On the Huskies’ mud-splattered paw prints

That Seattle Times series on the off-field adventures of UW’s last good football team, the 2000 Huskies, has been an eye-opener — especially coming from a news source that a few months ago seemed to have joined the 2007 Fire The Coach bandwagon. Even the late, sainted Curtis Williams isn’t immune.

The truly dysfunctional part about it all is that there is a vocal, well-heeled segment of the UW boosters that just does not give a damn. (Anyone heard anything from Ed Hansen since this series started?) Wins are everything. The players can be rapists, wife-beaters, serial drunk driving artists, or attempted murderers, just as long as they keep winning games.

Ty Willingham was hired as coach in large part because he had a rep as a coach who never played fast and loose with the law or the rules, who wouldn’t let the players get away with this kind of crap under him. That’s largely true, as far as anyone can tell.

Paradoxically, that rep is a perennial thorn in his side, because some of the best players in the country don’t want to play for a coach who’s known as a straight-arrow hard-ass. So they go elsewhere.

That, right there, is the unspoken reason why so many of the boosters want Willingham fired. They’d rather have a flashy, permissive, Neuheisel-style coach who will attract the best talent in the country and win games. They’ve no problem letting that talent get away with murder. Almost literally.

I give the Times credit for admitting their complicity in all of this. You’ll notice a continuing theme in the stories: the reporters knew about the players’ “off-field problems” even at the time. They didn’t cover them in detail because, I suspect, they didn’t want to be held responsible for wrecking the Rose Bowl chances of the enormously popular Huskies football team.

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