Monday, January 28, 2008

The Monday Morning Wash

The Seattle Times has decided to run a four part story about the off field problems of the 2000 Rose Bowl team. The stories of course are true, and they are eight years old. The Times say they have new information, and that is what makes the stories relevant to be told again since the program is at a crossroads following the firing of AD Todd Turner.

The stories on the players so far are well written, and they have a familiar ring, and that is the Hedges, Neuheisel, the police, a private attorney who was a UW alum, and the King County Prosecutors office gave these guys the benefit of doubt so they could stay on the playing field longer than they should have.

The first story was about Jerramy Stevens and it absolutely turns the stomach of anyone who reads it. It also is something that was just as well documented eight years ago as it was in yesterdays article. On a side note I always felt Stevens should have been kicked off the team. I always felt Neuheisel made a critical mistake concerning Stevens.

Today's story is about Jeremiah Pharms, and while still interesting it is a rehash of the same information that came out eight years ago. There will be two more stories in the series, and one will feature deceased Husky football star Curtis Williams who had some problems off field before straightening himself out enough to become a star in the UW secondary. Curtis's unfortunate injury and subsequent death has made him a martyr in the eyes of many. The Times will slay that myth later this week.

The timing of the stories just happen to coincide with the end of the 2008 recruiting season, and a bill that will be introduced in the legislature today to provide $150 million in funding to help remodel Husky Stadium. Since this all happened eight years ago the Times, or any other publication could have chosen to run the stories anytime they wanted, but why now?

Washington has gone 11-25 since Ty Willingham arrived to rebuild the program. Ty while not winning on the field has significantly changed the culture of the football team. His players go to school, they graduate, they donate considerable time to the community, and most importantly they stay out of trouble a lot more compared to their predecessors.

A football team is a microcosm if society. You are going to have kids that get into trouble no matter what you do just like the rest of the world in general. All you can do to prevent that is try your best to recruit kids with high morals, and do your best to guide them while they are under your supervision. Every once in awhile some will disappoint you, but if you put the right system in place, and recruit the right kinds of kids you are headed in the right direction. You can look inside the programs of Washington State, Oregon, and Oregon State just to name a few, and find the same type of problems at times that manifested itself in the Husky program under Rick Neuheisel.

The real story here is that Washington has done an excellent job of cleaning up those problems after giving the presidents office, athletic department, and the football program a clean sweep five years ago.

The Times on the other hand believes that the firing of AD Todd Turner last December may herald the return of those win at all cost days at Washington which is one of their reasons for saying the stories are valid to run today eight years after they transpired.

I for one question the motives of the Seattle Times concerning the release of these investigative reports. I know they have the right to do it, and the public has the right to know, but after eight years you would think most of this would have been put to bed. I feel the timing of the reports is calculated precisely to prevent state funding for one half of the Husky Stadium remodeling project.

Bob Condotta says to wait till the end of the series to pass judgement. Sorry Bob, the timing is way to suspicious for me to buy that argument.

What is your opinion?

Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry of the Seattle Times

Ken Armstrong is a senior writer at the investigative desk, not sports. He has been one of the 5 finalists for the Pulitzer Prize on 3 occasions, most recently for last year's Pulitzer in recognition of his story "Your Courts, Their Secrets", for which he was also in the running for the Goldsmith Prize from the Schoenstein Center for Politics, Press and Public Policy and was awarded the Gold Medal for Excellence in Investigative Reporting from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2004 he received the Washington State Bar Association's Award for Excellence in Legal Reporting.

Nick Perry is the senior Higher Education Correspondent for the Seattle Times. He won a Society of Professional Journalists Award for a recent look at underfunding of the UWs Computer Science department and how community leaders were supporting the department and its quest for additional monies as critical to the state's infrastructure future. He previously reported on involvement by the UWs Office of Student Financial Services in a scandal with a Florida-based company that was marketing bunk loans to UW students and led the story that exposed the December-revealed news that the Seattle Marathon is actually only donating 1% of its proceeds to the UW Medical School, despite implications to the contrary.

Wildcats Punish Huskies

All thoughts of a possible sweep in the desert were extinguished on Saturday when the Arizona lit it up for a secnd game in a row with three's from the perimeter. You can live by the threes, and die by the threes, but at this point Arizona will be tough for anyone to stop at home shooting the way they have. Getting a split in Arizona is still a very good thing, and I look for this team to continue to improve over the rest of the season. An important goal for the team is to emerge with a winning record in conference play over the first half of the season. If they can accomplish that anything is possible.

Support Your Local Gunfighters

I received a lot of excellent feed back on this post in Dawgman, and this site over the weekend. the post was a call to arms for all Husky fans to support the stadium initiative by writing letters to their state representatives.

I think the importance of doing that was significantly brought to the forefront after the release Sunday of the Seattle Times Investigative report series. We all have to realize that we need to put petty concerns aside, come together, and fight for the life of the Husky Football program. Powerful forces are at work to make sure that the program never is rebuilt to the level it was in the early 90's. In fact those same forces would like to see Husky Stadium torn down and the team moved downtown to Qwest Field which for all intents and purposes would destroy the program permanently.

