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My One Encounter With Legendary Huskies Football Coach Don James – Brian’s Blog

Former University of Washington football coach Don James image

I only had one chance to meet and interview “The Dawgfather”, but that week in 1986 still stands out as one of the highlights of my broadcast career.

When I saw the news Sunday that former University of Washington football coach Don James had succumbed to pancreatic cancer, it spurred a lot of great memories. Memories of the Huskies beating Michigan in the 1977 Rose Bowl. Memories of the 1991 season that saw Washington go undefeated and win a share of the national championship. It also brought back a more personal, professional memory.

Washington had gone 8-3-1 in the 1986 season, a sub-par year for the Huskies during the Don James era. Coach James was in Yakima to speak to a local service club, and a few minutes were set aside for a media availability. At the time, KIT Radio carried U of W football broadcasts, and our management asked me to interview James. Being a huge fan, it was a bit difficult to maintain my professional demeanor, but I managed somehow. One of the local TV reporters and I asked mostly pretty generic questions in the short time we had with the coach, but I remember a couple of things very distinctly.

First, the coach was a little concerned about being caught in Yakima’s bright spring sunshine without his sunscreen that day. Second, this coach who I respected and looked at as a larger-than-life character was only my height or just a fraction of an inch taller than me.

Not bad, I thought for a guy who had been a pretty good college quarterback at Kent State in Ohio. He was gracious, answered our questions and shook hands with both of us.

So while I only had one encounter with Coach James, the memory of that brief interview has left me with a lasting memory.

Read more about former Husky Coach Don James’ death here.

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