Any exercise in shrewd administration – whether it be overseeing 650 student-athletes at the University of Washington or a few family members in his household – should be right in Scott Woodward’s wheelhouse.
And this week will be a special test for Woodward’s judgment.
The Huskies’ 45-year-old athletic director is an alumnus of Louisiana State, which will send its football team to Seattle to take on the Huskies on Saturday night in the season opener for both. Woodward worked at LSU (2000-04), rising to director of external affairs for the university chancellor, before joining that chancellor – Fife native Mark Emmert – at UW when Emmert became university president.
The debut of Woodward’s biggest UW hire – Huskies football coach Steve Sarkisian, set to make roughly $1.8 million this season – could be spoiled by his alma mater.
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Woodward will have to manage his feelings this week, but that won’t happen at some LSU alumni gathering, or when he hooks up with old colleagues from the south. No, he will be tested when setting ground rules for his son, Michael Evans, who is a junior at LSU and an avid fan of Tigers football.
Evans, who arrives in Seattle on Friday, has Woodward’s permission to wear all the LSU apparel he wants around the house.
“He’s bringing a friend, and they can wear it in my house,” Woodward said. “But he’s camping out at the Gorge on Friday for the Dave Matthews Band, so we won’t see too much of that LSU gear around.”
Woodward grew up in Baton Rouge – LSU’s home. He was a peanut vendor at Tiger Stadium as a youth. He attended Catholic High School where “90 percent” of the college-bound students went to LSU. And he attended so many home football games as a college student, he can’t remember all of them.
“It’s always been a special place to me,” Woodward said.
Ask him if he’s felt any divided loyalty this week – frankly, he hasn’t. He’s been away from LSU since 2004 – long enough for some of the shine to dim.
“I really don’t know anyone on the direct football staff, as far as assistant coaches. I’ve met (D.J.) McCarthy (LSU receivers coach and former UW player). I’ve met (coach) Les (Miles) a couple times. Other than that, I don’t know anyone,” Woodward said.
“I do know all the trainers. I know the strength staff. I know the administrators, and they’re all coming. I know the senior administrators in the athletic department, and they’re all good friends of mine, and I look forward to seeing them.”
Woodward said he and Emmert will meet with a few LSU fans this week. But that won’t distract him from his chief responsibility.
“My focus is on the University of Washington and getting us better,” said Woodward, who is in charge of the department’s $60 million budget. “We’ve got some things to do there – donors to see and obligations to do – and I’ll squeeze (my LSU friends) in when I can.”
The Huskies published their two-deep depth chart Monday, and it revealed a major reshuffling of the offensive line. Right tackle Drew Schaefer is out as a starter, and Cody Habben will move there from left tackle. Ben Ossai, who had moved inside to left guard, will return to left tackle for a fourth season. And the surprise addition? It’s junior Gregory Christine, a former walk-on, who inherits left guard. Christine has played in one game, last year in mop-up duty against California. “We really tried to just go back and evaluate all of fall camp, and not get stuck on (who was on the No. 1 and 2 offenses) and that’s why there was lots of shake-up throughout fall camp. We just wanted to put a lot of different scenarios out there,” Sarkisian said. “Greg Christine has had a tremendous fall camp, and he deserves the opportunity to start at left guard.” … Freshman Desmond Trufant, a Wilson High product whose first practice was Aug. 20, is listed as cornerback co-starter with Vonzell McDowell Jr. – until Justin Glenn (knee) gets healthy. … A week ago, three true freshmen were ruled ineligible on a clerical matter by the NCAA. Two have been cleared, but linebacker Tim Tucker’s case remains in limbo. … At night practice, defensive tackle Cameron Elisara (shoulder) wore the red jersey (no hitting), and did nothing with the No. 1 defense. He was replaced by De’Shone Matthews. … Tight end Kavario Middleton (hamstring) drilled lightly with the first-unit offense, but had no contact. … UW scout-team players wore the numbers of the LSU starters they were represented. … Sarkisian said the Huskies are planning schedules for 2017 and 2018.
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HUSKIES OPPONENT THIS WEEK
No. 11 LOUISIANA STATE (0-0, 0-0)
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Husky Stadium, ESPN, 950-AM
Coach: Les Miles (42-11), fifth season. He has a 70-32 overall record in eight seasons.
Last season: 8-5 overall, 3-5 in the Southeastern Conference. Beat Georgia Tech, 38-3, in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
Against the Huskies: LSU leads, 1-0, after a 40-14 victory in 1983.
Washington connections: Tigers receivers coach D.J. McCarthy, from Boca Raton, Fla., was a Huskies reserve wide receiver from 1991 to 1993. … Offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has a 2-0 mark against the Huskies as the offensive coordinator at Oregon (2005-06).
Scouting report: To give an idea of the drastic directions these two programs have gone recently, consider the number of Top-25 wins each team has had since 2005: LSU has 17; the Huskies’ lone victory was over No. 22 Boise State in 2007. Yet last season wasn’t the kindest to the Tigers, who posted their first SEC losing record under Miles. And while Jarrett Lee’s habit of throwing interceptions cost LSU a win or two – and ultimately cost him his job – the biggest culprit was the defense, which gave up big plays in the secondary and surrendered 30 or more points five times. Longtime Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis was hired to fix that.
Did you know: True freshman Russell Shepard, the team’s backup quarterback, was rated the No. 1 athlete in the 2009 recruiting class by ESPN and could see playing time at receiver as well.
Saturday at Washington
Sept. 12 Vanderbilt
Sept. 19 UL-Lafayette
Sept. 26 at Mississippi State
Oct. 3 at Georgia
Oct. 10 Florida
Oct. 24 Auburn
Oct. 31 Tulane
Nov. 7 at Alabama
Nov. 14 Louisiana Tech
Nov. 21 at Mississippi
Nov. 28 Arkansas