Gilbertson gets reacquainted with old pals at Nevada

Updated: October 10, 2003, 9:26 AM ET

SEATTLE -- College football coaches usually know each other from years of working together or as adversaries. It goes to another level this week for Washington coach Keith Gilbertson.

He knows the Nevada coaching staff very well.

"Denny Schuler grew up on the same street I did," said Gilbertson, a native of Snohomish. "We were neighbors growing up. He was always the second-best athlete on the street."

Schuler coaches linebackers and safeties for Nevada (3-2), which visits Washington (3-2) Saturday in the final non-conference game for both schools.

Gilbertson also knows Wolf Pack head coach Chris Tormey. They were assistants at Idaho under Dennis Erickson in 1982 and again at Washington under Don James from 1989-91.

After Gilbertson was named coach of the Huskies last summer, it wasn't long before he got a congratulatory phone call from Tormey.

"I have nothing but respect for Keith Gilbertson," Tormey said. "He's a great fit for the Huskies. He has an All-Star staff. I think the Huskies are going to be in great shape for a long time."

Tormey, who recruited Mark Brunell and Napoleon Kaufman to Washington, was a top candidate to coach the Huskies when Jim Lambright was fired in 1999. Tormey coached at Idaho back then, but the UW job went to a surprise candidate: Rick Neuheisel.

"There certainly are no hard feelings on my part," Tormey said. "I was just flattered to have an opportunity to interview."

Even without Tormey and Schuler, this game would have plenty of connections on the Nevada coaching staff.

Wolf Pack offensive coordinator Phil Earley attended Pacific Lutheran University. Defensive coordinator Jeff Mills went to Western Washington and, like Tormey, once was a Huskies assistant.

Defensive line coach Barry Sacks was born in Ephrata, while offensive line coach Dave Stromswold and receivers coach D.J. McCarthy both played for the Huskies when Gilbertson was an assistant.

"I've got a close relationship with a lot of people on that staff," Gilbertson said.

It's nothing new around the Washington program. When the Huskies played Idaho last month, the opposing coach was Tom Cable. He played and coach under Gilbertson at Idaho and California.

"I've had to play against great friends of mine before," Gilbertson said. "What you do is go out there for one hour and go like hell at each other. When it's over, we remain close friends and cheer for each other."

This is the first meeting in 100 years between Washington and Nevada. The Huskies won 2-0 in Seattle in 1903.

Both teams are trying to rebound from disappointing losses.

Nevada led for three quarters but lost 16-12 to rival UNLV last week, driving to the Rebels' 43-yard line in the final minute before an interception. Washington lost 46-16 at UCLA after being outscored 39-0 in the second half.

"We need a game," Huskies defensive tackle Terry Johnson said. "We need a breath of fresh air to get that confidence back. We're looking for it, and I know we're going to find it."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index