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About the monkey on the leg
Did the monkey "say" it all?
By Richard Linde, Updated 27 May 2004

Canoeing down the Montlake Cut,
I tumbled into a murky dreg.
Where I caught a sudden epiphany,
About the monkey on the leg.
As I wearily swam to shore,
I thought about Darwin's ape of yore.
Does he really thumb his nose at us,
For having the courage of a wuss? - rrl

It never ceases to amaze me how the media, those self-styled watchdawgs, can distill a few glitches out of a glorious, one hundred-year period, condense them in a story that can be read in two minutes, repeat that same story endlessly over a six-month period and, in the minds of its audience, turn the minor glitches into the crime of the century. Hence, villains for pillory are cast, with facts obscured by jabberwocky.

If you listen to a few fans, those modern-day villains are Rick Neuheisel, Barbara Hedges, and Dana Richardson.

In a comedy of errors, evidently Richardson misinterpreted an NCAA bylaw, which in reality was ambiguously written -- its ambiguity attested to by a nationally-recognized legal scholar. Her crime? She should have asked Myles Brand whether March Madness pools were permitted, even though his bylaw clearly talks about organized gambling. Neuheisel should have asked Richardson whether an auction qualifies as gambling, even though Richardson's memo said entering March Madness was okay under certain circumstances. Hedges should have followed “Dr. Feelgood” around on a daily basis and audited his prescriptions for NoDoz.

Furthermore, that booster piloting the boat should have never said “hello” to a recruit as alleged, while somebody should have computed the fees for the boat rides correctly.

Not impervious to error, the NCAA allegedly broke two of its own rules when it blindsided Neuheisel last June.

In the minds of the media, this all qualifies as an institution out of control. And, do you know, people believe them?

The U-Dub is the only university in the land where its fans vilify its sports figures on a daily basis.

I’m dismayed by fans who cast former Huskies as villains. Just like mamas, papas and apple pie used to be, it is as fashionable these days to rip our mothers and fathers of dawgdom, save a few, who once wore the Purple and the Gold. Particularly this is true as we enter the 2004 season with the prospect of having our first losing one since 1976. Demonizing is “cool” for fans under 45, for they’ve basked in the best of Husky climes, never having weathered the ice age that some of us Neanderthals have seen.

Okay, okay, I hacked my way around the University Golf Course, the one that paralleled the cut and slithered coolly around the stadium – it was awesome.

Let it be known that the accomplishments of my Husky legends, “villains” to others, have far exceeded their peccadilloes, and if the truth be known, their proper place in Husky history will be established – be given its props – along with that of the most accomplished but controversial of them all, a leader I wish to acknowledge, Gil Dobie.

Like it or not, all of our coaches are descended from Dobie’s loins, which seeded his two children, "Spirit" and "Enthusiasm." During his stint at the UW, Dobie produced a pedigree of wins next to none.

A coach descended from the Sad Scot and his progeny has to have left the program for all the wrong reasons. Whisky Jim said he got a “Pearl Harbor deal.” Jim Lambright didn't play the political game. Can you imagine Lambo playing politics with anyone? In effect, an incident at a Red Onion Restaurant in Orange County, of all places, indirectly turned the Dawgfather's dynasty into tortilla soup. A couple of guys from the NCAA shot their mouths off before they knew the facts about Neuheisel.

If the irascible Dobie were coaching nowadays, no one would dare write a negative story about his football team. No one would cow Dobie, not even the media and the NCAA.

Administrators at the UW and fans of the same have learned zilch from Dobie.

Some Husky fans throw stones at Dobie's record, a record established on a field of rocks and mud -- an evener if there ever was one.

How about former coach Jim Owens? He's taken his share of criticism from fans.

Owens learned football under the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant, mostly beginning at Junction, Texas. Let it be known that Jim Owens so profoundly changed west-coast football that it shocked the nation. He brought the “Junction Boys” to Montlake. He took the “Montlake Boys” to the Rose Bowl. He brought pride to a provincial seaport town that suffered from a weather complex. He turned rain into a purple-and-gold rainbow. His wide smile turned clouds into sunshine. For those us who lived with him, his magical qualities are symbolized by his statue.

Along with the others, Lambo has taken some heat from fans -- and suffered bad luck. 

Fighting for his life in a battle with cancer, Jim Lambright deserved far more from his thirty years of service than it eventually earned. He recruited Marques Tuiasosopo and promised him a shot at quarterback when others would not. Lambo gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a program gasping for air.

As for Rick Neuheisel, let’s not forget that he took us to the 2001 Rose Bowl. Give him credit for beating Purdue, and give thanks to Lambo for donating his recruits to Rick.

Two years ago, Neuheisel gave a memorial talk at Hec Ed that enshrined C-Dub in the tabernacle of our hearts and minds. All C-Dub ever wanted to do was play.

“Well, as difficult as it is to say goodbye to a young man at such a young age, I prefer to believe that God tapped Curtis on the shoulder and said, ‘Do you mind playing over here’” – Rick Neuheisel.

The most reviled of them all is a woman who had the courage to become an athletic director in a field dominated by men. Thanks to her, our athletic facilities are much improved and our men’s and women’s sports programs are on the rise, along with the graduation rates. In June, the NCAA will absolve her of all crimes. Her rap sheet is filled with taradiddle -- nonsense. 

Hedges, Neuheisel, Lambo, James, Owens, Cherberg, Phelan, and Dobie, they all belong to us, they are part of us, and they are part of the Husky nation. If we defile them, we defile ourselves.

Witch hunts should have disappeared long ago; they should have disappeared with the Salem trials.

For now, it is time for fans to rally around the coaches and players and give them our support this next season. Because of parity, the 2004 Huskies can be as competitive as any of the teams in the conference. Behind every great Husky team is a set of loyal fans that look to the glory of Washington -- and always will.

Because of his winning ways (58-0-3), a statue of a Dobie needs erecting on the vestige of Denny Field that remains on campus. You know, like Darwin’s statue emblazed in the façade at Suzzallo, which was named for the guy who fired Dobie.

There was supposed to have been a monkey wrapped around Darwin’s left leg, thumbing his nose down at us. Maybe, they should have put the monkey there, to represent the quintessential contrarian?

The real culprits are those fans and UW administrators who failed to support Hedges, Richardson and Neuheisel when the program was beset by glitches; they let the media and their lackeys at the NCAA run the show.

With that kind of support, who can blame Coach Gilbertson for reportedly wondering why he took the job at the UW. Indeed, Montlake is an institution that is lacking; it has the chutzpah of a eunuch; it has the verve of a limp-wristed noviero passing a bull with a shaky veronica.

Its misdirected support shouts "Ole" for a matador caping a jackass.

As for me, I guess I should be shaking that monkey off my leg. It’s much easier to flow with the tide than swim against it.

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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