Flyover Country: An Interview With The Vampire Who Is Killing the doogs Softly
This past Valentine’s Day there were plenty of opportunities to write cheesy love notes to our rivals in the Pac-12, but only corporate bloggers took that easy and creatively bankrupt idea and ran with it. Like a predator, or a paparazzi outside of wherever it is that Whitney Houston shuffled off this mortal coil, I waited. Alas, my patience was rewarded.
Bob Condotta is the excellent Seattle Times reporter with arguably the most miserable job in all of old media sports journalism. He writes about the Washington Huskies, who haven’t really been anything greater than “the doogs,” since October 22, 1994. How Mr. Condotta writes day after day about the doogs without turning to overdose quantities of booze and tranquilizers for relief is one of the mysteries of the Pac-12.
After all, it is well known in writing circles that continually confronting the edges of sanity can lead to a drastically shortened lifespan marked by substance abuse, psychosis, and even murder.
Comte de Lautréamont—died of a fever at 24.
Jacques Vaché—overdosed on opium at age 23.
Franz Kafka—starved himself to death at age 40.
William S. Burroughs—morphine addicted poet who covered up a murder in 1945 and shot his common law wife in the head in 1951.
Bob Condotta—somehow still sane and productive despite covering a topic fraught with both surrealism and reality twisting magical thinking.
So, many thanks to Mr. Condotta for going all Anne Rice for us and enduring an interview with the creature who is sucking the very lifeblood out of Washington football. He’s the wannabe Nosferatu who gave Ty Willingham his fourth year that led to 0-12. He’s the pale shadow of Barnabas Collins who paid a career assistant $1.8 million per year to start learning to be a head coach on the job. He’s Rutger Hauer’s Kurt Barlow of Montlake, caught hypocritically calling out Oregon for building athletics facilities in a time when the state’s support for higher education on the whole was waning, but who is now overseeing the remaking of Husky Stadium to the tune of nearly $300 million while the Washington Legislature burns down the larger University’s budgets.
He’s none other than Scott Woodward.
Though Mr. Condotta did an excellent job at capturing the words of this latter day master vampire, it’s left to yours truly to get behind the tryin’ to be pretty words and extract the monstrous meaning for long suffering Huskies fans that was spewed forth. Here is a link to Part One of the interview, the only section that should be of interest to Ducks fans.
Question One: Can you talk about the process of the firing of Nick Holt and two other defensive coaches after the Alamo Bowl?
Answer: As you know, my management style is [that] Steve [Sarkisian]and I talk every day, at least an hour or two on football every day. And he and I know each other well, we know our tendencies, we know each other, it’s almost like a partnership, a collaborative partnership. So there were no surprises. We talk on a daily basis, we see things, we talk about them, game-by-game, practice-by-practice, week-by-week. So there was no just culmination to this thing — it was pretty much we both knew it had to be done after the Alamo Bowl.
Translation: I am a micro-manager. I am in Steve’s ear every day because he has demonstrated through the hiring of Nick Holt, that he was in over his head. I gave Ty that fourth year. I know firsthand what awful coaching looks like and dang it, I have it going on again right before my very eyes. We’re a partnership alright, if lil’ Stevie doesn’t pan out, I’ll be summarily fired if Washington ever again hires a president with any football sensibility.
Question Two: Was anything decided prior to the Alamo Bowl?
Answer: No. To be frank with you, all signs were leaning to that there needed to be a change. But we had not come to any decisions. Steve and I talked face-to-face, like we always do, and we talk about these things and we talked about it after the game. We calmed down and then we talked about it the next morning and talked all through the weekend.
Translation: When I say I am being “. . .frank with you,” all it means is that I wasn’t being honest with you before, or I am not intending to be honest with you now. When I say “We calmed down,” what I meant was that at a booth in the hotel bar after the game I said “Stevie, #@&!, are you trying to get us both *&%$^*#@ fired?!?!?” Through my hangover all weekend, damned Madeira Wine egg nogs, I kept yelling and yelling though my Windows Phone at Stevie, my handpicked man, who was just blowing it big time.
Question Six: The offers made to these assistants were very attractive. Can you talk about the thought process there?
Answer: We have retention money and budgets in our plans going forward and we are always prepared for this and we knew we had to invest because every other school in the Pac-12 had made huge investments in their assistant coach’s pools and we’ve had teams come after our assistants and pro teams come after our assistants and we’ve had to retain them, so we were prepared for it and ready for it from a financial standpoint.
Translation: I’m spending my TV money before I even get it. Though no Pac-12 school has stratospherically jacked their assistant coaching budgets, we had to. We’re freakin’ desperate here. Half of the staff was fired and the other half is led by the “football guy” who hired those idiots in the first place. Who was going to hitch their career to Stevie’s mediocre star without being paid double or triple the going rate and/or getting the title “Coordinator” or at least a small pleasure craft? Then again, overpaying is a Washington tradition. We paid $1 million per for Slick Rick. We paid $1.5 million per for Willingham when he was radioactive. I paid $1.8 million per for the unproven Stevie and then I gave him a raise and an extension. I even paid Nick Holt a raise and gave him an extension. Sub-textual note to self: Re-evaluate the wisdom of accusing the Ducks of throwing money at problems.
Question Eleven: What are your thoughts on the football program going forward and taking the next step to returning to the top of the Pac-12?
Answer: That’s where the next step is, where we are competing for championships. And we’ve made it clear that we want to get there incrementally and we have done that and I think we are building it on a solid foundation. You look at our program, whether it be our strength coach or our trainers or our support staff, or our assistants now, and the type of student-athlete we are getting here, I think everything is rising and I think it is going to continue to bode well for our success.
Translation: At 5-7, 7-6, and 7-6, we’re competing for championships. At this incremental pace, we’ll be 8-5, with a blowout bowl loss in a lower tier game in December of 2014. We are built upon a solid foundation though we just threw out half of three years’ worth of groundwork. What can I say? At least we’re rising faster than Oregon State is.
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The upshot is this: Woodward is a “soft” vampire who is busy afflicting Washington’s football program. He saps them. The UW program I grew up watching wasn’t a soft organization at the top. Mike Lude was a flinty eyed vampire who made more flinty eyed vampires. Don James was a mid-western hard case who coached from a tower like he was an all seeing vampire bat. Even the fans were pre-Starbucks Seattle, an aircraft manufacturing town, a fishing town, a timber shipping burg and not the misty tree in a soft shot filled with non-mysterious hipsters clicking away on laptops that they’ve largely become.
There’s always talk up north about a “Return to Dominance.” That won’t be happening with the soft crew that is the current Husky AD “brain trust” up there. They can’t become who they were when they have all but forgotten how to be what they were. The old line Huskies didn’t care what Oregon was doing. They wouldn’t have cared how much we spent on whatever or whomever. They’d fix their own wagon and then they’d fix yours too—and good.
Vampires themselves used to be malevolent.
Now? They are chest shaving Audi drivers. No one’s amygdala is overwhelmed by thoughts of a creature of the night sporting frosted tips.
Washington is definitely in their Twilight zone.