Category Archives: Don James

Who should be UW’s next coach? Here’s some suggestions

Possible candidates to consider when thinking about whom the Washington Huskies will turn to after football coach Steve Sarkisian announced that he was leaving to take the job at USC:

Jim Mora, currently head man at UCLA. Was a walk-on at Washington and former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. While in Atlanta, he once made the mistake of saying in an on-air interview that Washington was his dream job. It ultimately cost him his job with the Falcons. Mora has done a masterful job turning UCLA into a potential powerhouse. He seems like a good fit at the UW. Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes that Mora is the perfect choice, but Jack Wang of the LA Daily News seems to think that Mora would only use the UW opening for leverage to get a better deal for himself and his assistants at UCLA. Here’s another view: If Mora bolts for Washington, it’ll be because of UCLA’s incompetent AD.

Gary Pinkel, currently the head coach at Missouri. The Don James-disciple and former UW assistant has the Tigers ranked No. 5 in the country and he’s been linked to the Washington job before. Pinkel, 61, would be a popular choice with Washington’s boosters who have been unable to distance themselves from the James years. Pinkel, however, has a pretty good thing going while competing in the SEC, the best conference in college football.

Chris Petersen, Boise State. Who wouldn’t want this guy? He’s 92-12 in eight seasons with the Broncos. Petersen’s been linked to a lot of jobs in the past, including the USC job. He reportedly withdrew his name from consideration over the weekend. Petersen’s not a high-profile guy, and Washington seems like a lot better fit than USC for the guy who has been one of the most sought-after coaches in college football in recent years. This is the first year during his tenure that the Broncos never cracked the top-25 rankings.

James Franklin, Vanderbilt. Franklin, 41, is one of the rising stars in college football.  He was also linked to the USC job for a while. Former Washington State grad assistant is a charismatic leader and recruiter. Don’t know if the Husky job would interest him. Vandy is 17-8 in his two years and 9-7 in the SEC.

Beau Baldwin, Eastern Washington. Doubtful he’s the right guy for Washington right now, but he seems to be on a path that will take him to a BCS school someday. He repeated as Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year.

Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson. Third-year assistant at Clemson, a graduate of Texas A&M, has been linked to the Texas job if the Longhorns part ways with Mack Brown. At $1.3 million, he’s the nation’s highest-paid assistant. He was also named the American Football Coaches Association’s assistant coach of the year, by his peers.

Doug Nussmeier, offensive coordinator, Alabama. If Washington decided to go with a coach without head coaching experience, this guy might be at the top of the list. He was a former coordinator at Washington under Sarkisian for three years and is considered an excellent quarterback coach and one of the best offensive minds in the game. The Nussmeier bio, according to Wikipedia.

Justin Wilcox, defensive coordinator, Washington. Another candidate without head-coashing experience, but he’s built a pretty good reputation during coaching stops at Boise State, Tennessee and Washington. Reportedly going to USC with Sarkisian, but Some wonder if he has the personality to deal with the boosters and media?

Tom Cable, offensive line coach, Seattle Seahawks. Snohomish native was head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 2008 to 2010 and also served as head coach at Idaho. Timing’s bad as the Huskies need someone right now because of the recruiting game.

Whoever ends up coaching the Huskies won’t have a chance to coach against USC and Sarkisian until 2015. The Pac-12 schools didn’t play this year, and don’t play in 2014 either.






Respected Husky coach Don James dies

The University of Washington announced that former football coach Don James died Sunday.

James, 80, had been battling pancreatic cancer.

Don’t know that I’ve ever met a more respected coach, or a better coach for that matter. His attention to detail is what set him apart during his tenure (1976-1992) at Washington, where he went from a little-known coach from Kent State to one of the most respected coaches in college history. Every single minute of every practice was accounted for.

His assistants did the hands on coaching and teaching. James used to stand on a tower, observing it all from above. The assistants didn’t want to disappoint the head man, and it became a trickle down effect. The players didn’t want to disappoint the assistants, who didn’t want to be called into James’ office. He didn’t demand respect, but he commanded it and earned it with the way he went about his business.

Like a lot of coaches, James was careful with what he said before and after games when he was surrounded by a large throng of reporters. You’d never get any bulletin board material from James. The answers were often short and to the point. If you didn’t know it, you’d think James didn’t have much of a personality. But that was so off the mark. He was funny with a self-deprevating sense of humor.

If you waited until the mob of reporters disappeared, he’d step away from the podium and take questions in a more relaxed setting and more often than not this serious-minded man who break everybody up with a quip of some sort.

During his coaching years at Washington he spent a lot of time with his wife, Carol, at a cabin in the Allyn area during his down times, and you could find him playing golf at LakeLand Village or other courses in the region. He was always approachable, even when Sports Illustrated and other news outlets were naming him the No. 1 college football coach in America.

Respect is the one word that comes to mind when I think about James. Some took him to task for stepping down at Washington in 1993 after the school was  with recruiting violations. He felt the Pac-10 and his own administrator did not go to bat for him, so he resigned.   At the time nobody seemed to understand why he would do it.  But for James, it was a matter of principle. It was matter of right and wrong. He stood up for what he believed, and I respected him for that.

Here’s some links about James.

This one, from the vault, details the changes James that led to Washington’s national championship season in 1991.

Here’s a column from Terry Mosher at Mosher covered the Huskies for The Sun during the James era.

If you have access, check out the Seattle Times’ online site for a number of stories about James. They’ve already rolled out six stories about the Dawgfather.