Harboring some notions
Malamute, 20 February 2009
What I’ve been reading on the
Internet has inspired some thought, some of them being sanguine. But any optimistic thoughts I have about
a quick-turnaround for the 0-12 Huskies are always tempered by a glance
at last season’s statistics. So how long to we have to wait for the
Huskies to restore their past glory on the playing field?
For example, how long will it take for UW to
just break even?
The notion: It
depends on whom you talk with, but it could take Washington from 3 to 5
years to produce a break-even season (.500). ESPN’s Ted Miller writes
reason UW fans can't hope to get back to .500 within three years.''
Let’s see that would be in 2011. It took Mike Stoops three years to
bring Arizona back to playing.500 ball and five years to get to a
winning season (See the Arizona benchmark)
Will hard work produce a quicker
The notion: Steve
Sarkisian seems to be putting a greater emphasis on recruiting, working
hard and building depth, all of which is a big cultural change from last
season. If the coaching staff works hard, along with the leaders of the
team, so will the younger players.
Unfortunately, toiling into the
wee hours of the morning is not enough. The Huskies need an infusion of
playmakers, war daddies and a couple of first-round draft picks. It will
take several years and some signature wins for that to happen.
Sarkisian will bring emotion to the playing field once more. Sarkisian
and Nick Holt will attempt to change the losing attitude that has
infected the Huskies, while restoring some pride, arrogance and swagger
to the team.
But playing with emotion has its
limits and depends, to some extent, on the overall talent on the team.
You can only out-tough another
player and bluff him so much before reality sets in. Say that a kid
begins a game emotionally higher than a kite and gets knocked on his
rear by some guy who is bigger, faster and stronger than he is – ends up
seeing double on the play -- and then plays hurt and emotionless after
that, trying to keep his body from receiving any more gut-wrenching
pain, I mean who can blame him for sloughing off. That scenario needs to
end at Washington.
The Huskies need to do the bullying and not the
cowing. To this end, the Dawgs need to get bigger, stronger, and faster
and build more depth. These are goals that have been set by Sarkisian.
They all will be met over a period of time.
Intense practices should whip the players into shape. (My experience at
Olympia in 2003).
Certainly, newly hired offensive
line coach Dan Cozzetto is an intense coach, so to speak. But so was
Keith “Gilby” Gilbertson at the practices I saw. Neither of them assumed
the role of a good-cop/bad-cop, that is, they never worked as a unit to
whipsaw a player. The two of them mostly played the bad cop role, but
neither of them resembled a military boot camp instructor. A contingent
of players loafed during the gassers, but most of them were nursing an
injury or soreness. Nothing close to resembling the Jim Owens’
death-march era transpired. I didn’t like the bear crawls after
practice. I felt they were degrading and humiliating.
Here’s part of what I wrote at
one of the Olympia practices back in 2003, “Phil Snow, Bobby Kennedy and
Dan Cozzetto all seem to be the most vocal of the assistants. Snow has a
slight edge over the other two, in my mind. ‘Practices under Snow are
like Spinal Tap's amplifiers -- they have been turned up to 11,’ Ted
Miller (Seattle Post Intelligencer) wrote in one of his columns."
In the 2002 season, the Huskies
rushed for 77.0 yards per game; in 2003, under Cozzetto, the Dawgs
rushed for 119.5 yards per game.
Gilbertson was always ready to
quip after practice, providing someone gave him a straight line and that
the practice had gone well.
The notion: Open
practices will reenergize the fan base, the players and the media.
Opening up practices to the
media will encourage more positive stories about Sarkisian and his
attempt to raise the Dawgs from the clutches of Cerberus, the
three-headed dog in Greek Mythology. For example, the contingent of
Polynesians that Johnny Nansen and Sarkisian are putting together at
Washington would make for a positive story once the Polys are all in
place. As a unit they bring an esprit de corps to the team that will
have some payoffs in improved defensive-line play for example.
(See "The Polys are back on the defensive line.")
The notion: For
Husky football to survive as we know it, Husky
Stadium, the Crown Jewel of the Northwest, must be brought up to meet
current safety standards and be in compliance with the ADA. Lowering the
field and building a new press box are part of the planned renovations,
the estimated cost of the whole project being $300 million. Deferred
maintenance on the aging stadium is estimated to be $100 million over a
ten-year period. The renovation will spur the local economy by creating
The odds of
acquiring the necessary funding seem long indeed when considering the wretched economy and the
fact that in many people’s minds moving the Huskies to Qwest Field is a
viable alternative. They point to UCLA's success at the Rose Bowl as an
example of moving a team's location.
Of course, I
don't want to see Washington lose Husky stadium and move to Qwest Field,
a move that could put the solvency of the athletics program in jeopardy.
The iconic nature of the stadium must be preserved at all costs. But, as
a life-long fan of the Huskies, I'm
prepared to accept the worst-case scenario and still support the
The notion: Past
history at Washington has its lessons.
The NCAA’s role and incompetence
in Washington’s debacle can’t be emphasized enough, and vice versa. Add
two vendettas, an eavesdropper, a snitch, an imprudent coach and two fish
wraps and you have the formula for Washington’s implosion.
Had the NCAA abided by its own
rules, UW would still be among college football’s elite teams. And UW’s
defense of itself and its coach would have survived the ensuing media
assault. It would have been hilarious watching the media argue among
themselves about the ambiguity of the NCAA gambling rule, as it was
strewn recklessly about the Internet in various forms.