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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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May 16, 2008 9:16 AM

Willingham speaks at Football Forum

Posted by Bob Condotta

In his role as the current president of the American Football Coaches Association, UW coach Tyrone Willingham was asked to appear this week at the Football Forum with select other coaches and media.

The event, held in Dallas and sponsored by the National Football Foundation and the Football Writers Association of America, is exploring major issues of the day, such as the APR, recruiting, player conduct and media relations.

Here is the transcript of day one and I'll warn you that it's really long.

I didn't read every last word of it --- if I'm ever incarcerated someday maybe I'll have the time then --- but I tried to read all of Willingham's comments.

One of the more interesting from my standpoint might have been when all of the coaches on the panel (others were Ohio State's Jim Tressel, Kansas' Mark Mangino and TCU's Gary Patterson) were asked if they trusted the media more than 6 on a scale of 1-10. All but Willingham raised their hand. Willngham then gave an explanation about how his wife used to work in TV news and quit when she saw that things were changing in the business from reporting news to making news. He actually told me this same thing once a few years ago when he was just beginning at UW and we talked a little about media access issues at Washington.

Willingham also says later that the biggest reason he limits access to practice is because reporters often make errors in reporting on what they see.

Willingham uses the example of reporters watching practice and seeing a lot of dropped passes but writing instead that the QB had a bad day and then he has to worry about building back the confidence of the quarterback. While I'd admit he has a little bit of a point there in that I've always thought it dangerous to make huge generalizations about what you see in practice (in part because you can't always be sure exactly what a certain drill may have been intended to do) I found it really interesting he mentioned nothing at all about not wanting to tip off opponents about strategy, personnel, etc., which I've always thought was his biggest reason for closing practice to the media. Guess it's not.

Willingham also gives an interesting answer when asked about recruiting, saying that he has to win two wars --- the "publicity war'' and "the actual war in terms of getting the right kids.'' He says you have to win the publicity war to make sure you are generating enthusiasm among the fan base, but also have to make sure you are getting the right kids at the same time. That ultimately he trusts the evaluations of coaches more than he does the public on which kids are the right ones.

At the bottom, there is a discussion of offering players scholarships at an increasingly younger age and Willingham says that "I offered my first freshman a couple of weeks ago.'' I would imagine that is a reference to receiver Kasen Williams of Skyline.

The Forum continues today and if I see anything else interesting involving Willingham I'll pass it along.

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Posted by Gabe

10:41 AM, May 16, 2008

Why should any coach trust the media? That would be a sign of low IQ and inability to learn from experience. TW, like most other coaches, is a paranoid control freak, and for good reason. So was James. They have to be. Even Ricky N was paranoid in his own way, though his extra-curricular activities caught up with him in the end. It doesn't bother me that TW closes practices if he is more comfortable with that. What bothers me is what happens on game day. Let's hope that changes a bit. And Troy Must Be Destroyed.

Posted by Formerly Guest

10:54 AM, May 16, 2008

Gabe,
I think I would be classified as a TW supporter, and I disagree. I think TW would get farther befriending the media a little bit, opening practices, showing a little more trust. I think Blaine Newham had some telling comments in the link Bob posted on the last thread, comparing his dealings with the media and those of Don James.

Posted by jh

11:14 AM, May 16, 2008

...the question probably is...over the last 6-10 years...who has a better record?...the media or willingham?...and has anyone else noticed the irony of willingham being named president of this organization and his #1 status on the Coach"s Hotseat...

Posted by old dawg

11:16 AM, May 16, 2008

It's not necessarily paranoia when people actually are out to get you. This isn't like business where you want to make money and there's an emphasis on integrity in business practices. Hopefully.

In FB, a coach has to win. It can't be win/win. Even a tie is counted as a loss (in the old days) in the minds of most people. There has to be a loser. While nearly every coach ultimately gets fired, the losers get fired first.

