To hell and back twice: The Taylor Barton Story
Picayunish violation shouldn’t be part of his
By: Richard Linde, 15 April 2002
the NCAA investigation targeting Coach Rick Neuheisel had its roots in the
1998 recruitment of Taylor Barton, Washington’s backup quarterback. His name
bandied about in this latest media event, Barton’s play against UCLA last season
was one of the most courageous performances ever seen at quarterback
for the Huskies.
Barton should be cited for his gutsy play last season, not for
the nitpicking, recruiting violation that is the touchtone for the current
Unfortunately, however, he's been the subject of a number of news stories in
the past, half of which he'd like to forget.
The Taylor Barton saga began during the recruiting season of 1998 when he
was a high school student being recruited out of Beaverton, Oregon.
A reporter and photographer
from the Portland Oregonian accompanied Barton
to Colorado on a recruiting trip, and included
a photo of Barton, Rick Neuheisel and two Colorado assistant coaches in an article,
both of which are rules violations. According to Barton, the paper told him that the
story would be published after signing day. Instead, it was published two
weeks before. [Withers1].
January 1999, coincidentally at the time Neuheisel left Colorado, the NCAA
focused on this article and warned Colorado of possible recruiting
violations--a strange circumstance, indeed. There's got to be more to this
In July 2001, the NCAA notified the University of Colorado of
its investigation involving recruiting practices. As a result, this past week, the NCAA
announced it had uncovered 55 secondary rules violations at Colorado occurring under the
coaching tenure of Rick Neuheisel, during a period that ran from 1996-1998.
But there is more to the Taylor
Barton story than just the Oregonian incident.
Neuheisel's replacement at Colorado, Coach Gary Barnett, hardly talked
with Barton during the 1999 season. The loquacious Barton, who did most of his
time communicating with the quarterback coach, played in two games and threw three
subject of another picayunish
violation, Barton drew a
one-game suspension at Colorado for calling recruits using a university-access
credit card, hoping to keep them interested during the coaching search that
occurred after Neuheisel left Colorado.
was Barnett who wrote the letter to the NCAA that protested what the punishment
might be for Neuheisel's "quite" day violations at Washington. As a
result of the violations, Washington sanctioned itself.
part of the sanctions, Washington promised not to accept Colorado transfers who
were enrolled at Colorado at the time Neuheisel resigned as head coach. After he accepted the Washington job in January 1999, Neuheisel talked on the
phone with Barton and a couple of other players to wish them well and
encourage them to stay at Colorado. Neuheisel was charged with tampering,
since he hadn't obtained permission from Colorado authorities to talk to the
was caught between a rock and a hard place.
Colorado, some felt that Barton was the devil incarnate, that he symbolized
Rick Neuheisel, that he was Neuheisel's boy.
the handwriting on the wall, Barton left Colorado and enrolled at the City
College of San Francisco, where he played during the 2000 season as a
he wanted to go to Washington, wanted to play for Rick Neuheisel. Both of them
are quick studies, students of the game who have brilliant football minds. He
wanted to continue to learn as much as he could from Coach Neuheisel.
far as Washington was concerned, the case was closed. To accept Barton,
according to the NCAA, Washington would have to chose an alternate
was letter written by Barton to University President, Richard McCormick, that
turned the tide. He made a compelling case, according to university officials.
As a result, the Huskies agreed to give up two scholarships for his enrollment
bad press seems to follow Barton wherever he goes, his continuing saga never
There was the minor incident at Seattle Pacific University, just before the Holiday Bowl last
season. Barton and two others were arrested outside a dormitory and charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass after police said they were uncooperative with
Barton said the three were visiting two women at the school and left the dormitory 15 minutes after
the curfew. A campus security officer was waiting below, he said, and asked to know whom the players were seeing.
"I made some comments I probably shouldn't have, just speaking my mind, no cussing. We were walking away, and then the (Seattle) cop pulled up and we were handcuffed and taken away."
