Screw reality. This is everything we’ve ever wanted rolled up into a single moment in time and it’s goddamn beautiful. You want Chris Petersen? You got Chris Petersen. You want Robinson Cano? You got Robinson Cano. You want the best team in the NFL? You got the best team in the NFL. If you have a wish to make, a prayer to be answered, a request you absolutely must have fulfilled? Today is your day.
You and I, we aren’t conditioned for this. This is sleet in November, triple-digit temperatures in July. We aren’t used to what this feels like. Happiness? Euphoria? This is Seattle. Seattle. When it comes to sports, we’re the perennially disappointed, the consistently underwhelmed. We live in a snow globe where it simply rains all the time. We fall short of expectations, come up empty-handed at year’s end, tank the off-season, blow the big game, flub every opportunity at every single turn, and wallow, miserably, wretchedly, in the cynical aftermath of the emotional nuking our psyches continually endure.
They’ve called us the Worst Sports City in America. On multiple occasions, no less. It sucks to be us, they’ve pointed out. And for the most part, they’ve been right. It has sucked to be us. We haven’t done shit. We haven’t won shit, we haven’t achieved shit, we haven’t been shit. We’ve been nothing. Some cities fly under the radar; we haven’t been on the radar.
We were a glorified coffee house, a hipster’s paradise, a tech mecca, nothing more. We were a shoulder shrug, an eye roll. We were Carlton Banks, Screech Powers, Steve Urkel, the uncoolest of the uncool. If they cared about us, they only cared about us long enough to poke fun at us. And when they poked fun at us, we often found ourselves in agreement with them. They were right, after all. We weren’t anything beyond a punch line. We were the joke.
I’ve been doing this for twenty-nine years. That’s how long I’ve lived in this soggy, dismal snow globe of ours. Since birth. This is all I know. All I know is what it feels like to be on the losing end of championships, the wrong side of recruiting pitches and free agent signings, the opposing hemisphere to success and victory and celebrations and parades and all the giddiness that goes along with all those wonderful, marvelous things.
But today. We have today. We staked out today. We sat in front of our computer screens for the bulk of a week — for the bulk of the past few years, since we’ve been here before — waiting for today. We refreshed our web browsers incessantly, addictively in anticipation of today. We sourced sources who sourced other sources, we mongered rumors from rumormongers who metastasized magnificent tidbits of the most menial nature. We sat in a metaphorical squad car like the fictional Ed Hocken, shelling red pistachios by the dozen, looming outside the figurative office of our very own Vincent Ludwig as Frank Drebin, that rascal, bandied about the confines haphazardly searching for clues.
We won at something. We poached the New York Freakin’ Yankees and the entire free market for their very best player. We hijacked college football for one of their very best coaching candidates. We did that today. Both those things. Two hours apart. And all the while we were supposed to be sitting here content with the fact that our 11-1 NFL team remained poised to clinch their division crown just 48 hours from now.
There is logic, of course. We haven’t won anything yet. They don’t hand out rings for off-season hauls, no trophies for mid-season win-loss records. But there has to be a start. There is a spark that begats a flame that ignites the fire. The blaze does not matriculate from thin air, spontaneously. That spark must always occur first. Robinson Cano is a spark. Chris Petersen is a spark. Eleven wins to one loss is a spark.
So screw logic. Forget it. Let’s enjoy this moment. Because we don’t have moments like this very often. Today, we are kings. Today, we are the center of the sports universe. Today, we are on our way to greatness, to success, to victory, to championships, to awesomeness, to badassery, to celebrations and smiles and hugs and laughter and all that good stuff we’ve longed for, we’ve yearned for. This is the start of something amazing. This is what the top of the world feels like. Yes. Seattle.
Filed under: Husky Football, Mariners, Seahawks
Depending on how you look at it, this day was either supposed to belong to the Seahawks or the internet. It was Monday. Cyber Monday, the day the masses descend upon the world wide web for bargains. But Cyber Monday mattered little to those of us in the Emerald City. The Seahawks had a football game on this particular evening. That meant they were playing on Monday Night Football, arguably the biggest regular season stage in all of professional sports. They were already relegated to sharing a pseudo-holiday with online retailers. And yet their civic brethren across the sports landscape were not content to let them have even half the spotlight.
It started with the Mariners, those assholes, constantly fighting to stay relevant in a town where their irrelevance reigns supreme. They woke up on this chilly, sun-soaked morning and decided to sign Willie Bloomquist. Yes, the Willie Bloomquist. To a two-year, $5.8 million contract. It’s been five years since Willie last played for his hometown Mariners and he’s 36 years of age now, so why not sign him, right? Makes perfect sense. Anyway, they did it, they really did it. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t register on our radar – we’re talking about an aging utility player, after all – but this was no ordinary situation.
Aside from the local connection (Bloomquist grew up in Port Orchard), and aside from his ties to the Mariners (he was drafted by the organization in 1999 and stayed with the club through the 2008 season), Bloomquist is also the subject of our trolling affection. You see, my friends and I use Bloomquist as a vehicle to torment one of our other friends, Ryan Divish, new Mariners beat writer for The Seattle Times. Whenever Divish holds a work-related online chat, we bombard him with questions about Bloomquist. Why? If you ever listened to sports radio during the journeyman’s Mariners tenure, you’d know that elderly, delusional people all around this great state of ours love to ask Bloomquist-related questions. They just do. It’s inexplicable why they do, but they do. And so because my friends and I are immature jerkoffs, we enjoy poking fun at those Bloomquist Optimists while simultaneously poking fun at our friend, Divish.
So it was that our day brightened immensely when the Bloomquist signing was announced. Immediately, visions of future online chats and the resulting dumpster fires of mock interrogation began dancing in our heads. We whimsically went about our Monday with sly grins upon our shit-eating mugs. And then it all went to hell.
I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed a sports news story go from zero-to-sixty as fast as that of Steve Sarkisian’s hiring at USC. One minute “sources” were rumbling that Sarkisian might be in the running for the head coaching gig at Southern California, and not five minutes later the entire Twittersphere had all but confirmed that Sark was gone, off to Los Angeles, set to leave Seattle in a mere matter of moments.
It all came true, of course. It seems like days ago by now, and yet as I write this only a handful of hours have elapsed. Sark has departed the University of Washington less than five years after he took his first head coaching job here on Montlake. He vacates a program in much better shape than he found it – a program that was winless the season prior to his hiring, a program he led to four bowl games in the five seasons that followed – and yet leaves behind no discernible legacy of which to speak. In the annals of Washington football, Sarkisian will be a blip on the radar, a guy who came and went like a fleeting summer breeze, who raced through half a decade in purple-and-gold before escaping for what’s been deemed a better opportunity. It’s hard to blame the guy for leaving – he’s a native of Southern California and got his coaching start at USC – but the abruptness of his departure just doesn’t feel right.
All that said, the news of the day quickly evolved into speculation about the future. Sark is gone, the masses realized, so what, pray tell, would come next?
The focus immediately shifted to the next University of Washington football coach. And as it shifted, one name rolled off the tongues and across the computer screens of Husky fans: Jim Mora. The Seattle native, UW alum, and current UCLA head coach became the immediate target of the purple-and-gold faithful. Rumors about Mora’s whereabouts – He’s in Seattle! He’s in California! He’s in Afghanistan?! Where is he? Is he here? Is he there? – began flying. Speculation about whether he would or would not take the Washington job if offered became the talk of the day on sports radio.
As the day turned to night, nothing, absolutely nothing, was resolved. There was nothing from Mora, nothing from Washington, nothing on who the next coach might be (in addition to Mora, the names of Boise State’s Chris Petersen, Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter, and current UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox were all bandied about), and fans sat idly by in a certain purgatory, not knowing what might come next for the football program.
Alas, the time for speculation on the status of the Washington football program was interrupted as the sun set beyond the nether reaches of Puget Sound. Returning full circle to what was supposed to be the news of the day, the Seahawks took the field under the watchful eye of the entire NFL viewership, a spotlight shining brightly upon the Monday night setting. On a day in which emotions were heavily mixed amongst sports fans in the region, the Seahawks served as a unifying force. No matter one’s opinion on anything else, this was our team playing on the game’s biggest stage.
From the moment one set foot inside CenturyLink Field, there was a pulse thumping throughout the venue. That stadium can be loud – it is always loud – and raucous, but this was different. There is often a distinct “calm before the storm” prior to kickoff, and yet there was none of that on this particular evening. This was a storm, all storm, and the hapless New Orleans Saints were the unfortunate souls who got caught up in the raging disaster.
Mayhem ensued. It was an ass-kicking from the very start. From a defensive stand on the game’s first possession, to a thoroughly efficient opening offensive drive resulting in a field goal, to a first quarter sack that begat a Drew Brees fumble that subsequently begat a Seahawks touchdown. It all went downhill from there for New Orleans.
The noise was deafening. More deafening than any stadium had ever been in the history of sports, according to Guinness World Records. And thus the 12th Man broke a worldwide noise record for the second time this season, because hey, why not. The celebrations that followed each of the team’s four touchdowns resulted in seismic activity that equated to a 1.0-to-2.0 earthquake, allowing fans yet another notch on the bedpost of awesomeness. It was euphoric bliss for a Seattle sports nut, an orgasm of pure delight that culminated in a 34-7 final score (for the good guys, of course) and an exclamation point alongside the Best Team in the NFL designation the Seahawks had previously achieved.
The night persevered, frigid and damp, and Seattle found its way into bed. Snuggled under blankets and with just as many questions as answers – What would the future hold for the Huskies? But hey, those Seahawks! – sleep overwhelmed us all. And as the clock struck midnight, as Monday became Tuesday, we left behind a day in our sports history that will not soon be forgotten. A day that, strangely enough, began with Willie Effing Bloomquist.
Filed under: Husky Football, Mariners, Seahawks
I’m ethically opposed to siding with the people who want to fire Steve Sarkisian from his head coaching position at the University of Washington. It’s not that I’m completely against canning the guy — with each subsequent loss, each confounding play call, and each season of unmet expectations I find myself considering the possibilities of life after Sark — because I’m not. It’s that those diehard radicals who spend every waking moment of their blubbering existences calling for the man’s head are part of the problem. It’s them, not the prospect of a sacrificial firing, that I have a hard time agreeing with.
