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A silent mutiny, a mutiny of the heart
Are we back to Dobie, Cherberg and Owens eras?
By: Richard Linde, Updated 17 November 2003

The Huskies gave up 729 yards to a California team that was 5-6 on the year. There was a differential of 426 yards between the teams and 47 points on the scoreboard. Never has a defense given up more yards in school history. The players and coaches had so many reasons to want to win this game, a game they lost 54-7.

For Keith Gilbertson, it was a chance to prove Bay Area writer Glenn Dickey wrong. Before Gilby’s hiring, Dickey said that Gilbertson was not head coaching material. It was a chance for the Gilbertson persona to question the $1 million buyout in Jeff Tedford’s contract. No one is talking about a buyout in Gilby’s 4-year contract. It was a chance for Gilbertson to avenge his firing at Cal, where he coached the Bears from 1992-1995, with a 20-26 record.

For the Dawgs, this was a chance to put the disappointing loss to Arizona behind them, while keeping their hard fought 10-game winning streak at Berkeley alive.

Win one for the Gilbber, should have been players’ mantra after Hugh Millen, former Husky quarterback, wondered last week if players think "Rick got screwed, (and) now they’re getting this program that is thrown upon them they didn’t sign up for."

The Huskies needed this game to qualify for a bowl. 

Revenge, winning streak, Arizona, the mantra, the buyout all went down the drain in what could be a defining moment for the Gilbertson regime. Going to a bowl seems less likely, considering the Apple Cup next week that closes out the regular season against eighth-ranked Washington State.

Frankly, in a way, I think Gilbertson has been dealt a bad hand.

In this game, due mainly to injuries, the Huskies were without 14 players counted upon at the end of last season to perform significantly this season.

"Oh gosh, yeah, this is way more than I've ever seen in my coaching career," Gilbertson told the Seattle Times this week, commenting on the injuries. "I can't think of any year where we've suffered them as frequently as this."

However, injuries, defections, or whatever, should never be an excuse for losing. That's a moral victory I'll never buy into, nor will Gilby. 

During the game, Gilbertson repeatedly pleaded with his defense to show some heart. Finally, completely flummoxed, he gave up trying, as his team had long before.

So, the question remains, why did the team apparently quit on Gilbertson, and so early in the game? Surrendering 729 yards to a 5-6 team says a lot about giving up. Scoring just 7 points says something also, regardless of what the coaches and players will say.

"No disrespect intended," Cal center Marvin Phillip told the San Jose Mercury News. "But we were pounding the ball down their throat and they were giving up. Even after that first touchdown, you could tell their will was gone."

Is UW reverting back to the days of Gil Dobie, John Cherberg, and Jim Owens when player revolts ruled the day? Player revolts sent Dobie and Cherberg packing, and the black player rebellion in 1968 contributed to Owens' exit, albeit in 1974.

Personally, I don't believe any player consciously gave up on the game, and I don't believe any player is giving up on Keith Gilbertson.

More likely, a four-year assault on the program has taken its toll, has caused an implosion of spirit and will. Never have the Huskies been as emotionally drained, over so long a period of time, and so undeservedly.

The never ending assault on their mentor, the one who taught them as Dawgs, has forever plunged a knife in the heart of his prodigy.

No, this was a silent mutiny, a mutiny of the heart, and paradoxically, though it was never intended--but, perhaps, a kind of Karma--an avouchment of support for Rick Neuheisel.

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

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