Washington Loses its Hart

Randy Hart (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)

Out with old, in with the new. Change has swept through the Husky football office and for those of us that have been following UW closely there will be a lot of missing faces. To many long-time Husky fans, the one person who will be missed the most will be Defensive Line Coach Randy Hart.

Hart had survived four coaching changes but unfortunately did not make the cut with new Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian

Hart had coached at Washington for 21 years: He had recruited the state of Washington for most of those years and was well-respected throughout the state-wide and nationally. He left with the second-longest tenure of service in the history of the football program behind only Jim Lambright.

Along the way, Hart turned out a lot of really good defensive linemen, including Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award winner, Steve Emtman, who also became the highest drafted Husky ever as the No. 1 pick in the 1992 draft.

Players like Dennis Brown, Travis Richardson, John Cook, Brian Habib (who ended up playing OL in the NFL), Martin Harrison, Don Jones, Tyrone Rogers, Andy Mason, Jamal Fountaine, D'Marco Farr, Mike Lustyk, Steve Hoffmann, David Richie, Mikef Ewaliko, Jabari Issa, Jason Chorak, Larry Tripplett, and Tank Johnson were all Husky defensive linemen who went on to be all-league or play professionally after playing for Coach Hart.

Hart's current crop of young defensive linemen developed tremendously this year and will no doubt be fine players for their next coach. Hart is not leaving the cupboard bare: The Huskies return four outstanding freshman prospects in Alameda Ta'amu, Everrette Thompson, Senio Kelemete and Craig Noble to go with upper-classmen Cameron Elisara, Darrion Jones, Kalani Aldrich, and De'Shon Matthews.

And then there is Daniel Teo-Nesheim, who is simply the best football player on the team. In talking with Randy before the Huskies' final game at California, I mentioned that Daniel was so good that he was making Randy a good coach. Randy replied, "Daniel isn't good, he's great." Pretty strong words coming from an old Buckeye who cut his teeth under the tutelage of Woody Hayes.

Yes, Hart played for The Ohio State University under the legendary coach, and was a 6-foot-2 235-pound offensive guard and captain of 1968 undefeated National Championship football team. Hart brought that Hayes toughness with him to Washington and is legendary as a task-master and disciplinarian.

Randy Hart is what Husky Football is all about. "Get em on the go. Go, go, go and don't stop": He has probably said that phrase over a thousand times a year since he became a coach.

He was a driver and he challenged his kids every day. Nobody pushed their kids harder and nobody can ever tell me Randy Hart wasn't a great football coach. Oh, most of his players didn't like it when it was happening, but to a man they will say coach Hart made them the player and man they became. He was a builder of character and internal strength. He leaves his mark on Husky football as one of the greatest assistants ever at this school.

Rumor got out last week that Randy was going to retire. I laughed. Are you kidding me? Randy Hart doesn't know anything besides being a ball coach. He is like a master drill sergeant who can't leave his post. I know right now he's out looking for a job to help make a team better than they were yesterday. That's all he knows.

Randy Hart is a warrior: He is a battler and he will always root for the Washington Huskies. He spent a third of his life churning out winners for the University of Washington. Now, just like many of us former Husky coaches, he will no longer be walking the sidelines, spitting and ranting and pulling and prodding and pushing his kids to play harder. "Get em on the go, go go go."

Like he always said, there are only two kinds of coaches: Those who have been fired and those who are going to get fired. Well, Randy has now fired for the seventh time in his life, and he's out there working hard to try to find the next job he'll most likely be fired from. That's just the way it works.

These last few years have been absolutely terrible for Randy: Like all his fellow coaches he has been totally baffled by this team's many defeats and miserable performances. He takes it personally, and though the losses continued to pile up he continued to push. I was on the sidelines at Cal and he never stopped pacing, yelling, and ranting. He was just as intense as he was in all 14 of the Husky bowl games he coached in, including four Rose Bowls.

Randy Hart is also one of my best friends and always will be. He just won't be a Husky coach anymore, and for me that is sad. I know he was old-school, and still is - but he has been an institution at Washington and leaves now after the worst year in the history of the program. He deserves better, but like he told me, "It is what it is, and we are who we are." He literally rode the roller-coaster from 12-0 to 0-12 and is still fighting the good fight after all these years.

He knows how difficult these last five years have been because he has endured it first-hand. He accepted the responsibility and was held accountable. Like I said before, he is a warrior: He is a tough guy who taught discipline, perseverance, and commitment to team. He is one of the all-time great Husky coaches and still has a number of years left in his tank.

Someone will pick him up and their team will instantly become tougher.

Like most of you, I am thrilled and excited with the future of Husky Football under Steve Sarkisian, but at the same time it just won't be the same without "Mr. Fair, Firm and Friendly". Washington will rise again, and that young front will lead the way for the Husky defense. Randy Hart won't be there, but his legacy lives on in those players. He is an institution and one of the foundations of Husky toughness.

He leaves a big hole to fill.

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