But first let’s get the obvious out of the way. Steve Sarkisian has not achieved the goals everybody had for this team back in 2009, when he first took the reins of a Washington program very much in disarray. Coming off a winless 2008 campaign, the bar was set as low as it had ever been in the history of Husky football. And yet when Sarkisian was hired in December of that year, spirits were immediately raised, anticipation was at once rekindled, and expectations — in the forms of Rose Bowls and conference titles — were instantly set in place.
The passionate press conference Sarkisian delivered on the day his hiring was announced has served as both a blessing and a curse. It was that first impression of the then-34-year-old that piqued the interest of fans, that suddenly had them believing in a return to the glory days of a championship-caliber football dynasty.
Paying witness to the conviction and energy with which Sarkisian delivered his message that day, set against a purple-and-gold backdrop for the very first time, has become that very thing that keeps the man employed. It is that crutch fans lean on when mulling over all the reasons to keep a coach nicknamed “Seven-Win Steve” in control of the school’s premier athletic program. Hope, it seems, is a powerful motivator.
At the same time, however, the lofty vision of future greatness presented in that very press conference has prompted fans to question whether Sarkisian is indeed the right man for the job. It has been nearly five years to the day since Steve Sarkisian was introduced to us. The Huskies have not yet sniffed a Rose Bowl, nor a Pac-12 championship. Fans find themselves asking, “If not now, then when?” It’s a legitimate question that has not yet been answered.
He doesn’t recruit enough linemen, he needs bigger/stronger/faster players, his offensive system doesn’t work well enough, his defenses have fallen somewhere on the spectrum from “awful” to “mediocre,” his players aren’t disciplined, his team struggles on the road, his quarterback is soft, he issues questionable play calls at critical times, he wears a visor occasionally, his brethren descending from the Pete Carroll coaching tree (namely, Lane Kiffin) have failed miserably in coaching gigs of their own, he hasn’t recruited well in-state, and he has not cultivated talent the way one would hope. That should address the majority of the concerns surrounding the Huskies’ head coach. And certainly, most of those criticisms are warranted, especially the one about the visor. So I can understand why fans would want to find someone different to patrol the sidelines for the good of the program. In a results oriented business like college football, this all makes sense. So why can’t I just jump on the Fire Sark bandwagon, then?
Ah, yes. It gets back to the crazies, the message board commenters of the world. The adults valiant enough to chastise teenage athletes on Twitter for not choosing our school, our team, our heritage, our tradition when, you know, things don’t go the way we (collective “we,” because they’re doing this on behalf of all of us, you see) would like. Frankly, I can’t bring myself to align with them. And maybe I’m wrong to judge them, but when they are the ones most vocal about any topic, regardless of what it may be, my moral compass tells me to walk quickly in the other direction. In this particular instance, they tend to be loudly trumpeting the Fire Sark horn. Hence, I’m predisposed to questioning the rationality of such a move. Because like I said, these people are insane. And agreeing with the insane makes one insane by association. I like to think of myself as a realist, as a semi-rational person. Thus, I sit here unwilling to pine for Sarkisian’s termination. Not because I don’t believe he’s warranted skepticism — he has — but strictly because I can’t support a cause perpetuated by lunatics.
This is the reality of the world we live in. I would rather take no side, none at all, then either of two sides I cannot fully support. Steve Sarkisian hasn’t done enough to warrant an endorsement from a fan base desperate to see its football team return to the top of the conference. Likewise, he hasn’t fully convinced anyone outside of a vocal minority of batshit crazy assholes that he deserves to be axed, either. And so I encourage you to find a spot on the fence next to me and sit here, perched high above the mess, and watch how all of this plays out. The remainder of the 2013 season may give us the answers we seek. Lose the rest of the way and perhaps we all agree it’s time to move on. Win out and maybe we give Sark a vote of confidence. Take one-out-of-two or two-out-of-three and who knows for sure. For now, though, here’s to the wishy-washy, indecisive majority. Hooray for inconclusiveness!
Filed under: Husky Football
I’m a bowl prediction junkie. The white board in my work office currently displays a ranking of each Pac-12-related bowl as an object of constant reference. I obsess over bowl projections throughout the season and do my best to forecast at which destination each team will end up. It’s selfish, mostly. My friends and I travel to every University of Washington bowl game and turn the trip into our annual holiday vacation. As a result, we have quite a bit invested in where the Huskies’ postseason contest is played.
Over the past couple years, I’ve spent so much time analyzing bowl prognostications that I got to thinking I could probably just predict this stuff myself. And hey, since I have a website at my disposal, I put two and two together and here we are today.
I won’t pretend I know enough about the rest of the teams around the country to forecast the matchups of every single bowl bout. But I have outlined the likeliest postseason outcome for each Pac-12 football program below. Ranked from most prestigious bowl to least, here are your 2013 Pac-12 bowl predictions.
1. BCS National Championship (Jan. 6, 2014; Pasadena, Calif.): Oregon Ducks
Having leapfrogged Florida State to lay claim to the all-important No. 2 spot in the BCS standings, Oregon now finds itself in the driver’s seat for a championship matchup with Alabama. As much as I hate seeing the Ducks have a shot at a title (which has eluded them thus far, I might add), the rest of the Pac-12 is by now damn near dependent upon Oregon receiving an at-large BCS bowl bid each year. Should Oregon fail to land this coveted matchup, bowl projections the world around fall to pieces.
2. Rose Bowl (Jan. 1, 2014; Pasadena, Calif.): Stanford Cardinal
Though Oregon will likely be the 2013 Pac-12 champion, Stanford will receive the Rose Bowl nod when the Ducks punch their ticket to the BCS Championship. With one potential loss remaining on their schedule (against the aforementioned Oregon Ducks), Stanford should win the rest of their games and end up in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.
3. Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30, 2013; San Antonio, Tex.): UCLA Bruins
This is where the bowl forecast starts to get a little cloudy. While UCLA, Oregon State, and even Arizona State could all be considered for the Pac-12′s second-most prestigious bowl bid, the Bruins should get the green light after winning four of the remaining five games on their schedule. Such an outcome would give UCLA a 9-3 overall record and 6-3 conference mark. Even if Oregon State were to post similar figures, UCLA would probably be the Alamo Bowl’s choice, since the Beavers played in this very game a year ago. Arizona State probably finds itself on the outside looking in as the most likely of this three-headed monster to slip up down the stretch.
4. Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30, 2013; San Diego, Calif.): Oregon State
With last year’s trip to San Antonio weighing heavily on the bowl committee’s mind, Oregon State likely finds itself in the Holiday Bowl upon failing to return to the Alamo Bowl for a second consecutive year.
5. Sun Bowl (Dec. 31, 2013; El Paso, Tex.): Arizona State
Props to El Paso for continuing the tradition of everyone’s least-favorite bowl game, the Sun Bowl. I swear, there is no lesser-preferred vacation destination for fans than this West Texas outpost bordering on Juarez, Mexico. Unfortunately for the Arizona State faithful, it appears the Sun Devils will be making the trip to Juarez North in 2013, thanks in large part to their convincing mid-season win over the Washington Huskies.
6. Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 21, 2013; Las Vegas, Nev.): Washington
For the second straight year, Washington could find itself playing in Sin City with a sixth-place finish in conference. This probably won’t sit too well with Husky fans, but come on, would you rather be in El Paso?
7. Fight Hunger Bowl (Dec. 27, 2013; San Francisco, Calif.): USC
USC may flip-flop with Washington depending on how the Vegas Bowl committee feels about making repeat selections, but assuming the regular season plays out the way one might expect, USC should find itself in line for a trip to San Francisco two days after Christmas.
8. New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 21, 2013; Albuquerque, NM): Arizona
The Wildcats won a 49-48 shootout over Nevada in the 2012 edition of the New Mexico Bowl and should end up back in Albuquerque for a second straight year. As the first bowl game to kickoff the postseason, this is a spot that few teams would like to find themselves in.
9. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 21, 2013; Boise, Ida.): Utah
Typically a bowl nod reserved for the Mountain West Conference’s sixth-place finisher, the MWC is struggling to find itself with enough bowl-eligible teams to earn the right to spend a holiday season in lovely Boise. That leaves the door open for a ninth Pac-12 team to land a bowl appearance, with Utah the most likely of a group including Washington State, California, and Colorado to receive that final bid.
Filed under: Husky Football
Don James walked away from the University of Washington and I didn’t understand why. I was eight years old at the time, so I did what most eight-year-olds do when they don’t understand something and asked my dad. My dad had a way of whittling down the most complicated situations into an explanation that a kid could comprehend.
Take, for instance, the Rey Quinones situation. Earlier in my relatively brief existence, my dad had relayed a story to me about Quinones, a backup shortstop for the Seattle Mariners who holds the unique distinction of being the last Mariner not named Randy or Ichiro to don jersey number 51. Quinones, you see, was a crybaby. That made him unlikable. As an unlikable crybaby, Quinones’ departure from the team made a whole lot of sense. Why did Quinones get traded to Pittsburgh? Because he was an unlikable crybaby. I understood. No one likes a crybaby. Although I assumed at the time that Quinones only cried because he had either been spanked or sent to his room. I therefore made it a point to try my hardest not to cry when spanked or sent to my room from that point forward.
So I asked my dad why Don James left the University of Washington. Bad things had happened, my dad told me, and the coach needed to do what he felt was right. I tried to piece together all the bad things that could have happened. I heard about Billy Joe Hobert. I assumed he was a criminal – he took money, he had to be a criminal. Why did Billy Joe steal, I thought, and hurt his coach? Why did the coach have to leave? And what would happen to the Huskies as a result of the bad things that had been done? In some ways, my dad’s explanation made sense. In others, it just opened the door for more questions.
I wanted to understand but I couldn’t. Not at that point. Back then, Don James and the Huskies were still just a poster on my wall. The 1991 team photo overlooked my bed, tacked high upon the wall in the bedroom I shared with my little brother. I slept on the top bunk, my brother on the bottom. The picture hung behind my headrest, the last thing I saw before the lights went out and another day came to its official end. I studied the names on that photo for years. I memorized the players, I knew their jersey numbers. The faces of glowering, purple-shrouded behemoths guarded my bedroom. In the midst of all those glares was a bespectacled head coach who curiously juxtaposed the youthful menaces by whom he was surrounded. Non sequitur, he didn’t fit in with the rest of the image. And yet the eyes of any onlooker examining the poster immediately found their way to the man. He commanded one’s attention even in still form, even when each of the hundred or so faces sharing a frame with him seemed to clamor more fiercely for recognition.
