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A well-respected coach in the Pacific Northwest for more than 20 years, and a long-time assistant coach at Washington, Keith Gilbertson was named the Huskies' head coach just weeks before the start of the 2003 season. During his inaugural season as head coach, he directed Washington to a 6-6 record, highlighted by the program's sixth consecutive victory against cross-state rival Washington State in the Apple Cup.
Gilbertson's relationship with Husky football first started when he was a youngster growing up in nearby Everett. He would often attend Husky games, buying a one dollar ticket to sit in the inexpensive endzone seats.
When presented the opportunity to join Don James' UW staff in 1976 as a graduate assistant, he jumped at the chance. Since that time he has coached in the professional ranks, directed two other college programs and made several stops back with the Huskies.
The 2004 season will be the 10th year of coaching at Washington for Gilbertson. He is currently in his third term of service with the Husky program. He was a graduate assistant coach in 1976, an assistant coach from 1989-91 and again from 1999-2002.
Gilbertson is the 24th head coach in the program's history. When he accepted the job at age 55, he became the oldest individual to be named Washington's head coach.
Gilbertson's previous head coaching experience includes stints at Idaho (1986-88) and California (1992-95). He has a combined record of 48-35 at those two schools over seven seasons. His overall record as a head coach now stands at 54-41.
Gilbertson had been the Huskies' offensive coordinator from 2000-2002. He was also a graduate assistant coach at the UW in 1976, an offensive line coach in 1998-90 and the offensive coordinator in the national championship season of 1991. In 1999, he returned to Washington as assistant head coach and tight ends coach before being named offensive coordinator prior to the 2000 season.
In his two terms as the UW's offensive coordinator, Gilbertson built a reputation for varied and potent offenses. Gilbertson was instrumental in developing Washington's offense into one of the most explosive in the nation between 1989 and 1991. He was the Huskies' offensive line coach his first two seasons and took over as the offensive coordinator in 1991 when Washington won the national championship. The 1991 Washington team led the Pac-10 in total offense, rushing offense and scoring offense, relying on a balanced attack.
In 2002, that offense was the most potent passing attack ever seen not only at Washington, but in the Pac-10. Junior quarterback Cody Pickett smashed the Pac-10 record for single-season passing yardage and completions while the UW threw for 4,501 yards as a team, breaking the old Pac-10 record by 712 yards.
In 2001, with a sophomore Pickett taking over the signalcalling, the Husky offense was second in the Pac-10 in passing, averaging 279.5 yards per game. A year earlier, behind senior quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, UW's option-oriented rushing attack led the Pac-10 and was 16th nationally. The Huskies' ability to come from behind in the fourth quarter helped UW to the Pac-10 title and the 2001 Rose Bowl Championship.
Gilbertson began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Idaho State (1971-74) and earned a degree in education from Western Washington, where he was a grad assistant in 1975.
After serving the 1976 season as a grad assistant at Washington for Don James, he was the offensive coordinator at Utah State from 1977 to 1981. In 1982 he joined Dennis Erickson's staff at Idaho for one season as the offensive coordinator. The Vandals recorded an 8-3 regular-season record and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA I-AA playoffs.
For three seasons, from 1983-85, he coached in the USFL for the Los Angeles Express. He returned to Idaho in 1985 as the offensive coordinator and helped the Vandals to a 9-2 regular-season record and another trip to the NCAA playoffs. The following season he took over as Idaho's head coach when Erickson was named head coach at Washington State.
Gilbertson led the Vandals to an 11-2 record in 1988, the best mark in school history. That year Idaho advanced to the NCAA Division I-AA semifinals and he was named the Big Sky Conference coach of the year. His 1987 and 1988 teams both won the Big Sky championships. His .757 career winning percentage is still the highest in Idaho history.
His three Vandal teams produced a combined 28-9 record and advanced to the I-AA playoffs all three seasons. When he left Idaho, his winning percentage (.757) ranked as the second best mark in the history of the Big Sky Conference. His winning percentage of .826 in conference games (19-4) was the best in league history.
After working on James' staff at Washington from 1989-91, Gilbertson left the Huskies following the team's 1991 national championship season to take over as the head coach at California. His four-year stint as the Golden Bears' coach was highlighted by the 1993 team that posted a 9-4 record and defeated Iowa 37-3 in the Alamo Bowl. That win stands as California's last bowl victory. Gilbertson was also the last Cal coach to pin a loss on arch-rival Stanford until 2002.
Following his head coaching tenure at California, Gilbertson worked as an assistant coach for the Seattle Seahawks on Erickson's staff for three seasons. In 1996 he served as a defensive specialist and took over as the tight ends coach for the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
Gilbertson grew up in Snohomish, Wash., where his father, Keith, Sr., has been a long-time prep coach. He attended Snohomish High School before going on to play football at Central Washington in 1967, Columbia Basin Junior College in 1968, and Hawaii from 1969-70.
He later returned to earn his bachelor's degree in social sciences from Central Washington in 1971. Gilbertson earned a degree in education from Western Washington in 1974.
Born in Snohomish on May 15, 1948, he attended Snohomish High School. Gilbertson and his wife, Barbara, were married in 1988 and have two children, Kristin and David. Gilbertson also has an adult daughter, Ann, who resides in Los Angeles.
Birthplace: Snohomish, Wash.
Birthdate: May 15, 1948
Family: Wife Barbara and children Ann, Kristin and David.
High School: Snohomish High School, Snohomish, Wash. (1966)
College: Central Washington (1971), Western Washington (1974)
1971-74 Idaho State (graduate assistant)
1975 Western Washington (graduate assistant)
1976 Washington (graduate assistant)
1977-81 Utah State (offensive coordinator)
1982 Idaho (offensive coordinator)
1983-85 LA Express, USFL (assistant coach)
1985 Idaho (offensive coordinator)
1986-88 Idaho (head coach)
1989-90 Washington (offensive line)
1991 Washington (offensive coordinator, offensive line)
1992-95 California (head coach)
1996-98 Seattle Seahawks, NFL (assistant coach)
1999 Washington (asst. head coach, offensive line, tight ends)
2000-02 Washington (offensive coordinator, tight ends)
2003 Washington (head coach)
1989 Freedom Bowl (Washington vs. Florida)
1990 Rose Bowl (Washington vs. Iowa)
1991 Rose Bowl (Washington vs. Michigan)
1993 Alamo Bowl (California vs. Iowa)
1999 Holiday Bowl (Washington vs. Kansas State)
2001 Rose Bowl (Washington vs. Purdue)
2001 Holiday Bowl (Washington vs. Texas)
2002 Sun Bowl (Washington vs. Purdue)
Gilbertson news and features:
Second year, second chance for Keith Gilbertson - Seattle Times (Sept. 1, 2004)
Don't fault Gilby if Huskies struggle - Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Sept. 1, 2004)