|A Conversation with Dobie
Being a solid Husky fan, I've been spending some nights tossing and
turning, unable to sleep, worried about what is going to happen in the
upcoming Michigan game. Everybody knows Michigan is tough, and we lost
almost our entire offensive line after last season. The papers have been
printing gloom and doom, and even diehard Husky fans are doubtful about
this year's team.
After some reflection, I decided to see the neighborhood gypsy lady
to see if she could foretell the outcome of the Michigan game. Her
establishment is run out of a rickety shack in Lake City. From the
outside it is difficult to tell if at one point it was a business or a
tiny household. Appearances matter little to me, so I made an
When I arrived for my appointment, as I closed the door I noted that
it was quite dark inside. I could smell the incense burning in the air,
and all sorts of brightly colored objects were scattered around. In the
center of the room stood a small card table, in the center of which was
a crystal ball, and behind it the gypsy lady, wearing all sorts of gold
jewelry and bright multi-colored clothing.
"Hello," she said. She spoke perfect English, however from
her accent I could tell that she was foreign-born. "I see you are
interested in the outcome of the football game. Who do you want to win?
Michigan or the Washington Husky? By the way, usually it is brighter in
here, but the power bills are killing me, then there is the business
"I want the Huskies to win," I cut in a bit rudely, seating
myself at the table. "But the only way to foretell the outcome is
to talk with the legendary Washington coach, Gil Dobie. He never lost a
game you see."
When I said the name Gil Dobie her eyes became a bit wider and look
of doubt crossed her face. "I know the man of whom you speak, but
he does not like to be disturbed. I cannot advise that I try to make
contact with him. Perhaps there is someone else?"
"No," I replied. "It must be Dobie. Only he can tell
us what to do."
"I cannot advise such a thing. I am certain that another coach
could provide what you are looking for. The man of which you speak does
not like to be disturbed. He also can be very rude and use profanity in
"I'm sorry then," I said as I stood up, "only Dobie
can help us." I started walking toward the door. Slowly I turned
the handle of the door.
"Wait," she said softly. "Perhaps it can be done. I
too am a fan of the Washington Husky. But I still advise against
I seated myself and the gypsy lady began to speak, waving her hand
over the crystal ball. Her voice wavered, first low and then louder, and
she spoke a language I did not understand. I stared into the crystal
ball but nothing happened.
Several minutes went by, still nothing. I said "maybe if
"BE SILENT!" she retorted.
I settled back in my chair and resumed staring into the crystal ball.
Vaguely at first, and very much to my astonishment, images slowly
came into focus. I saw men in dark colored suits and hats walking around
Pioneer Square. A horse-drawn carriage appeared, and a Model-T Ford
drove by. A brightly lit sign announced "Rooms Available".
Beautiful young women strolled, attired in dresses that touched the
ground, sporting silk hats roughly the dimension of a pizza.
Then the image faded out. A new image came into focus -- a trolley
car. Rough looking men drinking and gambling in a brick saloon. A fight
had broken out.
Again the images faded out. I dared not speak. A few minutes passed.
The gypsy lady continued her incantations, increasing in volume, her
Slowly an entirely different image came into view. The scene was a
cramped room. The floor was littered with crumpled papers. Some of the
papers, as I could just barely make out, had "Xs",
"Os", and arrows written on them. Names were written here,
scribbled out there, and occasionally an ordered stack of papers could
I could see a desk. The desk was also littered with crumpled papers
bearing names, "Xs", and "Os". An ashtray held the
remains of a dozen cigars.
Seated at the desk was Gil Dobie. I could observe him staring
vacantly ahead. He took a puff of his cigar and mumbled... "yes,
yes, that might work with that mug Smith... dammit, no! He can't
drop-kick!" He crumpled up another sheet and threw it on the floor.
Now the gypsy woman spoke:
"I call on the spirit of Gil Dobie..."
Dobie continued to work. Finally he said, "What the hell do you
want? I have tons of &^(* to do today and I'm way behind. Go away
and leave me alone."
The gypsy lady, slumping back in her chair, held out her hands to me,
palms up, and gave me an "I-told-you-so" look.
I spoke up anyway. "Coach Dobie, how can we beat Michigan?"
"How the hell should I know?" he complained. "You
think I'm on salary anymore? Not since that S.O.B. Suzzallo had me run
out of town. He gets a library named after himself. For what? Sitting on
his ass all day? What do I get? Nothing! Now will you please leave me
alone? Can't you see I'm busy?"
I could see we were getting nowhere. The gypsy lady started shaking
her head. I had to try something different.
"Coach, you were the greatest Washington ever had. The charges
that Suzzallo made against you were later proven to be false. There
never has been another coach who racked up the kind of record you did.
You remain the most astonishing coach we ever had! You coached 61
straight games at Washington and never left the field with a loss!"
Dobie settled back in his chair and dropped his pencil. He put out
what was left of his cigar and lit a fresh one. He opened a drawer and
took out a small flask and took a short drink, and replaced the flask in
his desk. He propped his feet on his desk. A vague look of mixed sorrow
and pride crossed his scowling face.
"We were OK, I guess. We had three ties you know."
"Still you were the greatest, coach," I replied.
"We had some fun times even though that's not how it's recorded.
The night after we ran my fake helmet/football play some of us had a few
and a lot of laughs. We beat Oregon with that one. By the way, why did
your coach wait until the fourth quarter last season to put in your
starters against Oregon?"
I could see I was making some headway, as he was shifting to the
"What is your prediction for the Michigan game coach?" I
"I predict a Washington loss," he replied flatly.
"What can we do?" I asked.
"Well, the first thing is, quit acting like this is a rebuilding
year. I know you got some greenhorns in there, but if I was the coach
they'd get experience fast. Have that kid Carothers pop the new guys a
few times. The next thing is, when Michigan walks out on the field on
offense, let 'em know where they are. They aren't playing Whitworth or
Whitman or one of them, they're at Washington! You fans let them know
that they are dealing with champions. You guys won the Big-10/Pac-10
title last year don't forget! You probably could have won that so-called
national championship too if they let you play for it."
"It might seem strange to you," he continued, "but I
still get around a lot. I heard some Michigan players saying that all
you guys got is fancy uniforms and a wimpy new logo. They were laughing!
They think this is going to be a cakewalk! I heard one of them predict
it was going to be 99-0 Michigan at halftime! They said Washington was
just lucky last year, should have lost half their games, and anyway the
players that were any good graduated or left. The guys that are there
now will want to forfeit by halftime one of the players said! I hear a
lot of stuff. I won't even go into the stuff Michigan was saying about
people's mothers and such! They don't even think it's going to be a
game. Are you going to stand for that? Well are you? Maybe your team is
a bunch of chumps! Maybe your team can't play at this level?! This the
kind of thing that makes me sore, see? If I were you guys I'd start
thinking mean! Fans and players! You play to win! Dammit, we don't play
for appearances! You get out there and you win the damn game, OK?! Lose
-- there will be hell to pay in practice the following week. As for you,
give me fifty pushups and ten laps, and get the hell out of here!"
The crystal ball suddenly went black.
I thanked and paid the gypsy lady -- including a fat tip -- and
walked outside into the bright sunshine, somewhat relieved.
Copyright 2001 Michael Archbold
Note: All references to persons living or dead above are entirely