If you haven't written your representatives, you have three, get it done today. It may not seem like much, but it does make a huge difference when the representatives hear the opinions of their constituents.

Nathan Ware "We Are All Smarter This Morning"

The Times also informed us that former coach Rick Neuheisel ran an undisciplined ship. Don't you feel smarter knowing that fact on January 27th, 2008 when Neuheisel hasn't coached here in roughly five years? I'm sure that you had never heard about Neuheisel's inability to instill discipline. Good luck, UCLA fans. The Times also informed us that Barbara Hedges was an incompetent athletic director. Don't you feel smarter knowing that fact on January 27th, 2008 when Hedges hasn't been here for four years? I'm sure that you had never heard about Hedges' incompetence.

Cory MacKay is a Cougar

Cory MacKay has decided to pass on an offer from UW to become a LB, and go to WSU to become a WR. That means the Huskies still have up to two spots to fill before LOI day. This decommit doesn't really bother me at all since Washington actually has higher ranked recruits still on the board waiting for scholarship offers. Paul Wulff is still trying to pry Kavario Middleton ansd Jermaine Kearse from the Huskies at this time, but the chances are about nill that they will change their minds.


bigdave967 said...

This is why, in my opinion, Ty keeps his players away from media...these reports are ridiculous. We already knew about what Slicky Ricky did and what that Stevens was a scumbag. Enlighten me with new information not 8 year old junk. Why put young adults that are consider "ameuturs" in with the sharks. I think that you have to let the team build a good relationship with its fan base, but there are other ways then feeding them to the dogs. We always had a fan appreciation day for our spring game...brought an ok crowd and the new recruits were introduced...made them feel good. These kids are young adults that are very influenced by what they read...have a major news paper tell everyone how horrible you played and see how it feels, forget the fact that you have donated hours of your life to help people with community service. Its a dog eat dog world and if you can at least help these kids then thats what you do. I think Ty takes a lot of heat for distancing his players but in some aspects I can see where he is coming from. There needs to be seperations but also he cant distance them. Its a very grey line as to what is right...I am glad I dont make that decision.

Anonymous said...

Great blog! Of course I agree completely so that make's it great right?

The timing of this is what struck me initially. I thought at the time it needed to be on the editorial page, not the front page, plus why use a picture of apparently innocent players. They obviously wanted to paint the whole program and everyone in it as evil. Typical of the Times over the years. Its been a long time since it was a real "news"paper and not a forum for the editors opinions.

hairofthedawg said...

I don't think Ty keeps the players away from the media. Some of them are very thoughtful and well-spoken when interviewed.

I kind of feel it's a feeble attempt by the Times to remain relevant as the internet age takes over. It's part of the liberal mindset of Seattle as well, which I view as a condescending "I know better than you" type of attitude.

You're exactly right in that a football team is a microcosm of society, but don't forget that most of the players have been coddled and often think they can do no wrong. I think Ty does a good job, at least as far as I can tell, getting this out of their system. Or maybe he just picks the right guys.

Why did they do it? Jealousy...I think we're on the verge of a pretty special football team again, regardless of the coach and they just don't want to see that happen again. It's kind of like the wannabe Husky recruiting site that feels the need to be part of the story instead of reporting it.

I really don't feel anything will come of the stories. The Times sells a couple of more global warming ads and continues to try to weather a dwindling subscriber base. What will the legislators think as they consider the funding proposal? Speaking of dirty laundry, politicians should totally "grok" what happened at UW during the stories. It's their way of life.

T9ODawg said...

Stevens has a history of legal problems all the way back to high school and the worst he got was probation for a machette attack as he was graduating from high school. I don't remember the exact connection but his father was an employee of the North Thurston School District and Stevens was a "star" so he was given several of "breaks" in regards to his behavior.

The timing of these "news articles" is very suspicious with regards to dealings with Olympia and I'm wondering if it isn't also a vieled attempt to ensure Tyrone stays on as the head coach given the win at any cost premise. Did TT ghost this?

garmag said...

The time that the UW football players spend on campus is, for a lot of them, the first time in their lives where they have any stability. If you want to call not having to always be on the run from the cops because you live in a rough neighborhood, coddling, then by all means.
But if you on the other hand would care to show a little compassion, then you'd be the better for it.

MedinaBooster said...

As I read this series it pisses me off. Because I have faith. Always have. Faith in the public to make the right decisions when confronted with the truth. And as I read this series, it's obvious no one mentioned in these stories shares that faith. The truth was something to hide, to keep from the public, either to get re-elected to the prosecutor's office or to keep a job as a football coach or to keep funds flowing to the athletic department. If the truth were revealed, they thought, all those things would end.

So everyone covered up the truth. Our public officials. People put in positions of trust. Elected officials, university officials, everyone. The truth wasn't important. Winning was.

