Jason Eric Nelson
- Joined: Nov 19, 2020
- Last Login: Sep 24, 2021, 6:27pm EDT
- Posts: 9
- Comments: 262
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Comment 1 reply, 13 recs
Going to the Purple Out tomorrow night!
It’ll be my first Husky game since drum roll – the LAST Cal game, where we got to see all of about 3 plays before they suspended the game due to lightning.
On the plus side, it really WAS a spectacular thunderstorm, the likes of which we rarely if ever get to see up here in the PNW. On the down side, we were at the game with my then-75-year-old dad and it was a late start anyway, so after waiting for over an hour it was pushing like 9:30 at night with no end in sight. He had a hard time standing that long, and even sitting on a little chair we got from the first aid room. We finally tapped out as we approached 10 and got on the light rail home. I figured at that late hour they’d postpone the game until the next day but NOPE. As we pulled into the end of the light rail, they were just lining up to resume the game after 11. Geez. And then I got home and watched it (had recorded it so I didn’t miss anything), and woof, what a nut-crusher, on top of the stupid pick six game the year before.
Hilariously, a guy from the UW ticket office called some time later asking how we had enjoyed the game. I told him the same story and that I thought it would’ve been nice if the UW ticket office would have offered some kind of comp tickets or even discounts to people who had tickets to that game. I know they’re not required to do it – the terms and conditions for the ticket clearly cover them for force majeure – but it would’ve been a nice gesture to fans who legit couldn’t hang out until nearly midnight for the start of the game.
Let’s hope this year’s Cal game goes better. I think I’ve been to 3 Cal games previously and the only one we won was back when I was in undergrad. Let’s do this, Huskies!
Comment 1 reply, 7 recs
Comment 1 rec
My point was really more of a rebuttal to the voices of "Well OBVIOUSLY we never should've hired him in the first place!"
The process used to hire him, especially given the situation, was entirely normal and typical of big-time programs and has led to both successes and failures. Sometimes that is immediate, and sometimes sometimes you get a year or two of success and then fall into the abyss a la Mike Hopkins or Mark Helfrich, or a year or two of struggle or mediocre results followed by a sudden eruption of success a la Don James or Dabo Swinney.
Hiring the OC he did has been, thus far, a disaster, and unlike Lake’s hiring it was—at the time—bad process and obviously has led thus far to a bad outcome. Whatever his tactical acumen, he hired an OC who has proven that he’s not the guy to be a major college OC in any of the key phases of what the job requires other (theoretically) his tactical acumen.
Lake may prove to have been a bad hire in retrospect, and if so his list of liabilities will definitely include his inability to build a legitimate brain trust around him.
Comment 1 rec
Recruiting is why I was in favor of Donte Williams as the new DC
He’s now the interim coach at USC after being the CB coach/associate head coach. I have no idea what his skills are as a coach, but he had a big rep as a recruiter and he’s been credited with helping turn around the talent bleed out of SoCal and pushing USC back up to its accustomed lofty place in the recruiting rankings.
Even if he were mostly a bust as a coach, that’s an area where Jimmy Lake could’ve leaned on his own skills to fill the gap to get a true ace recruiter on the staff. You need a mix of talents on a college staff, and that is one of them. If you have to sacrifice a little on each one being a great all-arounder, so be it.
An early idea I had when coming up with this article was just that - looking at UW coaches.
But that gives a pretty small sample size and constrains comparisons. It also would have begged the question of "but what do big-time football programs do?" I considered doing all Pac-12 coaching hires over the last X years too.
In the end, I only had so much time to work on this and the current Top 25 seemed like as good a place as any to cast a wide net and pull in most of the currently successful programs.
Comment 1 rec
I do appreciate him taking the "big shoulders" approach to accountability
He’s not throwing anyone else under the bus right now (although he has done it in the past to the WR room). When asked about problems he always diverts the blame back to himself and the coaching staff.
That said, taking responsibility for a problem also means taking responsibility for fixing it. He’s doing well at the first half of that. The second half? I’m 100% sure he’s trying to fix things. We’ll see if he succeeds.
Very interesting list of the coaching merry-go-round that year
And it bears out the general pattern described in the article: that most coaching hires aren’t sitting head coaches and a lot of them are just "promote from within with no search."
The COVID season was weird for a lot of teams for a lot of reasons, especially in the Pac-12. It was pretty easy to write it off as as COVID, AMIRITE???
Then this season started and wow.
Comment 1 reply, 1 rec
Success is success, whether you think it’s earned or not. It’s kind of like the Mariners this season. By all rights, they should have a losing record, but they don’t. They’re still right in the thick of the playoff race despite their many, Many, MANY flaws as a team. The wins still count.
Projecting what’s likely to happen going forward? That’s reasonable to think about the underlying peripheral data of how you got to your level of success, but flags fly forever. Do you think the Florida Marlins are going to take down their 1997 World Series banner because they "didn’t do it the right way and shouldn’t have won those games and just barely did this or that and dismantled the entire team the next season." Nope. It all came together and it happened.
