Aug. 10, 2005
Seattle - When Husky senior center Brad Vanneman received an e-mail from the athletic department's marketing staff soliciting summer helpers for a special project; he felt it was a perfect opportunity to earn some summer cash.
"Basically, I needed a job, the pay was pretty good, the hours were flexible and it was convenient to work on campus," the Issaquah native said.
The job? Calling former Husky season ticket holders and asking them to re-up for the 2005 campaign. Vanneman said the position held a special meaning to him.
"I'm pretty passionate about bringing people back to Husky Stadium," he said.
Vanneman said initially he did not know if callers would recognize his name, and if they did, what the reaction would be after the team dipped to 1-10 last year.
"I guess I was surprised some people did recognize me," he said. "And, I didn't get as many negative people as I thought I might after the season we had."
Vanneman and a team of other students did a masterful job working the phones. They started out with a goal of selling approximately 300 season ticket packages. If they reached that total, the Huskies would be at 90 percent of last year's total. With three weeks to go before the season opener, the group needs to sell just 10 more packages to reach the goal.
Vanneman is no longer working the phones with the opening of football practice this week, but he likes to hear the updates on how sales are going. He also gets some good-natured kidding from Husky athletic director Todd Turner, who informed Vanneman the group had its best single-day effort, the day after he stopped working.
"Apparently the day after I left, a bunch of people I had contacted called the ticket office back to purchase tickets," he said. "It was good for them, but I didn't make a commission on those sales.
"I was a good setup man."
Husky fans hope that skill translates onto the field this season for Vanneman, who started all 11 games last year in the middle of the Husky line.
Head coach Tyrone Willingham on the Huskies' overall strength:
"It's like looking at how well they run. It's nice, but what's functional for football is the question. What's functional for football will be demonstrated to us when they play the game. That's when we'll get all the answers as to how well they take their bodies and move them, move other people in the game of football. Bench pressing 400 pounds is great, but if you don't use that the right way to move the guy across from you, what good is it?"
On his early emphasis during fall camp:
"We need to improve in every area. There's nothing that we do so well that we can't stand to improve. I would venture that USC is saying the same thing: there's nothing we do so well that we can't afford to improve."
On what the defense can learn in preparation for Air Force's option offense that might also benefit them against other teams? :
"Discipline. The biggest thing will be discipline, because with the option, you have to be extremely disciplined and take your responsibility and execute it. I think there are other offenses that you can less disciplined against and still succeed, but against the option, you have to be extremely disciplined. You have to have that toughness, that resiliency, that commitment to stay with every play, that discipline to take care of that responsibility even when nothing is happening with that responsibility."