BY Art Thiel 06:05PM 12/31/2011

Thiel: Holt’s firing shows depth of 0-12 hole

It’s easy to hold Nick Holt and staff accountable for the embarrassing defense; it’s harder to accept responsibility for how bad 0-12 really was to the program’s future.

Steve Sarkisian had to fire his defensive assistants, but the problem goes back farther than their hires. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Lost in the cavalcade of note-taking, joke-cracking, tweeting and “Exorcist”-like head-spinning that was part of reporting on the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, was an early moment that foretold the demise of Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt.

Actually, in hindsight, those moments were many across three years. This one stood out Thursday because it was so casually insulting.

On Baylor’s second possession of the game tied at 7, the Huskies’ defense actually forced the Bears into a fourth-down-and-one at the Washington 36-yard line. Not only did the Bears pass on the idea of a field goal, their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback,  Robert Griffin III, didn’t even glance at the sideline. Didn’t even huddle the team.

He just brought them to the line of scrimmage and, as soon as the referees got out of his way, took the snap and handed the ball to running back Jarred Salubi, who thundered 36 yards up the middle for a touchdown.

It’s understandable that a team that averages 571 yards a game is very confident about getting a single yard. But to not even pause a moment with concern over whether a Huskies’ scheme or player might thwart them and force the ball to turn over, then score a touchdown off a simple blast play  . . . well, that was a back of the hand to Holt, his coaches and players that said, “We are going to lay on you the most miserable night of your football lives, and there’s nothing you’re going to do about it but sniffle.”

Sniffle, they did. Suffer, they did. Fail, they did. To the surprise of absolutely no one.

Certainly not to the Baylor offensive coaches, who saw enough helplessness on game videos of the Huskies defense to devise a farewell game plan for the seniors and Griffin that will be talked about in Texas like they talk about the Dallas Cowboys teams of the 1970s.

Nor was it a surprise to anyone who watched the Huskies in 2011. After I made my pre-game prediction of Baylor 66, Washington 41, I heard from a couple of friends that I was being unduly harsh. I told them I had put 72 down, but figured Baylor would be playing much of the fourth quarter with reserves on offense.

Turns out the Huskies offense, with a mostly healthy Keith Price, forced the Bears to go hard all evening. Which made the defense look even worse. In previous blowout losses to USC and Stanford, the opponents were in control early, and throttled back to save starters.

So the true depth of defensive ineptitude was on national display Thursday. As much fun as it was to watch the offensive pillow fight, the UW’s defense was so embarrassing that  it forced head coach Steve Sarkisian, who may have had a firm nudge from his boss, athletic director Scott Woodward, into the hardest decision of his three-year tenure at Washington Saturday — firing a friend he begged to come here from USC, where he was happy working under Pete Carroll.

As much as the decision, which included the firings of linebackers coach Mike Cox and Jeff Mills was a no-brainer, it wasn’t a no-hearter. Sarkisian’s steady, sometimes strident defense of Holt betrayed a personal passion beyond a professional obligation.

They were thr coordinators under Carroll from 2006-2008. In that final season at USC, Holt’s defense finished second in the FBS in total defense (222 yards a game) and first in scoring defense (9 a game). The Trojans had three shutouts and held eight of 12 regular-season opponents to seven or fewer points.

When Holt was hired as DC by Carroll after the 2005 season, the Trojans’ defense was ranked 48th in total defense. So Holt appeared to know a little something about rebuilding.

So did he suddenly get stupid?

No. He drew a pair of deuces and was told to win the pot. That was a dead man’s hand.

Does any Huskies fan honestly think that a different coach would have made Cort Dennison bigger, Nate Fellner faster, Alameda Ta’amu more relentless,Everrette Thompson more consistent, Quinton Richardson more alert or Desmond Trufant, Princeton Fuimaono,  John Timu and Sean Parker more experienced?

The argument can be made that Jamaal Kearse, Danny Shelton and Josh Shirley should have played more sooner, but would that have made a material difference?

