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December 26, 2008 at 8:59 PM

December answers, volume five

Another round of questions, and hopefully some coherent answers. …
Q: Is former Husky Nigel Burton, now the defensive coordinator at Nevada, a possible candidate for the DC job here?
A: This was actually asked a few weeks ago but seems relevant tonight as Burton briefly addressed the issue in talking with a reporter from the Reno Gazette-Journal. Here’s a blog post with Burton’s comment, which is what you would expect — he’s flattered to be mentioned but is thinking only about Nevada’s bowl game. He doesn’t say he wouldn’t be interested — I’m sure he would be — only that he’s not going to talk about it now. Most newsworthy in that item is that that Burton has a two-year contract. Without knowing the details, not sure if that would be a huge complication or not. I also don’t know if he is, in fact, a consideration for the job. But I’m sure he is someone Steve Sarkisian knows, and he obviously has coaching ties to the Pac-10 (he spent a few years at Oregon State) and ties to UW. And he has said before he’d love to come back.
Q: What is the rule about non-bowl teams practicing during this time of year. I believe that all teams are able to practice during this period. With a whole new system coming in, is there a reason why Sark is coaching at USC and not holding practices at UW?
A: Actually, teams not in bowls are not allowed to practice now, so Sarkisian is not denying UW anything by staying with USC. Teams in bowl games are allowed 15 practices for the simple reason that they need the time to prepare for the game. It has also worked out to be a reward for those teams as coaches often cite the advantage of being able to begin preparing for the next season. I don’t have any problem with that. Successful teams should be given some perks along the way. Teams not in bowls are not allowed to practice again until the spring, when they can hold 15.
Q: Since it sounds like Sark is involved in changing the uniforms for the upcoming season, do you see any other possible things he may be changing regarding the program i.e. (marketing, game day experience, new traditions, etc) to help booster fan support?
A: I don’t know of any specifics, and with him having just been hired and doing a lot else, I doubt he’s given a lot of those things a ton of consideration yet. But it wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t try to initiate some changes in some of those areas. He is very of the mind to have the program be as open and fan friendly as possible, which is obviously a complete 180 from the previous coach. But the reality is also that a lot of the details of that stuff is not the responsibility of the head coach and shouldn’t be — he’s got a lot to do already with simply coaching the team. But there’s no question that his general philosophy will likely lead to some changes in some of those areas.
Q: With all of the new administration hires, it sounds like Sark would like to organize our football department in the image of USC’s. How are these hires or the structure of the department any different than under Tyrone Willingham? Do you think that USC is weakend by taking away their administrators?
A: Sarkisian isn’t done yet putting it all together, so it might be best to wait until he is to really compare. But some of the early hires are different — a player personnel director, for instance, is something Willingham didn’t have. If Sarkisian is copying USC, hard to argue that as the Trojans have been the best-run program in the Pac-10 since Pete Carroll got there. As for USC being weakened, maybe you make that argument. But it’s happened every year since Carroll has been there that significant personnel has departed for promotions elsewhere — Norm Chow, Lane Kiffin, Nick Holt to Idaho for few years, then back, Ed Orgeron, Sarkisian himself for a year before returning, on and on — and USC just keeps on rolling. As long as Carroll is there and USC is USC, I don’t see the Trojans going away.
Q: What would you identify as the critical recruiting areas that the team needs to fill? I’m thinking more long term. It seems that Willingham brought in two solid recruiting classes with plenty of depth and a base to build on. But there are still plenty of holes that need filling. Also, I really don’t want to see a repeat of Ty’s early recruiting trends where the first year had little talent that stayed and there were a ton of JC players who never were able to gain/keep eligibility.
A: The easy answer is that when you’ve gone 0-12 in a season and 12-38 over five years, you need help everywhere, no matter how excited people are about some of the talent on hand. But to me, the area where UW still needs the most long-term help is the offensive line. It was a huge disappointment this year and loses what were maybe the two most consistent players this season in Juan Garcia and Jordan White-Frisbee, and while there are some young guys there with some apparent promise, no one has proven anything. They just really need to keep loading up there, I think. Also, they really need some defensive playmakers, especially in the back seven. I think the D-line has some real long-term promise with the four freshmen of this year, although they could always use some more help there. But I think they really need some big-time LBs and safeties. And so far, it doesn’t seem like Sarkisian is really delving into the JC ranks, so he might avoid that potential problem, though it wasn’t so much going the JC route that killed Willingham but that few of those players worked out. It’s all about recruiting the right guys, JC or not.
Q: Since you have proven to be as inept at picking the bowl games so far as Clay Bennett owning a basketball team, can you provide them ahead of time so we can make sure we have picked the other team in the bowl pool?
A: Uh, sure. Here are my picks for tomorrow — West Virginia, Wisconsin and Cal. My condolences to fans of all three teams, now doomed to a losing post-season. Sorry.



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