James left before an entire generation was afforded the opportunity to understand him, before any of us could really appreciate his genius, pay witness to his craft, or heed the mastery he exuded upon the student-athletes who won games for him time and time again. There are those who remember Don James and those who don’t. And then there are those of us like me, twenty- and thirty-somethings, who saw him the way one sees a comet racing across the night sky, fleeting and unbelievable and memorable and awe-inspiring all at the same time.
Those of us wedged between the generations dividing two distinct eras are products of his work. We grew up Husky fans because of his football teams, because the Huskies were the thing in these parts when we were embarking on adolescence. We went to school and wore purple and it was okay because a University of Washington logo adorned the purple and the Huskies were cool. We grew up running from our classmates on the field at recess toting Nerf Screamers, pretending to be Napoleon Kaufman, Beno Bryant, Mario Bailey. We wanted to go to Washington because Washington was our school. Washington was the logical extension of our childhood. From elementary school, to middle school, to high school, to Washington. And then, I mean, what comes after that, anyway? It all culminated at that school, the one with Don James’ football team.
Even after he left, his legacy remained. Jim Lambright, with all due respect, was the guy who wasn’t good enough to be James’ replacement. Rick Neuheisel lacked the nobility, the righteousness of James. Keith Gilbertson was a product of the James era, but he couldn’t win with Neuheisel’s players and the foundation crumbled. Tyrone Willingham was supposed to possess James’ integrity, the same kind of integrity that molded men into champions, into heroes. But integrity or not, Willingham won even less often than his three predecessors. Now here we are, five coaches and two decades later, and Steve Sarkisian finds himself striving to achieve a level of success that seems near-unattainable since James resigned control over a championship-caliber program. Sarkisian fights a battle that no one thought would rage this long. Since James walked away, there has been no replacement, no answer, no national titles, no sustained excellence. James was the last great Washington football coach. And up until a few short days ago, he remained a living legend in our midst, a mythical figure that left behind his life’s work as a form of silent protest towards a governing body that had committed, in his mind, an injustice upon his program and his players.
Don James did all of this. He set a standard of excellence at the University of Washington that has yet to be matched. He inspired an entire generation of kids to dream of attending the University of Washington because of the pure awesomeness of his football program. He changed the way we thought about purple and gold, how we thought about the Huskies, what it meant to be a fan of that team, what it meant to be a sports fan in Seattle. His teams won, yes, but his impact extended far beyond the AstroTurf of Husky Stadium.
Twenty years after I asked my dad why the coach walked away, I sit here thinking about how my life has changed over that span. And the one thing I absolutely know for sure is that without Don James, without the appeal of the University of Washington, without my lifelong desire to graduate a Husky and my ultimate achievement in doing so, my life is certainly different than it otherwise could have been. And yours might be the same way, too. He is gone but he is certainly not forgotten. Thank you for all you did for us, Coach James.
Filed under: Husky Football
My entire adulthood has been spent hating the Oregon Ducks. That day in 2004 when the Ducks beat Washington 31-6, kicking off a nine-year (and counting) win streak against the Huskies? That was my 19th birthday, October 30, 2004. Since then, the closest the Dawgs have come to knocking off their johnny-come-lately rivals is a 34-17 defeat at Husky Stadium in 2011. Suffice it to say a great deal of vitriol has been built up over nine years of losing.
Anytime an opponent waxes the floor with you for nearly a decade, it’s hard to tolerate just about anything having to do with that opponent’s existence. I’ve learned to loathe Oregon with a passion outweighing similar levels of disdain held for any other rival in any other city in any other sport. Nothing evokes pure disgust, pure detestation, pure revulsion quite like the University of Oregon. I don’t want to beat them every year; I want to destroy them. I want to run up the score on them. I want to embarrass them, to crush them, to make them look as inferior as inferior can be. And yet my team hasn’t supported me on this quest for a proverbial mountaintop borne out of spite. They, like so many others, have been unable to topple the mighty Ducks. And so each year as the annual matchup with our hated foes arrives, we sit here and stew in a cesspool of frustration, anger, and hope.
It is the hope that allows us to expect the improbable each passing season. Beating Oregon would surely be unanticipated — they’re ranked second in the nation for a reason — but more likely to occur this year than in any year among the nine prior. Consider the circumstances:
Washington gets to play at home, in a newly-renovated stadium, in front of what will be a raucous, sellout crowd. The last time these two teams played at Husky Stadium, in the aforementioned 2011 matchup, the final score was as close as its been in any meeting throughout this streak of futility.
Then there’s the Gameday factor. Having ESPN Gameday on campus for the first time in school history will certainly ramp up any ordinary excitement Husky fans would possess for this contest. By the time the masses hit the turnstiles at the stadium, energy should be at its absolute peak for the day.
Finally, we have the team itself. This is without a doubt the most talented roster the Huskies have fielded in a decade. Ranked 16th in the country entering Saturday’s game, Washington will be better equipped to pull off an upset than at any time in recent memory. Playing a fifth-ranked Stanford program down to the final drive on the road a week ago has tested this squad and prepared them to handle the potential adversity they’ll be facing against a superior opponent.
But it isn’t all sunshine and roses here on Montlake. The Huskies have their warts, and those warts are not insignificant.
For all its talent, this Washington team is incredibly undisciplined. The Huskies may have been able to thwart Stanford a couple days ago were it not for 10 penalties that amounted to 89 yards in favor of the Cardinal. On the year, the Huskies have been penalized for more yardage than their opponents in every single game they’ve played. That includes a season-high 16 penalties for 130 yards against a lowly Idaho State team. Their penalty averages, as a result, aren’t pretty: 10.6 penalties per game for 91.8 yards over five contests is nothing short of disappointing. But it gets worse.
Rather than publicly taking blame for their shortcomings, coaches and players alike have been looking for excuses. Pointing fingers at officials, making claims about the morality of their adversaries (Are they or aren’t they faking it? Does anyone even care?), and setting a precedent for shoulder shrugging and responsibility shirking has put the Husky program in a precarious position. If Washington wins games, there’s no blame to go around and therefore no need to find a scapegoat for the blemishes on the team’s résumé. But should losses occur, it’s up to the coaches and players to shoulder the burden of their own mistakes — at least in the public spectrum and within the media — and avoid the potential of any future distractions down the road. In excusing some of the more blatant offenses of the ballclub’s performance thus far, the program has set itself up to be unnecessarily interrogated for what we can all agree is stupid, mindless shit. Whaddaya think about David Shaw’s comments about your comments, Sark? Huh, huh, huh? Whaddaya think, huh?
The good news: this story can be entirely rewritten in just a few short days. Conquering Oregon would alter the course of the entire 2013 campaign for Washington, putting the team in line for a BCS bowl berth and officially returning the program to a level of status they haven’t enjoyed since Y2K was still a thing we all made jokes about.
This is it. This is your season’s turning point, Huskies. My entire adulthood can be changed for the better thanks to the outcome of just one game. I would like nothing more than to see you go out and throttle the Ducks…I’ll settle for a nail-biting win, though.
Put distractions aside, avoid mistakes, avoid costly penalties, tighten up everything, be accountable, be active, be fast, be perfect for a day and win. Win. You can do this, Dawgs.
Filed under: Husky Football
This is stupid. Everyone is getting worked up over a goddamn flag. And not some flag that speaks to a powerful political agenda or anything like that. A stupid, stupid flag that bears the logo of Washington State University.
Now don’t get me wrong. I get why people are a little testy over this flag. Fact is, Cougars and Huskies are conditioned to despise each other. We’re rivals. It’s alleged that we don’t get along. And so it’s understandable why Husky fans, like myself, would bristle at the thought of Cougar fans raising their big, ugly flag on the Washington campus come Saturday morning, flying it in honor of a tradition (a tradition that’s been made fun of, mind you) that’s lasted a decade on the set of ESPN Gameday.
I’ll admit I’ve gone back and forth on this issue. At first I thought it’d be humorous to needle the Cougs a bit, stir up some shit and make them lose a little sleep while they pondered how, exactly, they’d get that flag safely onto campus later this week. But then I saw the unadulterated hate that flowed from the keyboards of Husky fans over this flag, fans who were prepared to all but kill people over menial garbage. Likewise, a good number of these very same, very angry Husky fans have gone and wished ill will unto other Husky fans because those Husky fans, you see, aren’t prepared to throw down in fisticuffs over, again, a flag.
Of course, this shitshow of human degeneration is a two-way street. There are Cougar fans out there ready to exchange blows with Huskies over a flag, too. And likewise Cougar fans upset with other Cougar fans who aren’t ready to defend an aesthetically-unpleasing (my opinion) piece of nylon at all costs. Are you prepared to sacrifice for this flag? Are you prepared to give up everything – your family, your home, your career, your life – for this flag? How far are you willing to go to prove your allegiance to your school? You can’t be a real fan unless you are ready to die – TO DIE! – for your team.
How stupid does all this sound? I feel stupid writing it. We are all dumber for having to address this. There are rivalries and then there are dipshit assholes who want to go outside and commit assault – which is a crime, keep in mind – for something they think they believe in. This is mind-numbingly ridiculous.
On top of all that, the guys responsible for waving that Cougar flag claim that this is their life’s “destiny.” Really? Your destiny? Most people cite love or family or making the world a better place their destiny. If waving a flag each week for a quarter of the year is really your destiny, well, I’d ask you to reevaluate your lives. This is the ultimate First-World Problem you face each Saturday, ensuring a flag gets raised, carrying out such a glorifying task, but destiny? Really? Okay, George McFly. Whatever.
Anyway, these guys need this. So bad. (You can see how seriously they take this over on their Facebook page.) If that flag doesn’t go up each week, god knows what happens to these two dudes. Hearts stop, tears are shed, destinies unfulfilled. They’re willing to risk their personal well-being (which is some combination of noble and stupid) to get this flag up. So be it. I urge you not to be as noble-stupid in risking your own well-being to prevent that flag from seeing the light of day.
