Monday, September 21, 2009
Once upon a time there was a Pacific Northwest college football program that went all the way to the top. The Washington Huskies were national champs as recently as 1991. There have been some good years since then; Rose Bowl wins in 1992 and 2001, ending Miami's 58 game home winning streak in dominating fashion, and numerous other dramatic victories.
There were of course some rocky roads that the Huskies have traveled recently. A two year probation from the NCAA in 1993. This was followed by the ultimate axis of evil; namely Barbara Hedges and Rick Neuheisel. Normally when people who are as devious and incompetent as these two put their heads together, the end result is the end of a civilization, mass destruction, or something similar. In this case, Washington football fans took one for the rest of the planet as they watched their beloved program turned into a laughing stock.
Sure, Slick Rick took the team to a Rose Bowl win in 2001, but once he had to depend on his own recruits and management of said players, it was all over. Crappy players and even poorer discipline of said players. There are a few articles out there on the internet that detail some of the complete lack of human decency that existed in some of Neuheisel's recruits, and even worse in how he turned a blind eye to it all. I'll leave that for you to find on your own.
No worries though, with Rick fired just as the NCAA was about to nail him to the wall (note he left Colorado in exactly the same sort of fashion); the ultimate slack ass, Ty Willingham would restore order and take the sleeping giant back to the top. Too bad it never worked out that way. 14 straight losses and the worst ranked defense in the entire county later, Ty finally got his marching orders. Ty's reign was kinda like being a stock market investor over the past couple years; just when you thought it couldn't possibly get any worse, sure enough it did. And that didn't happen once or twice; it happened on a weekly, or even daily basis.
Finally at the end of last season, Washington hired a guy in Steve Sarkisian who we all knew was the right guy for the job. The only question was how long would it take for him to turn around the train wreck that Willingham left behind.
With the Huskies starting out their season against perennial power house LSU, anyone who had been paying attention for the last few years expected another 56-0 beatdown; just like the one that USC put on the Huskies last season. Even worse, it was all going to unfold on national television. Funny enough, the Dawgs only lost to LSU by 8. Realistically, with some better tackling, they might have even won the game. All of a sudden one began to quickly question whether they needed to change their expectations for this team. Last season while going win-less in 12 games, Husky fans learned that they should just be happy seeing their team not get blown out. We all knew we were going to lose, but at least maybe we could keep the losing margin under 10. Now you had to wonder if you should start being a bit upset when the team didn't win. Maybe even expect them to win. Even be a critical when the team made some mistakes because who knows, maybe one or two less mistakes and we wouldn't all have to accept losing any more.
Week two brought Idaho to town, no big deal, the Huskies won pretty easily, ending their 15 game losing streak. Give Sarkisian and his coaching staff credit though. If Ty were still running the show, this would have probably also been a loss.
Last weekend, week 3, brought the big, bad, 3rd ranked USC Trojans to town. Before kick-off I joked with Carol that she might want to get a diaper ready for her USC loving brother Joe because the Dawgs were about to break his heart. Unless you've been living under a rock somewhere, you realize that Washington in fact beat USC 16-13! How crazy is that? Sure, USC was without their starting quarterback, but hey what can you say? Rather than snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as this team has done so many times over the past few seasons, the Huskies actually drove down the field with the game on the line and kicked a field goal to win the game.
Up next Stanford. I kinda laugh when people speculate that the Huskies are going to have a let down after beating USC last weekend. These folks obviously have no idea what it's like to lose 15 football games in a row. It's impossible for this team to ever get too high on themselves. They've seen things as bad as they can possibly be. They are the team that went a whole season without winning a game. They know what's out there waiting for them if they ever even consider believing their own press clippings. Let's just hope that Sarkisian can pilot this thing all the way to a bowl game this season.