The Medical Explanation for the Huskies’ Resurgence


As Robert Service once wrote, “There are strange things done/ ’neath the midnight sun…”  For example, no one wants to be a sportswriter.  It’s not something one would tell one’s parents he would want to do.  But strange things happen.  And, sympathetic reader, we’re just the messengers.

Washington hit bottom at 0 – 12, he was gone, Sark was in, and conventional (not Husky Haul) sportswriters, omniscient all, forecast Washington’s fortunes would improve.

For this, the conventional sportswriters got paid megabucks.

But not so at Husky Haul where, between October 1, 2001 and October 1, 2011, writer consciences dictated readers, not writers, be paid.  Now that the 10-year special has ended, however, Husky Haul readers must read for free but can take solace in the fact that, due to writing improvement over the years, they are getting their money’s worth.

Some sportswriters work for media outlets that cover all travel expenses.  Husky Haul writers attended the Utah game on their own dime (the rest came from panhandling at the I-405 and NE 4thoff-ramp) and noticed something extraordinary.  While doing pre-game fan interviews, we were adamantly told by a group of BYU medical students (“Please, let everyone know.  People must know what is going on there.”) that the Utah team consisted entirely of mutants, the result of UU genetics research gone bad, and that Washington would get eaten like whoever was eaten in the accompanying photo.

But that wasn’t extraordinary.  No, we savvy Husky Haul sportswriters already knew that.  What was extraordinary was that, as we watched the game, the blood-thirsty Utah mutants with 7” tongues were being overwhelmed by the lowly Huskies with normal tongues.  How could this be?  This wasn’t supposed to happen.  What is the explanation? we asked one another.

It was at that moment that Husky Haul sportswriters once again began to demonstrate our mettle – why we are the best – going beyond typical bland stories based on bland interviews with reticent players.  We teamed with UW Medicine researchers in order to discover what was at the scientific heart of the Husky resurgence.

Medical research is big at Washington and by Monday afternoon, researchers were on it.  They had a theory.  The odds were long but there seemed to be few other explanations.

The potential for a medical breakthrough causes simultaneous salivation and a sort of ecstatic paranoia (subsequent research funding is jeopardized) among researchers, and UW Medicine researchers excitedly suspected the Huskies were, like Utah, also mutating – as they had once suspected Oregon Ducks mutation (but, not being allowed on the Beaverton campus, could not verify the hypothesis) until an insider tip led to the discovery that the Oregon mutation was a mirage, like the floor of the new Oregon basketball arena, the consequence of bizaare uniform changes.

That ruled out Oregon mutants.  But what was causing the Huskies to play like they were playing?  What changed?

The first evidence that something was different occurred immediately: during the opening kick-off, Garret Gilliland (the name Gilliland is a reduced Anglicized form of the Irish Gaelic Mac Gille Fhaolain which means “son of the servant of St. Faolan” of Munster), reminiscent of past Husky linebackers, absolutely clocked a Utah blocker, tackled the ball carrier and caused a fumble which enterprising-although-late-to-the-party Jamaal Kearse grabbed and ran in for a Husky touchdown.  Researchers re-ran the video over and over.  There must be a clue here, they said.

Researching St. Faolan, Husky researchers discovered he was the patron saint for the mentally ill until the 20th century.  Gilliland was a madman on special teams.  Mere coincidence? the researchers wondered.  Well, probably, we told them.  They weren’t convinced, however.  “Sportswriters,” one muttered.

And later when Semisi Tokolahi entered the game and began playing like a reincarnation of Husky defensive linemen during the James era, researchers became animated.  Tokolahi had broken his ankle, had seen no action, and was still on the mend.  He should not be able to play this well, the researchers said to one another.

“Who was the medical team that operated on Tokolahi?  What did they do?” asked the researchers, wide-eyed.

The researchers obtained Tokolahi’s medical file but, oddly, the names of the physicians were missing from the file…although there was a strange photo.  Was it of the medical team?  The researchers became excited.

Late in the game, Lawrence Lagafuaina, a reserve like Gilliland and Tokolohi, began playing even better than Tokolohi and on one play, although double teamed, drove the vaunted Utah linemen backwards until Lagafuaina sacked the quarterback, causing a fumble, loosing his helmet in the process, with Tokolahi cleaning up.

“How can this be?” asked the researchers.  “Lagafuaina is a back-up.”

One researcher, using a hypothetical syllogism, speculated that Lagafuaina’s Samoan heritage is the cause for him having his hair long, perhaps symbolic of strength and virility, and that Lagafuaina is somehow channeling his culture on the field.

Another, a regular at Trader Vic’s, countered, “Fa’amolemole fai iai e oki le ga gasu e feoa’i ma lakou,” essentially, culture has nothing to do with it; long hair is no more a part of  fa’aSamoa (Samoan culture) than ai lavalavas (credit the missionaries) and that Lagafuaina is on to something else.

“What else?” the others asked.

“Maybe he just likes long hair,” another said.

“Then how come he’s playing so well?  He’s a back-up.”

Another researcher explained that “Lagafuaina may have a dissociative disorder where he believes the opposing offensive line is no longer real but simply imagined and, consequently, Lagafuaina plows through the opposition because, in his mind, they’re not there.”

“But they are there,” said the others.  “He may not think so but they do.”

“Then there remains only one explanation,” said one.

The researchers looked at one another in knowing silence until one said what they were all thinking.

“Lagafuaina is a mutant.”

“It’s the only explanation,” said the others, looking at one another with excited nervousness.

“Gilliland.  Tokolahi.  Lagafuaina.  The whole team!  They’re all mutating!”

One researcher folded his arms and eruditely concluded, “Like Robert Service said, ‘There are strange things done/ ‘neath the midnight sun.’”

“Who’s Robert Service?”

“Where did he say that?”

“In The Cremation of Sam McGee.”

There was a pause as the researchers weighed the metaphysical implications.


“What time is it?” asked another.

The researchers all looked at the clock.


“But the sun’s not out,” I said.

“It is in Samoa,” a researcher said queerly.

“Sportswriters,” muttered another.