Sunday, December 5, 2010

Confessions from a Husky Fan

You won't find many posts from me about Husky football.  Ten years ago that wouldn't have been the case.  I listened to Bob Rondeau and Chuck Nelson faithfully on KOMO and caught their rare television appearances on ABC or ESPN.  I admired the Don James and Jim Lambright teams that played bruising defense, their pro-style and  occasional option offenses.  They were things of beauty that first and foremost demanded solid offensive and defensive linemen who could dominate the line of scrimmage.

Times have changed since 2000.  The Huskies, a regional if not national powerhouse for years, have become patsies, punchlines, or worse, non-entities in football conversation.  My fandom has  gone the way of  the Jamaican bobsled team rather than the Jamaican track team, fading into history, an anachronism of the glorious 80's and 90's.

Even so, I've dutifully checked the papers each Sunday, hoping the Dawgs laughable defense hadn't been shredded by the gallant eleven from East Mossyrock Community College.  What's worse is that as cable television expanded its coverage of college football, the weekly slaughter of the Huskies and their fans occurred in front of a much larger audience, though, to be fair, in 2008 the followers must have shrunk to a few dozen masochistic faithful. Even the radio broadcast radio coverage moved from KOMO to KJR which I hear, in beautiful Puyallup, about as clearly as through two cans on a string.  And the Dawgs even replaced   Nelson with Damon Huard.  What's that about?  Huard may be an UW alum and have Puyallup connections, but is he really better than the Chucker?   I think not.

 After NewWeasel and Willingham sacked the program and in turn got the sack, and the Huskies hired Sarkisian, I drank the kool-aid and gave them a shot.  I confess, I was intrigued.  I sooo wanted to believe.  There was the miracle against USC in Husky Stadium, and the Cal and Apple Cup wins sandwiched around some almosts and might have beens,  and just terrible football.  How could a defense led by a nasty, mean looking SOB like Nick Holt be so ridiculously ridiculous? 

Yet, when Jake Locker re-upped instead of trekking off to the NFL I was intrigued and committed myself to watching once again.  I was, needless to say, disappointed.  the loss to BYU, the blowouts to Nebraska and the Arizona schools didn't sit well.  I didn't think I had enough digits to count the score I knew Oregon would run up on the Dawgs' hapless defense, but thankfully it remained well below the century mark.  As week ten of the season rolled around and the Huskies firmly mired at 3-6, needing to win all three of their final games to go to a bowl didn't leave me with much confidence.  That UCLA, Cal, and WSU were the Huskies' neighbors in Patsyland  didn't matter.  Two of those games were on the road, where UW hopes go to die.
The Cougs got used to variations on the Locker and Polk Show. 
Yet, Washington played more determined D against their Neuheisel nemesis and the Bears, and paired that with just enough offense to win.  It came down to the Apple Cup, a game so fraught with emotion the boys over at Sports Press NW called the Cup in favor of WSU 3-2.  Yes that same WSU with the 2-9 record.  I caught as much of the game as I could with a heart full of hope, and the Dawgs did indeed squeak out a win and should sometime today hear about their bowl destiny.
Jermaine Kearse showed why he can be a big time receiver with the winning touchdown.
 What does it all mean?  It means Jake Locker, an all-time good guy you just have to root for, goes out a winner.  It means UW goes to a bowl for the first time since 2002.  It shows some incremental improvement over last year, but it also unveils the considerable distance the program must cross before it joins the Pac-10's elite football programs.  Finally, as if to toss cold water on the whole business, Art Thiel writes that Sarkisian is now a marked man, a target for recruitment by other struggling  programs seeking a rapid rebuild with the big bucks needed to lure him away from Montlake.
Sark and Wulf.  Here's  hoping they're both back at their jobs next year.

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