The class of 2009 is starting hit campus this week to start the bridge program. It looks like almost everyone from the class is going to make it in which is good news. The only question mark is Tivao and we won't know for sure on that one till later this summer.
Not a lot of news per se going on at the start of this week but Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times had an excellent and informative interview with Coach Dan Cozzetto in his blog.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the off-season conditioning program and what your goals are for your players?
A: It's a seven-week program. I guess in the past there hasn't been a lot of players staying here. We we continue to work on the big three --- benching, cleaning and squatting. A lot of them changed their body types tremendously right now. Ivan (strength coach Ivan Lewis) has done a great job with them, and then we are running. We've got some other guys who need to take maybe 10 more pounds off. And we continue to work on fundamentals. They will have a busy summer in front of them. When they are not going to school they will be in that weight room.
Not a lot of rocket science going on here. Football players don't get better unless they continue to work out year around. They also don't get better unless they are getting proper direction, attention, and focus from the coaching and training staff. Sarkisian and his staff are doing everything to turn the mess around as quickly as possible. They have the formula for success and they have gotten the squad to buy in up to this point.
One thing that really was a joke under the previous three head coaches was the summer conditioning and work out program. Every single summer Molly Yanity would write a feature article about how together the team was and how hard they were working. Every single summer it became evident that they were more out of shape and less together than the previous season. The actual amount of kids actually working hard year around was pathetic compared to the Lambo and James years.
When Sarkisian was hired I estimated it would take 24 months for the team to be completely reshaped from a conditioning perspective. We are all going to see dramatic changes in 2009 during the season but wait till 2010. As S&C Coach Ivan Lewis said they are going to be as tough as nails. If you are a Husky fan that has to be exciting because the history of Washington football is all about toughness.
It is hard to believe that is has been over fifty years since Jim Owens first set foot on the Washington campus bring the Death March he has learned under Coach Bear Bryant at Texas A&M and Kentucky. Things have changed because this is a kinder and gentler time of history. The players are different, the rules are different, and society in general is different. That being said Coach Sarkisian and his staff are making the most of the tools that are available.
Looking around, we had very few guys who can bench 400 or squat 500 plus, or clean 300. That's kind of the norm with football. And the bottom line is football is a power game. Sometimes teams have gone to this high-intensity website stuff. You look at training now, it's going back to the big three (bench, squat, clean). That's what it's all about.
One thing I really notice when I attend the games in person is the physical appearance of our football team in comparison to our opponents. Take Oregon for example. The Duck offensive line's of this decade have made Washington look like a high school team in comparison. The horse like lower body which is developed by squats was simply absent on the UW offensive line. The training and effort to develop that simply hasn't been there.
If you have ever done squats you realize that it is the most demanding and miserable part of weight training. It is much easier just to concentrate on the upper body and ignore total body development. I think most of have noticed that most of the guys had decent pipes and scrawny lower bodies. Some of that is genetics but most of it is lack of proper conditioning.
One major thing that happened under Willingham was that a large amount of the team started working out at the IMA rather than the Husky weight room because of a lack of respect and trust toward S&C Coach Trent Greener. The kids didn't buy in and for some reason Willingham never came up with the answer to remedy that. Without being inside the program it is hard to place all the blame on Coach Greener. Like all the coaches he got his marching orders directly from Willingham. Whatever the core cause of it was it became a major reason why players regressed rather than progressed under the supposed molder of men.
The slide of the Husky football program stopped the minute Steve Sarkisian arrived on the University of Washington campus. Just like the arrival of Jim Owens a little over fifty years ago the Sarkisian era is going to introduce an element of toughness and conditioning that is the core component of all championship programs.
Daschel All Time Modern Pac 10 Coach Series
Nick Daschel has put together a series called the best Pac 10 coaches of the modern era. As a guide point he is using 1959 as a starting point and has compiled a list of 30 coaches stretching back fifty years. It makes interesting reading because coach #30 to start the list is Tyrone Willingham. I guess if you take your team to a Rose bowl you get automatic inclusion.
If you are going to put Willingham on the list you have to include Rick Neuhesiel because he does have that Rose Bowl victory on his resume. Rick was also a bruised Tui tailbone away from going to two Rose Bowl's during his short term at Washington. Say what you want about integrity issues concerning Rick but he was a much better coach than Willingham. Rick comes in at #24.
Bill Walsh at #20?
Nothing against Bill Walsh but his success happened after he left and before he returned to Stanford. Another question is how do you rank Larry Smith and Dick Tomey above Mike Price? I think what Price did during the last five years of his tenure at WSU rivals any accompliany head coach during the modern era including Carroll, McKay, and James.
#11 happened to be a guy named Jim Owens who passed away only last week. I think #11 is a little low for Owens who led the West coast back to respectability in the early 1960's. Expect Don James to be listed inside the top five once this is all said and done. I think anything less than a three will be a surprising snub.
My number one of all time would be John McKay. You can't argue with what he accomplished during his tenure at USC. Number two is very close between Don James and Pete Carroll. After that I would throw in UCLA's Terry Donahue and USC's John Robinson.
I know it is Husky heresy to ever suggest that anyone was ever better than DJ but the overall record of McKay and Carroll are among the best in collegiate history. If it was my list I would go with McKay at #1 followed by James and Carroll in a dead heat at #2.
Carroll as we know has had certain advantages at USC in his tenure and the biggest one may just be the decline of Washington, and UCLA. You take away your two biggest adversaries and it clears a bunch of debris out of the road to greatness. I will say even with a traditionally strong UW, and UCLA to contend with he would still have won most of those championships. Pete Carroll is the real deal IMHO.
James had his own debris clearing when he was coach too. Timing is everything you know. The move by McKay to the NFL, the probation of five Pac 10 schools at one time, and the reduction of scholarship limits to prevent the hoarding of talent at USC all helped him along the way. I will say though that he was beating McKay like a drum before he left which is no small acomplishment.
The thing about best of lists is that they are all subjective. The same writer could tackle the same subject next year and come up with a different conclusion. That is just another reason why they are fun to do.