It’s not worth it, people. It’s a flag. And if you get your ass arrested trying to stop some tradition, no one is going to remember you for it. They just won’t. And outside the little bubble that is this Washington-Washington State rivalry, you’ll be vilified, if anything. You’ll get the Deadspin treatment, you’ll be portrayed as an angry, drunken crazy person, and you’ll turn the Huskies – yes, the Huskies – into the bad guy. Think it through. Try to put all this into a greater perspective. This really doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. Saturday should be about Husky Football; about a game we’re playing against our other hated rival, the Oregon Ducks; and about celebrating all that in front of a national audience that wants to see what the University of Washington has to offer.
Finally, if you’re looking for a way to express your displeasure over the Cougar flag being anywhere near the Washington campus, I urge you to draw up a purple-and-gold sign that reads “GOD HATES FLAGS” with a big WSU logo between the word “HATES” and the word “FLAGS.” I think that’s pretty fucking clever and I realize you might not agree, but I don’t really care. I keep myself entertained all day long with moronic thoughts like these and that’s what really matters. Screw you if you don’t like it.
Filed under: Husky Football
By my count, I had only ever witnessed nineteen victories in-person at Husky Stadium. Nineteen. Not even twenty. Not even a great number. Not old enough to drink, not even old enough to really be considered an adult as far as society’s concerned. Nineteen, Jay Buhner’s number — Jay was great, but he was no Hall of Famer. Nineteen. Meh.
The first victory I ever witnessed live in that stadium? Idaho. The Vandals. And that was back in 2005, by a team that wouldn’t repeat the feat once more at home that year.
I had only enjoyed occasional flirtations with success in the old stadium. My college tenure kicked off with Keith Gilbertson at the helm of an underwhelming Husky squad; it ended a few years later with a winless 2008 campaign. The whole journey fell far short of what I expected, far short of what I thought the ride would be like when I was a kid. It was just plain bad.
In the era of post-graduation, things have gotten better. There will always be those who wish for nothing more than to see head coach Steve Sarkisian fired, but until you live game-in and game-out through the Tyrone Willingham era, it’s hard to muster up the fortitude to call for our current leader’s head. Sitting at the back of an empty student section in a near-empty 70,000-seat venue with the occasional “booooooo” raining down upon a lifeless playing surface, picking at dog-eared programs that were stomped on at halftime by the exiting horde of students, kicking away confetti that signified the home team’s lone score for the day — that was my life each fall Saturday for a period of four straight seasons. So what’s transpired since and what may transpire after will likely never phase me.
Growing up in that environment, one of relative despair and pseudo-hopelessness, has taught me to hope for the best but expect the worst. The generations of Husky fans who precede me might not understand that feeling — they grew up on Rose Bowls and conference titles — but rest assured it’s an emotion shared by the fans of my era.
So it was that entering Saturday night’s matchup with No. 19 Boise State my generational constituents and I walked with less swagger than hope, a nod to the letdowns of our still-fairly-recent past. We wanted a win, we wanted to believe this team would capitalize on the electricity of the moment, the energy coursing through the very first crowd in a stunningly renovated Husky Stadium, but we knew better than to expect such foolishness. In the three or so hours that followed, however, we were made to believe.
It wasn’t slow. Of all the takeaways from the inaugural contest of the 2013 season, that may be the most evident. It was not slow.
Washington played at a pace befitting their bitter rivals, the Oregon Ducks. With a tempo that exhausted not only their opponents but also their own personnel, the Huskies ran. And ran, and ran, and ran. They held up glitzy cue cards to call out plays from the sideline and rotated an arsenal of purple-clad reserves with unceasing rapidity. They displayed a certain speed and urgency that we had never seen before. They were quick. They were conditioned. They were good.
It was effective, the rate at which they played. But that efficient offense, in all its shiny new glory, wasn’t merely a doppelganger of the one run by those green-(and holographic silver-, white-, yellow-, black-, grey-, vomit-, etc.)clad fowl to the south. The read-option was not nearly as prevalent, for one, and Washington primarily utilized spread formations and a rejuvenated Keith Price to set up their running game.
Price, who threw for 324 yards on 23-for-31 passing, slung the ball around both short and long effectively. Completing throws to seven different Huskies (and one Bronco on the game’s opening drive), the fifth-year senior quarterback bore a resemblance to former Arizona signal-caller Nick Foles in the way he delivered to his receivers. With a flurry of screens and quick outs working to their advantage, Price and the Huskies forced Boise State’s defense to press forward, ultimately leading to opportunities deeper downfield that were exploited by the likes of Kasen Williams (three catches for 68 yards and a touchdown) and Jaydon Mickens (nine catches, 109 yards).
This, of course, begat a plethora of chances for the Husky running backs, who held up their end of the bargain by amassing 268 yards on the ground. Led by Bishop Sankey (161 yards, two touchdowns) and freshman Dwayne Washington (52 yards, one touchdown), the Huskies carried the ball 54 times, averaging five yards per carry along the way.
Speed wasn’t just relegated to the offense, though. Utilizing a high velocity similar to that of their counterparts on the other side of the ball, the Washington defense flew around the field, preventing the opposition from finding the end zone and limiting Boise to just two field goals over four quarters.
Pressure on the quarterback and penalties may serve as areas in which to improve — Washington recorded just one sack and committed eight penalties, six more than the Broncos — but the pass defense was so good that it atoned for seemingly all other wrongdoings. The Huskies’ secondary, especially, stood out, punctuated by Sean Parker’s first-half interception of a Joe Southwick pass.
It was an Arizona-Oregon hybrid that seemed to give Washington its own unique style of fast-paced, pro-style/spread (pro-spread?) play. And in the end, it resulted in a 38-6 final score that shocked even the most optimistic Husky fans in college football’s most intimate 72,000-seat stadium.
Save for when the officials infrequently imposed upon the action, there were no boos on Saturday. There was confetti, but it rained down much more than once during the game. There were students, and like the rest of the home crowd they certainly didn’t leave at halftime. There were fans in full-throat, and as the fourth quarter transpired the only ones who departed early were wearing the orange-and-blue of the visiting ballclub. It was more than we could hope for, everything we could only anticipate in our dreams, and the game that seemed to kick a pockmarked past in the ass as the final horn sounded.
For someone who’s seen the worst, the twentieth victory I’d witnessed first-hand at Husky Stadium — and the first in a brand new home venue — made me believe in the best. Great start, Huskies. Keep it up.
Filed under: Husky Football
An alarm will wake me at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday. I’ll reach for my phone, likely knock it off its nightstand, then be forced to rustle my body from its abbreviated slumber in searching for the source of my momentary discontent.
Groggy and confused, I’ll look out the window and be forced to think, actually think, before I understand why I’ve chosen to rise so early on — What day is today? Do I have to go to work? Is it…Saturday? — a weekend. The realization will hit me and I’ll be up, sleep washing away from my brain as quickly as the initial bout with irritation set in a minute earlier. And from there, maintenance. Shower, clothes, shoes, stuff.
I’ll pace the apartment checking off a list in my mind, ensuring I’m leaving nothing behind, as my girlfriend does whatever it is girls spend so much time doing in the bathroom. Friends will arrive. We’ll load up the back of the car until it’s weighed down by the excess. We’ll run through the mental checklist once or twice more — tickets, don’t forget the tickets — and then go.
A grocery store first for all the things we don’t need but do need. Because no one needs that much Busch Light, but come on. Water, get lots of water, this is an all-day affair, we’re going to need water. So we’ll get water. And maybe some hot dogs, bread, snacks, things that don’t necessarily correlate but will ultimately satiate, no matter their nutritional relationship — a three-to-one male-to-female ratio does not an efficient shopping trip make. Self-checkout line and at least one person asking the ultimate question: “Oh, you must be going to the game today. What time is that at?” Seven. “Seven?” Seven. And then confusion mixed with intrigue on the part of our interrogator. It will be 8:30 a.m.
An empty highway as a corridor to a familiar place we haven’t seen in 21 months. A parking lot, an oasis, a home for the day, for a season.
We’ll stop and get out, open the vehicle, and begin extracting the excess from the back of the car. Before we finish unloading a canopy, however, someone will grab a football and throw it. The distractions of the day will begin, 9:30 a.m., no later.
Steadily as the sun makes its way west, events will materialize around us. Louder, busier, with the soundtrack of neighboring speakers and the aroma of grilled meat providing a backdrop for the morning. The crowd will trickle in, mirroring our demeanor as it arrives. The earliest attendees will appear without fanfare, covertly emerging amidst our landscape of concrete expanse without a sound, leaving us to react surprised — “Hey! You’re here!” — upon discovery. But as more tables unfold, as the music gets louder, as ping pong balls go flying and splashing libations signal fragments of victory one cup at a time, as leather oblongs take to the air and whispers turn to shouts, the midday masses will bring with them a raucousness, a rowdiness, a celebration.
There will be yelling and laughing, trash-talking, cheering, hugging and high-fiving, drinking and eating. Contests of dimwitted awesomeness that mean so much and so little at the very same time. Storytelling of events past, anticipation of events future. We’ll sit and talk, then get up and be stupid, sit down again and rest, then take off in search of excitement. There will be eight hours of this restlessness, all leading up to a kickoff that signifies the end of one party and the beginning of another.
We may win. We may lose. Looking back on that day, though, we won’t remember the numbers and we might forget the outcome. But we’ll recall the event. And we’ll recall the moments. And we’ll remember who we were with. And we’ll remember how we felt. We’ll relive the emotions. We’ll talk about that day on future days just like it. We’ll smile when we think about some of the things we did that day. We’ll be thankful we had that day. Because that day, that event, will be one of the greatest days, one of the greatest events.
This will be gameday. This day is almost here.
Filed under: Husky Football
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Boise is not a state. I don’t know when this geopolitical sham will finally cease, but it needs to. How can we preach “No Child Left Behind,” then mislabel our institutes of higher learning? And not only that, but it leads to a bigger question of how valuable the education at such a disoriented house of academia can possibly be.
Take, for instance, embattled former NFL receiver Titus Young (pictured above). That guy is batshit crazy. To the tune of four (4) missed court appearances. He’s now a fugitive from the law simply because he failed to appear before a judge for all the other batshit crazy shit he’s alleged to have done. That’s insane. And where did he go to college? Boise Effing State.
