Interim coaches Deckert, Gregory lead the Apple Cup
Seattle When Jake Deckert took over as Washington State’s interim head coach, it was the start of a six-week interview in the midst of chaos.
When Bob Gregory took on the same role for Washington, it was a temporary hiatus for the final two weeks of the season and an expected bridge between one system and another.
While what happens on the field in Friday’s Apple Cup showdown between the Husky and the Cougars is the most important, the current situation on the sideline with each program has created a strange and unprecedented dynamic for the rivalry match.
It’s still the Apple Cup, but with an asterisk, with both teams having interim coaches leading the way.
“The guys understand what is ahead of us, the passion for this game and how we want to finish the season more than anything else,” Deckert said. “It’s not just with the Apple Cup. We want to finish the season well and prepare ourselves for what could be next.”
Deckert took over after Nick Rolovich was fired for failing to meet the requirements of his job as a government employee by refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Deckert was caught up in a storm of controversy over the decision to part with Rolovich and his four assistant coaches, amid the locker room with many staunchly supporting the coach.
Initially, Deckert’s priority was to install software. But it quickly turned to what he could take advantage of this opportunity and why it became as much about the future as the present.
Dickert and Couger are 2-2 since Rolovich was fired, losing a two-point home game to No. 13 BYU during their turbulent first week after the changes, and a 38-24 loss to 11th place in Oregon. But they convincingly won at Arizona State and defeated Arizona in the final at home last Friday, and they still qualify for the Apple Cup with a chance to be the Northern Division’s representative in next week’s PAC 12 championship game in Las Vegas.
There is a growing feeling among fans and alumni that a win over the Huskies – which would see them lose seven games in a row to Washington – might be enough to ensure Deckert gets the job permanently.
“I am really honored and really honored to have the opportunity to lead this team,” Deckert said. “I just look at what the players have given me and I’ve said a million times I don’t know if I can give them enough. It was frantic. It was a little crazy, but we stayed together.”
Gregory’s job was to intervene in the chaotic situation he left after Jimmy Lake was first suspended for one match and then fired after less than two years in the business. Gregory served as interim coach for one game in 2013 while at Boise State after Chris Petersen left to take up Washington’s job. Gregory then joined Petersen in the defensive apparatus with the Huskies, but said that being head coach was never a major career priority.
“To be honest with you,” Gregory said, “I never thought of that.” “I’ve just enjoyed the role I’m working in and feel really good about that role and what we’re doing.”
Gregory also has the added layer of being a former Washington State player in the mid-1980s. He joked that coaches become beholden to those willing to pay them once their playing career is over.
“I get a lot of texts this time of year, from a whole bunch of cougars,” he said.
Since Gregory stepped in, both Huskys have played aggressively in losses to Arizona State and Colorado, but several errors—namely—have derailed Washington in both games.
The two setbacks ensured Washington would have a losing record and miss a ball game for the first time since 2009. In Gregory’s case, all indications are that he is serving as a placeholder and once the Apple Cup is over, the entire focus will shift to who becomes the next coach in charge at Montlake.
“It’s all different in this, I think,” Gregory said. “I’ve been in two competitions in this league and this one is very special.”
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