I am sure the players coaches, fans, and media made good use of the 24 hour rule this weekend. There was a lot of venting going on in the Husky Nation after the team suffered a loss because the coaching staff made an ill conceived gamble that ended up losing the game.
Coach Sarkisian was up front and took responsibility for it immediately after the game in the press conference and the radio show. According to the media he was visibly upset over what had happened. For Husky fans that act of contrition is refreshing. After four years of Tyrone Willingham, two of Keith Gilbertson, and four of Rick Neuheisel it wasn't like we hadn't seen a coaching staff screw up and cost the team a game. What was refreshing is the coach simply admitted his error without any BS and vowed to better in the future.
The firestorm of dissapointment shifted quickly to defensive coordinator Nick Holt whose unit gave up the improbable 50 yard TD pass on the next play. What puts Holt under the magnifying glass is his observed conduct on the sidelines and a supposed no show at the press conference after the game. An article by Ted Miller of ESPN lambasted Holt for getting a 15 yard penalty earlier in the game for once again going out of the coaching box. It also criticized him for cursing at camera men on the sidelines and for the way he was chewing out his players. The crux of the story was that Holt needs to be more accountable for his actions.
Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt needs to apologize. First to his team, then to Huskies fans.
When the Huskies defense had a massive breakdown that allowed Arizona State to score a game-winning touchdown on a 50-yard pass with 5 seconds remaining to win 24-17, the responsible party -- Holt -- failed to show up for postgame interviews and tell reporters, "We were out of position. That's entirely my fault. I need to coach them better so it won't happen again."
Meanwhile, Holt was seen berating a player and a television cameraman, neither of whom signed a three-year, $2.1 million contract to make sure his players know where to be in situations such as a late-game prevent defense when only a deep pass beats you.
I have been reading Ted Miller ever since he was a beat reporter at the Seattle PI. Ted knows college football well and is usually 100% spot on. Ted just happened to be at the game Saturday night because he currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. So he wasn't some East Coast journalist taking pot shots from afar by assembling an opinion based on watching TV and reading the AP feed.
Ted however got at least one important part of the story wrong that was pointed out last night by KJR's "Softy" Dave Mahler. First of all the 15 yard penalty wasn't called on Coach Holt. The penalty was actually called on someone named Grey Ruegamer. Grey is a newer Husky asst. strength coach who was cut by the Seahawks as a player earlier this year.
Ruegamer seems to be quite the character. This is what we found out about him from his bio in wikipedia.
Ruegamer has a Basque family friend and has helped the friend castrate Lamb with his teeth.
Ruegamer is a prankster and is also known for showing up to Friday practices in costume. He keeps all his toenail clippings and callous shavings in a cup all season long. If anyone messes with him and he deems it necessary, he will dump the cup in personal belongings of theirs.
So let me get this straight while trying to keep a straight face. We have a guy on the sidelines who went to ASU, who is now an asst. strength coach at UW, after washing out of the NFL who castrates baby farm animals with his teeth?If I was a Pac 10 official I would think twice about throwing a flag on this guy.
If I was Steve Sarkisian I would think twice about having this idiot on the sidelines and around my players. Castrating baby farm animals with your teeth? Now that is exactly the type of visual image we want associated with Husky football...not....!
Getting back to Holt the next accusation by Miller is that Holt skipped the press conference after being requested to appear by the media. That one unfortunately could be true. According to Chris Fetters of Dawgman who was at the stadium till 3:00 AM Holt wasn't going to talk to anyone after the game no matter how many requests the PR staff received.
Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times said he never requested an interview with Holt.
As for Holt not being available to the media, I can't say whether he was requested last night --- he wasn't by me in part since I had such tight deadlines I only had time for a couple of interviews and at the time we had to put in our requests (early in the fourth quarter) I didn't think I'd have the time or the pressing need for it. I know Holt has been requested after most of the other games and has not been available to the print/web media (I think he's done a couple of radio interviews). But he does meet with us on Wednesdays and he has been available for all of those.
Football is an emotional game. There is no more emotional time than after a tough loss. For years the Husky Nation has asked and prayed for an emotional coaching staff that gives 110%. Even with the errors that were made on Saturday night we have had our wish granted. This is a young and smart coaching staff that will only get better. They aren't going to fall into the pattern of making repeated mistakes.
Coaches make mistakes. Pete Carroll made plenty of them in a loss to Washington. He made enough to possibly cost USC the game against Notre Dame on Saturday. What Pete has in his favor is a group of athletes that are usually talented enough to recover from almost any mistake and win a football game. Washington isn't quite there yet but considerable help in the talent department is on the way in 2010.
As for 2009 most of us should cut coach Holt a break. We prayed for fire and emotion. We got fire and emotion. What exactly do you think has put us in a position to win five of six football games this season in the last minute? It certainly hasn't been an overwhelming advantage in the talent area.