Confused. Titus Young is obviously confused. Did this confusion start when Young attended a carelessly-nomered university? Perhaps. We don’t know. But it would make a whole lot of sense, wouldn’t it?
Anyway, Washington wins this game. They won’t lose under all the hullabaloo of the evening. Let’s say…31-24. That sounds like a good prediction-type score.
Game 2: Washington at Illinois; Saturday, Sept. 14, 3:00 p.m. PT; Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
Did you know that Illinois is not so great at football? I know we tend to assume that Big 10 teams are pretty good at football, but in the case of Illinois that is just not true.
A year ago, the Fightin’ Illini managed to piece together a 2-10 record. (So I guess they weren’t really fightin’ much at all…hahhhhh.) They got their asses handed to them by Arizona State in the season’s second week, then got their asses handed to them by nearly everyone else after that. Were it not for Western Michigan (suck it, Western Michigan) and Charleston Southern (this school really exists?), Illinois would have been un-undefeated in 2012, which is not good.
You have to figure that Illinois might be a little better this year than they were last. And the Huskies do face a tough task in going on the road and playing in an unfamiliar location. But come on. If you can’t beat a 2-10 ballclub, your season is going to suck. Here’s hoping our season doesn’t suck.
Washington wins, 42-17.
Game 3: Washington vs. Idaho State; Saturday, Sept. 21, TBA; Husky Stadium, Seattle, Wash.
Hey, look at that. Idaho State. Forty-third state in the union, no less.
Do we even need to go any further? This is going to be a bloodbath.
Washington wins, 136-3.
Game 4: Washington vs. Arizona; Saturday, Sept. 28, TBA; Husky Stadium, Seattle, Wash.
You may not recall what happened the last time Washington played Arizona; that’s probably a good thing. The Dawgs trekked down to the desert last season and were trounced by the Wildcats, 52-17. Of the season’s first four games, this is the contest the Huskies may be most poised to lose.
Yet for so many other reasons, Washington should have a great opportunity to start their season 4-0.
Arizona is without a clear-cut starter at quarterback after losing last year’s incumbent, Matt Scott, to graduation. Likewise, the Wildcats possess a handful of questions in the receiving corps, having lost a trio of contributors (Dan Bucker to graduation, Austin Hill to an ACL tear, Tyler Slavin to voluntary departure) from the 2012 squad. The ‘Cats do return the nation’s leading rusher from a year ago in Kadeem Carey. But with the Huskies stacked to defend the run, Arizona will be forced to throw the ball if they intend to win on the road.
Coming off a lackluster matchup with Idaho State (sorry, Idaho State) the home atmosphere at Husky Stadium should be raucous enough to distract an unproven opposing offense. Despite last season’s setback, I’m giving this to the Dawgs.
Washington wins, 28-24.
Game 5: Washington at Stanford; Saturday, Oct. 5, TBA; Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, Calif.
All good things must come to an end, and if Washington somehow manages to fulfill these prognostications and embark on a 4-0 outset to the year, they’ll likely see their victory march temporarily placed on hold in Palo Alto.
It’s not that Washington can’t beat Stanford — recent history tells us it’s very possible — it’s the combination of going on the road and playing a team that employs a style the Huskies have typically had trouble with that makes this a daunting task. Add to that the fact that when the Cardinal visited Seattle a year ago they were basically without a quarterback, placing the underwhelming Josh Nunes under center while current signal-caller Kevin Hogan marinated on the sidelines.
This is a different (i.e. better) Stanford team than the Huskies defeated in 2012. It’d be a hell of an upset if the Dawgs somehow managed to pull this one off.
Stanford wins, 42-21.
Game 6: Washington vs. Oregon; Saturday, Oct. 12, TBA; Husky Stadium, Seattle, Wash.
I hate Oregon. We all know this. Cheering against them every other year in our home venue is one of life’s greatest pleasures. And yet despite all the vitriol sure to be on display come Oct. 12th, the likelihood of Washington dethroning Oregon in what has become a very one-sided rivalry of late is slim, to say the least.
That said, every year I pick Washington to beat Oregon simply out of spite. And every year, time and again, I’m proven wrong. So this year I’m trying something new: the Reverse Jinx. I’m picking Oregon. And my hope is that I’m very, very wrong. I need the Huskies to win. Hence…
Oregon wins, 56-17.
Game 7: Washington at Arizona State; Saturday, Oct. 19, TBA; Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
Traveling to the desert in the middle of fall is almost not fair. You’re asking college-aged males to leave their cold and dreary campus, where coeds exist within the bundled warmth of oversized sweaters and hooded raincoats, and hightail it down to a balmier climate where the ladies adorn themselves in little more than miniature jean shorts and lacy tank tops. Try maintaining your composure in that environment if you’re a 20-year-old young man trying to play football. It’s not easy. It might provide the Sun Devils with one of the best home field advantages in sports. Sure, loud noises can be distracting sometimes. But a stadium full of tanned legs and bountiful cleavage is distracting all the time. Thus, my excuse for why the Huskies will sadly not win in Tempe.
Arizona State wins, 35-28.
Game 8: Washington vs. California; Saturday, Oct. 26, TBA; Husky Stadium, Seattle, Wash.
Home games against California have all the appeal of early-season, non-conference matchups against the Idaho States of the world. It’s not that Cal is horrible, it’s just that…they’re boring. Nothing about Cal football screams exciting, from the players in uniform, to the style of play, to the fans wearing the gear. Win or lose, any contest versus the Golden Bears is quickly discarded from the memory bank within minutes of completion.
Can we just take this game as a forfeit? Is that possible? Will Cal forfeit and just let us have this one? C’mon, Cal.
Washington wins, 2-0.
Game 9: Washington vs. Colorado; Saturday, Nov. 9, TBA; Husky Stadium, Seattle, Wash.
The penultimate home contest of 2013 comes against the closest thing the Pac-12 has to a cupcake football program, the esteemed Colorado Buffaloes. The Buffs went 1-11 last year, and were it not for a one-point squeaker over the lowly Washington State Cougars — way to go, Cougs — Colorado would have been shut out of the win column entirely.
I don’t know who Colorado returns and I don’t really care. If Washington doesn’t win this game, you might as well cast Ben Affleck as the next Batman.
Washington wins, 79-3.
Game 10: Washington at UCLA; Friday, Nov. 15, TBA; Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Traveling to the Rose Bowl on a short week after waltzing through Colorado just six days prior? I don’t like our chances. The Bruins are pretty damn good and you know Washington alum Jim Mora will want this game a bit more than any other. There’s hope, but it’s thinner than the ligaments in Robert Griffin’s knees.
UCLA wins, 38-27.
Game 11: Washington at Oregon State; Saturday, Nov. 23, TBA; Reser Stadium, Corvallis, Ore.
Ugh. Corvallis. What an ugly town. It might be a little prettier if we could win there, but alas we have trouble doing that. So instead Corvallis remains as a podunk outpost of whatever ugly metropolis exists nearby. I guess you could call it a remote outpost of Portland, but even that’s a stretch. Corvallis is like the Cle Elum of Oregon, assuming Cle Elum was overwrought by a feeling of sadness and despair.
Worse yet, every time I think of the equally dismal Reser Stadium, the image that comes to mind is of Jake Locker being carted off the field in an ambulance a few years back. Seriously. I can’t get that visual out of my head, which I’m sure brings a tiny hint of joy to the six or seven Beavers fans out there.
Anyway, do I hope we’ll win? Of course. Do I think we’ll win? Ehhhh.
Oregon State wins, 21-14.
Game 12: Washington vs. Washington State; Friday, Nov. 29, TBA; Husky Stadium, Seattle, Wash.
My biggest concern with regards to this year’s Apple Cup is injuries and general banged-uppedness (not a real word). Coming just six days after what is sure to be a physical contest at Oregon State, the Huskies could easily be without a few key components in our intrastate rivalry game. Health issues always raise question marks in any contest, but when you’re dealing with your regular-season finale against the arch-rival, well, it’s a little frightening.
But vengeance is one hell of a motivational tool. And the Huskies are sure to come into this matchup with revenge on their minds after last year’s debacle in Pullman. Mike Leach’s Cougars are likely to be a tougher squad then they were a season ago, however, and in spite of the advantage of a home crowd, the Dawgs will still be surrounded by the thousands of Coug fans who will enjoy our new stadium for a day.
Still, this is a game we cannot lose. There’s a very good chance the Huskies enter this contest with a 6-5 record, meaning an Apple Cup loss would put them in line for yet another seven-win season, assuming a victory in their bowl game. That cannot happen. The hope is that Washington will steal at least one or two road games they’re projected to lose (at Stanford, Arizona State, UCLA, or Oregon State) and possibly upset in the one home game they could lose (versus Oregon). If that doesn’t happen, though, this team is 6-5 entering their rivalry game. They absolutely must win the 2013 Apple Cup, no question about it.
Washington wins, 42-28.
So there you have it. I’m projecting a very conservative 7-5 regular season, which means that to improve upon the last couple years, Washington will need to win a bowl game and finish 8-5. Is 8-5 good enough? Who knows. But it may be the most likely outcome of the 2013 season based on what we know about these Huskies.
Don’t take my word for it, though. I just make these things up on the fly. If all of these projections amount to a pile of crap, I will feel no remorse whatsoever. And you’ll feel like a fool for reading this. I understand what it all entails. So there’s my disclaimer. I would have put it at the beginning but then you would have gone back to doing whatever it is you usually do on the internet. Play Candy Crush, look at porn, destroy your own fantasy teams. Really, the educational value in all those time-killers is probably right on par with this article. But at least we all now know that Boise is not a state. Geography. The more you know.
Filed under: Husky Football
Fighting with people on Twitter is about as pointless as it gets. In general, you both come off looking like douchebags, and no matter how heated your discourse becomes, there is no governing body to determine who wins and who loses. You can’t really out-debate one another in 140-character blurbs, and about all you’ll end up doing is pissing off the people who mutually follow you and your sparring partner, victims of timelines filled with petty drivel. You can punch and kick and scream and get worked up over words on a screen and you’ll be no better for it when the day is done.
