GUEST POST: Mad Men of the Pac-12


THIS IS A GUEST POST by the one and only Griffin Bennett, made famous on Montlake Madness, but loves Husky Sports of all kinds. You can follow him on twitter @GriffinWB – Enjoy Husky Fans! 

Like many of you, I’ve been watching AMC’s “Mad Men” over the last few months. My life has consisted of Mad Men during the week and then football on the weekends. My mind has begun to meld the two together and now I see Christina Hendricks doing cheers on the Husky sidelines.

As I watched Mad Men while exchanging emails with my Husky and Duck friends this week, I realized that this upcoming game on Saturday has some strange parallels with my two favorite characters in “Mad Men”; Don Draper and Roger Sterling.

Draper and Sterling, if you haven’t watched, are both high level advertising executives with an ever-changing relationship. They use each other to further benefit themselves and their veiled “friendship” never seems to be more than pleasantries which doesn’t ever appear to be more than skin deep.

Sound familiar? It gets even more eerie.

Don Draper, the handsome, sharp dressed, smooth talker who is the toast of the ad world, has a past which he wants to desperately forget. He grew up in a rural area where there wasn’t anything for him and he desperately wanted a better life for himself.

His life is based around an entangled web of lies and deceit which causes him to constantly be looking over his shoulder and plotting an exit strategy. Don was an innovator at his job and helped usher in a new era of creative advertising.

Does this not remind you of a certain green-jersey wearing team to the south?

Like Draper, Oregon has an almost non-existent past that they are all ashamed of. 1917 (only nine years before Draper was born) is a year which causes all Ducks fans to shudder at its mere mention. The lack of Rose Bowls aside, Oregon’s history is filled with constant mediocrity.

While they haven’t changed their name like Draper, the Ducks decided that in order to succeed they needed a completely new persona. Enter the new personality (NIKE), suits (jerseys), and silver tongued personality (Phil Knight).

Built on a foundation of half-truths and fractured relationships, both Oregon and Draper have gone in too deep to turn back now. Oregon’s marriage to

Kelly has given them everything they ever wanted, just like Draper’s marriage to the stunningly beautiful, and bitchy, Betty Draper. Without knowing the future (or giving any spoilers), who knows where each of them will go when all of the chips fall.

Roger Sterling is a successful and seasoned veteran of the advertising world. He has been there and done that. He has already climbed the mountain as well as enjoyed the view from the top. However, not everything in his life was as it seemed. His daughter was a spoiled brat, he took little care of his health, and he let his marriage deteriorate until the damage was irreparable.

Sounds similar to certain purple-clad team over on the lake, right?

Like Sterling, the Huskies rose to success with the help of an icon. Sterling had Bert Cooper and the Huskies had Don James; both considered Godfathers (or Dawgfathers) of their craft. The Huskies’ rise to success led them to believe that they were infallible, just like Sterling.

Sterling joined as partner with Cooper to create the uber-firm of Sterling-Cooper and they became wealthier than they ever imagined. Likewise, Washington, with Don James at the helm, won a share of the National Title in 1991 and won three straight Rose Bowls.
As Roger Sterling began to get lazy, drink, and cheat (on his wife with this), so did the Huskies as they were caught be the NCAA giving Billy Joe Hobert illegal benefits. At his lowest, he suffers an almost fatal heart attack (2008’s 0-12 season) and finally realizes that things have to chance.

In order to stay on top and feel like he did in his younger days, he cuts ties with his daughter (Barbara Hedges) and wife (Tyrone Willingham), and immediately marries the hottest young piece he can find in the office (Steve Sarkisian).

The injection of passion into the equation helps both the Huskies and Roger Sterling as they each begin to get their swagger back.
While the parallels between these two deep and troubled characters and their corresponding schools are interesting, the true connection lies between their inter-connected relationships.

As Draper was trying to make a new name for himself, he ran into Sterling and begged for a job at his ad agency. All Draper wanted was a seat at the table and he knew that he would impress from there. Similarly, Oregon was always second fiddle to Washington and wished and hoped for their chance at a seat at the Pac-12 champions’ table.

There’ always a jumping off point for success stories. To Draper, it was the day that he convinced Roger Sterling that he had hired him the night prior as Don fed him drinks. With his foot in the door, Don Draper rode his talents all the way to the top.

For the Ducks, it was always one single moment. The day was October 22, 1994. “The Pick”, as Duck fans call it, where Kenny Wheaton picked off Damon Huard and beat #9 UW in a huge upset. After that, the Huskies slipped off the top and the Ducks climbed up in their place.

Draper’s new found success, and media attention, has turned Sterling from an older-brother/father-figure into a jealous rival. While Husky fans will always deny that they are jealous of the Ducks, it is undeniable that the Husky faithful would do anything to have the type of success that the Ducks are currently having.

The most important thing to realize is that, like Draper and Sterling, Oregon and Washington are two sides of the same coin. Heads and Tails of a football rivalry that stimulates all of us and makes everyone give that extra 1%. Neither would be as successful without the other.