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Originally published November 26, 2009 at 7:24 PM | Page modified November 26, 2009 at 9:31 PM

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Gilbertson connection for Apple Cup

The Apple Cup annually features all kinds of connections between players and coaches of the two teams. But Saturday's game could see what apparently would be a first — a son of a former head coach of one team running through the tunnel as a member of the other.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The Apple Cup annually features all kinds of connections between players and coaches of the two teams.

But Saturday's game could see what apparently would be a first — a son of a former head coach of one team running through the tunnel as a member of the other.

OK, so David Gilbertson won't play for the Cougars on Saturday, and according to a team spokesman won't suit up. He will stand on the sideline in street clothes and jersey. As a true freshman quarterback, he's redshirting and wouldn't see action anyway.

But his mere presence on the sideline would be noteworthy in itself, if merely for returning the Gilbertson name to Husky Stadium.

David Gilbertson's father, Keith, was head coach of the Huskies in 2003 and 2004, thrust into the job when Rick Neuheisel was fired suddenly in the summer of 2003.

Gilbertson himself was let go in the midst of a 1-10 season that was UW's first non-winning record since 1976, though he has said he felt as if he was pretty much an interim coach the entire time anyway.

He hasn't been back to Husky Stadium since, though he said it's for no reason other than circumstance — he took a job with the Seahawks the following year as an assistant, first as assistant offensive-line coach and then as receivers coach.

"I went back to work for four years so there's really been no occasion," he said, noting he attended a reunion for former players and coaches in the spring.

During an interview earlier in the week, he wasn't sure if he'd attend this year's Apple Cup since his son won't be suiting up.

But while the ending to his UW career obviously wasn't ideal, he prefers to think of the whole experience — working as a graduate assistant for Don James in 1976, again as offensive coordinator from 1989 to 1991, and as an assistant and offensive coordinator from 1999 to 2002. That made him the offensive coordinator for each of the UW's last two teams to win the Rose Bowl — the 1991 national-title team and the 2000 squad that finished 11-1.

"The one thing about coaching at Washington was just the marvelous young guys I got to coach," he said. "They were the best people, the toughest, most competitive, dying to win for most of the 10 years I was there. It was a great experience that way."

David Gilbertson was a three-year letter-winning quarterback at Redmond High School and had some initial recruiting interest as a walk-on from UW when Tyrone Willingham was the coach. The Cougars, however, stayed interested all along, and David Gilbertson had attended a few WSU summer camps with his team. The family has long had ties to both schools — Keith Gilbertson's wife attended WSU, and a daughter, Krissy, is enrolled there now.

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"He's been around there a lot," Keith Gilbertson said. "You go where they like you and he liked those guys."

He's one of six quarterbacks on WSU's roster, and one of three walk-ons. But with one QB graduating — Kevin Lopina — and one commitment from a high-school player, Cougars coach Paul Wulff said there's a chance David Gilbertson could earn a scholarship for next season.

"I had David in a camp going into his senior year at Redmond and I really liked some of the moxie he had and some of the athletic ability and throwing it, and just thought he would be a great fit with his personality with the kind of program we are building," Wulff said. "He knows we are still under scholarship at the quarterback position and he'll have an opportunity to come in and earn one. As we go into spring football here he has a great opportunity to get a lot of reps."

Keith Gilbertson, meanwhile, is hoping for his own opportunity to get back on the field, spending the season away from the game for the first time since his coaching career began in 1971.

Huskies reportedly get OL commit

The Orange County Register reported the Huskies have received a commitment from offensive tackle Michael Criste of Mission Viejo (Calif.) High School. The 6-foot-5, 280-pounder reportedly also had offers from Arizona State and UNLV. He is the 24th player to commit to UW's Class of 2010, all high-school players, and the fifth offensive lineman.

Notes

• The Huskies practiced for about 90 minutes early Thursday afternoon, then the players were free to scatter for Thanksgiving dinner. The team will have a normal Friday of work today.

• WR Jordan Polk, out the past three days with migraines, returned to practice, though his status for Saturday is uncertain.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

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