Talking Points: Don James had a humorous side




The late Don James, legendary football coach of the Washington Huskies, had a way with a quip for such a serious-minded man.

One of his most famous bits came before the 1983 Apple Cup against Washington State.

“I’ve always felt that being a Cougar prepares you well for life,” James said. “You learn not to expect too much.”

And he once cracked that he was “a 2,000-word underdog” to effusive Washington State coach Jim Walden.

In the early 1980s, James was topping virtually every poll on the best college coach in America — in Sports Illustrated, Inside Sports and Playboy, among others.

James said that the only time his wife, Carol, let him buy Playboy was for the annual college football issue.

“She reminds me that Playboy is a lot like National Geographic. Both have pictures of places I’m never going to visit.”


Nick Aliotti, the longtime Oregon defensive coordinator, accused Washington State coach Mike Leach of being “low-class” and said he was “stunned” the Cougars’ quarterback Connor Halliday stayed in to finish with other first-team offensive members in Saturday’s 62-28 victory by the Ducks.

“They want stats, they got stats,” said Aliotti. “We got the most important stat, and that’s the ‘W.'”

Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said Sunday that Aliotti’s comments “were not representative of him or our program. I know he’s remorseful and more or less got caught in the moment of defending our players.”

It kind of seems like a dumb move by Leach. Halliday’s already banged up and a couple of series for his backup, Austin Apodaca, might have been a better use of a bad situation.

Leach texted Bud Withers of the Seattle Times “I don’t criticize other teams or coaches. I focus on coaching my team.”

That’s a good answer. There’s no snarky comment that works when you’ve just had 62 points laid on you.


Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips might be an All-Star, but the team is looking to unload him, according to multiple reports. The only question is if the Reds can find another team willing to take on a 32-year-old owned about $50 million over the next four seasons.

Phillips is considered a troublesome personality in the clubhouse. He got upset when the Reds gave fellow All-Star Joey Votto a 10-year, $225 million extension in 2012. Phillips also went off twice in the clubhouse in August after a media member pointed out his low career on-base percentage.

There’s some thought that the Atlanta Braves might want Phillips, but the Braves have a problem contract with their own second baseman, Dan Uggla, 33. Uggla hit .179 and is owed $26 million over the next two seasons.