Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Growing Discontent

If you go over to DM, or any of the message boards you will see that there is a lot of frustration going on, and of course the faithful are demanding a solution similar to what is currently going on at Nebraska.

Nebraska fired their Athletic Director which is a precursor to firing the football coach at the end of the season. I agree with the decision on firing their AD. He screwed up by firing Frank Solich in the first place. All Solich had done was continue the winning tradition of Devaney, and Osborne. Pederson should have known that if the move wasn't successful in three years his head would be on the chopping block, his ego got in the way, he didn't understand football well enough, and he made a choice that was going to take way too long to for the Nebraska faithful to stick with.

Barbara Hedges made a similar poor choice when she fired Jim Lambright and his staff to bring in Rick Neuheisel. All Lambo had done was keep the program together, kept the winning tradition going, and while he had his flaws which were apparent, he always fielded championship contending teams even though the administration from the first day he took over was trying to minimize the football program. The choice of Neuheisel while sexy at the time wasn't the correct choice because there was no way she was going to be able to control this guy with her limited knowledge of football. Mike Lude could have done it, Hedges, no way.

Nebraska needs to keep Callahan or they are going to have to tear everything apart and start building all over again. If they go back to an antiquated offense they are also going to have to recruit the players to do that all over again. In other words it is better for Nebraska to continue to move forward than to keep looking backwards. You can never go back to the past no matter how wonderful that past was, you just are fooling yourselves.

This brings us back to what is going on at Washington.

Washington doesn't need a new athletic director. Todd Turner is doing an excellent job in getting the ship running in the right direction. You may not have liked his initial selection of Willingham as head football coach, but that selection has removed the NCAA off Washington back, and it has produced the kind of culture that you like to see at Washington even though the wins haven't come yet.

Turner has more on his plate than any AD before, or after him ever will. If he completes his set of goals for the Athletic Department, the future of Husky Athletics will be very secure over the next century, and I honestly believe that. Turner isn't sitting around waiting for stuff to happen, he is being proactive and moving things ahead of any perceived schedule. He wants to make sure this is all on track for completing within the next five years which is a very ambitious schedule.

Ty Willingham hasn't had a break since he arrived at UW. The program was down far more than anyone realized, and his biggest chance to have a breakthrough was last season, and that was dashed by the injury to Stanback. I think everyone is in agreement that we would have been bowl bound if he hadn't been injured. This year for all intents and purposes is another rebuilding year because we have a talented RS QB who is learning the game on a day to day basis. It reminds me a lot of Warren Moon's first year at UW. We had to put up with a lot of growing pains for the payoff that was coming a couple of years later.

I think changing coaches at this time would be simply foolish, and would negate any chance we have this decade of climbing out of the mess that was left behind by Hedges, Neu, and Gilby. Willingham probably is never going to be the second coming of Don James, but he needs us all to give him the chance to put a complete, experienced team together. The team we have now is made up of building blocks for the future. Those building blocks for the most part are made up of true frosh, redshirts, and the incoming 2008 class which just happens to be shaping up well.
It is a sad reality for everyone who has grown justifiably impatient this decade, but that is the reality we are faced with.

Turner knew this coming into the season. He hedged his predictions when the season started, and most of us, including me wondered what was wrong with him. Now as we go into the Oregon game 2-4 we all have a very clear idea of what he was talking about. I think the team is improved, but because of the nations toughest schedule it is really hard to gauge that improvement as the losses continue to mount.

We have come close to stealing a few which only aggravates us more. We had our chances in every single game this season to come away with a win. We just didn't have the horses available yet to put us over the top in a season where we play a top ten team almost every single week.
UW isn't a top ten team, and I guess you shouldn't expect victory against a top ten team unless you are in that same category. UCLA was especially upsetting because we had them exactly where we wanted them until fatigue took over. We just ran out of gas in that one because our offense couldn't control the ball in the first half.

I have vacillated back, and forth on a lot of things this season as many Husky fans have, but I think changing coaches at this point would be a serious mistake. I have faith that this staff is going to bring in a very solid class this Winter, and that will set the tone for the next five years. Get rid of the staff and it just isn't going to happen, and I certainly don't want to wait till I am sixty years old for us to win again. Fire Willingham in year three, and that just may be the result.

The administration gave Willingham five years when he took over, and we should honor those five full years. I am also not against an extension as long as it isn't a guaranteed salary type of extension. An extension after this season, even if it meaningless from a guaranteed money perspective, would help recruiting. Recruiting by the way is the only thing that is going to turn it around, so do whatever is necessary to make that happen.

If Ty isn't getting it done after year five, than let him go, and the bottom line at that time will be that whoever takes over for him will be in much better shape than he was to take over, and get some immediate success. I truly believe the program was so down when Ty took over, that immediate success would have been unlikely for any head coach, especially in year three.

Let's talk a little about this current season. Is it coaching that is keeping us from winning?

Good question, and while our coaches haven't been perfect I would have to say absolutely not, overall talent, and experience is what is keeping us from winning. Coaching may be just the one thing that is keeping us close enough to really complain each week.

This isn't Keith Gilbertson's team, I don't see any quitters in sight.

This isn't Rick Neuheisel's team either, I don't see a bunch of screw offs not getting better each week listening to rap music and sucking on Popsicles.

This is Ty Willingham's team, and these guys care, they aren't quitting, and they honestly work hard at getting better every week while facing the toughest schedule any Husky team has faced in many years.

In summary I think it is best to stay the course for two more years, and see what happens because the program will be in a much better position at that point to make a change. I also think there is a very good chance that two years from now we won't want to make that type of change.


prrbrr said...

1. Quite possibly the best artical you have written since the blog was started. Like it or not, we must give TW at least next year,and lets see if he gets the in state studs this year. I see an improving program all around every year, whereas under RN I saw a gradual slip, even during the RB year.
2. Try to attend a practice at UW when you are there, you will like .what you see. I am going to try for next week since I will be staying there for back to back home games.
3. I am glad you are deleting posts too. Read Condotta today where he says he is going to start deleting non contributing and personal attack flames. It is what Dawgman needed to do earlier. It doesn't have anything to do with good natured verbal jousting between rivals, some people are just a holes. So Good on ya.

Health Insurance Expert said...

I like the jousting, and I don't mind if it is a little off color, but when someone rips you for the effort you put in they need to go.

I need to attend a practice and will try to do that next season. I used to go quite a bit.

Thanks for the compliments, it is so easy to be negative, but much harder to find some positives when things aren't going the way you want.

I don't know if Ty is the guy, and I have serious doubts right now, but I do know giving up on him after two and a half is not the right way to go.