Here’s the opening statement Washington coach Steve Sarkisian made today at his weekly Monday press conference.
“I think it goes without saying we lost a legend, and not just here at the University of Washington, but in college football and all around football. I think Coach James set a standard of excellence that is felt here every single day. We had him speak to our team every year since I’ve been here. Being a young head coach I’ve leaned on a lot of the examples that he set. Became a head coach at the age of 39 and I was able to lean on him from some of the experiences that he had as a young head coach that he was able to share with me that I’ve tried to put into action, and I can honestly tell you I have a picture of coach James and I in my office prior to the Holiday Bowl, and it’s something I look at quite honestly every single day before I leave my office, of he and I shaking hands. It wasn’t a planned photo. It was one that was caught spontaneously and something I cherish today and I’ll cherish forever.
“In speaking of him, he had a tremendous amount of respect in the coaching fraternity. We’ve seen that in remarks being made by not only (former) head coaches but present-day head coaches and the respect that they have for him and the impact that he’s had on the game of football and especially in the college ranks. I think for me, he had an impact obviously on the players that played for him, the coaches that coached with him, but I think on the entire University of Washington and our community, the impact that he left and the legacy he’s left here is something that’s unparalleled.
“I think the one thing from a personal (standpoint) that stands out to me and it got mentioned to me again today by Gertrude Peoples, who was here from the beginning with Coach James, is how he treated people and the way he treated people regardless of your title, regardless of what your name was, he treated you with respect and quite honestly that’s something from the day I’ve met Coach James, and talking to people, something I’ve tried to emulate that he’s definitely passed along to me. I will say I’ve had a chance to visit with (James’ wife) Carol a couple of times now over the last 24 hours and obviously our thoughts and prayers are with Carol and the James family. I think it is fitting that this weekend is homecoming and we have an amazing opportunity to celebrate Coach James in a very tasteful manner, so we’ll do our best to get that done. Obviously Saturday at the ballgame, and then Sunday at the service. He’ll be missed. He’s left a tremendous impact on a lot of lives here, and hopefully we can carry it on, what he left with us.”