Ultimately, the game is more about talent than coaching, and the Huskies don’t have very much experienced, Pac-12 talent. It is largely a legacy of the era of Tyrone Willingham, who was fired mid-2008, ruining an entire class that normally would be contributing heavily by now.

Most fans and media are reluctant to blame college players because most observers understand, now more than ever, that the college system is a rip-off for players. To criticize them harshly in public amounts to an unfair pile-on. I subscribe to that notion, but this is not blaming them individually for mistakes they already know they’ve made. It is simply a collective request for common sense when it comes to the compulsion for rolling heads after unpleasant entertainment outcomes.

In their third year, Sarkisian and his coaches simply haven’t — and were unlikely to have — fixed everything that was wrong with a program that was the first in NCAA history to have a 12-0 season and and 0-12 season. They gambled on emphasizing high-end offensive recruits to keep pace with the game. On that front, the coaches won more than they lost.

As a program, they have had dramatic wins, heartbreaking losses and a general uptick that has been commendable, without too much criminality or, so far, NCAA rule-breaking. Holt and his defensive assistants can be cited for a lack of attention to the fundamentals of tackling, as well as lapses in getting players assignment-correct, whether through overload or under-coaching.

Given the breadth and depth of shortcomings in a world of urgent gratification, the firings were probably necessary simply because the failures were so dramatic they can’t be marginalized. But any significant coaching changes with a month left before signing day is likely to be of little help.

Patience, it seems, is no longer trending in college football. It’s easier to execute on the easy excuse than wait around for hard work to pay off.


YourThoughts

  • Djhinkley

    An articulate and thoughtful piece. This guy got fired for the sake of theatrics. It is much akin to attempting to blame Obama for not fixing a devastated economy in three years.

    • Ji1di1

      DJ-The new Michigan DC changed their defense, vastly improved it in 1 year. 1year!!!
      Reagan took an economy much worse off than now and turned it around in 3 years.
      Your expectations are sorely lacking.
      Holt had to go, absolutley no one could defend his results. Just like no one can, with any  intellectual honesty, defend Obama.

      • Fred Rutherford

        You’re wrong. The economy Reagan inherited was nowhere near as bad as the mess W left for Obama. Stop watching Fox News. They are lying to you.

         But this isn’t a political discussion so I’ll leave it at that.

        • Dustin

          Fred,

          Any economist will tell you the economy Reagan inherited was worse than Obama’s. Have you seen 17% inflation anytime in the last three years? Socio-economic debates aside: the Nick Holt years produced WORSE defenses than the Willingham years, which is amazing bc Ty Willingham virtually gave up during his last couple years.

          • Art Thiel

            I knew we’d drift into politics. But y’know, sports is a pure and immediate reflection of every issue in society. To make the leap is not difficult at all.

          • Ji1di1

            Not a big leap at all, you are right on Art.
            Keep up the good work, we appreciate it.

      • Art Thiel

        Every program’s circumstance is different. Who can say for sure that Holt wouldn’t have a respectable defense next year with the growth in the Sarkisian-era recruits?
        t

    • Art Thiel

      Thanks, Dan. Exactly my point — as a culture, we blame current leadership for failings that have been years in the making, whose roots are not with the politicians, but with us, whether we are sports fans and media, consumers, voters or citizens. If you believe in the quick fix, you are part of the problem. An appreciation of history, nuance and subtlety is not in great abundance.

  • Djhinkley

    An articulate and thoughtful piece. This guy got fired for the sake of theatrics. It is much akin to attempting to blame Obama for not fixing a devastated economy in three years.

    • Ji1di1

      DJ-The new Michigan DC changed their defense, vastly improved it in 1 year. 1year!!!
      Reagan took an economy much worse off than now and turned it around in 3 years.
      Your expectations are sorely lacking.
      Holt had to go, absolutley no one could defend his results. Just like no one can, with any  intellectual honesty, defend Obama.

      • Fred Rutherford

        You’re wrong. The economy Reagan inherited was nowhere near as bad as the mess W left for Obama. Stop watching Fox News. They are lying to you.

