Friday, February 01, 2008

Puppy Chow

For Husky fans desperately pining for Jim Mora Jr, the Huskies, and Ty Willingham gave them something almost as good when they hired Ed Donatell to run the defense next season. Donatell brings a Husky bloodline, and lots of college, and NFL experience to the team. If coaching was indeed the problem with the defense last year it was fixed by this hire.

Donatell won't have an easy job because the Husky defense as bad as it was last year is now going to be green as grass in 2008. Maybe that is a good thing and youth will be served, but past experience tells me that you win championships with 4th, and 5th year players.

Whatever the result Donatell is the kind of fresh air that Willingham, and the Husky program has needed for a long time. It was apparent to many last year that the game was passing Kent Baer by to a certain extent. The infusion of new ideas, and defensive philosophies should help turn that around with a better talent base to work with in Montlake.

Why Now?

Art Thiel of the PI takes a crack at this one today in his column.

"And I say to you gentlemen that this college is a failure. The trouble is we're neglecting football for education." -- Groucho Marx as Professor Wagstaff in "Horsefeathers"

It still doesn't answer the question of why they released it the day before UW went to the legislature to seek funding for stadium renovation. The story is eight years old, and it could have been released at any time. It could have also had the positive slant of how much the program has changed.

In retrospect I think the story deserved to be told. It was well written and researched even though it had an overemphasized, negative, and sensational slant. Most people who are casual observers, and that makes up most of the readers, probably didn't notice that.

Nathan asked me a question if the series changed my opinions of Curtis Williams?

I think most people were surprised to see that I answered that it didn't change my opinion at all.

The reason was I already knew about all the problems Curtis had at UW. I knew about them the minute he hit campus out of shape for his freshman year. I knew what his personal problems were. I also knew his side of the story. I knew his wife's side of the story. I had a good idea of how he grew up, and how is upbringing was considerably different as the baby of the family compared to his much older brothers. Curtis needed a lot of help, and mentoring he simply didn't get late in his youth, and while at UW.

Based on all that information I wasn't surprised at all when Barbara Hedges, and her predecessor remained mum about honors, and statues. I knew it would never fly because when the truth came out about Curtis, and it eventually would, they would all look like hypocritical idiots. Funny thing is despite that, they all still do look like hypocritical idiots because their way of handling things was to ignore them and hope they didn't surface.

You can't defend what Curtis did, but you can also take a closer look to try to understand the reasons behind why it happened. I think a lot of it was preventable, and it could have been nipped in the bud with the right type of support. I don't think the UW was providing the right support in those days, maybe even not today, so maybe that is a good reason to tell the story.

I still believe that Curtis needs to be honored in some way since he gave up his life wearing purple and gold. That honor doesn't have to be a statue, but it could be a counseling and intervention program for young student families that need the same type of help that Curtis, and Michelle never received.

Weekly Poll Question

Are you in favor of the state funding half the bill for the renovation of Husky Stadium?

The vote came in predictably in favor at 85 to 12. There was one other answer which stated that they were in favor as long as the Sonics got funding for a new arena too.

For the record I voted yes, and even though the poll is only a little over a week old it feels like months since we started it. If you want to throw some cold water on public funding at Husky Stadium the Seattle Times certainly did that this week.

Nathan Ware feels it might actually help because the University can show all the changes that have been made over the last five years. I guess it all depends on what type of spin you want to put on it.

This weeks question:

What is your opinion of the Seattle Times Investigative reports series on the 2000 Husky Football Program?

This is a pretty open ended question since I expect a multitude of opinions that are not offered by the questions. Feel free to write an other answer and we will publish those next Friday.

The articles will still be a hot topic for a couple of weeks because now they are going national.

My point is all big time football programs have similar problems. Is Washington currently doing a better job than other big time football programs under the leadership of Willingham?


Rickster said...

One thing that really bothers me about the times article was that they totally missed the big picture of the story. Beginning with the exit of Don James it became evident that Babb's had very little respect within the program and little control over it. She then hired her golden boy and allowed him to do whatever he wanted. When you realize that the president of the university was suffering his own issues with a very public adultery incident only to replace with a toothless interim you can see that there was little structure from the top down. This was the story as it should have been written about The U. But instead the writers chose to pick out a FEW troubled kids, put them under the microscope, produce a one-sided sensationalist piece that did all but say the University condoned and encouraged this sort of behavior.

The balance issue is also very hard to understand. I don't remember seeing a new quote from anyone slammed in the articles and I don't remember seeing that anyone was contacted and refused to comment. That makes this a clear hatchet job.

One final thought that is pure sour grapes. If the Times is just "reporting the news,” can we expect to see a similar story about the Seahawks Super Bowl run in 5 years? A four-parter about S. Lockler, K. Hamlin, K. Robinson, and J. Stevens. Clearly a case

Rickster said...

...of "Victory and Ruin!"

--I don't know why that didn' make it in.

John Berkowitz said...

The "Big Picture" certainly has to do with the mismanagement of Barbara Hedges.

You hit the nail on the head.

localmoco said...

I don't have a problem with the premise of the articles or even the timing of their release. I do have a big problem with the quality of the reporting however.

This was a self-proclaimed "investigative report", not an editorial or column. However, the reporters took it upon themselves to analyze the facts and draw conclusions that I don't think they are qualified to make.

For example, they reported that Pharms was allowed to play while a criminal investigation was ongoing. They accused the cops of having a fingerprint match but not acting quickly enough. From this, they concluded that the system was corrupt and biased towards the athletes. They did not bring in an unbiased legal expert who could comment on the case with more validity. An expert might have pointed out that it is very hard to bring a case to trial when the victim and witnesses are drug dealers. The DA presumably believed they had to have additional evidence before bringing charges and going to trial. They do not want to have to rely heavily on testimony that can be easily discredited.

The other articles also had similar faulty logic where the authors picked one side of the story and did not seem to investigate further to see if there were extenuating circumstances.

The premise of the series was solid, but the execution was sorely lacking. Just because you know how to file public disclosure lawsuits does not make you an "investigative reporter".

Anonymous said...

15 years or so ago, I used to read about the off-field disruptions at Oklahoma and Miami with a certain smugness. Thank God, we don't have to live with that, I'd think.
Well, it could be that we'll look at the whole 1990s, with the automatic weapons fire on the Norman campus, the various rapes and thuggeries at Miami and other big-time schools -- and the UW episode -- as all of a piece: an era in which big-time college sports had widespread problems with institutional control.
Think Alabama with 8 years of probation since 1994.
We weren't as immune as many of us thought we were.
Let's take it as an instructive episode and try to exercise some vigilance in the future.