At first glance, there is no mistaking that Scott is Jake’s dad. A fit guy with tons of energy, he looks like he could suit up at fullback and take on a couple of defenders to give his son time to throw. Scott is one of the most welcoming and genuine “good guys” you will ever meet, but he is also the first to admit he is “a blunt guy who will tell it like it is,” one reason he is so enjoyable to speak with. While he and the family waited for Jake to join the group after the Spring Game (Jake spent over an hour signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans), we had a lot of time to talk about many things Husky related, most of which is below.
Scott and his wife Anita live within 5 miles of most of their family in Ferndale, including his 3 brothers and his parents, Hugh and Barbara. He grew up in nearby Custer, Washington, and jokes that he remembers when he would drive to his school and not see one car along the way. He prides himself on being from the area, and loves the town he has called home all of his life.
After high school, Scott moved on to play football at Western Washington, where he played linebacker. “I was probably not in the right position for me” Scott says of his football experience at Western. “I was much lighter than I am now, and I just wasn’t a good fit for linebacker.”
Sports have always been a part of his life, and that led to him coaching football until Jake entered high school. “I had to stop coaching because it was important for me to go to all of Jake’s games,” Scott says. Scott also has two daughters; Alyssa, who is a freshman at Western, and Erika, who is a sophomore in high school. “Anita and I couldn’t be more proud of our kids.”
As Scott flips the burgers and re-fills cups out of the tap on the the back of the r.v., we got some of his perspectives on everything from the recruiting of his son to the last couple of years:
Q. How did Jake decide on coming to the UW?
A. We had just finished up the visit with OSU, and were heading down to Eugene to meet up with the rest of the family. Jake told me he now knew where he wanted to go, and I figured he wanted to become a Beaver because we had just visited there. I told him to talk to Anita first before he fully decided, and he said to me that he really wanted to go to UW and wanted to call Coach Willingham right then and there.”
Family was a huge reason Jake made that decision. It is what we hoped for, but we wanted him to make his own decision so we stayed out of it for the most part. He wanted his parents, grandparents, and the rest of his close family and friends to be able to come to his games. It has worked out great.
Q. Was there much consideration by Jake to go to USC?
A. We all didn’t feel it was the right fit. I don’t think there was much consideration to play there.
Q. What is one of your favorite memories from the last couple of years?
A. There has been some good ones, but the trip to Syracuse was definitely one of them. Over 50 of us from Ferndale flew out to Syracuse. Jake’s first game as a starter, on ESPN at night, and Jake and the team played unbelievable. We had the best time on that trip. It was a great way to start his career and having all of our friends and family–it’s one of my favorite memories.
Q. Jake has a lot of attention on him and has become a local celebrity in some ways. How has that been to handle as a parent?
A. Yeah, it can be a little odd sometimes. The fans are great, but sometimes it can get to me after a game when people are trying to talk to Jake and giving me dirty looks and telling me to wait my turn. It’s like ‘hey, that is my son and I am going to go see him.’
Q. Is it tough to hear fans yell inappropriate comments at games?
A. For the most part the fans we sit around are great and supportive of the team and Jake. Sometimes we hear things in the stands at away games. Anita had someone at the first game of last season tell her that they were going to ‘kill locker’ tonight (because she had Jake’s jersey on), but once we told them we were Jake’s parents, they were shocked and were nice the rest of the game. They were very complimentary of Jake afterwards.
Q. Jake has taken some well publicized and controversial hits. How do you react as a parent?
A. You never like to see your kid get hurt. I have always told Jake to go out of bounds, and that he doesn’t have to prove how tough he is to anyone. He then tells me “Dad, you wouldn’t have ever gone out of bounds.”
There is one hit that bothered me–I’m not going to talk about that one anymore though. I got in trouble for talking about it in the past. Let’s just say it was hard to witness that, but I was glad I was there and I know Jake won’t change how he plays. There was a hit out of bounds that sticks out in my mind as one I was pretty angry at. There have been a handful of hits on Jake that I felt were uncalled for. One was a severe facemask. Luckily it rotated around and didn’t hurt him because he has a small head! I was pretty hot when those happened. That’s my kid out there, you know? Good thing I wasn’t the coach–if I was the coach in some of those instances I would have told my O-Line I wouldn’t care if they got called for a penalty, but that they needed to make sure the other team knew they weren’t going to tolerate that kind of treatment of their quarterback. The other teams like to use Jake to send a message because he is the leader. It may make me see red, but I know it comes with the territory.
Q. You have always been the dad that tells his son to “act like you have been there before” and not celebrate in the end-zone. What words did you have for Jake after the BYU game?
A. Jake and I were talking after the game as we always do, and he said he was sorry it happened. I told him he had nothing to be sorry for. I told him what he did was totally acceptable, and I knew that he had done nothing wrong. He was excited. Hey, he is a strong kid so throwing it that high (inadvertently) was understandable. He was just celebrating a heck of a play and wasn’t showing anyone up. He had just willed the team to victory. It was an amazing last drive and he deserved to be excited. There is no way there should have been a penalty called. You can see on video how surprised he is when he heard it over the loud speakers that the penalty was on #10. It was a good thing I wasn’t the coach because I would have been thrown out.
Q. Did you hear what Charles Barkley had to say about it?
A. Yes I did. That made me laugh. The ironic part of it all was the next weekend I watched another Pac-10 game and one of the guys scores a touchdown, throws it up in the air, realizes what he had done, and then catches it and hands it to the officials. And no penalty was called.
Q. At the start of last year, Jake didn’t appear himself. Was the hamstring injury affecting him?
A. You could tell that it wasn’t Jake out there (against Oregon). He could barely run but he still played and didn’t complain. He wasn’t able to be himself and he never really got his speed back–he wasn’t playing at 100%. But he is a competitor and wanted to be on the field with his teammates.
Q. So he fights through the injury in some tough games, and then ends his season when he broke his thumb on a block against Stanford. How did you all handle it, how did he handle it?
A. It was tough. I’ll never forget looking at his thumb and hearing from the doctor how broke it was. The bone in his hand was broke in 11 pieces and had to have a bunch of small pins inserted. But, he worked hard getting back and he feels really good. He feels as good as he has in a long, long time and it will show. We are really excited for this year.
Q. What are your feelings about the new coaching staff?
A. The kids love that the staff really followed through with their promise of a clean slate and they get to compete for their spots. The coaches also had the parents in for a meeting prior to the Spring Game where they talked about competing and about confidence of the kids. They have a great approach and the kids are excited, and the parents have taken to this staff because we believe they will get the job done.