First of all, I am so excited to be back and writing for The Husky Haul. Last year was such a fun season, and unless you’re a Dawg fan that has been living under a rock since December, it’s obvious we have a chance to have even more fun in 2014.
Husky Football since December has exhausted me. I am tired, and we haven’t played a down of football since the Fight Hunger Bowl. The never ending drama surround Steve Sarkisian came to a head at the beginning of December when the charismatic coach who led UW back from 0-12 to respectability bolted (nearly) in the dead of night for USC.
The news actually broke on the radio and Twitter before Sark had a chance to tell his team. Sark left a young and talented nine win team for the lure of Hollywood (and a massive pay raise), and in his wake left a lot of young men he recruited hurt and unsure of their future.
He left a fan base stunned; no coach had willingly walked away from UW (Don James doesn’t count, his hand was forced by Babs Hedges and the goons of the Pac 10) in decades. What the hell was going on?
I remember my immediate reaction to the news – I wasn’t upset, which surprised me. I thought to myself, “well, this guy is a dirt bag. He left a lot of people in the lurch. But….what if this is a blessing in disguise? What if Scott Woodward gets an updgrade? Was Sark REALLY that good? Was he REALLY the guy to take us to the next level? I want to wait and see what happens.”
Turns out I was right. Scott Woodward pulled of the coup of coups in College Football. He lured the hottest coaching name in the business away from Boise State – something that nobody, not USC, not Oregon, not even Alabama has been able to do. He got Chris Petersen to come to Seattle. Before he coached a single second at UW, the Huskies won.
I want to be very clear, Steve Sarkisian was vital to UW. In 2008, nobody would touch the UW job – no high profile coach at least. The best fit was going to be a young and flashy coordinator looking for his big break. Sark fit that profile perfectly. He related to the players, he had proven he could recruit at USC and had NFL experience. He added immediate credibility to a program that had become completely irrelevant not only on the national level but in a conference it had dominated for so long. The proof of that statement is in the nine wins from the 2013 season.
Sark rebuilt the talent pool that had been completely barren when he arrived. There are athletes upon athletes on the current Husky roster. There is speed that hasn’t existed in nearly a decade. There are multiple defensive players on Pre-Season National Award watch lists.
With all that talent on the roster, the Huskies never could make The Leap. There were the HUGE wins – USC in 2009 and 2010 and Nebraska in the Holiday bowl in 2010. Despite those games, we watched opportunity after opportunity to establish consistently solid football slip away - a 41-3 drubbing on national TV against a slightly above average LSU team. A dominant defensive performance at home against Stanford followed by a thrashing at Oregon.
Consistently being undressed on the road by conference foes that we should have beaten (ASU, UCLA last year, Arizona in 2011 – the list goes on). It was maddening to watch these games, these WINNABLE games slip through our fingers. The killer holding and unnecessary roughness penalties, the unforced errors with the football – it made you want to pull your hair out. And these are just the football related inconsistencies; we’re not even talking about the “other stuff.”
Steve Sarkisian was a ticking time bomb for the Huskies. Boosters and school administration viewed him as a walking liability. We’ve heard the stories – the waitresses at Joey’s, time spent on Greek Row, even Erin Andrews.
None of this is confirmed, but a rumor’s not a rumor that doesn’t die (please tell me you got my Usual Suspects reference). Is that the conduct you want from the leader of the most visible organization at your school? I don’t believe so.
Part II will be up tomorrow, but in the meantime check out the first Hype Video for the 2014 season. I’m ready. NOW.
Bow down and Go Dawgs.