Well, we’re in business now. It’s taken two years, but it is finally game week at Husky Stadium, and that is an incredibly special thing. Husky Saturdays are some of my first memories – having my grandpa (who had season tickets as a student in the 40’s up until he gave them to my uncle because he could no longer make it up the ramp and refused to take the “old people cart”) carry me up the last part of the climb to our seats and then being terrified when the stadium would start to shake on 3rd down – God, I get chills just thinking about it.
But now, it’s an entirely different experience. As brutal as Husky Stadium was for opponents to come into and play, it was dying. It was old, it was falling apart, and it was putting UW far behind in the Facilities Arms Race that our neighbors to the South so gleefully started. It needed a face lift, a boost – just like the program itself.
Five years ago the boost started when Steve Sarkisian was hired. After returning to a bowl game, and then making consecutive bowl games for the first time in a decade, the expectations began to shift back towards “OK guys, it’s time to compete for a championship.” But we still weren’t there – not until it was announced that we would renovate Husky Stadium.
Now here we are, the renovation is complete and we are within days of seeing the new jewel of Pac- 12 Stadiums. Honestly, as a lifelong fan, this brings up a lot of emotions for me. It also got me wondering how this will affect the young ones, the kids who only know the Husky Football team as a middle of the road team that can’t hang with the big boys – the ones who don’t remember when the idea of getting throttled by Oregon was scoffed at, or don’t remember how devastating it was when UW fell out of the top 15.
This renovation, in theory, is the last piece of the puzzle. Steve Sarkisian inherited a program that was void of depth, work ethic or direction. There was front line talent, but no depth and no passion. That all changed. The passion came first, then the work ethic returned, and then the high ranked recruiting classes came in. In the 21st century, you can have all of those things, but unless you have the facilities that can excite and entice 18 year old kids, you’re still a step or two behind as a program. That is no longer the case for the Huskies. Now, UW has that.
For me, echoes of the past are stirring. I remember not being able to move in my seat because there were so many people crammed in my row. I can feel the stadium start to shake under me on 3rd and 14. I can see an overmatched offensive line scramble to even make contact with a rush end that is already three yards up the field with a radar lock on the QB. I can hear Lou Gellerman welcoming us all home with his trademark greeting, “Hello, Dawg Fans.” I can see, hear and feel it all – and I want nothing more than to take that history and tradition and have it translate to our new digs.
To the young bucks – to the students, or for that matter anybody who either went to UW after 2003 or became a fan after 2003, listen closely. This is a program with more tradition and passion than Oregon, WSU, OSU, ASU, Arizona, Colorado and Utah combined. It kills KILLS me to see Seattle kids rocking Oregon gear or talking about how great their stadium and facilities are. The problem is, I can’t argue with the reasoning behind it. Who has been better the past decade? Who has dominated the Pac 10/12 headlines? It wasn’t Washington. Unfortunately, we’ve been a non-factor. Us old fellas can wax nostalgic all we want about how good we were or how good it used to be here, but the fact of the matter is until we put it all together, until all of the pieces are in place, we won’t be back to where we were. But once we get back to where we belong, you young ones will see why we drone on about the glory days. There is nothing like Husky Football at its best. Nothing.
As we get ready to launch this new era of Husky Football, I believe for the first time since our Rose Bowl team of the 2000 season (2001 Rose Bowl), everything is in place for a special season. This team is talented. This team is experienced. This team is deep – as deep as we’ve had in the last 13 years. The exclamation point on this team lies on the shores of Lake Washington. It is a home field advantage like no other, and now it’s time once again to remind the Pac 12 of one simple fact; No one, and I mean NO ONE comes in to our house, and pushes us around.
See you on Saturday. Go Dawgs and bow down.