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Originally published Saturday, December 6, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Steve Sarkisian gets good reviews from former Huskies QB

Marques Tuiasosopo, a Huskies quarterback from 1997 through 2000, was coached by Steve Sarkisian in 2004 when both were with the Raiders — Tuiasosopo as a player and Sarkisian as the team's quarterbacks coach.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Today

Washington @ Cal, noon, FSN.

Marques Tuiasosopo had one piece of advice for his former team in the wake of the hiring of Steve Sarkisian's as Washington's new coach — "They better get ready to go."

Tuiasosopo, one of the most famous Huskies, is qualified to speak on the hiring of Sarkisian — which is expected to become official sometime after Saturday.

Tuiasosopo, a Huskies quarterback from 1997 through 2000, was coached by Sarkisian in 2004 when both were with the Raiders — Tuiasosopo as a player and Sarkisian as the team's quarterbacks coach.

Tuiasosopo on Friday remembered that Sarkisian was only 29 when he got the job, yet still was able to command the meeting room, which at the time included Rich Gannon, who was a year removed from winning the NFL MVP award and nine years older than Sarkisian.

"I just thought his demeanor, his intensity, he makes you want to play hard," Tuiasosopo said. "He develops a relationship with you. He's certainly not trying to be your best friend. But he's a hard worker, and he's going to make you work hard.

"The guys had better be ready to go. It kind of sounds like something every coach says. But to me it's the people who can actually do it versus those who can't. And these guys better get ready to go."

Tuiasosopo recalled talking with Sarkisian at a college all-star game following that season and hearing Sarkisian tell him he was preparing to return to USC, where he had worked for three years before his one season with the Raiders.

"I was bummed," Tuiasosopo said. "But he said that's where be belonged."

Tuiasosopo, the MVP when UW won the 2001 Rose Bowl, said he was excited to hear that his former coach was going to take over his alma mater.

"Once people get to know this guy better, they will love him," Tuiasosopo said.

Tuiasosopo said he thinks the warm feelings will include UW quarterback Jake Locker. Sarkisian, 34, has been the offensive coordinator the past two seasons at USC, which runs a pro-style offense. Washington had installed elements of the popular spread-option offense to take advantage of Locker's running skills. But Tuiasosopo, who was known as UW's best running QB before Locker arrived, said he thinks Locker can find a fit in Sarkisian's offense.

"Jake will love it, especially if he wants to be a quarterback in the NFL," Tuiasosopo said. "He's going to have to learn, just like I did. But I think he is going to love being coached by him."

Former UW quarterback Hugh Millen, who thrived in a pro-style attack at Washington under Don James before a lengthy NFL career, also thought about Locker in the midst of the news of the hiring of Sarkisian.

"You could argue that a guy who runs a [spread-option offense] would be the best for Jake," Millen said. "You could also argue that it's good for Jake to get pro-style coaching now."

Millen also speculated that Sarkisian's pro-style attack will be the best for attracting Skyline High School QB Jake Heaps, a junior who will be one of the most recruited players in the nation next fall.

"There is really no argument that what is best for Jake Heaps is a pro-style system, so from that standpoint I like it," Millen said.

Ron Crockett, the owner of Emerald Downs racetrack and a prominent UW booster, said he also favors the hire.

"I like the fact that he is a West Coast person, and I like the age very much," Crockett said. "I like the school he has been at, and I like the person he has coached for [Pete Carroll]. I think he will bring very good energy. I just don't think you necessarily have to go after one of the big names in the industry."

Crockett added that he has great faith in UW president Mark Emmert and athletic director Scott Woodward, who were impressed by Sarkisian.

He said, "I'm sure he will come up with a good list of assistants. ... He was very well-prepared in his interview. So I feel very, very good about it."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Taking the next step
Steve Sarkisian is expected to soon be named Washington's head coach. He will be the fifth Pac-10 head coach hired as an assistant coach from another school, with no college head-coaching experience.* The others:
Coach Team, year hired Former team, job How'd that work out?
Joe Avezzano Oregon State, 1980 Tennessee, offensive coordinator Not so good — 6-47-2 in five miserable seasons
Mike Riley Oregon State, 1997 USC, asstistant head coach, offensive coordinator, QBs Six years, five bowl games in second OSU tour
Jeff Tedford California, 2002 Oregon, offensive coordinator, QBs Bears headed to bowl for sixth straight year
Mike Stoops Arizona, 2003 Oklahoma., associate head coach, defensive coordinator, secondary Wildcats will probably play in first bowl since 1998
*Hirings since 1978, the first year of Pac-10 play

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