It doesn’t matter if you have 10 followers or 10,000; the size of the dog in the fight (or perhaps the size of the dog in the fight’s posse) doesn’t necessarily predispose either party to so much as a moral victory. Big or small, with entourage or without, one can find themselves receiving the brunt of another tweeter’s tweet at any given moment. And in those moments of fervor directly before one must decide whether to return fire with similar vitriol, reply with unexpected grace, or neglect to respond at all, there are likely no fewer than a hundred different thoughts running rampant through one’s brain. Ultimately, one’s fingers are forced to take action upon a keyboard or remain still, content to fold for the time being.
As an alumnus of the University of Washington, there’s no denying I love my school. I’ve been a fan of the Huskies since I was born. I grew up wearing purple and gold. I applied to no other university when I was in high school; I knew where I wanted to go to college. I’ve always known I was a Husky at heart.
In spite of all that, my love isn’t blind. No school, no institution, no organization is perfect; that includes UW. Were we relegated to incessantly believing in the perfection of all those things we truly care about, we’d be nothing more than thoughtless zombies, complacently satisfied with whatever came our way, determined to do nothing more than flat-line through our respective menial existences.
But we’re not that. Not at all. We’re human. And in being human, we live, we strive, we aspire, we dream, we think, we move, we act, we do. And so I implore you, before I go on, to consider the fact that you have been designed to be better than the product of a system, to be more than a servant to an organization, an idea, or a belief. You can choose to see the world through rose-colored glasses if you wish. But in doing so, you’ll never reach the potential you’ve been designed to achieve.
I love the University of Washington. But in the past few years, the University of Washington’s Athletic Department has done some stupid shit. I’ve alluded to this once before, but it’s a discussion that deserves to be brought up again. Because no one wants their school doing stupid shit. Especially not me. We need to talk about these problems that persist so we can solve them. And even if you’re not a Husky fan, you may want to follow along. These are issues that plague every school, every athletic department, every alum and every fan across the nation. So we’ll talk about this. And when we’re done talking, hopefully we’ll find ourselves on the path to resolution. Hooray, resolution.
These were the unsolicited tweets I received on Saturday night, shortly after the conclusion of the Husky Men’s Basketball game against Arizona State:
.@alexssn understand the frustration and will make sure I communicate what I’ve seen on twitter about the white shirts..
— Daniel Hour (@dhourr) February 3, 2013
.@alexssn but you might be taken more seriously if you weren’t bashing our student-athlete 24/7. Especially Abdul. Just my opinion.
— Daniel Hour (@dhourr) February 3, 2013
— Daniel Hour (@dhourr) February 3, 2013
In typical emotional fashion (well, typical for me, at least), I had spent much of the game lamenting the play of one Abdul Gaddy, disaster of a point guard that he’s been this year. Similarly, I had mentioned that I found the attire of the student section to be questionable, at best. While half the kids wore the standard purple, the balance had been dressed in unfamiliar white t-shirts. It wasn’t a big deal. But on TV it just didn’t look right.
The student section, the Dawg Pack, they wear purple. That’s just how it is. That’s how it’s always been. And on the rare occasion that they don a different shade, the continuity of that visiting color spans the continuum of the bleachers we see prominently displayed on our TV screens. Baseline to baseline, the students usually wear the same color. I helped build that Dawg Pack. I’m familiar with how it works, I’m up to date on its legacy, and I care about what goes on there. It’s important to me. And so on this particular evening I expressed my frustrations — we’ll call them frustrations, but I wasn’t frustrated so much as I was compelled to just opine (imagine that) — on both Gaddy and the look of the student section.
It was then that the responses you see above were prompted. I thought for a minute about whether to fire back, reply graciously, or follow the Thumper rule (if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all), before deciding to lob grenades of my own.
I did a little quick research and found that Daniel Hour is a 2007 UCLA alum who is currently in charge of New Media and Recruiting Services for the University of Washington. UCLA sucks, so that was strike one. This guy clearly doesn’t grasp the “social” aspect of new media, so that was strike two. And he had kinda pissed me off, so that was strike three.
But that wasn’t all. This morphed into like two full at-bats.
Strike four was Hour bringing Gaddy directly into the conversation by mentioning the young man’s Twitter handle. Here you are trying to protect a student-athlete from criticism, so your way of doing that is by exposing him to the venom felt by fans? Makes perfect f**king sense, right? (No, it doesn’t.) Now even if the kid wants to avoid the negativity surrounding him, he can’t. Because a member of the athletic administration, of all people, has forced him to face it head-on. Brilliant.
Strike five was Hour telling me I “might be taken more seriously if…” As if my goal in life and on Twitter has always been to be taken more seriously. I’m not you, dude. I don’t have sex through a hole in the sheets.
And strike six was Hour alluding to the idea that I bash Gaddy 24/7, which is ridiculous because even if I wanted to bash Gaddy 24/7, Twitter would be over capacity at some point along the line and I wouldn’t be able to do it. Plus, Hour doesn’t even follow me on Twitter and never has, so how would he know that I spend most of my time taking jabs at the Mariners, cracking jokes at almost everyone’s expense, initiating dialogue on Saved By the Bell, and just generally being a grab-ass, smarmy, semi-antagonistic, arrogant punk most of the time? He wouldn’t. So why he pretended he did was beyond me.
Oh, and one final thing. You’ll notice those first two tweets start off with a period. They don’t read “@alexssn,” they read “.@alexssn.” Seems innocent enough, but that’s a big deal on Twitter. Those two dots preceding each of those tweets allow everyone who follows Hour to view said tweets on their timelines. Were he to omit those two dots, only those few individuals who follow both he and myself would see these particular tweets. The reason Twitter acts in this way is so that two parties can carry out a back and forth conversation without polluting the feeds of their entire combined following. Hour structured his tweets in such a way that he wanted everyone to read them. He was hoping for support in his attack on me. It was a bitch move. He got one person to publicly agree with him. Dozens upon dozens of others, however, began to tear him a new asshole.
The problem with the UW Athletic Department is that they’re just slightly out of touch to what their customers, the fans, want. Sure, they’re giving us a new football stadium, and that’s great, but that project was well underway long before the current regime came to power. This was an undertaking that Todd Turner put into motion. He was the starting pitcher and we’ve now tapped the bullpen to close this out. In fairness, the relievers are doing a great job.
The new stadium has cast a shadow long enough to obscure many of the warts of the current Athletic Department. That’s not unprecedented with an infrastructural upgrade of this magnitude, but at the same time we shouldn’t allow the administration to rest on its laurels simply because of one massive erection.
Perhaps the biggest problem facing the Athletic Department right now is the attitude of absolute entitlement that seems to rain down upon all of us laypeople. The administration isn’t afraid to impose its will upon, well, everyone, whether they’re dealing with students, alums, or (especially) media.
Media interactions are perhaps best exemplified through the department’s now-infamous “Twitter rule”, as well as the friendly banter I shared with Hour. Those are seemingly forgivable transgressions from a fan’s perspective; who really cares about the media, anyway?
But the missteps in dealing with students and alums? That’s a different story. Let’s start with the students.
While Saturday night’s t-shirt episode is one isolated incident, the purveying feeling from members of the Dawg Pack is that the administration only cares about them because a) they’re a source of revenue, and b) they’re marketable as all hell. In fact, that t-shirt episode served as Exhibit 1A for the marketability of the Dawg Pack. It also served to display the resistance of the students, who aren’t content to just guzzle the Kool-Aid the admins are trying to force down their throats.
The counter-argument would of course be that in order to pay for projects like the new football stadium, the university needs to uncork previously-untapped revenue streams. That’s certainly true, and definitely understandable. But messing with something as organic as a nationally-recognized student section that kind of sprung up on its own seems to go against the spirit of college athletics. I’d wager that most students would probably be willing to pay a little extra in ticket fees if it meant they didn’t have to be exploited. And you can’t tell me there aren’t other ways to make money, ways that won’t noticeably hurt the fan experience on gameday.
Failing to respect the students now will come back to bite this regime in later years. Those students will grow up to be potential donors who won’t have any reason to give back to UW Athletics if they felt mistreated during their time on campus. That’s a dangerous path for any administration to embark on.
In addition to how the students feel, there are semi-recent alums like myself who see through the glitz and the glamour of that structure coming to fruition near the corner of Montlake and Pacific. When we compare our own college experience to that of those current students, we notice a clear difference. As someone who grew into adulthood while jumping and screaming with my friends in that student section before it became a meal ticket, I can tell you how impactful that experience was. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: for all the blemishes on Todd Turner’s record at UW, the one thing he was great at was relating to students. He made us a priority, and as a result we delivered on gameday. What reasons are there for students to deliver now? That’s a question I doubt the Athletic Department is prepared to answer.
For many alums my age, the biggest issue we all agree upon is that the administration seems to be over-saturating the game environment with its ongoing quest for cash. That’s not really anything new, but perhaps it’s just more glaring than it used to be. There’s a certain purity to amateur sports that’s being threatened. Maybe it’s all across the board and Washington’s just part of this machine. Either way, the fan experience has taken a back seat to dollars and cents. And as fans, we have to hope that doesn’t become the trend.
What Daniel Hour represents is the elitist attitude perpetuated by the current UW Athletic Department. It’s the idea that the shopkeeper can tell his patron what to buy and he’ll simply buy it. That he doesn’t have to understand what his patron may want or may need, because at the end of the day, he knows more than his patron ever will.
This is an attitude that may not have affected all Husky fans, but certainly affects my contemporaries, students and alums alike. They’ve told me so face-to-face, on Twitter, and via email. They feel this every day. They feel like they’re being ignored and talked down to by the Athletic Department. That’s not good, and it’s certainly not sustainable for the long-term success of UW Athletics.
There’s no Husky fan who wants to see the school suck at sports. Our football team has improved in recent years (some would say it hasn’t improved enough), but in many other areas, most glaringly Men’s Basketball, the level of play has declined. There will always be ups and downs with any athletic program; to expect perennial success might be ideal, but it certainly isn’t the status quo.