         But this isn’t a political discussion so I’ll leave it at that.

        • Dustin

          Fred,

          Any economist will tell you the economy Reagan inherited was worse than Obama’s. Have you seen 17% inflation anytime in the last three years? Socio-economic debates aside: the Nick Holt years produced WORSE defenses than the Willingham years, which is amazing bc Ty Willingham virtually gave up during his last couple years.

          • Art Thiel

            I knew we’d drift into politics. But y’know, sports is a pure and immediate reflection of every issue in society. To make the leap is not difficult at all.

          • Ji1di1

            Not a big leap at all, you are right on Art.
            Keep up the good work, we appreciate it.

      • Art Thiel

        Every program’s circumstance is different. Who can say for sure that Holt wouldn’t have a respectable defense next year with the growth in the Sarkisian-era recruits?
        t

    • Art Thiel

      Thanks, Dan. Exactly my point — as a culture, we blame current leadership for failings that have been years in the making, whose roots are not with the politicians, but with us, whether we are sports fans and media, consumers, voters or citizens. If you believe in the quick fix, you are part of the problem. An appreciation of history, nuance and subtlety is not in great abundance.

  • 1coolguy

    Wow Art – You gave Holt a pass, which frankly is shocking.
    As you know an offense is much more complex than a defense and generally more difficult to assemble (witness the Seahawks, the 49ers, the Ravens, etc) and since Sark has completely turned around the offense in his 3 years, Holt should have accomplished much more than his defense showed.

    Ricky and Willingham had BETTER defenses – that simple fact is enough in my book to show Holt the door.

    As the Huskies defense will be ranked in the triple digits nationally, as a manager who wants to play for championships, Sark had no option.

    He will have a number of very qualified defensive coordinators available for his staff – here’s to the future, may it be bright!!!

    • Art Thiel

      1coolguy,  if you read my responses here, I think you will catch my drift — Holt had to be accountable in an impatient sports world, but no DC would have succeeded with the post 2008 hand Holt was dealt. Better? Perhaps, but you can see for yourself that outside of Foster, Butler and Goldson, the Huskies haven’t had NFL quality defenders in a decade through four coaches. It’s an institutional problem, not a Holt problem.

  • 1coolguy

    Wow Art – You gave Holt a pass, which frankly is shocking.
    As you know an offense is much more complex than a defense and generally more difficult to assemble (witness the Seahawks, the 49ers, the Ravens, etc) and since Sark has completely turned around the offense in his 3 years, Holt should have accomplished much more than his defense showed.

    Ricky and Willingham had BETTER defenses – that simple fact is enough in my book to show Holt the door.

    As the Huskies defense will be ranked in the triple digits nationally, as a manager who wants to play for championships, Sark had no option.

    He will have a number of very qualified defensive coordinators available for his staff – here’s to the future, may it be bright!!!

    • Art Thiel

      1coolguy,  if you read my responses here, I think you will catch my drift — Holt had to be accountable in an impatient sports world, but no DC would have succeeded with the post 2008 hand Holt was dealt. Better? Perhaps, but you can see for yourself that outside of Foster, Butler and Goldson, the Huskies haven’t had NFL quality defenders in a decade through four coaches. It’s an institutional problem, not a Holt problem.

  • Soggyblogger

    Seems like you are swinging in two directions with this article, Art, but you seem to mostly believe Holt is a scapegoat. You have a right to your opinion, but I, and approximately 85% of the public disagree.  Your credentials are better then mine, and so I won’t even make my argument – though it is largely summarized in second to last paragraph. “…breadth and depth of shortcomings….” but goes beyond that, too….his demeanor belongs in the Jim Owens era when what is needed is more finesse to win the recruiting battle.

  • jafabian

    Holt has an established track record.  He was USC’s defensive coordinator and was a head coach as well.  The Huskies simply do not recruit like they did under Don James and that’s because kids want to play at Oregon, Oregon State and Boise State.  USC still recruits better than UW also.  The Dawgs have no players on the roster from Idaho or Oregon and all 6 QB’s are from California.  NONE from Washington.  UW needs to recapture dominating in-state recruiting as well as in all of the NW.  If they did maybe the defense would have had a better year.

