As the Huskies began their practice this afternoon, there was a familiar figure on the sidelines, legenday UW coach Don James (pictured at right).
James usually makes one appearance a year at UW camp, and today was it, as he was also on campus to appear at a fundraiser for the Husky band.
James is now 77 and splits his time between the Seattle area and Palm Springs with wife Carol (they have been married 58 years).
He talked to a few reporters for a while as practice started. I’m sure what many of you want to know is what he thinks of the team. As noted, however, practice had just begun and James had just gotten there, and he frankly spends most of practice talking to old friends.
When we asked him what he thought, he laughed and said that how we he know because “they just put their helmets on” — a reference to the way the team does its runthrough of plays at the beginning without helmets.
We asked James if he planned to speak to the team and he laughed again and said “I hope not. I don’t think Sark even knows I’m here.” He said he would speak to the team if asked, however, saying that a year ago he hadn’t planned to talk to the team but did so after UW coach Steve Sarkisian asked, quickly composing a four-minute speech in his head as he walked to midfield.
He said his message then was a simple one, pointing to the empty stands and saying that “you guys are the ones that will bring them (the fans) back.”
He said he liked the way the team played last season and thinks things are headed on the right track.
As we spoke, the music over the loudspeakers began to play (Milli Vanilli, of all things).
So I had to ask if he could have coached with music. “Oh yeah,” he said. “It’s a different time.” And in fact, many at UW will tell you that one of James’ best attirbutes was his ability to adapt (the way the team shifted to the one-back offense near the end of his career, for instance).
And he said he had no issues with music during pratice, noting that a tradition during his era was for the Husky band to play throughout practice on Thursday of game weeks.
James will be part of a cruise that will travel to the USC game in Los Angeles in October.
Also taking in practice today is former UW athletic director Mike Lude, whose UW tenure pretty much mirrored that of James, working at Washington from 1976-90.
As for what was happening on the field, the team was in full pads and there was lots of special teams work early on. WR James Johnson appeared to still be sidelined, but otherwise nothing new that appeared significant on the injury front.
I’m heading out to appear on KJR’s Punt Pass and Pints and encourage you to listen to our football roundtable in the 6 p.m. hour. That obviously means I won’t see the rest of practice. But I will get some post-practice notes up on here.
August 19, 2010 at 3:59 PM
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