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UWDP Roundtable: We Are Talking About UW Coaches

With the downturn of the Men's Basketball program and some interesting media coverage of Football coaches last week, we've got a lot to talk about.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The football offseason always leaves us stretching for things to publish here at the UWDP that will appeal to you, the freeloading sports fanbase.  Fortunately for you, and for us, the two most popular sports - Football and Men's Basketball - also happen to have some interesting things swirling around the respective coaches of those programs.

On the Football front, Coach Petersen made a few ripples in Montlake with what was for him a somewhat revealing interview on KJR.  Men's Basketball is equally as intriguing as the cratering of what was once a promising season has left the job security of Lorenzo Romar subject to much debate.

In recognition of these developments, we decided to rally a few of our well-respected UWDP blogging personalities for a little bit of a UW Coaching Roundtable discussion.  Below are the results of that discussion.  Enjoy.

Chris Landon: Chris Petersen was on KJR last week and, in an interview with Mitch Levy, characterized the performance of both he and his staff in 2014 as "average".  Do you concur with that rating?

Darin Johnson: Depends. Does he mean "average for coaches in division I," or "average for what we can expect from Husky coaches"? If it's the former, it's hard to disagree. The Huskies were painfully average last year. If he means the latter, I guess I still can't disagree -- he'd know better than I would -- but I certainly hope he's wrong.

Jack Follman: Yes, fully. Obviously the season was a fair one as the Huskies got to another bowl game and won pretty much every game they should have won on paper, but there was nothing even the least bit special about what Petersen got out of the team.

Jason Cruz: I agree. Coach Pete had no signature wins last year and I think most Husky fans had hoped for more from him. The team had disappointing games against Stanford, Arizona, UCLA and Oregon. Also, a poor showing in its Bowl Game against an underdog in Oklahoma State. Despite having 4 NFL caliber players on the defensive side, it seemed like Husky Football underperformed under Coach Pete.

Kirk Degrasse: Sure, that seems fair. The performance on the field was decidedly in the "average" category: 4-5 in the Pac-12, 8-6 overall. I'm sure there are some that feel that average is too kind a description, that this team underperformed by a significant margin. Fair enough, though I would counter that A) the cultural transition from Sark to Petersen was significant and was a big factor, and B) high expectations for 2014 were built on a lot of unknowns, particularly on the offensive side (replacing Keith Price and Bishop Sankey, taking significant hits among the receivers).

Chris: Obviously, "average" isn't going to get it done in the Pac 12.  As CEO, it is Petersen's job to manage his coaches.  Where is there opportunity for upside across his staff and, importantly, how does he coax it out?

Darin: One of my soap-boxes is that at some point the Huskies just have to start being better, no matter what coaches are in what roles. They have to start getting more out of what they have. That applies to coaches as much as to players. Of course, I have no idea what it takes to coax that out of them. If I did, I'd be recruiting right now instead of click-clicking away a a keyboard.

Jack: Petersen may have to do what Sark eventually did and play a little bit of "bad guy" and maybe sacrifice some of his guys for the guys who are going to be able to take the program to the next level. Like Sark making tough decisions with Nick Holt and going hard after Tosh Lupoi, Petersen might have to start making some tough decisions to compete at the next level.

Kirk:  The biggest thing is familiarity between the staff and the players. They've all now had a full cycle to get to know each other, how they operate and how this new staff expects to do things. As more of Petersen's recruiting classes arrive, the culture that he's trying to establish here will become engrained. And the holdovers from Sark will be that much more familiar to this staff - they'll have a much better idea of what they are capable of and how to utilize them.

Chris: In another tidbit from that interview, Petersen alluded to the fact that his players had yet to develop that "killer edge".  What do you think he meant by that?  Is it an indictment on the staff or on the players that they didn't seem to have it in 2014?

Darin: I interpreted this as a bit of uncertainty and lack of confidence in the first season. It's of course an indictment of everybody, but it seems like the kind of thing that will get fixed. I'm glad he put his finger on it, though. It was a good observation.

Jack: I think he meant that confidence to where you feel like you can win any game you are in no matter who it is, but also a competitive streak to where you show up to every game wanting to obliterate the opponent. I think it is a bit of an indictment on both and I think you saw it early in games that the Huskies came out flat that they maybe weren't as easily tuned up as other teams.

Kirk: Part of that ties into culture and the player personality types that Petersen is trying to recruit, but I would suggest that part of it was due to players not playing as fast and loose as they could because they were still uncertain of how to do things the Petersen way. Again, this would seem to be something that improves with time, though obviously it requires recruiting the right guys and the coaches establishing the right attitude with the team and team leaders emerging that can enforce things on the player side.

Chris: The second annual Husky Combine event will be held on Monday.  What are you looking for coming from that event?

