When longtime Huskies football coach Don James died Oct. 20, tributes poured in from former players and fellow coaches. Many players said they respected and feared James.
Some might presume that meant they feared reprisals from James for messing up. No.
An Everett Herald article clarifies it was a fear of letting James down. Players respected him so deeply that they badly wanted his approval.
“It wasn’t that you were scared you’d get in trouble,” said Jeff Pahukoa, “it’s that you were scared because you didn’t want to disappoint him.”
Pahukoa added that James “made the walk-ons feel like they were just as important as the full-scholarship kids.”
That was echoed by Dave Matthews, a walk-on receiver in the early 1980s who was quoted in The Seattle Times.
“A very humble man. Whether you were on the first team or last team, like me, everyone was treated with dignity and respect.”
UCLA coach Jim Mora, a Husky defensive back from 1980-83, told the Los Angeles Times that James “never put himself above anybody.”
Read Rich Myhre’s Herald article, plus ex-Husky Paul Strohmeier’s recollections about James’ memorable first season at the UW in 1975. Also, The Columbian recalls James’ humorous quips.