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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

December 8, 2008 at 7:38 PM

Woodward comments

Here are some comments from UW AD Scott Woodward in the session after the official news conference where he touched on the hiring process — he said no one else was offered the job — why he picked Sarkisian and that there could be changes to the schedule next season (though probably only in moving games around to create some byes, like this year, and probably not changing teams).
What was the process of hiring Steve Sarkisian: He was on our target list from Day 1. We had criteria, we looked at existing head coaches in the BCS, we looked at existing head coaches non-BCS, we looked at coaches with NFL experience, we looked at coaches that were coordinators at the college level as well as the pro level. We went through general listing of dozens and dozens of coaches and we narrowed it down to a finite list, and Steve was on it from Day 1.
How viable were some of the guys who withdrew their names?: I’m not going to break confidence with guys that we met with and trusted that have existing jobs. It wouldn’t be fair to them so I’m not going to comment on those.
Did you make what would be considered a job offer to anyone else?: Again, I’m not going to talk about specifics as far as individuals who are currently employed at institutions.
But did you offer anyone?: We went down the aisle, but never got to the altar with anyone except Steve.
When was the decision made?: It’s hard to say when. Obviously the president and I had a couple of meetings with coach Sarkisian and probably on a trip back from LA, we decided that this was the guy and we felt really good about it.
Around Thanksgiving?: It was after.
How important was his USC pedigree and his Pac-10 background?: Where it was doesn’t really matter to me, it was just his championship ball at that level and good coaching pedigree no matter where it was, it was impressive to me.
How important was his being open to media, boosters, fans, etc.?: Sure, it was a factor, but playing tough and winning is much more important and how you treat your student athletes. But yeah, it’s a very important factor for our alumni and our fans.
What are your thoughts on his splitting duties for the next month? Coach [Bo] Pelini at Nebraska, he and I talked about his experience last year at LSU as a defensive coordinator while he was the head coach at Nebraska, and it was a positive all the way around. It actually helped with recruiting, it actually helped him show that he’s committed to his current players that he recruited that he’s going to finish his job out, and I think it’s a fine example for that. So I’ve encouraged him to do so.
Was there any recommendation that stood out above the others?: There were a lot of them, not just one. There were a few that were people I trust and people I really like that kept turning up Steve.
When you’re hiring a guy who hasn’t been a head coach, do you look at other guys who have been in that situation?: Sure you do, you think about it. I thought about guys that I’m familiar with — Mark Richt, Bob Stoops. Everyone started off as a coordinator or assistant at one level or another, and sure, it’s something that I gave a lot of consideration to.
Is it too late to change the 2009 schedule?: No, it’s never too late, and he and I will sit down and look at future schedules and we may have some changes coming up. I know there are discussions right now in the Pac-10 about putting some byes in on the current schedule.
What would you say to those who think you guys settled making this hire?: Nuts.
Why?: The guy’s been a winner at every stage of the game, he’s proven as not only a coach but as a coordinator and as a recruiter, and those are vital and important function in what a coach does.
What’s a realistic turnaround time, is next year realistic?: Sure it is, it has to be better from where it is currently, no questions. And I want to see incremental and steady progress with a solid foundation.
Do you have to adjust what you see out of USC’s offense because of the athletes he has?: Oh sure, and you think about his experience as a young coach at El Camino, and you think about what they inherited — everyone forgets that USC was not a juggernaut when Pete Carroll walked in the door and Steve was with him. And you saw that it was a rebuilding project. Carson Palmer turned from an average quarterback to a great quarterback under Steve’s tutelage.
Was he your first choice?: Yes.
How important was it to get a guy with a history of coaching QBs given that you have two more years with Jake Locker?: It was just an added incentive. I have to look Jake Locker in the eye and make sure that he has the best possibility to compete and turn this team into a championship team, no question about it.
What did you hear from advisory committee?:The committee was clear in what they wanted. They wanted someone with good integrity, passion — that term kept coming back, passion — and the committee gave us good guidelines and a good foundation for me to think about, and every interview I was in, I thought about it. That was clear in every facet when we talked to Steve, we checked every box there.
How many formal interviews were there? We talked to a lot of coaches.
A half dozen, dozen?: Probably in the half-dozen range.
How many were on campus?: None. … You try to do the best you can to protect these guys because they are in current jobs and it might offend their current employers. We respected that and we understand that.
Some interviews in Seattle though?: Sure, there were some in Seattle.
How tough is recruiting now?: That’s a good question for coach, but he’s excited about it. He thinks it’s early in the process, and there are a lot of kids that he can get on in a hurry because he knows Southern California. He has to get on it and there are a lot of opportunities down there especially.
Any one thing that really jumped out at you when he interviewed?: Not really. There was an overall, across the board-like I said before, I checked the boxes — just everything he said and everything he talked about, whether it be organization, whether it be style of football, whether it be how he recruited or how he treated the student athlete, his vision and passion for the game, it’s like going down a checklist: check, check, check. It was just amazing to me.
How important was opening up the program?: I’ve been honest with you guys about that and I said I’m going to let my coach be the CEO and run his program, and if he’s a closed kind of guy and he’d had success that way, I’m going to let him do that. But you know my philosophy, I love being as transparent as possible and love opening this thing up and I’m excited about it. I love his philosophy there.
What did you think of the response today?: It’s been tremendous. We had a wonderful reception last night with campus folks, donors and supports and current head coaches here in our program, and it couldn’t have gone any better. I was just blown away by the enthusiasm and the support. This is a fabulous place, the University of Washington, people rally when they think a good thing is getting ready to happen.
What are your thoughts again on Sarkisian staying at USC through Rose Bowl?: I support him 100 percent. I have a good friend in coach Pelini at Nebraska who went through the experience last year at LSU where he was the defensive coordinator for LSU in the national championship game, and it worked out very well from the standpoint of him getting good exposure for his program at Nebraska and coaching through his commitments with the kids at LSU. So I think there’s a good parallel there.
How important is it for him to get involved in stadium fundraising?: It’s going to be huge, and he understands what we have as far as health and safety and ADA issues in this stadium, in this tired bowl. He understands it, but he didn’t address it because that’s not his worry. His worry is on the gridiron, that’s what he has to worry about. He has to worry about getting championship football back here in a hurry.
Why him?: Two words just stuck out: winner and passion. Those were the ones that were just overarching in my mind. I just kept coming back to it. He’s been a winner everywhere he’s been, every step of his life, and he’s done it with hard work and by being tough. And I think that’s what Husky football is all about, and it just kept coming back to that.

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