Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Shooting the Messenger

Every once in awhile we run with something controversial that leads to a significant amount of debate on the subject. We had a lot of great posts, and some not so great anonymous posts, but since the majority of those not so good anonymous posts came from the same person over an over again I found it amusing.

My point in writing the article was to point out that there was a much better way for the athletic department to handle these type of things when they come up. I think most rational people can agree with that.

Once again we keep this place pretty positive during the year and are in a mode now where we judge by results on the playing field each week during the season. However this site isn't to be confused with the Ty Willingham Fan Club. You can't even come close to being objective or fair when you ignore the day to day reality (good or bad) that surrounds the way the program is currently being run.

I don't have a fire Ty agenda at all. I want to see the team win, the players to have fun, and the stadium to be full every weekend. I want to see our players graduate, stay out of trouble, and live to see a rebuilt Husky Stadium.

If Willingham is the guy that takes us there I have absolutely no problem with it. I will however continue to question his leadership at times when needed. Anyone who is 11-25 does not get a free pass on scrutiny and fair criticism.

Here are two posts that take opposing views that are very well thought out and deserve mention. I think both of these guys hit the nail on the head from opposing angles.

The first post is from ROB N who is one of our regular readers.

Alright, everyone and their mothers has thrown in their two anonymous cents. I'm frankly a little surprised at the fervor with which several guys have stood up for Ty. It, in some bizarre way leads me to believe that he must be doing something right in that if he's got these guys in his corner, he must be holding a certain level of favor amongst some of the important boosters and donors. Then again, 1/3rd of the country still supports George W.

Do your critics regarding this Queeg series realize you started this blog to bolster support for Ty? Minus a little jab in backtalk the other day, it seems you tend to give Ty the benefit of the doubt in football-related matters and have been quick to sing his praises when he succeeds, the recruiting class of '08 for example. I'm not sure where you stand on issues of Ty's employment, neither as the future coach of this program nor whether you could rewrite the past. It doesn't really matter. Your allegiance to the team and program has been unwavering, so good riddance to the idiots who won't allow you to expose a character flaw in a man you might still consider the best chance for the team's near or long-term success.

Coach blew it on this one. Maybe he'd take it back, I don't know. He ought to want to.

To all of those in Husky Nation who are sick of Ty Willingham as a topic, you must appreciate that he's Dr. Frankenstein as well as Captain Queeg (he created this monster). Except for the most resolute of the Montlake rabble-rousers, every Husky fan in the world would love to track Chris Polk's challenge for the permanent starting role. Would like a semblance of a depth chart at DT. Would be interested to know from what distance Ryan Perkins can still split the uprights.

That is all stuff we can talk about!

When Ty restricts the stories that come out of lower campus, the restriction itself becomes a story. Apparently Ty believes he can win an intelligence war with his football opponents and that will give him an edge that will lead to more wins. I wonder how many 4th quarter leads slipped away at Husky stadium because the place was only 3-4's full.

Is Ty a good coach? Has he been a victim of sub-par talent? The answers are debatable. He put together several winning seasons at Stanford, at least after he had the chance to put his team together. He had Notre Dame in the chase for a national championship, then left the program with a back to back BCS Bowl roster. Ironically, Willingham was chased out of South Bend for too man blowout losses, but at Washington it's been the narrow ones that have had us pulling our hair out. At best he's good, at worst he's bad. I guess he's always inconsistent.

Despite another tough schedule, this is likely TW's career-defining season. He had the chance to bring in some guys— any talent gaps will be tough to justify; he adjusted his supporting cast and any late game breakdowns should fall on his shoulders; for this season to be a success, he needs a signature win, an upset that sets the tone for the season. If Ty limps in with 6 wins, I'll still consider this year a failure.

If that's the case, he'll be lucky to get fired with the plausible deniability that he just got shafted again from an unreasonable and impatient fan base. He'll point to his off-field successes and make sure his future employers know just how bad the team was when he took the helm. He'll point to whatever lucky coach gets Jake Locker as a senior and call the 2010 Rose Bowl the house that Ty built.

If Ty can haul in 8 regular season wins, which I believe is more realistic than a lot of frustrated fans, then I think some people should just shut up. Not you, John, but some people. The Willingham era has been frustrating so far, but this team is very near a verge, very close to almost breaking out. Wins this year will largely come from one good recruiting class and one great recruiting class, a coaching shakeup, and Ty's ability to keep his team on his side despite the $#!+storm that has blown in. That would all be evidence of good coaching, his poor PR aside.
8 wins could mean a contract extension and perhaps the moment the tide turned, launching the golden age of TW's era and burying the bad memories of Neu and Gilby's wake.

