Okay, so it’s not officially March yet — next year on this day it will be. But I figured to keep it easier to organize — and get going more quickly on the answers — that I’d just label this batch as the beginning of the March questions. So here we go. …
Q: Why isn’t Jim Owens in the College Football Hall of Fame?
A: This question arose yesterday in the wake of the news that Greg Lewis had again been nominated. Despite all the debate the Owens question elicited in the comments section, there’s actually a really simple answer — the CHOF has some strict eligibility guidelines that Owens does not meet.
I should have passed these along yesterday, but here are the guidelines for eligibility. Most notable for coaches is the requirement of a .600 winning percentage. Owens didn’t have that, going 99-82-6 at UW (the only place he was a head coach) a winning percentage of 54.5 (one other former Husky coach, besides those already in the Hall, who does meet that requirement is Jim Lambright at 44-25-1, 66.4).
As you can also see, the most stringent player requirement is having to have been named a First Team All-American by at least one of the All-American teams that is used to make up the consensus All-American team (a group that has changed over the years). That rules out two prominent ex-Huskies I saw mentioned a lot yesterday — Warren Moon and Corey Dillon — neither of whom were First Team All-Americans (Moon, in fact, got no All-American mention of any kind even though he was the Pac-8 Player of the Year as a senior. The All-American QBs that year were Stanford’s Guy Benjamin — who shared Pac-8 Player of the Year honors with Moon — Doug Williams of Grambling and Matt Cavanaugh of Pitt).
That also rules out every Husky who has played since 2002, the last time any UW player was named to any of the traditional All-American teams (Reggie Williams, who was named an AP All-American, among others). Given those guidelines, the Husky who maybe ought to be next up for consideration is Chuck Nelson, who was named a First Team All-American on every team there was in 1982. Others who could be considered soon, and like Nelson were also unanimous All-American picks, are Lincoln Kennedy, Laywer Milloy and Benji Olson.
(Pre-Snap Read, by the way, has kind of a fun read today on active coaches who might someday be under consideration).
Q: Where does Nate Fellner fit in the safety depth with Shaquille Thompson/Sean Parker, etc? He went from near grayshirt, to starter, to honorable mention, to bench player. What happened?
A: It was maybe easy to overlook in the hail of yards and points that night — and everything else that’s happened since then — but Fellner actually started the Alamo Bowl at free safety and made four tackles. And once Princeton Fuimaono got hurt early and UW basically went with five DBs the rest of the way, he was on the field almost all the time. So he was far from a bench warmer at the end of the season.
But as you accurately state, there’s going to be a lot of competition at safety this year. If everyone shows up and is healthy, in fact, it could be about the deepest position on the team, considering also the likes of veterans Justin Glenn, Will Shamburger and Taz Stevenson, redshirt freshmen Travis Feeney (who maybe earned as many raves as anyone of the redshirting frosh last year), Evan Zeger and James Sample (if he stays at safety) and newcomers such as Thompson.
With a new coordinator, new position coaches at every spot on defense and potentially some new schemes, there’s likely to be lots of competition and potential movement at just about every position on the defense this year. And as the Alamo Bowl made clear, there’s lots of need for improvement everywhere, meaning almost nothing can really be written in stone at this point. It’ll be a most interesting spring on the defense, no question about it.
Q: I am wondering if you can find out how Deonte Cooper’s rehab is going? Did he injure the same knee twice?
A: I got a lot of questions on Cooper and I’ll use this one to just try to answer them all.
Cooper did injure the same knee last summer in an off-season conditioning drill as he also had injured the previous August during a practice. Here’s the original story on the second injury, noting both were to his left knee.
Since then, UW coach Steve Sarkisian has said every time asked that Cooper has not had any further setbacks in recovery and is on track for a normal recovery (ACLs typically are nine months). Running backs coach Joel Thomas said the same when asked about it during the run-up to the Alamo Bowl. Sarkisian has not said to what extent Cooper will be available this spring, something that realistically won’t be known until right before it starts. But the assumption has been he would still be limited and wouldn’t be full go until fall camp in August.
As for how recovered he will be then, it’s really impossible for anyone to say at this point. Again, everything we’ve ever been told is there’s no reason he can’t make it back. But there’s obviously a lot of challenges involved in trying to come back from two major injuries to the same knee, though there’s increasing precedence for it with the continuing advances in medicine. UW fans obviously hope Cooper can overcome those hurdles and make it all the way back. For now, it’s kind of a wait-and-see deal.
Q: Please clarify the current rules on scholarships. Everyone says that the scholarship is only for one year, but what does that mean? An academic year (which in the case of the UW would end in mid-June)? What happens if, say, a sophomore football player suffers a career-ending injury during spring drills in April. Does the athletic department keep paying for his medical attention and rehab after finals week in June? It is my understanding that they do. What about his tuition and other college expenses? If his football scholarship is given to another player, what bills can the department continue to pay for him?
A: Lots of complicated questions there that could require really long responses to really answer adequately. I’ll try to hit a few high points.
Scholarships are technically just for one year, meaning the coach has the discretion at the end of each year to renew it or not. New rules will allow schools to promise multi-year scholarships (though there’d likely still be avenues for pulling those, such as provisions on what happens if a player gets in legal or academic trouble). Most will tell you it’s basically implied when a player signs an LOI that he’ll get four years assuming he doesn’t run into legal/academic or other such trouble.
UW is a quarter school, and scholarships are technically renewed again with each quarter —- many may not realize that the Athletic Department does write out a check to upper campus for the cost of tuition of its athletes each quarter.
In terms of the NCAA rules for football, a school cannot have more than 85 on scholarship at any one time. That’s usually only an issue for the fall quarter for a school like UW. Once the fall quarter ends, some players begin going elsewhere, either having graduated and no longer in school, or leaving to train for the NFL, or just leaving.
If players are hurt and can no longer player a sport, they can (and almost always are) put on a medical scholarship and will not count against that sport’s scholarship limit. However, they are required to do something around the athletic department to help out, which is why last year you saw Mykenna Ikehara handling some duties with the football team (just to name one example). Nathan Rhodes, the celebrated OL from the Class of 2002, had a back injury when he showed up and never played a down for UW, basically calling it a career before he ever even practiced. But he stayed at UW on scholarship. One of his jobs was as one of the security guys at Husky Stadium each day during practice.