We are home this week before taking off to the East Coast for a little trip to New England. I am pretty excited about it because it is the one place in the country I have never visited.
This weeks column has a lot of information since I have had plenty of time to catch up on what has been going on. Pac Ten Alley will also return this Wednesday, and it will be interesting to catch up with what is going on with our opponents. The following week while we are on vacation I will be posting reviews for Stanford and Oregon State. We will get back to our regular schedule in August.
Men's Crew Coach Bob Ernst made an interesting decision on Friday naming himself as the new Women's Crew coach at Washington. Ernst who is now 61 looked around nationally, and decided that the best person to reestablish the women's program was the man who built it from scratch in the first place. So Coach Ernst will finish his final years at UW as director of rowing, and helping rebuild the juggernaut he created when he first hit campus over 30 years ago.
Bob's goal is for the men's, and women's programs to win national championships in the same year just like in the good old days. Ernst feels that the competition has increased dramatically, and the challenge is greater on the women's side, so he will end up his career finishing what he originally started.
On the men's side a young Mike Callahan who is a 1996 UW graduate, will take over the men's program. He was captain of the Huskies' 1996 team, and rowed on four Pac-10 championship crews. Callahan who was hand picked by Ernst will assume the reigns of one of the most storied programs in the history of collegiate rowing. Mike has been the frosh coach the past three years and was instrumental in recruiting the current national championship men's crew.
I have always had a lot of respect for Coach Ernst, and to me it is hard to believe he is now 61 years old, it only seems like yesterday when he took over from the legendary Dick Erickson. Bob has been at the helm of the men's program for twenty years.
To me it is a total act of unselfishness on Bob's part, and that is what Washington Crew has always been about. Bob could have finished off his career by padding his record with a few more national championships, but instead is taking the more challenging task of rebuilding the women's program.
As we all know the football program hit a serious bump in the road last week when Aguillar, and Boyles failed to receive passing test scores. Both are going to retest on Sept 15th, and both could be able to enroll at the start of the Fall quarter if they get a qualifying score. Keep your fingers crossed because according to an insider the chances of that happening is only around 30%. Both players claim they are only a few points away from qualifying.
Trevor Guyton has decided to go to California to further his academic, and football career. He is the second big local recruit to head to the Bay Area this year. For close observers of the program it is a big warning signal since UW can't afford to lose any more local recruits in what should be a banner in state recruiting year.
Steve Kelley has never been my favorite sportswriter, but maybe it's just me. Maybe in the twenty five years he has been at the Times I never gave him a chance since he was the eventual replacement for possibly the finest sports columnist in the city's history Georg N. Meyers.
I don't know how many of you are old enough to remember Georg, but he was one of the guys that taught me to read. I never met him in person, but I read everything he wrote till the day he retired. I didn't pick up reading very well in first grade, but by the end of second grade I was a whiz at it, and Georg's column, The Sporting Thing, was a staple from which I practiced reading each day.
I remember a few times when I was young, before the age of Google, when I had an obscure sports question that I just had to have the answer for, I called the Times, asked for the sports department, and Georg actually answered the phone himself. He cheerfully gave me the answer I was looking for. I remember telling him I was surprised he answered the phone, he just chuckled, and said call anytime. He was a very classy guy.
Getting back to Steve he wrote an excellent column, one of his best actually, about his own life, and the influences he had as a young sportswriter. As I said earlier, Steve has been at the Times for twenty five years and this is the first time I recall that he has allowed the reader to get a good understanding of who he is, what he is about, and where he came from.
Blaine Newnham, one of my personal favorites retired last year. When I learned he was retiring I wrote him a letter asking him to consider writing on a part time basis if the opportunity arose. I explained to him that when Georg N. Meyers retired, a mentor of his, he never wrote much again to my knowledge. A whole generation passed by without ever having the privilege to savor his unique style. He thanked me for the compliment, and said it was something to consider. I have no idea if that letter had any impact on him, and I am sure other readers may have expressed the same sentiment, but he still writes a column once a week for the Times on Sunday's.