[Withers3]. The charges were dismissed.
latest peccadillo, the Oregonian incident, which heaps more negativity on the ongoing media saga,
“The Taylor Barton Story”, can be blamed on—whom else—the media.
about 50-50 now," Barton said in a recent quote appearing in an article
written by Bud Withers of the Seattle Times. "Half the time when my
name's in the paper, it's for something good, half the time for something
don't see that anybody's going to gain by looking into things. The past is the
the past is not the past. Fans shouldn't forget Barton’s stellar
performances against USC and UCLA last season.
the USC game, the Huskies' fourth game of the season,
replaced the injured Cody Pickett and led the Huskies to a dramatic,
of Taylor Barton, courtesy of
|The next week, against UCLA, marked Barton’s first start as a
Husky, this against a team that was ranked seventh in the nation and that had
23 seniors on its roster.
Without a running game to keep the Bruins at bay, Barton was a target
from the get-go. At times, as if acting in a David Lynch fantasy episode, he was a rabbit
chased by a pack of coyotes,
running for negative yards on eleven rushes; at other times, he transmogrified
into a punching bag, being hit over
forty times and mauled from behind after throwing an interception.
Sitting near the 50-yard line, close to the
field, I felt like I had a ringside seat at a boxing match, rooting for an
overmatched underdog caught up in a pier six brawl. Late in the game, as Barton
staggered about the field, I felt tears of sympathy well in my eyes. Born much earlier,
Barton could have played for the unbeaten Gil Dobie, who played only the
toughest, most self-sacrificing players. His play that day is symbolic of what
it means to be a Husky.
Remarkably, the courageous Barton passed for 340 yards, going 23-44-1.
It was a losing effort, however, suffered on a blistering hot day at Pasadena.
Battered and bruised after the game and too woozy to talk to reporters, Barton
was taken to the UCLA Medical Center for observation, and subsequently missed
the next week of practice.
Casey Paus, Washington’s redshirt freshman, won’t forget the past either.
Thanks to Barton’s gutsy play against the Bruins, Paus was able to maintain his
"Taylor Barton Story" isn't over. The final chapter, his senior year
at the University of Washington, could turn his saga into a best-selling blockbuster, and it won't be
"This is like a
storybook ending," Barton said while he was in Seattle on an official
recruiting visit a couple of years ago. "I feel I've been to hell and back twice."
you don't get a third chance in hell, look for Barton to make the most of this
upcoming season. This story isn't over; it's never ending.
Barton is a Husky. We fans can all be proud of him.
Taylor Barton bio and
210, 6'2", Junior, Communications major, Beaverton,
Oregon, born 10/03/1979. The son of former NFL quarterback Greg Barton,
who was a member of the Detroit Lions in 1969 and also a starter in the
Canadian and World Football League.
1997. Senior, Beaverton High. Threw 56 TD passes,
including 24 in the playoffs.
1998. Redshirted at Colorado under Rick Neuheisel. Five
months later, in 1999, Barbara Hedges, athletic director at Washington
made Neuheisel an offer he couldn't refuse and Neuheisel left Colorado for
1999. At Colorado, Barton was demoted to fourth string
under head coach, Gary Barnett. He played in two games, completing 3
passes. Transferred to CCSF.
2000. City College of San Francisco. Superprep's top
ranked Junior College player, 2000. Offensive MVP of the 2000 JC Grid-Wire
National Championship game. Started six games for the Rams; completed
62.5% of his passes for 2059 yards and 24 touchdowns. Transferred to
Washington, along with Kai Ellis.
2001. Replaced Cody Pickett during the USC game last
season. Starting quarterback for Washington against UCLA the following
week. He played
five games, completing 51% of his passes for 647 yards (86-44-2).
Bud Withers, “Has UW made itself resistant to scandal?”,
13 April 2002.
Bud Withers, "Family fighting QB's ban from UW."
Seattle Times, 24 March 2000.
Bud Withers, "Barton back in Holiday plans,"
The Seattle Times, 20
Bud Withers, "Former
Colorado QB commits to Washington," The Seattle Times, 16 December
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