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Chow Down To Washington 2010
Richard Linde, 23 March 2010

Last Tuesday's weather was bright and serene with clear blue skies and just enough warmth in the air to suggest the searing desert heat of late spring was on its way, even though the abundant snow on the surrounding mountains, accumulated from an El Niño winter, seemed to say otherwise. (Photo: Dr. Mark Emmert at last year's banquet).

As we checked into the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, my wife and I thought back to the time when former coach Tyrone Willingham and his wife Kim had emerged from an elevator and graciously led us to the lobby.

This year, as with the last, we knew our way to the lobby -- and so did Steve Sarkisian who was attending his second-consecutive Chow Down to Washington. He also brought along his assistant coaches and their wives. Frolicking in the pool, they splashed a friend of mine and his wife who were sitting nearby sipping cocktails and who, after receiving an apology from one of the coaches, told him they were sitting too close to the pool and should have expected that. It was sunny and 86 degrees out that day, and our Seattle contingent had brought their splashy, wet weather with them. ;-)

At the cocktail hour, I chatted with Dan Cozzetto, offensive line coach, and congratulated him on the play of the offensive line last season. I broached my "number-eight" idea to him. More on that later.

At the banquet, we dined with Lynn Borland and his charming wife, Vicki. Mr. Borland is the author of the biography "Gilmour Dobie, Pursuit of Perfection," which is soon to be published. He has also authored, "Meet the Real Gilmour Dobie," which previews his extensive work. The biography he has written is a fascinating piece of Husky history and will be a must read for Husky fans.

After dinner, school president Mark Emmert began the discussion by saying this was their (he and his wife DeLaine's) seventh Chow Down.

In the global 500 rankings, Washington continues to be rated as the sixteenth best university in the world, he said. This year, Washington has 24,000 applicants for 5,000 slots, with 54% of them being from out of state and from around the world. He also talked about the research program -- the citation index -- and the grants it receives. Washington's citation count ranks fourth in United States, ahead of Stanford and Cornell, for instance. The citation index is a measure of how much other scholars appreciate the work of Washington's faculty, in that they have cited them in their research papers. On a final note, he mentioned that state funding for the school has been cut by 26%.

Katie Saucier, who is a two-year letter winner on the Husky women golf team and also a National Merit Scholarship Finalist and National Merit UW Scholarship recipient, followed Dr. Emmert to the podium. She joked about her experience in the weight room, saying that the defensive players have completely slimmed down. After dinner, I told her about my experiences playing the old UW golf course with its wide-open fairways and cheap green fees, which was located on campus long ago.  

When he took to the podium, Sarkisian mentioned that not only did the Trojans try to lure him away from Washington, but they had also done the same with Dr. Emmert. "Why'd we ever want to do that?" he said, "We're Huskies."

He also said that he and his assistants weren't hired to win just five games a season. It's not good enough, and it will never be good enough. The challenge is to get better, to keep working in the weight room, to keep recruiting.

Sark talked about his incoming class and how well balanced it is, that the two leading rushers from the state of California had signed with Washington. He talked about the 6 AM runs and Ivan Lewis, the strength and conditioning coach, and the progress the Huskies have made in conditioning. We look like a different football team, we act like a different football team.

This year UW will spread spring practices over five weeks, instead of four weeks, to ensure that players get enough rest.

There are a couple of teams in the conference with off-field problems that are moving them a little closer to us, and from a workout standpoint, we're moving our team closer to them, he pointed out. Sark emphasized the need to win on the road -- to get over a hump. When we get our first win on the road, look out, he warned.

"We have offered almost 60 scholarships for our class of 2011," he said. "That's how advanced we are in the recruiting process."

After the talks, we milled around the large ballroom looking for people to chat with.

Remembering sitting with us at the pre-game function at the Stanford game 2004, Dr. Emmert welcomed us to Chow Down and, incidentally, complimented me on my unique Husky polo which has the 1960, national championship logo inscribed on it. 1960 is the same year I graduated from Washington.

When I talked with coach Sarkisian, I broached with him my idea of having either of the two incoming freshmen running backs, Deontae Cooper or Jesse Callier, wear jersey number 8 now that it is available, having been relinquished by former QB Ronnie Fouch. Number 8 was the jersey worn by Napoleon Kaufman, Willie Hurst and Kenny James, all of whom were California running backs like Cooper and Callier. Sark said that players choose their own numbers; however, he said my idea was a good one. It would be kind of a mini-tradition I'd like to see perpetuated, somewhat like the number 55 at USC, the number LB Junior Seau wore. Anyway, if one of them should choose that number, either Callier or Cooper, I'll tell him about its historical significance at Picture Day.  

I asked Sark how tall incoming freshman quarterback Nick Montana is and he replied 6-foot-3. He doesn't seem that tall to me, I told him. I asked him whether Montana is taller than he is. Stretching his frame in front of me, Sark told me that he is 6-foot-1 and that Montana stands two inches taller than he is when next to him. He also told me that Montana runs a 10.8 in the 100 meters. I asked him how fast Montana was in the 40. Sark said he thought he could probably run a 4.6, in that range.

"What if Jake goes down, coach? Will Montana or Keith Price (redshirt freshman) be ready?" I don't want to think about that, he said, or something to that effect, suggesting it would be a thorny problem to contemplate, as all of us know.

Former coach Don James was present and talking to someone about a pitch shot he had on the golf course. I didn't get a chance to chat with him.


Richard Linde can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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