An open letter...
TO: University of Washington President Mark Emmert and Director of Athletics Scott Woodward
FROM: The Pres' Palouse Park Bench
Let me first preface my letter to you by stating that I am indeed a Washington State University student and fervent Cougar fan. With that said, you may now choose to take what you will from this letter.
Having attended the Apple Cup football game on November 22nd and watching the Cougars emerge victorious in the second overtime by the score of 16-13, I have seen much blame passed around the media for the loss from the players to lame-duck coach Tyrone Willingham. It is my belief that none of the players or members of the coaching staff is to blame for your loss in this football game. Rather, I have a wholly different entity in mind.
The two of you.
You see gentleman, a series of mistakes that both of you made caused the game to unfold in front of you the way it did. And in spite of all those mistakes, your squad was still favored to win that day; probably rightfully so. The misgivings you committed were painfully obvious at least to myself, if not many people following the story of your football team's season and it baffles my mind that two of those people weren't you guys.
Firstly, both of you said, publicly, near the beginning of the season that Willingham had your full support. If you had even an inkling in your mind of letting your head coach go, those words should've never passed your lips. You publicly gave your coach a vote of confidence when you probably didn't fully mean it. Say something different, perhaps that the coach will need to get some wins this year or he'll fall out of favor. That might have just lit a fire under the coach's and the team's proverbial behind.
Your scheduling certainly didn't help matters either. I appreciate ambitious scheduling but when your team is in the dumps as badly as they are, why play teams like Oklahoma and BYU even if those games are at home? I realize these games are scheduled far out in advance but it has been a number of years since your football team had a winning record. A little foresight in scheduling might have helped your Huskies put up a win this season.
If you're going to fire a coach, fire the coach. Don't tell him seven games into the season that he will not be returning next year but allow him to continue coaching. Your coach now has absolutely no motivation to game plan or win. This fact is highlighted by Willingham's decision to punt on a short fourth down in WSU territory late in the game. Willingham should've tried to convert on that play given his running backs were averaging more yards per carry than the distance the offense had to go. But since Willingham knew he wasn't playing for his job, he didn't even bother to go for the new set of downs. Next time, if you want to fire your coach, get rid of him.
Additionally, if you're going to leave your head coach in limbo, don't go on a national search for a coach during the season and then deny its occurring. And stop going after names like Les Miles, Chris Petersen, Gary Pinkel, Mike Leach and others. They are all comfortable with the programs that they have built and don't want to start rebuilding a program that's about as far down in the dump as it gets. Plus, you don't have the money to pay these gentleman the salaries they will command. I realize your alumni and fans think that the program is still what it was under Don James, but you're going to have to settle for a coach that not many people have heard of. Your program just isn't what it used to be.
Your team isn't even the best in the state anymore. The last time the Huskies had a better record than the Cougars was when you ventured down to Pasadena to the Rose Bowl in 2000. They've lost four of the last five Apple Cups for the first time in school history. Your stadium is in disrepair and any hope of getting taxpayer money in the next few years is nonexistent. Worst of all, you lost the one football game you had a chance to win this year and the blame for the loss should be squarely on your shoulders.
I certainly don't envy your situation but then again I don't have any sympathy.
Don't worry though, you have Sarkisian now, and if he doesn't work out, I'm sure Charlie Weis will be jobless soon and you can continue to hire former Notre Dame coaches for all of time.
Could be worse though. You could be…..well never mind. I guess it can't get any worse.
The Pres' Palouse Park Bench
Last Week: 4-0
This season will, mercifully, finally be over for the Huskies. Too bad they don't stand an ice cube's chance in hell in this one.
Go Cal! 89, (Laughing quietly and shaking head) -35
The least important rivalry in the Pac-10 because no one in Los Angeles actually cares about this game. Even the Apple Cup had more excitement around it.
South Central 52, Hollywood 10
Arizona hasn't won their rivalry game with Arizona State in last three tries. But for them, I bet it would be nice to keep your rival out of a bowl. Besides, I can't stand Dennis Erickson.
Tucson Wildcats 34, God's Least Favorite Mascot 24
Dunderhead of the Week: USC freshman forward Leonard Washington. During USC's game at Oklahoma Thursday evening, Sooner star Blake Griffin said something that Washington must've taken issue with because, as USC in-bounded the ball at the opposite end of the floor, Washington threw his shoulder into Griffin's chest and punched him in his...gentlemanly area. Washington, of course, earned himself a flagrant foul and an ejection. [Memo to Tim Floyd: wrangle in your freshman and discipline them. If you're going to count on them every year, they need to keep their shoulders to themselves. Because if that happens in Pullman, students will likely have something to say about it.]
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