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Gekko Chats: Talking Washington Huskies Football with Adam Jude

The Seattle Times’s UW Beat Writer discusses recruiting, the new AD and Husky preseason hype

Adam Jude (via Twitter)

It’s been three years (!) since Adam Jude took over the Huskies beat for the Seattle Times. Adam, a Washington state native who followed his head over his heart to get his degree at the University of Oregon, has covered Chris Petersen from Day 1. He’s been able to generate a nice rapport with the program and has formed a comprehensive point of view on the position it occupies in the greater PAC-12.

In the Q&A to follow, we get into many of the issues Huskies fans are talking about right now: preseason hype, the new AD, and expectations for the season.

Welcome back to the 'Pound, Adam. Summertime is always a difficult stretch for Husky fans looking for news. As a beat writer, what is your strategy for dealing with the doldrums of the offseason?

Thanks for the invitation, Chris. Glad to be back in the Pound.

From a news perspective, you’re right, this part of the offseason is typically a slow time around college football. Players and coaches tend to take their last vacations and try to enjoy a little July downtime before training camp ramps up, and lowly beat writers are no different. I have been working on a few UW-related stories/projects that I’m excited to share later, in addition to some Mariners coverage here and there.

There’s not much more downtime left: Pac-12 media days has been pushed up a couple weeks this year (Chris Petersen, Darrell Daniels, and Kevin King take the stage in Hollywood next Friday), and the start of UW camp in early August will be here before we know it.

One aspect of college football that always seems to draw significant interest from a segment of readers is that of recruiting. Outside of some things like "Blue Chip Lists" and high school sports coverage, recruiting doesn't seem to be a focus area of the local news outlets. How do you look at the business of covering recruiting and what challenges does it present a beat writer like yourself?

You phrased that question well (editor’s note: thanks! they don’t call me the Gekko for nothing —cl) — there is definitely a segment of every fanbase that lives and breathes the will-he/won’t-he drama of recruiting. I respect that and recognize that it’s important for us to keep tabs on who the Huskies are targeting throughout the recruiting process.

If there is, for example, a large group of recruits visiting one weekend, I’ll make sure to do my homework on who they are and how likely they are to commit to the Huskies.

That said, my priority, especially in-season, will always be the team. I also try to be careful about exacerbating the hype that can come with a lot of recruiting coverage; it can often be more harmful and good. There are exceptions, and Bothell QB Jacob Sirmon is a good example right now — a local kid who has made an early commitment to the Huskies. I’m hoping to see him play at least a couple times this fall.

Let's talk about the players on the field. I've not seen hype like this surrounding UW football since the '90's. Heck, even Phil Steele is calling UW a dark horse national title contender. What do you think is driving the buzz around UW Football and is it legit?

There are many reasons for optimism, and Husky fans should be excited about 2016 — and beyond.

The growing buzz from the national media’s perspective is, in my opinion, largely a sign of respect for Chris Petersen. When you go 92-12 and build Boise State into a powerhouse, well, folks aren’t going to forget that. Washington has long been viewed as a sleeping giant, and I think a lot of folks are buying into the idea that Petersen is the perfect guy to jostle the giant awake. He’s certainly gotten the giant awake and on its feet; now he just needs to get the thing moving at a full sprint.

Perhaps this is the year to do it. We know how good the defense is — and it might be even better this year. The big questions, of course, center on the offense. Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin have a chance to be special. But can the young offensive line stay healthy? Who will emerge at wide receiver?

You've done a nice job covering the appointment of Jen Cohen as UW's newest AD. What attributes do you think really stand out for her as an AD candidate and what are the biggest challenges she will have to contend with?

Folks in and around the athletic department love that she’s a “true Husky.” You can’t fake the pride and passion she clearly has for UW — and has had since she was a kid growing up in Tacoma. That’s what jumps out about Cohen first and foremost.

Her success over the years as one of the department’s primary fundraisers should also serve her well in this evolving time for college athletic departments. UW has a deficit of nearly $15 million in athletics this year, and her priority in her first few years is getting that sorted out.

Certainly, some sustained success on the football field will go a long way toward balancing the budget. It’s still hard to grasp the idea that there hasn’t been a sellout — not one — at Husky Stadium since Petersen arrived. I assume that will change when Stanford comes to town on Sept. 30.

It’s hard to believe that we are already three years into your return to the state of Washington and your role covering the Dawgs. In that time you've had the challenge of overcoming the stigma of being an Oregon grad and raising THREE (!) small children. Which has been more difficult and why?

This made me chuckle. It is hard to believe it’s been three years already. The “Go back to Oregon!” emails came just about every day during my first year on the beat. It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten one of those. (Hmm, is that a good thing?) (editor’s note: get ready, Adam. I suspect some more might be on the way —cl)

My two oldest kids (they’re 5 and 7) are getting to the point where they really understand sports and are starting to ask good questions about what’s happening. They’ve been to a couple practices before, and we’ll have to get them out to their first game at Husky Stadium here soon enough.


We may not fully appreciate how fortunate we as Husky fans are to have such great beat coverage over the Washington football program. The role of beat writer is a grind, especially when you consider both the evolution of the modern media market and the boundaries that most good beat writers establish between “news” and “editorializing.” We here at the ‘Pound could not do what we do without those guys going out and getting us the news that we work with.

Many thanks to Adam for taking time out of his baseball assignments and media day prep to do this Q&A.

Go Dawgs!