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Motivation for Times' stories: An attack on college football
Richard Linde, updated 28 January 2008

Why did the Seattle Times publish this story on the front page of its website, (1) “The disturbing story behind the last great UW team — and how its legacy still casts a shadow on the Huskies,

and link to a second story, titled (2) “Convicted of assault and accused of rape, star player received raft of second chances”?

When AD Todd Turner resigned in December, he said "Have I spent all my time working on the student-athlete experience and trying to create better lives for people and our proper place in education, when all I should have been worried about was how many games we won?"

Seemingly, a stand against what is supposedly a winning-at-all-costs attitude in college football motivated these stories, the notion of which is buttressed by Turner's resignation and parting words.

The fact that coach Tyrone Willingham was on the hot seat this season -- and could be after next season -- asks this question: Is Washington ready to return to its glory days, as symbolized and embodied by the 2000 Rose Bowl team, if Willingham should be let go?

Concomitantly, the Times' favorite whipping boy has made an improbable return to Pac-10 football, rising from the ashes, so it seems. The timing couldn't have been better for the Times.

To wit: the Seattle Times concludes its main story as follows, “Less than three weeks later, UCLA hired (Rick) Neuheisel to be its head coach. UCLA's athletic director, Dan Guerrero, said the school was concerned about Neuheisel's history of NCAA violations but figured that was in his past. More relevant was Neuheisel's 66-30 record.

"’In the end," Guerrero said, "’it was all about 66 collegiate wins.’"

Basically, the two stories published today are a hit piece on one former UW player, Jerramy Stevens, and other unnamed players from the 2000 Washington football team. The other player referred to by name was Roc Alexander.

The stories tarnish the legacy of former coach Rick Neuheisel and that of former AD Barbara Hedges; they are seemingly a slur against Husky football.

Frankly, in general, I think they are more of an attack on college football, with Husky football paying the price. The Times could care less about our Dawgs. Sorry, you conspiracy minded folk, the Times has bigger fish to fry. (See "It's all about Rick," for the college football message the Times is conveying and the progressive milieu in place). 

These two stories spout the message that can be found in the following two publications: "The Hundred yard lie" and "The Junction Boys." The latter was made into a movie by ESPN. Also, reference the ESPN movie, "Playmakers." We can even go back to "Farewell to sport," for another example, which was published in 1939 and written by Paul Galico. All of them present American football in an unfavorable light.

Aside: Of the alleged Husky felons and "outlaws" only two other players are named in any of the stories. However, more stories concerning members of the 2000 team are likely to follow.

Aside: Willingham's being on the hot seat, Turner's having resigned, funding for the stadium being in question, Neuheisel having reemerged, all provided the timing for the stories, which I am guessing have been on the backburner for some time. The new stuff about Jerramy was an added convenience, I'm guessing.

Aside: I believe Lambo recruited Jerramy, who redshirted in 1998.

The political scene

During a recent interview, a reporter asked former UW coach Don James whom he blamed for what happened with respect to the "Fruit basket" scandal, the specifics of which were exposed in 1992.

“Well for starters, I think it’s the Seattle Times,” said James. “I live in this community and I watch them beat up everybody, not just the football program. I’ve watched them beat up on Boeing and Nordstrom and all the great industries and businesses in this community. They all get beat up by the local press. Maybe that happens everywhere. But I have lived in a lot of places and I haven’t seen it elsewhere."

Translation: In general, the Seattle media hate big business, and Husky football is a big business.

Why, these stories now?

Todd Turner's recent resignation and his parting words feed the relevance for publishing these articles at this time. Also, the university must find a new athletics director, whose most important task will be to raise funds for the $300 million remodel of Husky Stadium. Are the Huskies ready to return to the Neuheisel years and continue on with a big-time college football program, these stories ask?

That's why I brought up the issue of big business, and that's where a possible slant to the stories lies. I doubt if any of the Times' columnists shop at Wall-Mart. I know, I know, and I apologize, but the issue is relevant, considering my references (See "It's all about Rick," et al, referenced above).

However, there is another factor to consider, as lame as it may seem, like in covering your own butt. This is my own personal slant, so take this with a grain of salt.

My cockamamie conspiracy theory

The local media played a dominant role in the destruction of Husky football and with Rick’s firing at UW, in my opinion. They overplayed the auction stories and failed to cover them objectively, in that certain mitigating details were omitted. There are two sides to every story; Seattle just got one side of the Neuheisel story.

This all fits into the big picture, however, that is, being an attack on college football.

With Rick’s return to Pac-10 football, the local media needs to defend itself against forthcoming attacks from the internet, which will certainly occur if Rick’s return is successful and if Tyrone Willingham tubes it next season, both of which are likely to happen.

These stories lay the groundwork for their defense in the public's mind. I know, I know -- a weak argument. But still...

People are going to want answers to the question: Who is responsible for this mess at Montlake? This will be especially true if the stadium-renovation-funding effort falls apart.

The simple answer to the Montlake question blames “Rick.” The real answer lies mostly with the prejudiced media and their political agenda. Blame Rick for giving the local media their ammunition. Blame incompetent UW administrators for bungling Rick's firing. Blame the NCAA for its 2003 witch-hunt. Blame the snitch for a cowardly act.

Aside: I can go on and on about the local media here: the fraternity brawl stories; antipathy towards the enormity of Rick's starting salary; Rick’s miraculous appearance and the eavesdropping; the Hamlet and Millen editorials; the double standard set in place for Rick and job seeking; the inflated moneys postured in the auction stories; Brand’s early-on quotes about Rick; overplay of the Feel-Good episode; presenting just one side to the ambiguous gambling rule; an apparent collusion with the NCAA and its gumshoe operation; an apparent collusion with the snitch, etc.

As usual, the unique Seattle sports media, one of a kind in the country, isn’t helping UW return to its glory days.

Aside: Ironically, LA sportswriter Bill Plaschke is the very antithesis to what Art Thiel was to Rick when he first came to Seattle. Plaschke's nickname? Answer: millionaire.

I'm using the venerable Thiel generically here, lumping other local columnists under his name. Several of them questioned Rick's "enormous" starting salary, as did Thiel.

Malamute can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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