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Bring back the Dobie Era!

by Malamute

I grew up in Seattle at a time when playing sandlot football meant playing on a field of mud and rocks. For that reason, I’m not impressed with the Huskies’ new indoor-practice facility, and I’m sure that Washington’s crusty, outspoken coach, Gil Dobie, wouldn’t be happy with these “swank” facilities if he were alive today. Nor would he be happy with the nickname, "Huskies."

“Denny Field is where this new fangled team with its fancy uniforms should be playing and practicing,” he would say. “The Sun Dodgers were made up of men destined to play on a field of mud and rocks; they were real men, inspired by the conditions of their field and by the weather, men who could defeat anybody on any given day.” 

Dobie’s teams ran straight at you. There were only five plays or so in his playbook, and he worked countless hours with his team to perfect them. They played smash-mouth football back then, and on Denny Field, which hardly provided the players with a cushiony surface. 

Here’s what Wee Coyle, a quarterback under Dobie said about Denny Field, “It was a terrible field. Did your ever see a field grow rocks?” They’d rake the surface to level the field, removing most of the rocks, and after the next rain, “you’d see thousands of little rocks come up out of the dirt.” 

Three yards and a cloud of dust? Nope. It was six yards and a shower of rocks. Dobie’s men went 58-0-3. Gil Dobie talked the talk and walked the walk. 

Jim Owens, “The Big Fella,” brought back the Dobie tradition, and the Sun Dodgers, er ah, I mean Huskies began to win again.

Owens’ early teams were the toughest, meanest SOB’s ever put on a football field. Did you ever hear about the Death March? It meant hours of toil spent in the cold and pelting rain, practicing on a field that grew rocks. 

And what about Tui? He broke a record while playing with a bum bum, playing on a surface as hard as a rock. They didn’t call him the Warrior for nothing. 

So, with that in mind, here's some unsolicited advice for Coach Neuhiesel.

Don’t forget the running game, Coach Neu. Work the team outdoors in the rain. Take them over to Denny field, shovel it with rocks and work them some more. There’s still sixty yards left of it. That’s the way Husky football should be played, outdoors in the driving rain, on a field of mud and rocks.

Scrimmages, precision drills, up the gut—all to the tune of a metronome.

Rip up that cushy turf, and give it to the waddling Ducks. Cover the field with dirt; bring back the Dobie tradition.

Tear down Dempsey. Sell the damn thing for scrap. Or better yet, give it to the Ducks. It’s better than the one they’ve got, and it’ll soften them up for sure.

Rip up the new uniforms. Bring back the old. Keep the dents in the helmets. Don’t pound ‘em out. Make more, if anything.

And, Coach Nue, don’t take any more orders from that woman. Hear?

Hey, we’re the Sun Dodgers, the Vikings, the Huskies, the Purple Gang, the Montlake Monsters--don’t you hear?

Those sissies from the south have everything to fear. 


Gil Dobie, the father of the quip?

This is from the Dallas Morning News (Dave Caldwell) web site:

"His nickname was 'Gloomy Gil'; and he coached at Washington and Cornell, among other stops. His teams won nearly 80 percent of their games during his 33-year career that ended in 1938, but no one ever heard from Gloomy Gil how great his teams were. Once he was asked about three particularly fast running backs he coached. Gloomy Gil replied, 'This means they only get to the tacklers all the sooner.' After winning a game, 49-0, an alumnus approached him and said, 'Now you must be happy!' Gloomy Gil replied, 'Happy? Why? What's going to happen to us next week.""

Why fire a coach who never lost a game?

One of Dobie's players, Bill Grimm, was suspended because of “irregularities in (taking) an examination.” Because of the suspension, Dobie’s players went on strike, with three games remaining on the schedule. University president, Henry Suzzallo, fired Dobie at the end of the 1916 season for failing to fully train character on the football field. Suzzallo thought Dobie had instigated the players’ insurrection, which wasn’t true. Tramp Murphy, Louis Seagrave and a member of a YMCA squad performed the deed. That fact was disclosed in 1949, when Tramp Murphy admitted to it.

Would Gloomy Gil have liked the sobriquet, "Sun Dodgers?"

“Sun Dodgers” was the nickname used for the team from 1919 to 1920. Dobie was fired in 1916. As far as I know, Dobie’s team didn’t have a nickname. For his teams, “Sun Dodgers” is as close as it gets, since it was the nickname of the teams that played at Denny Field, Dobie’s old haunt.

"Sun Dodgers” most likely would have been too sissified for Dobie, although he was nicknamed, “Gloomy Gil,” because he was always pessimistic. On second thought, "Gloomy Gil" might have liked the "Sun Dodgers" moniker.

  • Dallas Morning News web site
  • Rockne, Dick, “Bow Down to Washington,” The Strode Publishers, Huntsville, Alabama, 1975.
  • 100 Years of Husky Football,” Professional Sports Publications, New York City, New York.
  • Field turf photo by Kim Grinolds, dawgman.com


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