Frequent Yelm visitor & former WSU Football Coach Jim Walden on the passing Sunday of UW Coach Don James:
From Christian Caple in the Tacoma News Tribune:
“James, who died Sunday morning at age 80 at his home in Kirkland after a battle with pancreatic cancer, will be remembered for his unrelenting organizational skills, which made so successful his storied, 18-year tenure as the Huskies coach. He will be remembered as the best to ever hold that position at UW, leading the Huskies to six conference championships, four Rose Bowl championships, and, most notably, an unbeaten, 12-0 record in 1991 that led to a share of the national championship.
Simply put, to more than one generation of Huskies fans, Don James The Dawgfather, as he became known set the standard of success for football at the University of Washington. His achievements remain the benchmark for any and all coaches after him.”
“James might have been all business, but he had a lighter side, too. Former Washington State coach Jim Walden remembers fondly his relationship with James, who didnt mind lobbing a friendly verbal volley toward Walden from time to time.
The two were friends despite their Mutt and Jeff differences in personality, Walden said, and routinely golfed together during the offseason.
‘He had a much better sense of humor than he ever got credit for,’ said Walden, an affable, outspoken sort. ‘He had a system, he had a regulation and by golly, thats what he did. I liked that about him.’
From Chris Daniels on KING-5 TV in Seattle:
“‘I have an empty sad feeling, it’s like I lost a good friend,’ says former WSU Coach Jim Walden. ‘The state of Washington and the world of coaching has lost an unbelievly (sic) good man, good coach, good father, great husband, and good friend.’
Walden coached at WSU from 1978-1986 and added passion to the cross state rivalry. But he says people didn’t know the two were friends.
‘Don and I went on these coaches clinics together every year,’ says Walden. ‘I loved competing with him, because he brought out the best in me.’
“‘Behind the scenes Carol James and Don James were Jim and Janice’s good friends. We knew what it was like when the season started all of that went away and you gotta compete and fight your tail off,’ Walden says. ‘The University of Washington, the State of Washington, and all of us should be extremely proud we had Don James in our midst.'”
James played quarterback at the University of Miami (Fla.) in the late 40’s and early 50’s, the same school where Walden was Assistant Coach for the 1973-1976 seasons.
Don James and Jim Walden relit the fire in the cross-state Apple Cup rivalry that still burns today.
Another UM connection, James’ 1991 team went 12-0, earning a share of the national championship in the coaches poll (12-0 Miami was named national champion in the AP poll).