I supported Emmert's decision to keep Ty on for this year because I felt it was both the honorable decision as well as the correct (or at least least premature) decision. My support wavers by the day. If the Dawgs can end the season with at least 8 wins (either 7 in the regular season + a bowl win or 8 in the RS and a bowl loss), I won't have to regret that support. Anything less and I'm done making his excuses.

Keep doin' what you're doin' cuz you're doin' it well. Your position as a blogger is important specifically because it frees you from needing that inner-office memo to publish your editorial when you know what's what.

Sorry for taking so much space. See you at Autzen?

The next post is from Husky Fan in NY.

While the Tyee office and/or athletic department could've handled it better, that's not the main issue here. So this guy wants to cry that he wasn't told nicely enough that he broke clearly stated rules?!?


People that get to attend practice have to agree to those rules and they know (or should) full well that these practices, particularly right now, are under strict scrutiny. For all things holy, we open AT Oregon! If any purple veins bleeding Husky fan can’t at least try to make it a point to just follow the rules as they are clearly stated then this wouldn’t even be an issue, but these guys just ignore the rules and the UW has said “ENOUGH”.

The UW has EVERY RIGHT to dictate the rules as they see them – it’s not just Ty either. James had closed practices, Lambo, and Gilby too. This program is bigger than some stupid fan that can’t keep his big mouth shut on message boards.What’s even more disturbing is that Dawgman lets these guys post those reports knowing full well that the UW doesn’t want to see that on message boards.

It’s like they set Ty up to look bad no matter what. Again, this is a huge game in 11 days and UW has a large advantage in having a new DC and is most likely engaging a bit of gamesmenship with the Locker injury and possibly some others. If one guy posts anything about his privileged access then other people might think it's ok as well and go into even more detail. If you can't handle the ramifications of breaking rules by which you agreed to abide, don't break them in the first place!


PhinneyDawg said...

Husky Fan in New York is one of the only consistent and fair posters on the Seattle Times blog, and I nearly always seem to agree with him.

Almost everyone can agree that this is a win or else year for Ty and his staff. No one knows this better than Ty.

In a way, I admire that he doesn't try to manipulate and charm the local media/tyees to gain favor when he's not winning. He's the Anti-Slick Rick and is a lot more like James. He's taken all of the pressure on his back and is ready to stand by the results.

We may all want to know every little detail about practice, but what it comes down to is the games in the end. If we're winning, we'll all be having fun and recruiting well, even without knowing every little detail. If we lose, we'll all be disappointed and feel shutout, and we'll likely start over with a new coach.

Let the chips fall where they may, and try to enjoy the games! We open AT Oregon for crapsakes!! Consequences and decisions will come later.

John Berkowitz said...

Phinney - As usual well put! I admire the way you post and even though we don't agree 100% all the time I love your input.

I used to think he was very similar James, but I don't think that at all anymore. James was able to answer questions in a straight manner. If he wasn't inclined to give you an answer he took the time to explain why.

We don't need every detail about practice, but wouldn't it be nice to know something? I think the criticism from the beat writers is that he is giving out nothing every day.

I know of one very big time beat writer who Ty refuses to answer questions from in press conferences from because he ran the press release that came from the SI department at UW on Curtis Shaw in his newspaper word for word.

What was he supposed to do? Just ignore the fact that Shaw had left the team? Ignore the UW press release? Pretend it never happened?

This isn't DJ we are dealing with here.

bigdave967 said...


would you care if we were winning?

Anonymous said...

I think people need to remember these are college kids and not professionals. Many of these issues are health, disciplinary, and academic in nature to which he really has no right to talk about. These are after all PRIVATE issues about student athletes.
To add to this, you then have a bunch of internet “experts” spew vitriol about the team, coach, and players. I say this comes with the territory in the NFL and professional ranks, but not with college. Most of these kids will never play a down of professional football. This is one issue DJ didn't have to deal with. The kids can read this stupidity unfortunately and is all within rights for those posters to say what they want, but that doesn’t make what they do right and coach that tries to protect his team from this is only doing his job.
There needs to be a balance about how much we want to know about the team and how much we should. I would be the first to admit I want to know every little detail and going on at Montlake, it’s in our nature as rabid Husky fans. But we also need to realize that these are student athletes and personal issues.

John Berkowitz said...

Dave - Great question!

I would still care if we were wining.

I think this type of mindset is one of the bigger reasons we are not winning.

If this was an isolated incident I wouldn't even post it winnning or losing. The point is the paranoia is helping sink the program.

Nobody likes to hear that but it is the truth. It keeps fans from buying tickets. It scares off recruits to other schools. It makes is difficult for the current players to enjoy ther time at Washington. It prevents UW from raising money to fix the stadium.

The story is one of those tip of the iceberg things. There is too much going on that we here about that is going on below the surface.

John Berkowitz said...

Tom - Great point!