Yes it happened 8 years ago, but it must be reported. It is news. And it serves as an example of how much was wrong back then, and that this garbage CAN NEVER, EVER happen around here again!

bigdave967 said...

Since when is reporting stories 8 years after the fact good reporting. Aren't reporters supposed to keep us up to date with new information...not regurgitate old information. Everyone remembers how Slick Rick operated, everyone remembers Stevens as a scumbag...what is new? They had 8 YEARS to report this but why now, during a critical time for UW, with recruiting almost up and a stadium proposal that was just brought up...why now medinabooster? I agree that the truth should be obtained by all means, but why reopen a healing wound? The university is trying to move past a rough patch in its history but the Times wont let them get over the hump...they are trying to revert back to high school tactics of being the bully who wont let the nerdier kids live down an embarassing moment that happened 8 years ago. The story should of been written and told 7 1/2 years ago.

Garmag...i think you are over reacting just a little...while some college athletes come from areas where they have to "run from the cops because you live in a rough neighborhood", i think what he meant was that there is a mindset by a very select group, that they are above it all and Hair was just saying that Ty does a good job of keeping his players grounded. But to say that "a lot" of them come from rough areas would be an exageration. In fact the players that Hair is talking about, i would guess, are the kids that come from smaller towns where they are treated like gods from high school...not the rough area kids where high school football isnt as big. Just my opinion though, Hair i am sure can elaborate if he wishes.

medinabooster said...

I think we wait for Thursday's final day or reporting on all this. I'm not saying it will be a silver lining type thing, but, more likely it will wrap up a distubring chapter in the program's history and point towards the future. It is an example of power that became out of control because of the gold helmet with the purple W on it.

I'm a booster, I have been a booster and I will be a booster until I die. Many of my friends are boosters too and have been for a long time. And this chapter is disgusting and embarrassing, to all of us. It happened in the past, but in stories of cover-ups and the like, the details don't ever surface until after the fact. I really have no problem with THE TRUTH coming to light. So should we simply choose to blow it all off as the Times and their vendetta against UW? Or should we acknowledge what a bunch of BS it was and point towards the job Ty has done with the kids in the program today? We can spin this thing ultimately as a very positive deal, based on where we are today and the character that Ty holds so valuable, on and off the field. Can you even fathom thugs like Stevens and Pharms playing for Ty? Neither can I. And that's important to me. I want to win, but I want to do it the right way. PERIOD.

John Berkowitz said...

"I really have no problem with THE TRUTH coming to light." ....From Medina Booster.

Neither do I for that matter but it originally came to light eight years ago. There is really nothing new here.

"Can you even fathom thugs like Stevens and Pharms playing for Ty?"

There will always be thugs in college athletics, the bigger question is can you manage those thugs without it giving the program a black eye.

Ty currently has a CB on the team who beat up his girlfriend in one incident, and hurt a guy with a punch in another. The guy is still on the team after going through the process and being punished.

He also had a tranfer from Texas who was in trouble down there and then hijacked a taxi cab up here. they knew he was trouble before they brought him in. the kid was given every opportunity to stay on the team once it was resolved, but he chose to leave.

The point is all coaches take chances, and given second breaks to kids....even Ty.

prrbrr said...

Well, johnb, I took your advice and wrote the senator and reps from Magnolia since that is where our condo is. I basically repeated what I had in my posts about how much we spend in Wash St during Husky events. I also pointed out that I cannot vote for them as I am a Cal resident. I will be curious to hear their replies. But anyway, thanks for some great articals the last week, and i agree with you the timing smells. I originally thought of e mailing Dr Emmert or Woodward and give them my particulars for ammunition, but it was better to point that out to the local reps. Thank you for the links and suggestions, Yosh

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of UW football or Stevens for that matter. But I found the article informative and more important, damning. In particular, very damning of Norm Maleng, Todd Hussinger, and the over cover up effort to protect elite athletes. As a parent, the revelations in this article send shivers up my spine as to how disgusting jock sniffers around big time athletics can truly be. I'll tell you this much, Dan Satterberg should be investigated by an independent commission for obstruction of justice

John Berkowitz said...

Anon- The stories about the players are true,and I agree damning, but you have only heard one side of the story so far. In some cases dead men such as Williams, Maleng, and Vontoure will be able to tell no tales.

The stories are however eight years old, and once again there is nothing new here. This is just a rehash of old information.

The timing of the stories is just as interesting as the stories themselves. Why did the Times pick the day before state representaives were going to sponsor a bill to provide funds to remodel the stadium?

Another question to be asked is why did the Times reporters lie to memebers of the 2000 team last Summer when they asked to interview them?

Once again nobody can dispute the fact their were bad eggs on the team, and a break down of discipline under Hedges, and Neuheisel. However the stories make people not familiar with the history to think those same things are still going in at UW. It also takes away from the 90 guys on the 2000 team who are not in trouble and followed the rules.

hairofthedawg said...

Pretty much covered for me bigdave, not a lot I can add to your interpretation. Heck, I look at what I got away with as a decent athlete at a B classification school and am amazed.