    • Art Thiel

      The UW’s partial answer has been to renovate the stadium, which they have been trying to do ever since the new Autzen Stadium debuted 10 years ago that helped launch the Ducks. Most kids today are all about the bling, and no West Coast program has more of it that Oregon,  in fashion, facilities and style of play.  Also in recruiting high-risk players at a time when UW went straight-arrow because of the Neuheisel fallout.

  • Dcava

    Art, I agree with just about everything you say except that the firings were probably necessary. They were not necessary unless Sark was ordered to make the changes. If it was his choice all the way, I think he made a mistake for the exact reasons you mentioned. Talent is more of an issue than coaching and the coaching change is probably not going to help. It could very well slow the development of the defense because a brand new defensive staff has to start all over.  For these reasons, I don’t like the firings. The same people who called for Holt’s head will be calling for Sarkisan’s head as early as next year unless the defense is dramatically improved over what it was this year. I think the defense had a better chance of improving with the 2011 staff than a new staff in 2012. Sark contradicted himself big time. He emphasized the importance of continuity and then on the basis of one bad half  of  defense against Bayor fires virtually the whol defensive staff. Johnny Nansen I’m sure would have been fired too if he was not also the recruiting coordinator. The ironic and almost tragic thing is if the ball had not been knocked out of Chris Polk’s hands, the Huskies would have probably gone up by 3 scores and made it much more unlikely that Baylor’s running game would have realized so many rushing yards in the second half. If the Huskies had won the game and Baylor’s total yards would have been about 100 less, there is no way Sark fires the  3 coaches unless he would have been ordered to.  If Sark was not ordered to fire the 3 coaches, the firings was a visceral reaction by Sark and not as a result of a thorough evaluation of the job the defensive coaches did considering everything, especially where they were when they took over 3 years ago. Art, you nailed it with your statement that Holt did not become stupid overnight. I don’t think the Huskies’ defense in 2011 would have been much better, if any better, if Pete Carroll had been the Huskies DC in 2011. And did Sark stop to consider what effect the firings is going to have on recruiting this year? I feel Holt could have really turned the defense around in 2012 if he had the chance. I feel he needed just one more year to show undeniable improvement and optimistim for the future.

    • Art Thiel

      Dcava, you made good points about this being a harder call than merely 777 yards of offense in one game. The problem is in big-time college ball that when a passionate but lightly informed fan base gets a mad-on for a simple solution, that irrationality takes on a life of its own and cannot be dismissed, even when it may be flat wrong — especially at a time when the school is seeking donors to renovate the stadium. Boosters/donors can have an enormous influence, and I suspect pressure was put on Woodward, who passed it on to Sark. Sark truly does value continuity, which this program desperately needed. He pulled the trigger with great reluctance, but I also suspect he told his defensive assistants that they had to give him at least a fig leaf of results against Baylor to protect them. Instead, they were naked against the storm, which had been building for two years. The big money (including ticket prices,Tyee fees and donor costs) means patience is rarely found in college sports. 