No details of Shaws departure have ever been released other than what was said by TW, and released by the UW. The writers haven't pursued it, they are leaving the kid and his family alone.

I agree with the balance of what the coach wants, and what the fans want. the problem here is ther eis no balance, and little if no information to simple questions that simply don't matter.

When you have lost 20,000 season ticket holders in three years there is more wrong than simply winning and losing. the coach needs to be accountable for that and promote a bit. you do that by being accesible to the media.

Nobody is asking him to spill the beans, one bean once in awhile without the disjointed sarcasm would be nice.

adawg said...


The difference between Ty and other coaches who close down practices or limit the amount of information that they give out to the media, is that he refuses to respect the watchdog role of the media. The Husky beat reporters aren't given any respect from Ty, as evidenced by both his demeanor and responses during the pressers, a trend that now obviously isn't just restricted to them. If Ty were to respect those in the Husky community, meaning the beat reporters, fans and alumni, then his method of operating wouldn't come under as much scrutiny. As evidenced by the ratf*cking perpetrated on the American people by the current presidential administration, authority left unquestioned is free to run rampant. Whether or not Ty is a good football coach isn't up for discussion given the record he's put up, and now sadly, his reputation as a clean and honest guy is being tarnished by his own actions.

bigdave967 said...

If you want to bring politics into the discussion please go here... is for UW atheletics.

I am a fence sitter on this subject. On one hand i believe that if you let the media in it could back fire. These are young men/kids who are easily influenced by what they read. Did anyone read the article in SI about Carpenter of ASU. Stuff throwin at him and called him demeaning things because he was wearing a pink shirt (i own one) and had a bad game the week before. He is going to set records for that school and he gets no respect. The media (for the most part) wants dirt...negative sells (National Enquirer). Its unfortunate that TY wont give us more, no matter how small, so that the wolves will back up a little bit but you have to take care of the Alumni who donate to the program. Its a fine line that only a couple of coaches can walk. I think if Ty was winning this wouldn't be as big of a deal.

It would be sweet to have an Urban Meyer, who had a televised spring game, scholarship for anyone who could beat a player in a 40 yard dash, etc. Or Pete Carrol who seems like the media favorite. Think of the recruiting advantages...

Here is another question. Who would you like to see UW go after if Ty fails. A up and coming coordinator, NFL guy, or the big name?

PhinneyDawg said...

adawg, I think that what this demonstrates more than anything is that Ty and his staff have decided to go it alone this season. You have to feel burned as a program when someone like the Seattle Times rehashes old news (the 4 part series on the 2000 Rose Bowl team) days before the February signing period for recruits.

Don't get me wrong, the voyeur and rabid UW fan in me would LOVE to have open practices and more media access, but its not necessary.

I remember knowing little or nothing about behind the scenes story lines when I was a kid going to every home game starting in 1991. Those were the best times I've ever had watching UW games, even if we lost. I wasn't thinking about recruiting or coaches or player's academic problems. I simply watched the games and enjoyed the hell out of Husky Stadium. I think we should all do the same and save the Ty talk and air our grievances after the whole season has played out.

And John, love the blog, especially when you're talking players and recruits.

John Berkowitz said...

The next coach if it comes to that?

I actually don't have a clue because I haven't thought that far ahead.

Maybe make a run at Riley at Oregon State?

John Berkowitz said...

Phinney - We are going back to players, strategies, and recruits after this brief diversion.

Frankly I enjoy that aspect quite a bit more.

I want to thank everyone that brought some meat to the table on this topic.

Now back to Husky Football.

Joe said...

As always I love your blog John and I respect you for calling things as you see them but I have to side with Husky Fan in NY on this one. When you put your signature on a piece of paper stating that you won't do something it's important you follow through with that. It seems like a lot of information has been leaking out recently from these practices and the athletic department decided to make a statement. I feel bad for the guy because he didn't really write anything damning and was a Ty supporter but it's the way things work in this country, when something goes wrong someone has to take the blame. I think the athletic department was sick of the NDA being broken and was out for blood. A lot of information has leaked out anonymously or through second hand so there isn't anything they can do to those people. This guy put himself out there where he could be easily identified and he's suffering the consequences now.

With that being said, a lot of this is still Willingham's fault for the way he runs his practices. Obviously if practices weren't closed there wouldn't be anyone breaking NDA's because there wouldn't be any to break. This is who he is though and he's not going to change what he does regardless of what other people say about him.

If you guys don't read Malamute's site I suggest you read these two articles he wrote:

John Berkowitz said...

Joe - I agree 100% with that. Going to practices are a privledge, not a right, and you have to abide by the rules.

I just didn't like the over reaction. A friendly phone call and a warning would have sufficed.

Thanks for the links to Malamute, I am a big fan of his.