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

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June 17, 2008 11:37 AM

Former UW DB coach picked as best in country

Posted by Bob Condotta

It's always struck me kind of funny how the perception of coaches can change based on the situation of their current employer.

When Chuck Heater served as Washington's cornerbacks coach from 1999-2001, for instance, I never heard anyone claim that he was the best at his job in the country.

That's not meant as a knock at Heater, just that I never heard it, maybe in part because that was a time when the Huskies led with their offense and not their defense --- the 2001 team allowed what was then the second-most points in school history, 323, a total that has been passed four times since then.

But Heater is now at Florida, a school that is an annual contender for the national title, and according to Sportsline.com, he is the best defensive backs coach in the country (though like at UW, he technically coaches only the cornerbacks).

The linked article is part of an interesting series Sportsline is publishing this summer, rating the best assistants in the country by position. I haven't seen any current UW coaches selected through the first four entries.

Author Dennis Dodd, in supplying evidence for why Heater is the best in the country, writes that Heater's Florida secondaries led the SEC in interceptions in 2005 and 2006, getting 48 total the last three seasons.

That's a stark contrast from his years at UW as the Huskies managed just six interceptions in 2000 --- the second-lowest total in school history and one of the more amazing stats of that Rose Bowl season --- and nine in 2001, tied for the fourth-lowest total.

Obviously, Heater coached just one part of the secondary --- the cornerbacks --- with Bobby Hauck, now the head coach at Montana, handling the safeties during that time. And lots of things factor into low interception totals (including the fact that the Huskies tended to play fairly passively on defense during that era, more bend-but-don't-break rather than trying to create a lot of turnovers).

Still, after the 2001 season when the Huskies gave up a then-school-record 20 touchdown passes (including four in the memorable second-half meltdown in the Holiday Bowl against Texas) the Huskies shook up their coaching staff, with Hauck taking over all of the secondary and Heater moving to running backs, his other area of expertise (he played running back at Michigan).

Heater, who also served as UW's recruiting coordinator during that time, was one of four coaches who came to UW in 1999 from Colorado when Rick Neuheisel was hired as head coach. He left following the 2003 season after Neuheisel has been fired the previous summer. He landed at Utah, then coached by Urban Meyer, then followed Meyer to Florida, where he also serves as recruiting coordinator. And where his career has taken off, no doubt benefiting from the timing of his move away from UW and onto the staff of Meyer.

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