddy’s spirit driving Jacksonville.

On a workman's zesty quest,
He will likely do his very best;
Thanks to his mother and father dear,
His honesty peals loud and clear,

He proudly wore his Rose Bowl Ring,
Of his conquest the Tree did sing;
He led the Irish to a ten-win season,
They courted Meyer without good reason.

Now a Dawg, his Bowl finger bare,
He starts anew without despair;
He leads the P and G for better or worse,
Its recent history, surely a curse.

From up on high, they circle that slew,
The seagulls, the ghosts, the Dobie-men crew;
From Madison, Denny and Husky Stadium,
Sundodgers, Vikings, all dressed in radium.

In their glowing veil, none do cry,
For none are doubters of good coach Ty;
‘Tis their support that swells his sail,
But without our backing he is want to fail.

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

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