There were warning signs last year that things were not quite coming together as we would have liked, but they still won the games they won and lost the game they lost.
Comment 3 recs
I think he did let Petersen pick the OC and he picked Kellen Moore
But then Moore decided to stay with the Cowboys and UW got caught with their pants down. What happened after that, I have no idea what long and winding road led them to Donovan. Apparently he came well recommended by NFL guys, so maybe he’s a smart analyst who knows tactics (though we haven’t seen it).
What is missing from that equation, though, is that NFL guys are going to recommend someone based on NFL potential, not college potential. NFL guys don’t care whether a guy can recruit, and a college coach that can’t recruit is a college coach that is not going to succeed in the long run.
Jimmy listened to NFL guys giving NFL advice for a college coaching position, and I think this blind spot cost him badly.
Comment 9 recs
I 100% agree that the Donovan hire was a bad idea from the jump
Going into it, not really knowing much about him, he might have been a tactical genius who learned a lot of things at his various stops and was ready to blossom into a beautiful butterfly. I don’t have a problem with the pro style philosophy. It’s not the most efficient way to get things done in modern college football, with rules that very much favor spread passing offenses, but it’s definitely a path that can succeed (look no further than teams like Wisconsin, Iowa, Notre Dame, Texas, Georgia, Stanford, and until very recently Alabama).
But college football isn’t just about tactics. It’s also very much about PR and sizzle and connections, and Donovan had NONE of those things. He had zero name recognition, no attachments to successful coaches or organizations, no definable successes to point to as this guy is great at THAT, and most critically no meaningful recruiting networks. He had been out of the college game for 5 years, so whatever connections he may have had with coaches, club teams, or even knowledge of players he had recruited elsewhere were stone cold.
Compare to Mike Hopkins, who had never been a coach before, but who had a very active network of connections with his former recruiting area to pull in players with talent, size, and skill, PLUS enough association with a successful program and coach (Syracuse, Boeheim) to be able to not just get on their radar screen but actually reel them in and get them to buy into his program. That didn’t last more than a few years, but it gave him a very healthy bridge to come in and establish himself as a coach. Heck, people often claim Pete Carroll had a great advantage his first few years with the Seahawks in drafting players by having recruited, coached, or coached against so many of the players coming out of college that he had a leg up on who would be really good (like drafting Earl Thomas over local favorite Taylor Mays, whom he coached at USC, provoking screams of protest until Earl played like a HOFer and Mays was out of the league in a few years).
Donovan had none of that. He had no contacts or network that he could draw on personally to find players from his past recruiting grounds in the East and Southeast and he had no definable characteristics that he could sell instead to players. In a QB-driven game of modern football, he had nothing to hang his hat on as a developer of QBs to show off and tell recruits and current players "this is a guy who will get you places." Heck, he was a running backs coach and didn’t have anything meaningful to show off for running back success.
That’s not just a PR problem for Donovan himself in isolation; that’s also a PR problem for Donovan as the UW OC because it becomes a negative recruiting point for other schools. "Look at the nobody that UW has at OC. Who’s that guy? What has he done? Who has he worked with? Why would you want to risk your career success working under him? How would that get you to the NFL? Because he was in the NFL? Yeah, right, just barely. He was the assistant RB coach for the worst franchise in the NFL! Is that where you want to go in the NFL?"
Of course, the fact that Oregon, our biggest rival, shortly thereafter hired Joe Moorhead, a guy who worked at the same school with most of the same players and had vastly better results, brought it into extremely sharp focus. Yeah, you can make excuses for by Donovan didn’t succeed in his 2 years at Penn State and there’s some truth to them, but when you can sit down a recruit and say, "Look, these two guys were OCs at the same school, one right after the other. They can make all the excuses they want, but at the end of the day one of them sucked and one of them was fire. Their team has the guy that sucked. Our team has the guy that succeeded, with the same players. Which one would you rather play for?"
It’s not necessarily Lake’s fault that Oregon hired Moorhead right after we hired Donovan, but it also speaks to the fact that Moorhead was available to both of us. We could have had either one. We chose Donovan. Moorhead had some question marks off the field (a scandal with a tutor taking tests/doing homework for players that got them suspended, fights at practice), and his offense at Mississippi State didn’t live up to his Penn State track record, but his Penn State record was still way better than Donovan’s and he still had recruiting contacts in both places.
And we chose Donovan. I don’t know if Moorhead would’ve been the right guy for us, but comparing the two resumes on the field, it’s pretty hard to talk yourself into thinking Donovan was the better choice. We can see it and so can everyone else. The optics are terrible, and optics are terribly important in college football. You have to have something to sell and Donovan doesn’t have it.
I think it’s clear Jimmy wanted Kellen Moore and thought he was going to get him. He didn’t. Donovan must have interviewed well and became a fallback plan, and I think everything since then has been throwing good money after bad. The cost is sunk. If it were up to me, I’d make a move and soon.