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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

April 24, 2007 at 9:09 AM

Roster limits, and more

Today’s story focused on Tyrone Willingham’s statement that his main goal for Saturday’s Spring Game is to stay healthy.
I think I’ve written a similar story the week of the spring game every year I’ve covered the team as every coach always says that.
The other reality of spring games is that coaches tend to severely limit the playbook as they don’t want to tip off anything to opponents. So you usually see a lot of the same basic plays and formations.
UW’s complication for this year’s spring game is its lack of depth in some key areas, as the story mentions.
That caused one reader to ask why there weren’t more walk-ons on the roster, saying he remembered when there used to be 130 or so total players.
Those days are long gone, however, due mostly to the need to comply to Title IX, the federal law requiring schools to provide equal access to athletic participation for men and women. That requires schools to have a male-to-female ratio of athletes similar to the male-to-female ratio of their general student body.
So that has put curbs on the numbers of football walk-ons at most schools.
Washington generally has 105 players on its roster during fall camp and bumps it up to 115 or so during the season.
But during the spring, those numbers are lower as the incoming freshmen and others arriving in the fall obviously aren’t here yet.
Throwing aside Title IX, however, UW coach Tyrone Willingham has said he’s not a big proponent of adding walk-ons just to pump up the roster. I asked him before spring ball about finding another body or two at running back for the spring, and he said he didn’t want to add someone just to add someone — he only wanted to bring in players who might be able to legitimately help the team.
LEAN DRAFT FOR UW: That was the topic of Jerry Brewer’s column in our paper today as he pointed out that the Huskies may have just two players selected this weekend — QB Isaiah Stanback and DB Dashon Goldson.
That continues a recent trend of the Huskies having few players taken — only seven players have been selected the last four years, as the chart accompanying the story details.
I’ve been a little surprised at the criticism that has come Jerry’s way on this board today for this column.
We write stories every year on the prospects for former Huskies heading into the draft on the week of the draft, and this happens to be the angle this year — yet again, few expected to be taken.
Not sure how else we can detail that.
I’m also not sure how this is a criticism of anything going on there now. As Jerry writes “Tyrone Willingham didn’t create this problem. He inherited it. Now he must fix it.”
Don’t know how any of that can be reasonably debated.
As for the criticism that Jerry ignored Willingham’s efforts to improve the talent, I thought Jerry did just that in his discussion of Jake Locker and J.R. Hasty. But neither of them has played a down yet, which I think makes it a little early to declare for certain that the corner has been turned in that regard.
LAST WORD ON SUNDAY STORY: A few of you have also said that Jerry’s column, combined with my story on Sunday, represent a “piling on” of the Huskies.
I guess I’d point out again that I don’t know how Jerry’s column is reasonably viewed as negative toward UW. It’s just an honest assessment of the situation there right now.
As for my story Sunday, I explained in Sunday’s blog the rationale behind the story.
But I’ll make a few other points:
— Several of you have asked about the timing. Guess I don’t know when the timing would have been better. I simply thought of it with spring ball going on, and seeing those guys still walking around campus and wondering what they were doing.
— One of you asked how many other newspapers would have written a similar story. I’d respond in part that I don’t know how many other college football programs there are that have had a similar incident happen to write about. I’ve covered college football a long time and I’ve never seen something like that happen before, which is why I felt it was worth revisiting at least once.
— To those who’ve said it was simply a rehash of the past, most of the story, I thought, focused on the current aspects of it — what the players are doing now, UW’s new way of listing its roster, etc. Inevitably, there had to be some retelling of what happened as a way to explain it all, which I felt was especially necessary for the players whose stories have never been told before, namely Marlon Wood, William Kava and Durrell Moss.
— To those who said it was unfair since the coaches won’t talk about why the players weren’t asked back, I pointed that out. That’s also why, other than throwing in a little bit on Hemphill, I didn’t harp on that aspect of it much (I didn’t include any of it as concerns Michael Braunstein, for instance). But I’ve had a lot of people continue to ask me why Hemphill was let go, so I felt it was worthy to again detail some of that here.
I would also argue that cutting these players, and then saying they didn’t meet a general set of parameters of achievement/behavior, is a pretty loud statement in and of itself by the coaches, so letting the players repond a bit isn’t out of line, I don’t think.
— To those who say we’re always looking for the negative here, I’ll point out just one of what I think are many examples of the opposite. A few years ago, we devoted about four pages of our special section to a look at how college football programs handle the academic side of things, focusing on Washington. Our conclusion was that the Huskies are doing it about as well as could be reasonably expected, and maybe better than most, with a long story detailing the history of Manase Hopoi, who went from partial qualifier to dean’s list in the span of three years. Also included was a long story detailing UW’s renewed efforts at getting former players to come back for their degrees, focusing on former tight end Rod Jones, who now is an academic advisor at the school.
I think I got two responses to that set of stories.
— As I’ve pointed out before, our charge here is to cover the program as objectively as we can. Sometimes that means writing stories that not everyone may like. But these were all players who spent quite a while in the UW program, three of whom could be regarded as fairly significant contributors, which I think makes their stories worthy of telling.

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