  • Dcava

    Art, I agree with just about everything you say except that the firings were probably necessary. They were not necessary unless Sark was ordered to make the changes. If it was his choice all the way, I think he made a mistake for the exact reasons you mentioned. Talent is more of an issue than coaching and the coaching change is probably not going to help. It could very well slow the development of the defense because a brand new defensive staff has to start all over.  For these reasons, I don’t like the firings. The same people who called for Holt’s head will be calling for Sarkisan’s head as early as next year unless the defense is dramatically improved over what it was this year. I think the defense had a better chance of improving with the 2011 staff than a new staff in 2012. Sark contradicted himself big time. He emphasized the importance of continuity and then on the basis of one bad half  of  defense against Bayor fires virtually the whol defensive staff. Johnny Nansen I’m sure would have been fired too if he was not also the recruiting coordinator. The ironic and almost tragic thing is if the ball had not been knocked out of Chris Polk’s hands, the Huskies would have probably gone up by 3 scores and made it much more unlikely that Baylor’s running game would have realized so many rushing yards in the second half. If the Huskies had won the game and Baylor’s total yards would have been about 100 less, there is no way Sark fires the  3 coaches unless he would have been ordered to.  If Sark was not ordered to fire the 3 coaches, the firings was a visceral reaction by Sark and not as a result of a thorough evaluation of the job the defensive coaches did considering everything, especially where they were when they took over 3 years ago. Art, you nailed it with your statement that Holt did not become stupid overnight. I don’t think the Huskies’ defense in 2011 would have been much better, if any better, if Pete Carroll had been the Huskies DC in 2011. And did Sark stop to consider what effect the firings is going to have on recruiting this year? I feel Holt could have really turned the defense around in 2012 if he had the chance. I feel he needed just one more year to show undeniable improvement and optimistim for the future.

    • Art Thiel

      Dcava, you made good points about this being a harder call than merely 777 yards of offense in one game. The problem is in big-time college ball that when a passionate but lightly informed fan base gets a mad-on for a simple solution, that irrationality takes on a life of its own and cannot be dismissed, even when it may be flat wrong — especially at a time when the school is seeking donors to renovate the stadium. Boosters/donors can have an enormous influence, and I suspect pressure was put on Woodward, who passed it on to Sark. Sark truly does value continuity, which this program desperately needed. He pulled the trigger with great reluctance, but I also suspect he told his defensive assistants that they had to give him at least a fig leaf of results against Baylor to protect them. Instead, they were naked against the storm, which had been building for two years. The big money (including ticket prices,Tyee fees and donor costs) means patience is rarely found in college sports. 

  • Folta

    Great article!

    • Art Thiel

      Thanks

  • Folta

    Great article!

    • Art Thiel

      Thanks

  • Guest2

    The coaches – including Holt – had plenty of time to remedy the bad 2008 class with better recruiting.  I’m just not buying 2008 as an excuse for the talent deficit on the defensive side of the ball. 

    • Art Thiel

      Well, Shirley had three sacks Thursday, and Jamora was lost for the season, and Parker had 15 tackles. They are Holt/Sarkisian guys. But if your senior leadership is thin and weak, it’s a big deal.

  • Guest2

    The coaches – including Holt – had plenty of time to remedy the bad 2008 class with better recruiting.  I’m just not buying 2008 as an excuse for the talent deficit on the defensive side of the ball. 

    • Art Thiel

      Well, Shirley had three sacks Thursday, and Jamora was lost for the season, and Parker had 15 tackles. They are Holt/Sarkisian guys. But if your senior leadership is thin and weak, it’s a big deal.

  • Guest

    Good riddance to Nick Holt. The only thing wrong with him being fired is we waited two years too long to do it.

    • Art Thiel

      Holt looked pretty good a year ago holding the Nebs to 7 pts, yes?

  • Guest

    Good riddance to Nick Holt. The only thing wrong with him being fired is we waited two years too long to do it.

    • Art Thiel

      Holt looked pretty good a year ago holding the Nebs to 7 pts, yes?

  • http://twitter.com/kingwabbit Jeff Shope

    Finally somebody tells the whole story, blaming holt is just the easiest and laziest way to go

    • Art Thiel

      Thanks. There’s always more to an epic fail like this, and we haven’t heard the last, either.

  • http://twitter.com/kingwabbit Jeff Shope

    Finally somebody tells the whole story, blaming holt is just the easiest and laziest way to go

    • Art Thiel

      Thanks. There’s always more to an epic fail like this, and we haven’t heard the last, either.

  • Dforest05

    i defended holt all year to anyone that would listen, but when you have a month to prepare for a offence that is very similar to the one they play in eugene, there is no excuse for there performance on thursday. It looked as if they had never defended the read option. Its not all holts fault but for what he was being paid the prouduct was not to par and somthing had to change.