TW's being open or not is a non-starter for me. His challenge is to win and win often. Trying to force him out of his comfort zone on a tangential issue detracts from his ability to focus on the principle task at hand...putting his team in a position to win. Now.

I think that it's a bogus demand to give him the challenge of winning in a daunting atmosphere and then expect to micro-manage how he accomplishes his task.

Posted by Gabe

11:18 AM, May 16, 2008

Guest (formerly Fomerly Guest, I believe)---I'm not saying TW shouldn't be nice to the media and cooperate with them, even befriend them, as you put it, but trust is a different matter entirely. Ask someone from Sicily about that. I'm kind of a TW supporter in that I think, with this great new class, he may produce some terrific results. That doesn't mean he should get confessional with reporters, even though I greatly admire them as a class and think Bob C is excellent. And, of course, what is most important is that Troy Must Be Destroyed.

Posted by John

11:45 AM, May 16, 2008

I agree with him. Have you seen some of the horrible media in this country? Bob is one of the exceptions.

Posted by ummmm

12:07 PM, May 16, 2008

I think I trust 3 proven "winners" over a proven "loser" such as TW when it comes to views of the media and/or how to run a football program. Personally it sounds like paranoid behavior on his part. Pretty shallow to base a whole view of an industry from one person that was on the lower end of the spectrum as far as decisions within an organization are concerned (ie: Wife that was not in upper management and was not a life long member of rhe media institution).

Posted by Eddie

12:22 PM, May 16, 2008

Typical loser stuff from Ty. This guy will never learn.

Less than seven months and ticking on the Willingham disaster.

Posted by onewoodwacker

12:22 PM, May 16, 2008

What does Ty have to say to the media? How many ways can a coach say - "We lost a close one today but we played hard". I would be interested to see how much he opens up to the media if they go 8-4 instead of 4-8.

Posted by Two Dawgs

12:28 PM, May 16, 2008

I don't recall the comments here being quite so pro-media after the Times UW football "expose" series a couple of months ago.

I believe that TW is right: much of the media's oreintation has shifted from reporting news to making it. If you ever doubt this, compare TV news stories during sweeps months to the rest of the year.

Bob C. may be the exception.

Posted by Dave

1:05 PM, May 16, 2008

Gabe, while I like your Cato the Elder schtick, and Troy is in keeping with the whole classical theme, I have to agree with the posters on the earlier thread that Niketown (Eugene) is a worthier target. The fact is that UW and USC are never going to permanently change places, while UO and UW just might if the last five years are repeated for another half decade. (cue the Duck fans yelling, "we already have" and using selective math ... I know I am opening the door, and I apologize to everyone for that)

Posted by Dave

1:08 PM, May 16, 2008

On the main topic, I tend to think Ty would buy himself an easier time overall if he would open up to the media a little bit more. That said, nobody can blame him for being gunshy in the world where "Victory and Ruins" is deemed a worthwhile expenditure of limited reporting resources.

Posted by Tarn

1:10 PM, May 16, 2008

Interesting rational for having closed practices. I certainly don't agree with it but it is his call. I like USC's approach to having open practices.
So, does the media reflect society or does it create society? BYW, Kasen Williams of Skyline is an outstanding receiver and will be fun to watch in the next few years.

Posted by Nebdawg

1:13 PM, May 16, 2008

It's interesting and amusing to see some positive comments toward the media when it involves being critical of TW, when, a few months ago, a throng of people were going to march off this blog because of the terrible, unfair and biased reporting of the media about the UW football program.
I tend to agree more with people who say "I don't care what TW does regarding the media or other aspects of running the program as long as he turns the program around".

Posted by grizzly bear

1:22 PM, May 16, 2008

If you read the full transcript, it is very enlightening. I understand TW a lot more from reading this. Unfortuntely, it makes me believe he will never succeed at Washington. He fully acknowledges the PR aspect of media and it's importance to the program yet cannot reconcile this with reality. The new AD will have to make the tough choice of tossing a good, upstanding man who is also stubborn and seemingly of the "Acceptance of Mediocrity" comment that the interim AD so aptly used to describe the state of UW athletics.

