Here are some of the most interesting things I heard today from new UW athletic director Scott Woodward:
Is he happy about the football program?
No, I'm not happy. Nor is coach Willingham, nor are the student athletes who participate in football. No one's happy. I go out to practice every single day and I'm in the training room every single day and I'm in the study hall and I'm in the training table every single day. And I see these kids and I look in their eyes, they're not happy, but they're working hard, they're nowhere near quitting, and they're going to give it their best. This is early in the season and it's premature to talk about anything but supporting these Huskies and supporting them as best as we can.
On his relationship with Willingham:
Very good. Coach Willingham is a fabulous person and a fabulous coach. I've spent an enormous amount of time with the football program. We've put a lot of resources both financial and personnel into football, and fixing football was one of the top priorities that I've had coming in here, and it will continue to be.
Follow-up on why he believes Willingham is a fabulous coach:
I'll judge that at the end of the season and hope that we get our wins that we think we can because we're doing a lot of good things and you just have that corner to turn, and it's hard to do, and I'm optimistic that corner will be turned.
His philosophy about changing coaches in mid-season:
It's still to be evaluated at the right time, and now's the right time in my opinion. But I do have a philosophy that you judge a body of work at the end of the season, and that's how we'll do it.
Whether he must either give Willingham a new contract or hire a new coach after this season:
I haven't definitely decided that, but I would think that the two scenarios you laid out would be the scenarios we go down.
On whether football attendance will figure in on his decision:
It'll be in the calculus, but not mega. Sure, it's in the calculus. … I think if you watch the trends of attendance we hit a bottom and we're coming out of that trough. But there's no doubt about it, we have to put a better product on the field and our fans have to feel good about it. Like I've said, our coaches and our student athletes are working their tails off and they're doing everything they can to get those so-far elusive wins.
The current status of the stadium renovation project:
We're asking two things. What we're guessing right now is a $300 million project. We're going to ask the state for the tourism taxes, which we pay heavily into with our visiting teams and their fans, the hotel-motel tax, restaurant tax, and rental car tax. We're going to ask to be a part of that mix when it's decided in Olympia and is take to King County. So that's half of where we're seeking funding. And of that half, the only thing that we're going to ask for is going to be seismic, health and safety, ADA and things that really are the basis of this whole facility which is a safe facility. The second part will be a combination of current seat donor increases, philanthropic asks and I'm going to see how much we can carve out of our department to service some debt of that other $150 million dollars. So it'll be a 50-50 split and it'll be the same thing that we've been preaching for a long time now.
On reconnecting with unhappy football fans:
Win some ball games. That's the important thing. Like I said in the press conference, your warts show when you're losing and when you're winning they go away, kind of. We have to win some ball games, that's crucial.
On if he thinks there is dissatisfaction beyond mere losing:
I don't. I think that's the paramount issue. There may be some disconnect in some pocket areas and we'll try to figure what those are. But we're doing everything that we can to make it a great fan experience, our people are well-behaved and they support this place. I mean, look at our record over the past three or four years: It's abysmal. And look at the crowd that we have on a beautiful day in September and they're still there supporting these kids. Is there going to be a lot of chirping from a lot of disgruntled fans who want instant results? Heck yeah, I understand that, I get that. They can complain all they want because they have a right to.
On his football scheduling philosophy:
My philosophy is, I kind of like the A-B-C schedule of non-conference games. You schedule a good, competitive BCS school, and then kind of a lower-tier BCS school as your B, and then a non-BCS school as your C competition.
On media relations:
I know y'all have a job to do. I try to be as transparent as I can be and tell you what I can tell you. I know that you have a job to do and Richard and I are going to try to make it as easy as possible. But know my philosophy on coach Willingham: He's the COO of college football. I'm going to let him do things he likes to do. I'm going to tell you that he and I – just like my boss – we have disagreements, we handle them within those four walls and we come out together on them. … The West Coast is different. Most people open up their practices. Everywhere (else) I've been and everywhere I've ever noticed, they lock them down. … They know people are always watching and spying and they get very paranoid about it and rightfully so. So I have sympathy for it. But I also know that you guys help us promote our program and that you have a readership that wants to know what's going on here. So my philosophy is I love Pete Carroll and what he does. It's great, It's awesome. I like that. But I also know that championship football sometimes needs a competitive edge, and that (Nick) Saban philosophy of closing it down and locking it down has its merits.