    • Gordon

      The reason I didn’t like Holt or the coaches is what was said about the fundamentals – through the whole season there was no shown improvement.  There was no change in scheme to help the less talented players be more successful.  3 years of coaching and players still looked lost on assignments.  The players didn’t look ready, didn’t look mad enough to play.  On defense, you have to play with controlled anger and want to ‘stick’ someone, not grab or hopefully push them down.  You have to replace players who don’t want to improve or show improvement.  Is Richardson really the best corner or safety we had to play that position?  If so, then the recruiting for the last 3 years hasn’t been very good either.  Don’t know who the new guy will be, but hopefully he can teach and demand and expect better fundamentals and performance from his players.  And Sark has to demand and expect a better performance, from day 1 next spring, from his defensive players.

      • Art Thiel

        Being assignment-correct is a function of giving players a plan they can handle. That was a large downfall. Whether the players weren’t bright enough, or the coaches overloaded them, is hard for anyone outside the program to say. But the results were inarguable.

    • Art Thiel

      The big difference with Baylor is their 240-lb RB. Oregon never has had a guy like that. Both the QB and RB were better than Oregon has had in the position, and the OL averaged 310, much bigger than Oregon. That said, Holt had the month to come up with a few stops, and he did get 4 sacks of RGIII, but the big plays were astounding.

  • Dforest05

    i defended holt all year to anyone that would listen, but when you have a month to prepare for a offence that is very similar to the one they play in eugene, there is no excuse for there performance on thursday. It looked as if they had never defended the read option. Its not all holts fault but for what he was being paid the prouduct was not to par and somthing had to change.

    • Art Thiel

      The big difference with Baylor is their 240-lb RB. Oregon never has had a guy like that. Both the QB and RB were better than Oregon has had in the position, and the OL averaged 310, much bigger than Oregon. That said, Holt had the month to come up with a few stops, and he did get 4 sacks of RGIII, but the big plays were astounding.

  • Gordon

    The reason I didn’t like Holt or the coaches is what was said about the fundamentals – through the whole season there was no shown improvement.  There was no change in scheme to help the less talented players be more successful.  3 years of coaching and players still looked lost on assignments.  The players didn’t look ready, didn’t look mad enough to play.  On defense, you have to play with controlled anger and want to ‘stick’ someone, not grab or hopefully push them down.  You have to replace players who don’t want to improve or show improvement.  Is Richardson really the best corner or safety we had to play that position?  If so, then the recruiting for the last 3 years hasn’t been very good either.  Don’t know who the new guy will be, but hopefully he can teach and demand and expect better fundamentals and performance from his players.  And Sark has to demand and expect a better performance, from day 1 next spring, from his defensive players.

    • Art Thiel

      Being assignment-correct is a function of giving players a plan they can handle. That was a large downfall. Whether the players weren’t bright enough, or the coaches overloaded them, is hard for anyone outside the program to say. But the results were inarguable.

  • Dbagnell

    What is not mentioned here is that Holt is responsible for evaluating recruits and selling them on UW.  Most of the players playing for Holt were recruited by Holt and staff.  The problem I see is that the players didn’t progress enough and that is on the coaches.  Oregon State had a better defense with less talented players.

    • Art Thiel

      Don’t lose sight of the fact that 4th and 5th year players were Willingham’s players, and he was recruiting into a death spiral, partly of his making, partly the making of the school administrators following the Neuheisel/women’s softball fiascoes.

  • Dbagnell

    What is not mentioned here is that Holt is responsible for evaluating recruits and selling them on UW.  Most of the players playing for Holt were recruited by Holt and staff.  The problem I see is that the players didn’t progress enough and that is on the coaches.  Oregon State had a better defense with less talented players.

    • Art Thiel

      Don’t lose sight of the fact that 4th and 5th year players were Willingham’s players, and he was recruiting into a death spiral, partly of his making, partly the making of the school administrators following the Neuheisel/women’s softball fiascoes.

  • swampdog

    two words and 1 figure:

    missed tackles

    $650,000.