Posted by Formerly Guest

1:28 PM, May 16, 2008

Nebdawg,

I think we all don't care how TW is with the media if we go 8-4...which was Gabe's main point.

8-4 would trump a lot of stuff.

i just think that TW could buy himself some points if he opened up a little more. I don't think it would be that hard to figure out who you can trust on the reporter beats. And I think he is crafty enough to exert a little influence with them.

He just doesn;t play that game. He locks out reporters, boosters, everyone. While it is noble, it has cost him some.

But yeah, 8-4 would fix that in a jiffy. At least until the next season. And of course, that's the way it should be.

Posted by Gabe

1:34 PM, May 16, 2008

Dave----you have indeed identified the Roman echoes of my quest to destroy USC as a viable football power. You get an A. (http://www.roman-empire.net/republic/cato-e.html) Of course, we need some serious assisstance from Reggie Bush to do this. Before long the Trojan field general will wipe that smirking smile from his face, and probably abandon the field altogether. Troy is as odious and reprehensible today as Carthage was to Cato. Victory over the quackers might be more practical and achievable, and certainly a laudable goal, but nevertheless, Troy Must (Also) Be Destroyed.

Posted by azumah

1:44 PM, May 16, 2008

Very insightfull blog. Without ever having conversed with Coach Willingham, I think I'm on the same page as him regarding the media. While there are many excellent reporters out there, there a are few who seem to feel the desperation to make it big and try to in a sense create news. This is especially true with some sports talk tv & radio and garbage like Deadspin.
I would imagine that it takes a lot of strength to just simply report the news when there are so many other people out there who are willing to take it a step further in an effort to steal someone elses readership.

Posted by John

1:59 PM, May 16, 2008

We don't need a politician for a football coach. That said, he'd better start winning games.

Posted by BTown Fan

2:19 PM, May 16, 2008

I don't have a problem with Willingham keeping things mostly closed with the media.

However, I find his reasoning completely bizarre. He is worried that his QB may lose confidence if he reads an article that he struggled at practice?

If a QB loses confidence over what a beat reporter says about practice, how confident will he be when he gets picked of twice in the first quarter of an actual football game?

Posted by Kev

2:47 PM, May 16, 2008

The Seattle sports media is not to be trusted.

The last 6 Washington head coaches to agree on this.

Posted by MelloDawg

5:42 PM, May 16, 2008

onewoodwacker,

Now, if Ty actually said "we played hard" and that was all, then we wouldn't have a problem. However, it's when he says game after game that "we didn't execute" is when it's interpreted that he ALWAYS blames the players.

I'd be interested to review all his postgame comments and hear how many times he's uttered a variation of "I need to prepare them better."

He's a decent guy, but he can be quite pompous to the media at times. It's the media's job to report on how the team is doing and it's his job to tell them about it.

Posted by BoiseTruth

6:33 PM, May 16, 2008


Neb,

I'm starting to come around to the thoughts you expressed above, even though I don't like the situation, and wish it could be different. After the series, I can't make a good argument that TW should change the status quo for the local media. That's a big change from last year huh. The I think the Times gave him a good out. Now I guess we just pull for the good of the program.


Global,

If you should happen to stop by the blog, I'd appreciate your thoughts on the AD situation. I know you're not a big fan of Baird, but both he and DJ seem to be backing Stull. How do you feel about Stull? Have you heard any inside info from the Tyee's? Any thoughts you have on the subject I'd appreciate hearing. Thanks Global.