The coaches of course need to do better. They know they need to do better. What happened on Saturday night isn't on the players. It is on the coaching staff and this coaching staff knows it and is accountable from the head man on down. Holt chose not to show up to take his medicine from the media. Now he gets painted as the bad guy. As Dave Mahler is saying is that really a fair and accurate portrayal?
I think Holt made a mistake by not showing up. All he had to do was issue the same "Mea Culpa" that Sarkisian did and leave for the plane. Holt screwed up just as much as Sarkisian did. He is 100% in charge of the defense and he personally failed his team on Saturday. Washington had three timeouts remaining. If cooler heads had prevailed with five seconds remaining they could have taken one of those time outs to make extra sure the defense was lined up correctly and every single player understood his responsibility. UW didn't do that and it was another in a series of mistakes that cost them the game in the last minute and thirty seconds.
Holt has a lot to think about between now and Wednesday when he is supposed to speak with media. If he mentions bullets or personal deficiencies there is going to be a firestorm. He has already been given two passes by fans and media for those type of comments. Holt needs to man up and take full responsibility. I think he will do that.
I think he chose not to speak on Saturday simply because the emotion and pain were so great. Jake Locker didn't speak after the Notre Dame loss for the same reasons. The difference of course is Jake is 22 working for free and Nick Holt is 47 with a $2.1 million contract. He needs to show more maturity to go along with the tremendous fire and emotion. There has to be a balance and he has to find it to take himself and the Huskies to the next level.
Around the Pac Ten
California 45 UCLA 26
Jahvid Best made a 93-yard touchdown run and caught a 51-yard scoring pass, and California got back on track after two tough losses with a dynamic first half in a 45-26 victory over UCLA on Saturday. I expected the UCLA defense to do better in this one. You have to hand it to Cal. They put their bye week to good use.
USC 34 Notre Dame 27
Jimmy Clausen threw three incomplete passes into the end zone in the closing seconds, and No. 6 USC held on Saturday for a 34-27 victory, its eighth straight win against Notre Dame. the more I see of clausen the more I like him. The more I see of USC it makes me thing the Trojans could lose a couple more before the end of the season.
Arizona 43 Stanford 38
Nic Grigsby raced 57 yards for a touchdown with 2:57 to go, and Arizona rallied from a 15-point deficit to defeat Stanford 43-38 on Saturday night. The Wildcats ended a wild night in the desert by repelling the Cardinal on fourth-and-10 at Arizona's 17, with cornerback Trevin Wade batting down a pass intended for Chris Owusu in the end zone.
Pac 10 Power Ratings
1. Oregon...The Ducks move up to #1 during the bye week. The logic is a week off will aloow them the heal up for the rest of a tough Pac 10 campaign that heads to Seattle this week.
2. USC...The Trojans came oh so close to dropping one against ND on Saturday. The losses of Sarkisan and Holt have been felt this season. Matt Barkley is coming along well but imagine this team with Mark Sanchez. Up next is OSU and the Beavers have had the Trojans number for a couple of years.
3. Oregon State...Getting a bye the week before you play USC is a real good thing.
4. California...After getting rid of some frustration against UCLA the Bears line up against the worst offense and defense in the BCS. Can they break the century mark in this one?
5. Arizona...The Wildcats received a measure of redemption beating Stanford last week. This week they play a team at home they can hammer in UCLA.
6. Stanford...A very tough loss for the Tree. This week they get ASU at home.
7. Arizona State...The Devils were lucky ths week but as Dennis Erickson said maybe it was our turn. Husky fans aren't so sure it was simply luck.
8. Washington...A very tough loss to recover from. UW could have been playing for all the marbles this week at home but coaching mistakes cost them the game. Once again an ESPN College Game Day truck that was scheduled to be in Seattle had to change its destination.
9. UCLA...The Bruins have a lot of problems. First of all they can't score enough on offense. Second of all a once tough defense is being weakened by injuries.
10. Washington State...A much needed bye week to recover form injuries won't help them against Cal. The only question is how many points will the Bears score? Can they eclipse the century mark in this one? It is very possible since they can only send so many players on the road which means they can't throw the band in during the fourth quarter to give the Coug's a break. ( Correction: Cougs are playing at Cal)
Pac 10 Offensive Player of the Week
Nic Foles of Arizona was 41-50 for 415 yards against Stanford. Wow...just wow!
Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Week
ASU's Vontaze Burfict picked up three personal fouls in the first half against Washington. Yes, I am serious. The Sun Devils held Washington to only 17 points in a game that got away from the officials. The anarchy Burfict created out on the field in the first half whether it was legal or not kept Washington from achieving any rhythm on offense.
Washington Offensive player of the Week
Devin Aguilar had seven catches for 154 yards and one TD.
Washington Defensive Player of the Week
Alameda Ta'amu had his best day as a Husky. He was a force inside all day.