  • swampdog

    two words and 1 figure:

    missed tackles

    $650,000.

  • toddcscar

    Holt was overrated as both a coordinator and recruiter coming out of USC.  Pete Carroll’s teams have always been defense focused and he is a good recruiter of talent (look at the good young defensive talent on the Seahawks).  USC was in the inevitable college up/down cycle when Holt took over the defense. It was Carroll’s recruiting and defensive focus that put USC on top.  

    • Art Thiel

      Holt did ride some serious coattails with Carroll, whose defensive adjustments with the Seahawks personnel was impressive.

  • toddcscar

    Holt was overrated as both a coordinator and recruiter coming out of USC.  Pete Carroll’s teams have always been defense focused and he is a good recruiter of talent (look at the good young defensive talent on the Seahawks).  USC was in the inevitable college up/down cycle when Holt took over the defense. It was Carroll’s recruiting and defensive focus that put USC on top.  

    • Art Thiel

      Holt did ride some serious coattails with Carroll, whose defensive adjustments with the Seahawks personnel was impressive.

  • Rjgoodwin

    Holt was also a victim of his own style. His in your face demeanor & pacing the sideline doesn’t play well when you get pounded week in week out. Tie on the $650k/yr & people think he should perform miracles. I don’t see how the D will be much better next year. I was suprised w how quick he got canned (New Years eve?) but I think Sark might have been ready for months or Woodward & the alums couldn’t take it any longer.

    • Art Thiel

      Point taken. Holt’s salary became such a focal point that few alums wanted to hear the cupboard was bare (or is that Kent Baer?).

  • Rjgoodwin

    Holt was also a victim of his own style. His in your face demeanor & pacing the sideline doesn’t play well when you get pounded week in week out. Tie on the $650k/yr & people think he should perform miracles. I don’t see how the D will be much better next year. I was suprised w how quick he got canned (New Years eve?) but I think Sark might have been ready for months or Woodward & the alums couldn’t take it any longer.

    • Art Thiel

      Point taken. Holt’s salary became such a focal point that few alums wanted to hear the cupboard was bare (or is that Kent Baer?).

  • RadioGuy

    “Guest” is right:  MLS is not top-rank soccer, but it’s NECESSARY soccer because it gives domestic talent experience and a chance to improve their game.  It definitely has its place.

    Still, I’m glad the Sounders understand the “big picture” of their sport.  Yes, it’s nice beating teams like the Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake, but teams don’t really earn a reputation beyond their own borders until they start beating teams from beyond those borders.  The CCL is a step in that direction, including this series with Santos Laguna, who’ve been quite successful in Mexico’s Premier Division in recent years.  This IS a big game.

  • Soggyblogger

    Seems like you are swinging in two directions with this article, Art, but you seem to mostly believe Holt is a scapegoat. You have a right to your opinion, but I, and approximately 85% of the public disagree.  Your credentials are better then mine, and so I won’t even make my argument – though it is largely summarized in second to last paragraph. “…breadth and depth of shortcomings….” but goes beyond that, too….his demeanor belongs in the Jim Owens era when what is needed is more finesse to win the recruiting battle.

  • jafabian

    Holt has an established track record.  He was USC’s defensive coordinator and was a head coach as well.  The Huskies simply do not recruit like they did under Don James and that’s because kids want to play at Oregon, Oregon State and Boise State.  USC still recruits better than UW also.  The Dawgs have no players on the roster from Idaho or Oregon and all 6 QB’s are from California.  NONE from Washington.  UW needs to recapture dominating in-state recruiting as well as in all of the NW.  If they did maybe the defense would have had a better year.

  • Art Thiel

    The UW’s partial answer has been to renovate the stadium, which they have been trying to do ever since the new Autzen Stadium debuted 10 years ago that helped launch the Ducks. Most kids today are all about the bling, and no West Coast program has more of it that Oregon,  in fashion, facilities and style of play.  Also in recruiting high-risk players at a time when UW went straight-arrow because of the Neuheisel fallout.