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Open Door Policy

Tim Walsh
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In his 13th season as head coach of the Portland State Vikings, Tim Walsh has the distinction of being the longest tenured and winningest football coach in the program’s history. After taking over for legendary Vikings coach Pokey Allen, Walsh helped lead Portland State to three straight NCAA playoff appearances.

In 1996, the Portland State athletics program made the move to Division I-AA (from Division II) in football. That placed Walsh in the position of having to build an under-funded, under-scholarshiped program at a higher level of competition. Additionally, the Vikings – at the time – were without an athletics’ weight room, training facility, an academic center and team room.

Walsh and his staff answered the challenge as each year the Vikings got better. Since 1999, PSU has had five winning seasons and made their first D I-AA appearance in 2000. This fall the Vikings have their most ambitious schedule ever with two I-A opponents in addition to the Big Sky slate. Walsh’s overall record at Portland State is 77-59.

Walsh was hired in 1993 after lifting Sonoma State from last place to the championship of the California Collegiate Athletic Association. A 1977 graduate of UC Riverside, he began his coaching career at Serra High School in San Mateo. We spoke recently to Coach Walsh about Viking football at his office on the Portland State campus. More specifically, what it’s like being the head coach for PSU and what goes on behind the scenes?
AFM: What was the feeling like when you were named Portland State’s head coach and became ultimately in charge of the program?
TW: The 13 years have certainly gone fast. It was a challenge replacing Pokey Allen as the head coach of a D-II program but exciting as well.

AFM: Tell me how your office is used…staff meetings, visiting with recruits and their families, watching tape, phone and computer time?
TW: Our schedule is pretty well's the general schedule:
6-7 am: we have a staff meeting.
8-11am: is a combination of film study and media time.
11-2 pm: could be on individual meetings or fund-raising activities.
2 pm: coach positional meetings.
Afternoon practice: with the complete team.
6:30pm: staff meeting followed by film sessions with our positional coaches.
Additionally, I really do have an ‘Open Door Policy.’ We’re together like family and any player can come in to meet at any time. I wouldn’t ask a family member to make an appointment and it's the same here.

AFM: What kinds of visitors have you had to your office over the years? Any interesting coaches that have stopped by?
TW: A number of coaches that have coached at Portland State over the years have stopped by. Additionally, a close friend, Stan Brock, who is now on Bobby Ross’ staff at West Point, has come by. He played in the NFL for 17 years and is from the area. Also, one of our biggest donors – Jerry Nudleman – stops by our offices on a regular basis.

AFM: What coaches that have influenced your career over the years have visited?
TW: Many of PSU’s former assistants – including Chris Petersen, the offensive coordinator at Boise State and George Stewart, the wide receivers coach for the Atlanta Falcons – have visited with us. My brother Jim, who played for the Seahawks and coached at Stanford and San Jose State with Jack Elway has been in our offices. He’s now living in St. Louis.

AFM: What are some of the treasured items in your office? How have you set it up?
TW: I have many of the plaques in the office right behind me while various photos are on the walls of the office. A number of players photos include those that put up some great numbers over the year – Jimmy Blanchard in 1999 threw 342 passes without having an interception – an NCAA record. Our 1995 team led the nation in total offense.

AFM: If you were allowed to take only one item from your office, what would it be?
TW: Certainly, my family pictures… I was also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award in 1999 which was a tremendous honor.

AFM: If you could invite three coaches into your office for a meeting – living or dead – who would they be?
TW: I would invite three different kinds of coaches but all winners in their own way – Bud Wilkinson and Bear Bryant, both tough coaches in their own way but with a great ability to handle people. The third would be John McKay, different in his philosophy, but a great communicator who understood people.

AFM: If you could be a GA again and learn from one coach, who would it be?
TW: Clearly John McKay…I was in high school and college during his glory days at USC. He was ahead of his time and was able to relate to all the various types of players. He had a great knowledge of people and players when you think of all of the diverse elements at his football program.

AFM: What thoughts or advice would you give to the person that will eventually replace you?
TW: You have to be yourself. Don’t lose sight of the fact of what a great experience it is to be a head football coach. Be responsible and the rest will take care of itself. Don’t also forget that college football is about young people.


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