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Malware and Spring Practice
My computer and the Huskies are boring
By Malamute, 31 March 2005

After battling the latest round of viruses, Adware and Spyware to infect my home computer, I took some remedial action. My machine was so full of popup ads and Trojan down loaders, I couldn’t play three consecutive minutes of Half Life 2 without an interruption.  Oh, yes, throw in a Pfishing attack (Identity theft) to stir things up. What’s a man to do?

To get rid of the Malware, I restored my computer to an earlier version of Windows XP, one that ran smoothly enough. I then ran my fleet of Adware and Spyware detectors again, even though the Malware that apparently was regenerating itself was gone.

Despite the horror stories I'd read, I upgraded to Microsoft’s Service Pack 2. After that I downloaded Mozzilla’s Firefox browser. I have two firewalls now -- a router and SP2’s -- plus a browser more secure than Windows Internet Explorer. Oh, yes, throw in Norton anti-virus protection and Spy Sweeper, both of which are always active and automatically updated. I almost never open attachments, unless its from a trusted source. When I shutdown my machine, it automatically updates XP with Microsoft's latest and greatest patches.  

Now my computer runs so benignly it isn’t fun anymore, in that I like to solve problems and do crossword puzzles. To me, flaky machines are fun to debug.

This brings me to the University of Washington athletic program, especially its football team, which at one time was full of bugs.

According to fans who e-mail me these things, the last of the UW’s viruses, former AD Barbara Hedges, has been quarantined in Palm Springs. After her removal, potential threats remaining involve the Spyware and Adware posed by the media. To wit: Remember the reporter at the Seattle Post Intelligencer who eavesdropped (spied) on Rick Neuheisel’s cell-phone conversation with his parents? And how about all those media popup ads (Adware) that stirred up a quarterback controversy for former coach Keith Gilbertson, who I liken to Windows XP Service Pack one -- the coach after Neuheisel.

This brings me to Tyrone Willingham, Service Pack two -- the coach after Gilbertson. Under Willingham’s new “tyranny,” only the first 15 minutes of the Huskies’ spring practice sessions will be open to the media. He is sometimes wont to answer an interviewer’s question with a question of his own and speaks too softly to be overheard talking on a cell phone in a crowded airport, both of which, along with the 15-minutes allowed during the practice sessions, take care of the Spyware and Adware posed by the media.

Limiting the media is “one way to eliminate distractions,” Willingham says.

This brings me to Tyrone Willingham, the coach and his team.

Even though almost all of his two deeps return, Willingham, based on last season’s stats, inherits a football team with just a smidge of promise. The offensive line is thin and lacks the potential of mustering a forward push sufficient enough to open any holes for UW running backs this next season. Although the UW ranked sixth in the conference in rushing last season, after OT Khalif Barnes went down near the end of the season, the rushing attack was mostly inept. Barnes figures to be a high-draft pick in this upcoming NFL draft.

The lesson to be learned: Don't recruit a defensive or offensive lineman unless he has NFL potential. Easy to say, but almost impossible to do, considering the UW's fall from grace.

The media notwithstanding, the quarterback controversy rages on. Not one of the UW quarterbacks -- Johnny DuRocher, Carl Bonnell, Isaiah Stanback, or Casey Paus -- carries the necessary credentials to look Willingham straight in the eye and say, “I am your man, Coach.” Bonnell, Stanback and Paus combined for the worst pass-efficiency rating (78.7) in the conference last season. DuRocher has yet to be tested. The Huskies’ turnover margin (-19) was the worst in the Pac-10.

In summary, in computer terms, the offense portends a Denial of Service attack; that is, it features a potential attack that will likely put fewer points on the board than its opposition, thus denying points to itself through what will be an inscrutable means of self destruction.

The UW defense should be better than the UW offense, though it ranked seventh in the conference in Total Defense last season.

Yet, Willingham sits much like the proverbial catbird because no one expects the Huskies to be a great football team in 2005. At Washington, there is no pressure on him to win this next season as would have been the case at Notre Dame had he stayed on as its coach.

I mean I’ll settle for a 3-8 season right now. Anything better than that is deserving of a pay raise for Willingham and his staff, even though Willingham is making $1.4 million per annum, and as much as $2 million with incentives. Not bad for a coach fired from his last job. No pressure, big bucks.

With the hiring of Hedges' replacement, AD Todd Turner, and then Willingham, UW President Mark Emmert has removed the last of the Malware from his athletic program.

But like my home computer, the UW football program is too benign now for my tastes.

For Willingham, however, he gets to deal with the Trojan-horse attack at ‘SC. That should be fun to debug.

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

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