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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

January 30, 2009 at 2:54 PM

January answers, volume 18

Okay, I’ve gotten a few questions about the violations of the past couple weeks. So I’ll try to address them all in this one entry. If you don’t want to read about any of that, skip this one and we’ll be back with football stuff later.
Q: Why do you guys make such a big deal out of these things when it seems like other media in other areas don’t for the schools they cover?
A: First off, I’m really not sure the premise of your question is correct. Without being in another market and seeing exactly how it works on a day-to-day basis for a lengthy time, I really don’t know if that’s true or not. But admittedly, every market is different. Seattle is a highly competitive media market with very good newspapers and other media outlets, no question. I do know that we put every story on the latest violations inside the section — meaning not on page one. One person asked me about all the inches we wasted on it. I can say it was about 30-40 inches total for all the stories, or not a whole lot more than a regular game story and sidebar on a Sunday. I don’t think it was overly excessive in any manner. They were secondary violations and we tried to treat them as such. I can’t speak for how other media entities in this area covered them, but I feel comfortable that how we did was fair given the circumstances. As for the blog, what may be one flaw in the process is that every entry can look the same, unlike the printed section, with bigger headlines for some stories and inside pages, which give a clear indicator of which stories we feel are more important than others. In the blog, every entry has the same-sized headline so I guess maybe it seems at times like I’m putting a big headline on some of these posts. But they all have the same headline on the blog. And as I’ve written here before, this space is always going to present as objective a look at the UW football program as possible — good, bad and in between.
Q: Why don’t you guys go write a bunch of stories about the Reggie Bush case the way it seems the LA Times is always writing about Washington’s infractions?
A: I will point out that we have published stories on the Bush investigation when there has been news, with headlines, and devoted space to it as warranted — here’s one example. We haven’t sent writers to LA to try to cover it because it’s really not a local story for us — we don’t send writers to LA to cover USC in any capacity other than when the Trojans are playing one of our local teams, or the rare occasion when we’ve gone down there to do a story on a local player or something.
But this is another question that I’m not sure the premise is completely accurate. The LA Times did write stories on the UW investigation in the early-90s. But mostly what it did was write about players who were from LA who were involved in things that were happening in the LA area. If my memory serves, those players contacted the LA Times because it was their local paper. That’s similar to how Seattle-area papers covered the Jamal Crawford-Michigan situation in the late ’90s. Both the Times and PI wrote dozens of stories on that, not because either paper was out to get Michigan, but because Crawford was a local athlete and the actions being investigated took place locally.
As for the LA Times’ involvement in the latest situation, I reallly think it’s as innocent as it sounds — the paper was looking for a good story to write about recruiting and found one in the situation with the two players from Jordan. It didn’t hurt that the coaches involved were well-known down there from their time at USC. I think the fact that the university involved was Washington was irrelevant. And as for everyone saying no one ever writes about the Bush situation, I guess I’d ask how you all know about it if no one ever wrote about it? There’s been an entire book written about it. I don’t think the media has tried to cover it up.
As for the Pac-10 and the NCAA, the Pac-10 says it is continuing to investigate the case. One person told me that people don’t understand how much time the conference’s compliance staff has spent on the case. But every case is different — you can’t compare how the Bush case is being investigated to how UW’s case was in the early ’90s. The tricky part of this one is that Bush is no longer at USC and he, and people close to him, can’t be compelled to testify. As one person told me “there’s no reason for them to talk.” So getting evidence is harder in that case than in others. For now, since the Pac-10 says it is continuing to investigage, I’ll withhold judgement on how the conference has handled it until we see the end product.
Q: Are you a little concerned about the violations Steve Sarkisian has been tallying up? Did Tyrone Willingham have any minor violation in his tenure? Does this compare to the way Rick Neuheisel began his UW tenure?
A: As for the Sarkisian-Neuheisel comparisons, to me there isn’t much of one. Neuheisel’s early violations at UW were also classified as secondary, but they seemed a much greater degree of secondary. If you recall, he was flagged for sending five assistants on the road recruiting on what was a quiet period day (here are the details) as well as a couple of other more minor violations. Those were violations — as one commenter pointed out earlier — where it could be argued UW had gained a competitive advantage in the recruiting effort, which is what all the rules are supposed to eliminate. Sarkisian’s wouldn’t seem to have that kind of potential impact at all. As for whether there should be concern, sure, he needs to realize that he’s being much more closely watched now that he’s a head coach, especially one who is admittedly going to be as aggressive as possible in recruiting. And I will say that the reaction from UW on the latest violations was much more sober, compared to the first where the reaction seemed to be that everyone was making too big a deal of it. But if they end here, I think it’s a minor blip in everything. As for Willingham, he did commit at least one minor violation, and close to the same one as Sarkisian when he gave the names of a couple of recruits who had committed but hadn’t yet signed on his radio show in the fall 2005. Here’s what we wrote about that at the time.
Q: Can a bunch of secondary violations turn into a major violation?
A: There’s no hard-and-fast rule on that, such as 10 secondaries becomes a major or something. But it can happen, and did happen to Neuheisel while he was coach at UW for violations that took place at Colorado. Neuheisel was charged with 26 illegal contacts with recruits — similar in nature to the one that Sarkisian had the other day — and the NCAA decided that the amount made it a major violation, though each one is just a secondary (here are details on that). But the violations self-reported so far wouldn’t add up to a major in any way.
All for now, though if there are more questions, I’m happy to respond, as I would be questions about anything else you guys ask.

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