That said, the success of the football program has come as a direct result of funding and money — the current administration has shown a commitment to devote financial resources to football that the previous administration could not or would not display. Again, this is all great, but where’s the sustainability in that financing? The university has seemingly patched together funds on the fly (thanks to donations, et al) that won’t be there five, 10, or 15 years down the road because of one simple fact: the customer isn’t being serviced the way he or she needs to be. And if the customer isn’t being serviced the way he or she needs to be, then the customer will be unhappy. If customers are unhappy they won’t come back, and if they don’t come back they won’t spend money. Which leads us to a whole new set of problems of what to do when the money runs out. Because seriously, what do we do if and when the money runs out?
I’m not saying this will happen, but it could. Just look at Daniel Hour. For every person like Hour working in the Athletic Department, there are bound to be a few pissed off fans. I know I don’t like the guy. I know a number of my Twitter followers don’t like the guy. So what happens if he’s just following orders? That means there are others like him, willing to burn their customers for…for what? For the good of the program? To “protect” underperforming student-athletes who won’t even be here in a year? There’s no method to the madness — it’s just bad customer service, pure and simple.
The reality is this. As time goes on, the younger generation will continue to grow up. We will replace the rich, old people who donate bushels of money now. We will become those rich, old people. And if we’re unwilling to part with our cash as rich, old people because we don’t like how we were serviced way back when? That’s an issue that begins to take on plague proportions for the university.
I’m not here to tell the Athletic Department how to do their job or how to treat people. But they should know that in a few years, they’ll need us a whole hell of a lot more than we need them. If that’s not reason enough to change the culture, then what is?
Filed under: Husky Basketball, Husky Football
Okay. That wasn’t the best Seattle sports weekend. The Huskies (both the football and basketball editions) lost, the Seahawks lost, and word came out on Sunday evening that both Hawks starting cornerbacks — Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner — are facing four-game suspensions for performance-enhancing drug use. So yeah. Admittedly, things could get better.
Scrolling through the Twitter timeline over the past 24 hours has revealed varying stages of grief from Seattleites. We’ve seen everything from denial, to anger, to depression, to acceptance. Some fans are ready to jump off a ledge, some are cursing out anyone who so much as talks to them, some are claiming it’s all a conspiracy, some have the blinders on and refuse to speak one ill word about any of our downtrodden ballclubs, some are coping with humor, and some are just plain sad. No matter one’s progress through the grieving process, it’s clear that these are dark times for us right now. And so as a result, I’m here to offer perspective.
The other day, I got these new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sleep pants. They’re great. The thing about sleep pants is they’re often too heavy, too warm, and too cumbersome to serve any purpose to me whatsoever. Not so with these pants. They’re thin, cool, and stamped with the likenesses of Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo. In addition, they have this flap in the front which allows a nice breeze to flow into and out of my attire. The flap also provides easy access for other things, which for purposes of modesty I won’t go into detail about. Regardless, these pants are great, they were a cheap Black Friday purchase, and they make me happy in ways that my sports teams cannot.
There’s this game I play. It’s called Word Whomp. It’s kind of a stupid game. So stupid, in fact, that I hide all Facebook-related posts about it so no one will see that I’m playing, or when I’m playing, for that matter. I’m very private about my game-playing. Anyway, this Word Whomp game, I’ve been playing it for years. It’s an absolute time-killer. Which isn’t always a bad thing. I’m no athlete. I’m not one of those “no days off” guys. There are days off. I need to kill time occasionally. And this game helps me do that. The objective is basically to form as many words as possible from a selection of six letters given to you onscreen. You have two minutes to achieve this. Should you manage to form every possible word, you win the game. And when you win, there are these animated gophers that do backflips across the page. It’s awesome. Extremely fulfilling in a borderline non-sensical way.
I have a DVD of the Husky basketball triumph over then-No. 1 Stanford in 2004. I queue it up whenever things aren’t going so great, no matter what those things may be. When Tre Simmons knocks down a barrage of threes in the second half to give us all the momentum we need to win, I swell with emotion every time. It’s one of the greatest games, irrespective of sport, that I’ve ever witnessed. I’ll watch it tonight. And it will be fantastic.
There’s this. If you need a laugh, go ahead and fill out your application and submit it. Or better yet, make a similar application for a friend of your own. You’ll feel great when it’s all said and done. And everyone will get to chuckle at the expense of someone else. That’s always fun.
It’s sunny outside. It’s not warm by any means, but wouldn’t you know it, it’s not raining. For November in Seattle, that’s near-incredible. I couldn’t be more thrilled about that. And at the end of the day, after I’ve hit the gym and used up all the caffeine I’ve been sucking down like oxygen at work, I’ll sit in a hot tub and do absolutely nothing. That nothingness won’t last forever. Eventually I’ll have to return to the somethingness of everyday life. But for that brief moment in time when I’m sitting there achieving my lifelong dream of doing nothing at all, I’ll be at peace. And my knees won’t hurt, my muscles won’t ache, and my head won’t be swimming with priorities and deadlines and requirements for the days ahead. It will be glorious.
The point is, the sun came up today, we were all still alive, and our happiness was still controlled by no one besides ourselves. I’m not saying you can’t be upset about the state of our sports teams — if you’re a fan, you probably should be. I’m just saying that we need to keep it all in perspective. I’m a huge sports fan. I’m a little disappointed right now. But am I unhappy? No. Am I going to let a few bad breaks take a hold of my entire existence? No. None of that. And I feel better because of it.
There are any number of things in your life that will bring you joy. Find them. Embrace them. Life isn’t perfect. Sports aren’t perfect. We can’t control wins and losses, talent, ability, results, effort, the choices others make, any of that. But we can control how we feel. And really, that’s all that matters.
Now come on and help me find a nice woman for Ryan Divish. His biological clock is ticking…
Filed under: Husky Basketball, Husky Football, Seahawks
Earlier this week, we found out that the University of Washington athletic department has imposed an interesting policy regarding sports and Twitter. Basically, media members reporting on any Husky basketball or football game are limited to the number of times they can tweet during a contest. Yep, it’s like that.
As a proud UW alum, I’ve been schooled on recognizing stupidity. And this is about as stupid as it gets.
Putting clamps on those giving you the time of day? Really? If there’s anything we all know, it’s that in America, the media cannot be controlled. You can’t stop the media, you can only hope to contain it. And yet trying to contain it usually doesn’t work out so well.
Knowing that this will undoubtedly spiral into an abyss of long-running jokes and never-ending punch lines, I figured I’d take the opportunity to ask my alma mater why on earth they’d want to censor their guests. I’ve come up with 11 questions. I was allotted no more than that.
11. Do you want the media to hate you?
Professional media members are trained to be objective, judicious, fair, equitable, and unbiased. At the end of the day, however, professional media members are still human. They still have emotions. They still have preferences, prejudices, ethics, morals, and personal beliefs. Yet there are people out there who are crazy enough to think that a credential and a paycheck somehow turn a living, breathing being into a robot. Which, unfortunately for the naive, is just not true.
I can’t speak for those credentialed media members tasked with reporting on Husky athletics, but I can give you my opinion on the subject as an outsider: If someone who wasn’t my immediate colleague imposed unnecessary job restrictions upon me, I’d go to work each day hoping against hope that that holier-than-thou bastard came down with a raging case of crabs. I imagine that many of the media members who have had Twitter limits imposed upon them might think along similar lines.
Fact is, when you’re in for a long season, which the Husky basketball team very well may be, the time is not right to make enemies with journalists. For some odd reason, the University of Washington doesn’t seem to care. This will backfire. The school has already received negative national press on the matter. With each ensuing loss to teams like Albany, it can only get worse. Godspeed, UW.
10. What happens if every credentialed media member reaches his or her tweet limit before the game is done?
Seriously. What happens then? I want to know. Because I think it’d be funny as hell. And personally, if I’m a media member, I’m conspiring with all my cohorts and picking one game to test this theory. Here’s what I suggest:
Everyone blow through 20 tweets by halftime. Go silent throughout intermission and shortly thereafter. Certainly, someone affiliated with the university will have to take notice. Where did the coverage on our game go? Why is no one talking about the Dawgs? Panic ensues. Holy crap, someone realizes, they’ve used up all their tweets! At this point, you either repeal your incredibly ill-advised Twitter law or risk looking like goons to all those fans who depend on Twitter — and in turn the media — for updates on the game.
Do it. Come on, media. I know you’ve got it in you. They can’t rescind ALL your credentials. Unionize. It’s time. We shall overcome!
9. Have any of the credentialed media members ever really hurt your product by over-tweeting?
If anything, most beat writers might take themselves a little too seriously. To my knowledge, they certainly aren’t saturated with emotion during a game they happen to be covering. They aren’t fans. They don’t react to every blown call, every skirmish, or every go-ahead basket the way we do. So what damage can really be done by tweeting upwards of 21 times a game?
I don’t see it. Maybe you want to drive people to your university-hosted online chat or other content you control. But that’s awfully petty, don’t you think? If I want to read your in-house writer (Gregg Bell, a true talent and one of the most upstanding gentlemen in the biz), I will. And I do. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be privy to full disclosure from others covering the game, too. Why can’t we all just get along?
8. Do mentions directed at other Twitter users count towards the tweet limit during a game?
Here’s the rub about Twitter. If I issue a tweet that leads with another user’s Twitter handle, that tweet can only be read by those followers of mine who also follow that user I’m directing my tweet towards. God, just reading that last sentence makes almost no sense at all. Let me try to give you an example. A tweet reading as follows will only be viewed by users who mutually follow me and @UW: “@UW is a great place to go to school!” See that? Only my followers who also follow @UW would see that tweet. That’s how the product was designed. It’s called a “Reply” in the Twittersphere. Plain as day, I hope.
So, in essence, if I reply to another Twitterer (Twit? Twittee?), only a limited number of my followers will even see that tweet. Is it really fair to count Replies towards the 20-tweet limit? Probably not. Have you taken this into consideration? Probably not. What we have here is an old-fashioned Mexican standoff. Or something like that. I don’t know. I’m not Mexican.
7. Do tweets unrelated to the game itself count towards the tweet limit during a game?
Let’s say I’m covering the game and I want to know what one of my buddies is up to. I tweet to my pal and say, “Yo, @RyanDivish. Are you coming to the game tonight, or are you catching up on the latest episode of Gossip Girl?” That tweet has nothing to do with the game itself. Yet I’ve posted it during the contest. Am I being a charged one of my precious 20 tweets for issuing my inquiry? These are the questions people need answers to!
