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December 1, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Woodward says “very pleased” with direction of UW football program

UW athletic director Scott Woodward was a guest on the Dave “Softy” Mahler show this morning on KJR-AM and said, among other things, he is “very pleased” with the progress of the football program under coach Steve Sarkisian.

Woodward also said that while he spoke with new WSU coach Mike Leach in 2008 when he ended up hiring Sarkisian that he never offered Leach the job (there were a few reports at the time saying he did).

Here’s some of what he said:

— On the progress of the football program, here’s what he said: “So far I’m very pleased. It’s incremental process like I like, based on a solid foundation. We start off Steve’s first year 5-7 and last year 6-6 and this year 7-5. We had losses to very good top-ranked teams with one exception, which we didn’t like. But for the most part I am pleased with the progress and I think Steve and his staff are doing a hell of a job.” Asked if he had higher expectations after the 5-1 and 6-2 starts he said not really and that “I know the reality of it and I know how hard our league is. … At the end of the day we have to run this program in a smart and prudent fashion and I think we are doing so.”

— Asked about UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt, he said he didn’t have an opinion on the criticism of Holt because it’s Sarkisian’s job to evaluate the assistants. “Steve’s going to figure out what he wants to do and how he is going to do it going forward and I’ll let him manage his program going forward. . … It’s his show to run and he’s accountable for it and at the end of the day he has to be comfortable.” He said he will speak with Sarkisian to evaluate the program “at the appropriate time, just like we talk about it at the end of every season.” Asked if he would force Sarkisian to make a decision on an assistant he said no, but said it’s not fair to say he has no input because “he and I discuss things daily and we talk about things all the time. But it’s his decision at the end of the day.”

— On a bowl game, he reiterated that no decision will come until Sunday. He said any of the Alamo, Holiday or Sun is still a possibility but seemed to hint at one of the higher bowl slots “because our fan base travels so well and is so loyal. We are in the ‘wanted’ category, which is great for us.” He said the fact UW played in the Holiday last year would not be an issue in the Holiday wanting to pick UW again this year if the Huskies were available.

— Asked about WSU’s hiring of Leach, he said: “It’s great to see they hired a great coach and Im glad to see they invested in football. It will be great for our league to mamke it overall better.” But he also said that “right now our eyes are focusd on the league leaders, Oregon and USC in the South, and we need to keep raising our level of play so we can be competitive with them year in and year out.”

— Asked about his interaction with Leach in 2008 he said “I don’t know if I’d call it an interview, but I talked to him and spent time with him. He’s a very impressive guy, a smart guy and a very interesting fellow. I enjoyed my time with him.”

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