A Visit with former Husky Charles Mincy

Mention the name Charles Mincy to any diehard Husky fan over thirty, and the majority will refer to the 1991 Rose Bowl. That was when Washington whipped Iowa 46-34, and Mincy picked off a pass and returned it 37 yards unabated to the house. It was one of two interceptions for Mincy that day, as ABC-TV named him the Defensive Player of the Game.

"I always watched a lot of film and tried to be prepared," Mincy said recently. "We noticed in film study that when people showed blitz, Iowa would throw outs. Their hot checks would have their receivers run out routes. So on that play, we lined up in one front and shifted into another. When the quarterback checked off, we knew he was going to throw. I just squatted on the receiver, figuring that the ball was coming my way. I picked it off and ran it back. That comes from just being prepared and paying attention in meetings."

There's also a funny side note to that story: "My mom used to take me to church when I was little, and I had a vision of that very play," Mincy said. "I used to daydream and be thinking about football, and it was a recurring daydream of mine to pick off a pass in the Rose Bowl and run it back. The one difference from reality was that in the daydream, I was jumping over people. But other than that, it was as I envisioned."

Charles "Chuck" Mincy grew up in the shadow of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He dreamed of being a Trojan, but it wasn't meant to be. "I grew up almost literally on their campus," he said. "My house was just a couple hundred yards from their campus. Coming out of high school I knew I wouldn't have a chance to play for them. Coming out of junior college, I thought I might, but it didn't work out that way."

USC may not have wanted Mincy, but Washington eventually did. After a two-year stint at Pasadena City College, Mincy drew the interest of UW assistant coach Chris Tormey, and was recruited to Seattle. The young defensive back played a part of the Husky renaissance. Washington finished the 1989 season at 8-4, and throttled Florida 33-7 in the Freedom Bowl. In Mincy's senior season of 1990, the Huskies went 10-2 and captured the Rose Bowl Championship with the aforementioned win over Iowa.

Come the NFL Draft of April 1991, the Kansas City Chiefs used their fifth-round pick to select Mincy. For his entire rookie year, an injury kept him on injured reserve. As the Huskies simultaneously set forth upon a season destined for a national championship, Mincy monitored their progress. In fact, he even traveled to a key game.

"When they played Nebraska, I drove up by myself from Kansas City and stood on the Husky sideline," Mincy said. "I remember how loud it was. I remember that the most. Being on the opposing team's side, it really struck me how loud it was. I was encouraging the guys and trying to keep them pumped. During my rookie season, being on injured reserve, I felt more connected with Washington than I did with Kansas City. I played awhile in the NFL (10 years), but I never played on a team that was that close as we were at Washington. Even to this day, those guys are guys that will stick with you for life."

After his career in the NFL concluded, Mincy got involved in coaching. He is currently the head coach of Inglewood High School in Southern California. Current UW running back David Freeman played under Mincy.

Recently, former Husky linebacker Donald Jones was asked about Mincy. "Chuck was regarded by his teammates as the smartest guy on the field," Jones said. "That is probably the main reason he played so long in the NFL. He should be coaching in college. (Current UW coach Steve) Sarkisian should put him on his staff in some capacity because that guy knows football."

Upon Sarkisian's hiring in December, Mincy submitted his resume for a job on the Husky staff. While it wasn't in the cards, Sarkisian gave Mincy a call and the two had a pleasant conversation.

"I want to coach at the college level because it gives me a chance to work at a higher level to use more of what I know," Mincy said. "But honestly, maybe there's just more opportunity in the NFL. I know more people there. I never know where God may put me, but a lot of times in life it's based on who you know. Wherever I get the opportunity is where I will go. Maybe one day I will get the chance to coach on the Washington staff. That would be great."

Given that Mincy played under former UW Defensive Coordinator Jim Lambright and head coach Don James, he was asked what he learned most from each.

"What it comes down to defensively is being really aggressive but assignment-based," Mincy said. "Lambright kept us prepared like that. I teach the kids today that if you're going to make a mistake - do it full speed. And if you know what you're doing, you won't make many mistakes.

"As for Coach James, what I learned most was just taking the high road with stuff," Mincy said. "I respect Don James a lot. After my rookie year I went back to school a lot. They had some recruits in the Tyee Center, which is now the Don James Center. Coach James came up and asked me to leave, because he was concerned it might be some type of violation to have me there. That's why that whole thing was crazy about the violations that came later, because Coach James did everything by the book."

Looking ahead to the 2009 season, Mincy and Inglewood will open the season against an old teammate and assistant coach. Former UW running back Beno Bryant was recently named the head coach of Los Angeles High School. "That's going to be great," Mincy said.

But Mincy will be without one of his best friends and top assistant coaches. Donald Jones left Inglewood a year ago, and is now living and working on the east coast.

"Don Jones - that's like a life-long friend of mine," Mincy said. "My kids call him Uncle Don, and I'm his daughter's godfather. But as far as coaching, he brought a lot of energy and confidence to a lot of the kids. It's hard to replace that. He's real encouraging. He's an imposing figure, but a meek person. Kids are real drawn to him, and he's a real positive figure. He's a strong Christian dude, and a good example to everybody. You know, that's rare. He's not perfect, but he's not compromising. What you see is what you get. When someone like that is close to you, it's a great benefit. Our team is missing him."
Derek Johnson can be reached at derekjohnsonbooks@comcast.net

Husky Football in the Don James Era available at www.derekjohnsonbooks.com