It was going so well for Todd Wash, until Brady took control
FARGO – The 1991 NCAA Division II first-round game for North Dakota State was a shock to the system for all involved with Bison football. The 27-7 loss to Minnesota State-Mankato was the first opening-round defeat in program history and the first loss in 14 home playoff games.
Not only that, NDSU went into the game as the defending national champion.
“I remember every play of that game,” said Todd Wash, a linebacker on that team. “It was the same thing with this one.”
“This one” was the 24-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game Sunday, Jan. 21. Wash is the defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who had to endure another Tom Brady rally in the game that decides who goes to the Super Bowl.
“One of my players asked me, ‘Have you ever hurt like this?’ “ Wash said. “It was similar to the 1991 loss to Mankato. It’s an empty feeling when you’re done.”
Wash just finished his second season as the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator in an NFL career that will be going on its 12th year next season. He was a Bison assistant in 2005 and 2006 before taking a position with Tampa Bay.
It’s been a process that has had its ups and downs. The Seattle Seahawks’ run of good defensive teams began when he was there as the defensive line coach in 2011-12. He followed Gus Bradley to Jacksonville in 2013 when Bradley was named the head coach, a string of seasons that weren’t so productive in the won-loss column.
Bradley, also a former NDSU player and coach, was fired after the 2016 season, but Wash was retained. Bradley was the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers this season.
“Gus and I talked a lot during the season,” Wash said. “He’s a big part of what happened here. For four years he helped build the foundation and we’ve continued in the building and continued in adding good players. He was a part of this.”
The foundation could have still been playing if Brady wasn’t the Patriots quarterback. The Jaguars led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter before he took control. Wash calls him “hands down” the best quarterback to ever have played the game.
“First of all, he’s one of the most competitive people in the world,” Wash said. “He holds all 10 of the rest of the players to a high, high standard. He’s the coordinator on the grass, constantly checking at the line of scrimmage. He’ll see what you’re in and he’s so intelligent and competitive that he almost wills his team to wins.”
On the flipside, with the season over, Wash will get more time to be with his family. And there’s a lot going on. He and his wife, former Bison All-American basketball player Darci Steere, have two daughters playing high-level softball and a 12-year-old son into athletics of his own.
Alyssa Wash is a junior outfielder at Saint Leo’s University, an NCAA Division II school in Saint Leo, Fla. Jenae is a junior in high school who has already committed to Michigan State. She also took a campus visit to NDSU.
“It came down to North Dakota State, Michigan State and Ole Miss,” Todd Wash said. “There were strengths and weaknesses to everything. It’s different being on that recruiting side of things. It’s flattering to see your children have the opportunity to go to college and play sports. It’s been such a great experience for Darci and I.”