As most Huskies fans know, the Seattle Times today concluded a four-day look at criminal and other wrongdoing within the football program, with emphasis on Rick Neuheisel’s 2001 Rose Bowl team.
Many fans have been upset that the series digs up mostly old dirt and that the timing could hurt the current recruiting class and the university’s chances of getting the Legislature to approve public dollars for the Husky Stadium renovation.
Here is a response from the university, including statements from acting athletic director Scott Woodward and football coach Tyrone Willingham.
Also, here is a News Tribune editorial on the series.
(And though not directly related, here is a News Tribune editorial on the stadium-financing issue.)
As for me, I was hooked for three days. However, I thought the most crucial day would be Day Four, when they promised to show how those problems of years ago are affecting the program today. I thought they were less successful in doing that, and so I see the series mostly as a cautionary tale of the past. Interesting history, not quite the vital and useful current events I had hoped.
However, that is a very different criticism from some I have heard voiced by many fans on other UW blogs and message boards. Many fans seem to believe that this is a deliberate hatchet job by the Times, intended to hurt recruiting or doom the stadium funding plan or to boost the current — presumably cleaner — coach, Tyrone Willingham.
Those things I don’t believe. It’s just not the type of motivation I’ve seen in more than 30 years in the business. And as a purely practical matter, a series of that depth takes months of reporting, and therefore it was begun long before anyone knew UW would go to the Legislature for funding, and probably even before it was clear that there would be a super recruting class to affect. (And I don’t know why this series would affect it… most of the key characters are no longer at the university.)
Finally, I think it would be wrong for any Coug or Duck or fan of any other school to read the bottom line as necessarily exclusive to UW. I think the series should be read as bigger than that. It reveals not a bad university but a bad motivation — an imbalance of athlete over student. UW certainly wasn’t alone in that.
But all of that is a perspective from outside the Times newsroom. Here is a final link to the KJR Web site where in their On Demand section you will find a link to their Wednesday night interview with David Boardman of the Seattle Times.
And here is a link to Stewart Mandel of SI, who calls the series “the most thoroughly reported, meticulously written investigative project I’ve read in my nine years covering this sport.”