6. What are the different levels of punishment a violator of the 20-tweet rule can expect to incur? And similarly, what specific actions will trigger each level of punishment?
Sure, we’ve heard about media members getting “reprimanded” for exceeding 20 tweets in a single game. We’ve also heard that the university might go so far as to pull a violator’s credential, if need be. But there’s quite a bit of grey area in between those two levels of comeuppance. It doesn’t seem like we have any real guidelines for issuing discipline. I’d like to offer my assistance in helping clear things up.
Here’s what I feel like we should do to those who overstep their bounds (or over-tweet their timelines, you might say), based on the number of tweets they issue during a single game:
Tier 1 Punishment: If 21-30 tweets are issued, the violator is subject to a public flogging of sorts via the @UWAthletics Twitter account. Call out said violator’s Twitter handle, then bash him or her incessantly over the course of 140 characters.
Tier 2 Punishment: If 31-40 tweets are issued, the violator is subject to a one-game Twitter ban. They are also required to don Harry the Husky’s mascot costume during that one-game ban and wander around the arena doing whatever it is mascots do.
Tier 3 Punishment: If 41-50 tweets are issued, the violator is subject to a two-game Twitter ban and must also post a TwitPic of himself/herself wearing a sign explaining his/her idiocy, much like the dogs over at DogShaming.com.
Tier 4 Punishment: If 50+ tweets are issued, the violator is subject to losing his/her credential. Furthermore, he or she must also spend a day officiating UW intramural basketball, which is arguably the worst punishment anyone can receive.
5. Do you really think this is going to get more people to either a) come to games, or b) watch them on TV?
Because I feel like that’s the end goal here. I think you believe people are getting a free pass via Twitter, following along with reporters providing insight to the goings-on at Hec Ed, instead of paying to attend the contest, or even watching on TV. And to you, that free pass equates to potential revenue lost. Hence, the Twitter limitations.
Prove me wrong, I suppose, but I see no other logical explanation as to why a credentialed media member’s tweets would be limited.
And do any of us really believe that limiting a journalist’s ability to report on the game will drive up attendance or TV ratings? No. No one thinks that. Give up the dream.
4. Did you really think this rule through before imposing it? Or did some suit at the top come up with it, while everyone else just sat around a table and nodded out of fear and/or apathy?
You don’t have to answer either of those questions. They’re rhetorical.
3. Is this all Todd Dybas’ fault? Do you guys not like Todd Dybas?
Before Tacoma News-Tribune beat writer Todd Dybas became the inaugural media member reprimanded for over-tweeting, we didn’t even know this tweet rule existed. Dybas took over the TNT’s Husky beat this year, after our good friend Ryan Divish was on the job last season. Initially, I thought maybe you guys just had a problem with the TNT (there’s some history here, as a Google search will reveal), but Divish was never busted for his plethora of tweets in the past. So what’s the deal?
Clearly, it’s Dybas. You guys don’t like him. Fair enough. But what did he do to warrant this treatment? I want answers. We all do. You’ve turned this man into a martyr! Don’t you realize what you’ve done?!
2. Why do you feel the need to stifle the creativity of talented wordsmiths?
If I had to think before I issued every tweet (and believe me, I don’t), my tweets would suck. So if someone told me I could only tweet 20 times a game, you bet I’d start considering my syntactical ejaculations before blasting them unto the web.
It’s the same for any media member. With only a score of tweets to work with (that’s Abraham Lincoln speak for 20), a reporter has to carefully evaluate the importance of each in-game update before he or she goes through with it. That’s ridiculous! How is anyone supposed to know if reporting on a CJ Wilcox trey is worth five-percent of a tweet allotment?
Not only that, but each tweet issued is probably going to lack for flavor. We won’t hear about the comical bench antics, the reactions from the Dawg Pack, or any other color commentary that might allow us to, you know, connect with our team on a more personal level. Instead, each one of those 20 tweets will strictly be relegated to play-by-play. That’s damn unfortunate.
1. Do you really want non-credentialed members of the media like myself tweeting our asses off during games because our credentialed brethren cannot?
Challenge accepted, friend. Challenge. Accepted.
Filed under: Husky Basketball, Husky Football, Top 11
I am a firm believer in patience. We live in a world that’s all about moving quickly, reacting, and analyzing big, important topics in, say, 140-character blurbs of irreverence. We expect certain outcomes in life, and when those outcomes don’t immediately transpire, we tend to freak the hell out.
Take, for instance, marriage.
We grow up thinking we’ll all be married by our mid-twenties. We don’t even consider alternatives, really. We’ll graduate high school, then either enter the working world or head off to college. We’ll meet someone in those formative years just outside our teens, fall in love, and be bound by law no later than age 25. Might as well be a theme park ride.
But ultimately, what happens? We exit our youth, forge our way into adulthood, meet people, try ‘em out, have our hearts broken a few times, break some hearts simultaneously, then settle into our mid-lives wondering how the Tunnel of Love became this odd little roller coaster. And it’s not a bad thing. Not at all. From a guy’s perspective, it’s great. Maybe not as great if you’re a girl, but I wouldn’t know because I’ve never been one. Though if I was a girl, I’d play with my boobs every day. I’d probably just stay at home and sit there topless while I enjoyed this beautiful gift that had been bestowed upon my chest. I realize I’m trending down an awkward road here, so we’ll just go ahead and move on.
This potpourri of marriage and boobs and whatnot leads me back to the topic at-hand: patience. And here’s where my message gets targeted mostly to the gentlemen in the crowd. Apologies, ladies. But please, bear with me.
Guys, listen. Be patient. That girl you’re with at 18? You don’t love her. You think you love her because she’s the first person outside of your own damn self who will do things to your penis. That doesn’t constitute love, as your twenties will later reinforce. That’s just a good time.
And let me tell you something else. As you get older, that good time gets better. Really. And you know why? Because the girls get more attractive. They do. Those attractive girls are much more willing to settle for your average ass as time goes by. And why is that? Because that pond of romantic solitude has lost so many good-looking fish over the years. Consider that in high school and college, everyone is single (relatively speaking). So what do the attractive girls do? They go after the very best. Makes sense. Muscles, good at sports, and a decent student? Who wouldn’t want that? Can’t blame ‘em. But as those good-looking guys go off and marry the women they’ll later divorce, a whole host of eligible bachelorettes are left standing on the sidelines, waiting for Mister Right to come along. And when there are no more lecture halls or frat mixers to aid prospective romance, it gets that much more difficult to find a suitable mate.
That’s where you come in, average dude. You’ve done nothing to improve yourself, yet all those above-average dudes you once competed with for attention are now cheating on their wives (or, in special cases, actually remaining faithful to their young brides). You look that much better in your late-twenties or early-thirties than you did as a semi-fit twenty-one-year-old. Good for you for making the most of that middling hand you were dealt! And what has led you to this haven of good fortune? Yes, gentlemen. Patience.
You might be wondering where in the world this conversation we’re having is going. That’s a good question, to which I have an answer. This lesson in patience, you see, brings us to the world of college football, and more specifically coaching college football.
The business of coaching college football is one that is absolutely overwrought by a lack of patience. It’s one thing to analyze a situation; it’s a whole ‘nother matter when you hastily and reactively scrutinize that same situation. There may be no job title more hastily and reactively scrutinized than that of Head College Football Coach. And among the scrutinized in the professional realm of head college football coaches is none other than the University of Washington’s own Steve Sarkisian.
Two weeks ago, there were actually people out there who were questioning Sarkisian’s job security. The man who had seemingly rescued Husky Football from the abyss that was the Tyrone Willingham era, who had taken his team to two straight bowl games, and who was sitting at 2-1 on the year, no less, was being thrown under the bus by a subset of UW fans. It made little to no sense. But again, we’re an impatient society. So in some ways, it made perfect sense.
Sure, people were disappointed in a season-opening win (a win!) against San Diego State. And yeah, there was legitimate outcry over an absolute drubbing that resulted in only three points against LSU. But there was a 52-13 beatdown (okay, anticipated beatdown) of Portland State to fall back on. Yet still, the masses were unsettled.
Just a few days later, Washington took to the gridiron and knocked off eighth-ranked Stanford. It was an improbable upset. Washington hadn’t just been beaten by Stanford in the teams’ most recent meetings, it had been annihilated. And so as thousands upon thousands of Husky fans stormed the playing surface of CenturyLink Field on an unseasonably mild Thursday evening, I couldn’t help but wonder what the Sark scrutinizers were thinking at that moment.
With one game, Sarkisian had jettisoned his critics, sending the internet cynics back to doing whatever it is internet cynics do when they’re not being cynical. He had changed public perception with the help of a defense that had allowed a whopping 65 points to the same Stanford Cardinal a year earlier. A Stanford Cardinal team that, on this particular evening, had managed 52 fewer points than a season prior. It was an unbelievable victory, made even more unbelievable by the lukewarm start to the 2012 campaign and the ensuing criticism that had spawned from that tepid commencement.
Eight times the sun has set since the kickoff of that decidedly unexpected victory. We are now one sunset away from a matchup versus second-ranked Oregon. Who knows for sure what will happen in Eugene on Saturday night. A win would be surprising, certainly, but not nearly as surprising as it may have been one fortnight in the past.
Win or lose, though, Sark will enter the night’s contest with greater support from the Washington fan base than he previously had nine nights earlier. Which is saying something. Since all it took was a single matchup to change, well, everything.
It is said that fifty-percent of marriages in America end in divorce. We get married young, we get married spontaneously, we get married believing in an ideal fantasy that never quite materializes. We expect utopia, but are greeted with a dystopic reality. Which makes patience that much more important. It’s better to wait for the right outcome than to try and force the wrong one.
Steve Sarkisian has his faults. He could be a little nicer to the media, for one. Maybe work on the wardrobe a bit, lose the visor. He’s not perfect by any means.
But when it comes to coaching Husky Football, I urge everyone to exercise patience with the Huskies’ patriarch. Eventually, Sark and the University of Washington will divorce. He’ll retire, get fired, or leave for greener pastures. It happens. Nothing lasts forever. There are any number of cliches to describe it.
In the meantime, Steve Sarkisian will continue to be the Mister Right this school found when they went searching for a coach nearly four years ago. He’s done good things so far. I’d wager the best is yet to come.
Filed under: Husky Football