Darin:  Weightlifting numbers. They're not published in the way I'd most like to see them, and they're doubly difficult to compare with other teams. But that's a perpetual weakness I'd like to see fixed. I would have liked to say "fitter offensive linemen," but I suspect that barge has lumbered out to sea already.

Jack: I'm interested in seeing the team's combination of size and speed. It seemed to me that last year, the team was a lot heavier than it used to be, especially up front. Will the Huskies come out with the same "bigger" look and will they be able to stay fast with that style? That is what I am looking for.

Jason: After off-season knee surgery, is John Ross still fast? Short answer is yes. But, he did run a 4.29 40 last year. Hopefully, he's hasn't lost anything in terms of speed.

Kirk: Improvement - do we see faster 40 times as a whole, higher jumps as a whole, more bench reps as a whole? It's always fun to see individual performances, but as we should all know by now from years of watching the NFL combine, flashy numbers in the 40, in vertical jumps and in bench press reps is only a small piece of the puzzle in whether someone can succeed on the field. So I'll be focusing more on the overall numbers and whether we see more guys breaking 4.4 in the 40, 35" in the vertical jump, 20+ reps on the bench press.

Chris: Moving on to basketball.  Has Lorenzo Romar's team quit on him?

Darin: I don't know. But I certainly have. I have vowed not to get my hopes up for this team.

Jack: I think they have quit on the season going anywhere. Does that mean I think they go into every game they play immediately ready to give up? No, but I think it does mean that they are pretty weak to any adversity and will quit pretty quickly in a game.

Jason: Let's be honest. If they did give up on the season (or their coach), how could you tell? The defense has been porous with or without Upshaw and 5 guys that meet at the IMA before a Saturday morning run have as much cohesion as the Dawgs do on offense.

Kirk: Perhaps. I would expect that a certain level of fatalism has entered the program - given the bad luck the team has had, it's not hard to imagine why. This was not a team talented enough to ride out the losses of Robert Upshaw for the season and Jernard Jarreau for an extended period, and then add in Shawn Kemp and Nigel Williams-Goss being out and you have a game like the one at USC. The good news is the talent level goes up significantly next year; the bad news is it's a very young team that will quickly have to figure out how to play together and adapt to the speed and talent level of major conference D1 basketball.

Lucas Shannon: I don't think it's fair to say that the Huskies have quit on the season, with the exception of the UCLA game. The Bruins got off to a hot start and the team, which has fought hard all season despite the disappointments, finally seemed to give in and rolled over. However, for the entire season, it is hard to say that they have quit, they are undermanned, with Shawn Kemp Jr. and Nigel Williams-Goss currently suffering from injuries, and the dismissal of Robert Upshaw has proven to be the fatal blow to the team. I have watched every game this season, which has been as brutal as it sounds. However,the one positive I have taken away has been the Huskies refusal to give in.

Chris: We know that Scott Woodward has already put bubble wrap around Romar for this year.  Does he have to get to the NCAA tournament in 2015-16 in order to keep his job beyond next season?  Why or why not?

Darin:  I don't know what Scott Woodward's expectations are for Romar, but if I were him I'd be thinking about a change. In my view, Romar has been coasting on past success, as opposed to building on it. That's not to say he's coasting in the sense of not trying hard. I just mean his reputation and the general sense of how good a coach he is is mostly based on the past.

Jack: He doesn't necessarily have to get to the NCAA Tournament to save his job, but the program has to show a lot of improvement with the new young players coming in. The team is going to be coming off of the floor so you cannot expect them to get to the roof in one year, especially with a lot of freshmen, but they are going to have to get to the couch per se and show that they can get back to the roof.

Jason: Tournament and/or 20 plus wins in 2015-2016. But, the team has to play much better. Woodward is on the record as saying that he expects much better play in 2015 and 2016 based on the incoming players. If those players do not produce, the program cannot keep waiting for the next recruiting class to save them. So, yes, its a "gotsta go" situation if we see a 17-15 season next year.

Kirk: I think next year is very important to his future. Romar deserves the chance to coach the incredible recruiting class he has arriving, and he deserves to have the long-discussed new basketball operations facilities that are only a reality due to the success of the Romar era. With the upswing again in local talent I think he'll be able to ride out this down patch and once again get the program back to competing for the conference title and being a regular in the NCAA Tournament, but he's used up just about all of his accrued good will.

Lucas: My answer doesn't come with inside information of any sort, and is pure speculation. That being said, I believe that Romar must make the NCAA Tournament in order to be the head coach in 2017. The Huskies will likely miss the tournament this season, and if they miss again next year, that will be five consecutive years the Huskies have missed out on the big dance. Couple that with the declining attendance and apathy that seems to be surrounding the program, and I don't think anyone can survive all of that. Not even Romar.