Posted by fudazz

8:33 PM, May 16, 2008

I'm not buying into Ty's concern over a players lack of confidence because of what someday wrote about practice. What about their psyche after reading negative stories after a game? Ty closes practices and refuses to talk to the media much because he can't handle the media. I don't think he has the personal confidence to handle inspection or negative talk. I also think that lack of confidence is translated to his players.

Posted by Fill Nite

9:03 PM, May 16, 2008

I didn't know he talked. Now I know why. Keep him, keep him, keep him!

Posted by Ghetto_Dawg

9:14 PM, May 16, 2008

"...the biggest reason he limits access to practice is because reporters often make errors in reporting on what they see."

"found it really interesting he mentioned nothing at all about not wanting to tip off opponents about strategy, personnel, etc., which I've always thought was his biggest reason for closing practice to the media. Guess it's not."

Bob, you've just proved him right. Maybe not wanting to tip off opponents is one of his biggest reasons, but he just didn't get to it. O the reason is not wanting to tip off oponents, but he doesn't want them to know that.

Posted by D

11:50 PM, May 16, 2008

TW = loser just like Romar

Posted by dawg4life

6:57 AM, May 17, 2008

Interesting discussion.

11:16 AM post by old dawg is concise and correct.

Beyond that, it's really quite a simple equation here folks.

Emmert will not accept anything less than a bowl win season. Either outcome for Mr. Willingham this year will likely make most of us happy.

As far as any talk of Chuck Nelson...regardless of his history and qualifications...you're kidding, right? Again, 2 words, Mark Emmert. A chance in hell would be a long shot.

Posted by SnohomishRick

9:03 AM, May 17, 2008

Some of you guys crack me up. You say we need someone that bleeds Purple and Gold as an AD. We need someone who has a Football first mentality. We need someone who has a background in fundraising and business.

So when Chuck Nelsons name comes up ( a person who fits all of these criteria ) you can't wait to be a negative mellohead.

Posted by jh

11:28 AM, May 17, 2008

...y'all have the worst coach in division 1 football and the #1 coach on the Hot Seat...yet "hope springs eternal"...don't you think that UW would be better off with - say - the 70th...or the 90th worst coach versus the 119th worst coach?...just wondering??...

Posted by MelloDawg

11:35 AM, May 17, 2008

Just for the record, I am a supporter of Chuck Nelson for AD. Why? Because he is against Ty Willingham.

Posted by Gabe

11:39 AM, May 17, 2008

Troy Must Be Destroyed---this will come to pass, someday, some way, whether TW or someone else is coach, and with some help from Reggie Bush and a few of his friends.

Posted by DAWGONE in AZ

1:35 PM, May 17, 2008

Can't we think a little bigger than Chuck Nelson???

If he was any good at being a money manager, then he shouldn't even be looking for a job (I say that tongue in check, but it's partly true...or at least he wouldn't have need for a salary and take the job on a volunteer basis...haha).

My research hasn't come across any accomplishments at Rigel...he was COO and that is getting somewhere, but not nearly closely enough for this position.

WE NEED TO THINK BIG AND GO BIG!!! Not just put our trust in an alum because he's a football guy and was a COO.

Again, I'll say, nothing against Mr. Nelson, but this position needs someone who has proven himself more on a secular level. IMO

Posted by MelloDawg

1:42 PM, May 17, 2008

Secularism is fine with me; it implies a usage of facts and evidence to arrive at reasonable conclusions, something Typologists sorely lack.

Posted by John

5:49 PM, May 17, 2008

Posted by MelloDawg

1:42 PM, May 17, 2008

Secularism is fine with me; it implies a usage of facts and evidence to arrive at reasonable conclusions, something Typologists sorely lack.


Every time I start to think you might not be a complete fool, you go and say stuff like this. Thanks for reminding me.

Posted by DAWGONE in AZ

4:04 PM, May 18, 2008

Yeah, I don't know why I put "secular" there...I meant corporate...

Don't know what I was thinking...

and Mello...you clearly don't know what secular means...what are you talking about?

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