Mr. Meyers passed away earlier this year at the ripe old age of 91. I pulled this article up from the Times archives from 2000. Georg reminisces about the Kingdome before it's implosion.
The Times made a couple of excellent hires this past Spring.
Geoff Baker brings a breath of fresh air to the Seattle sports scene. Geoff is a beat writer who covers the Mariner's, and is starting to get the reputation of the hardest working sports writer in the city. You have to check out Geoff's blog, he pounds out a lot of information each day and is very respectful, and in sync with his readers.
Jerry Brewer is a new columnist for the Times, and I don't even think he is thirty years old yet. Jerry is one of the best young sportswriters in the business. If you haven't been reading his work you are really missing out because he truly has gotten it from the get go. Jerry doesn't try to be something he is not, and his style, and the way he conveys the written word is something I am envious about. I love Jerry's new blog as he writes the story behind each column he writes. Check him out if you want to read something original.
The Arizona Wildcats finished the season 6-6 and tied for 5th in the conference and once again didn't go bowling. But things are looking a bit better due to head coach Mike Stoops' decision for fire his offensive staff and bring in offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. It was Dykes who helped energize Texas Tech's offense by co-engineering their lighting-quick spread "O." You hope to see some improvement, but you also have to figure that the first half of the season will be another time of transition for the offense.
The Wildcats averaged only 16.6 PPG, which earned them a national ranking of 105. With QB Willie Tuitama (55.9% COMP, 1,335 YDs, 7 TDs, 6 INTs) calling signals last season, the Cats won. But part way through the schedule he was out time and again with concussions. If the line can be less porous, and it looks like they will be, a protected Tuitama, now a junior, will stay healthy. For the Wildcats to win they are going to need to find at least an additional ten points per game in the tough Pac Ten.
The new quick-pass offense, which features innumerable looks designed to keep opponents guessing, should help. Once again, multiple looks, means multiple repetitions to get it right, so early turnovers could be a problem. Junior WR Mike Thomas (50 REC, 597 YDs, 2 TDs) is fast off the line and down the field. Senior wide Anthony Johnson offers a taller target. At RB both Chris Jennings and Xavier Smith can run and catch. Sophomore H-B Earl Mitchell has the talent to be a star.
Arizona's defense was rated 35th in the nation, allowing 19.6 PPG. It would have been even lower if the offense hadn't put them in so many difficult situations.
The stellar Cat "D" returns 10 starters, including a solid front line and expert line-backing corps. The front-four has experience and depth. OLB Spenser Larsen (89 tackles, 63 solo) and ILB Ronnie Palmer (69 tackles, 41 solo) are topnotch players capable of shutting down opponents. At corner, senior All-Conference back Antoine Cason (3 INTs) is back for a fourth year with counterpart Wilrey Fontenot. Senior Dominic Patrick leads Arizona's deep and talented safety-squad.
The Consensus on Arizona
Mike Stoops is on the hot seat this year even though he has done a pretty decent job rebuilding a program that was in even in worse shape than the one that Ty Willingham inherited at Washington. Mike has proven he can recruit, even though the balance has been lacking at times, now he needs to take his Arizona team to a bowl game. He came pretty close last year as he coaxed the Wildcats to a .500 record, and to get to the next level he needs to get more points out of his offense. The hiring of Sonny Dyke's as offensive coordinator is his major move to get the ball figuratively rolling in that area. Defensively the Wildcat's were tough last year, but an offense that simply couldn't move the ball, or score points negated that advantage.
Washington has owned the Wildcats the last few years, and I don't see too many reasons why we can't beat these guys up at home after two straight victories on the road. Washington who also has suffered with a mediocre offense has had little problem with the Arizona defense, for some reason Tim Lappano knows the right buttons to push against theses guys.
Arizona can win 6-8 games next year if they can get it together on offense. they better do at least that well if Mike Stoops wants to keep his job. My opinion is they should give Stoops more time since the program was just terrible when he took it over. Another couple years of coaching stability will go a long way in restoring Wildcat football.