When the Washington Huskies landed at LAX Wednesday morning to prepare for the Rose Bowl, their coach was not with them.
Nor were six of their players.
No, there is not widespread dissension on the team. Rather, it's a case of team-wide compassion.
Coach Rick Neuheisel and the players took a detour, stopping off at the Santa Clara Medical Center to visit strong safety Curtis Williams, who is paralyzed because of a spinal injury.
Williams, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound senior, was hurt in the third quarter of a Sept. 28 game against Stanford at Stanford Stadium. Williams had moved into position to do what he had done hundreds of times before: make a tackle. But something went very wrong when Williams hit Stanford running back Kerry Carter in a helmet-to-helmet collision.
Williams was unconscious for 20 minutes while doctors worked to stabilize him.
"It was the most horrifying thing I've ever been through," Neuheisel said. "It was like standing on the field watching a car accident. I never want to watch anything like that again."