The Tyrone Willingham error, I mean era, brought the Washington program to all-time lows. Former athletes were prohibited from using the facilities, and the policy for practices was reminiscent to the Iron Curtain.
When Steve Sarkisian arrived, he brought along the open policy of his mentor Pete Carroll to Montlake.
It has had the desired effect, no doubt, and has only helped increase the buzz around the program. So what could be so drastic that Sarkisian would release the following statement?
"I love having open practices, but I want them to respect the fact that they are open and that we're working and that we're trying to get better, and not go on the Internet and not go on blogs and talk about what we're doing and how we're going about our business. Because ultimately if it continues, I'm going to have to close them, and I don't want to do that. I want to give our fans access to practice and the way we work. I love the atmosphere out here, but competitively, if it continues I'm going to have to shut it down."
"There's just been a few issues that have popped up, that have been brought to my attention, and it's not okay. It's not okay competitively for us that things are getting put out there of what we're doing specifically or the way we're coaching things specifically—t's not okay. Hopefully our fans respect that and come out and enjoy watching our guys compete and battle and leave it at that, and we'll continue to leave them open."
"I think they can say it was a great practice, or the intensity was good or whatever that may be...if it was 85 degrees, it was 85 degrees (but) going into specifics of drills, plays, interactions with players or interaction between players and coaches or between coaches and coaches I don't think is acceptable. I think the bottom line is common sense. You push the common sense button when you're on the Internet."
"(Talking about) Individual guys is ok. How they look or how they're running..so and so really looked good today catching deep balls. I understand that. But there's certain things where you can cross the line on."
While 90 percent of the dialogue on the Internet blogs is somewhat harmless, there are a few times that people have crossed the line.
The Seattle Times blog was under scrutiny earlier as many feel a post that reflected a conversation between an athlete and a coach crossed the line.
The poster has since apologized and sent an apology to Sarkisian himself, it was an honest mistake.
It could prove beneficial to get this issue out and in the open right away.
Last year, there was excitement for the program, but it was mostly just excitement for something new. No one really expected us to turn into the pre-dark ages Huskies in one season.
Now, in year two, the expectations have increased.
From the players to the coaches there is talk of competing for the Pac-10 championships this season, which has struck a cord with the win-starved fan base. Those same fans have been hard to find this past decade at times, but they are still more than willing to fill Husky Stadium and make it one of the toughest places to play—provided the product on the field is promising enough.
As the team draws more interest, the debate over what can and cannot be said about open practices is bound to come up eventually.
And while it may seem that posting about a conversation between coach and player is harmless, any attendee can access the information, which could lead to negative perceptions of the program.
While you may know the circumstances behind the conversation from being there, casual fans that might read about it and not understand what it is really like between coaches and players, may come up with a negative conclusion about that coach.
Obviously things like specific drills and how many times a running back runs one direction are off limits as well.
While it is true they are open and people could go "scout" for another team, why make it any easier?
Open practices are not a right, they are a privilege to the fans of a program. There isn’t a rule that states they must be open, and it is as at the coach’s discretion.
After having closed practices, Washington fans know better than anyone else the contrast between the two.
Let’s keep the practices open and fun.
Some may feel Sarkisian is being a bit overprotective, it is his prerogative and we as fans should embrace it. After all, by following the rules we get open practices!
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