Alumni & Friends
Sleepless Nights for Seattle Coach
Kickoff at Cleveland Browns Stadium is less than 24 hours away and Gil Haskell (B.A., '71), assistant head coach and offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, is pumped. Both teams are 4 - 3 but the Browns are coming off a three-game at-home streak and the Hawks are 1 - 2 on the road. Haskell's calling a 7-point win for the Seahawks, "but we've got to be good," he says. "We can't make stupid mistakes."
Haskell played and coached for SF State's powerhouse football team under Vic Rowen. The Gators won eight Far Western Conference titles between 1954 and 1967, first under Joe Verducci and later Rowen, who took over in 1961 and recruited Haskell from St. Ignatius High. Rowen, now retired, sensed early that Haskell would go places -- and not because of family connections. Haskell didn't reveal that his late uncle, William O' Grady, was part owner of the San Francisco 49ers. He wanted to succeed on merit, Rowen recalls, and he did. "He distinguished himself as somebody who respected the game and respected the people in charge," Rowen says. "He did whatever he needed to do to be better."
In 1992, Haskell joined his good friend and fellow Rowen protégé Mike Holmgren at the Green Bay Packers. When Holmgren left the Packers for the head coach job at the Seahawks, Haskell also departed, for the Carolina Panthers. Two years later, the two reunited in Seattle.
SF State eliminated football in 1995 but the memories remain vivid for the many players and assistants whom Rowen passed up to the college and pro ranks. Haskell recalls Rowen's formidable passing game and protean defensive plays. "We thought they were normal but then we'd watch other teams and they would just play regular stuff, so we had an advantage that way," Haskell says.
Right now he's focused on the plays for tomorrow's game. Haskell knows how things will go until kickoff: "You barely sleep … you can't eat because you're too nervous," he says. If the Seahawks win, he will be in the locker room celebrating with the team. "That's the most fun. All the work is done and you get to relax," he says. "But once you walk out … the whole thing starts again."
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