Makeover complete, Huskies believe they can fly

Can Steve Sarkisian return the Dawgs to their Glory Days?


Can Steve Sarkisian return the Dawgs to their Glory Days?

They say if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

And, over the last several football seasons, that appears to be concisely the goal of the University of Washington.

Since the “glorious” (see: NCAA rules violations riddled) Don James era, the long time formidable team from the largest Northwest metropolis has gone from powerhouse to punching bag.

However, in 2013, will the Dawgs finally have some bite?

Their ever-proud fan base has been forced to sit idle while USC, Stanford, and Oregon have dominated the conference and been paraded off to BCS bowls and National relevance. This upcoming season, a warmly-seated Coach Sark and the spiteful Huskies are pulling out all the stops and going all in.

They have decided to do everything in their power to “Oregon-ize” the program. Yes, like the reigning back-to-back BCS bowl champion Ducks, they hope that the myriad of tactics they plan to employ pays off in big wins.

Think I’m kidding? Here are five examples from the past 18 months:

1. Washington is putting the finishing touches on a brand new stadium which apparently addresses many of previous issues at the old version of the “Mistake by the Lake”. They removed the track that buffered the crowd from the field in an effort to compete with the acoustics of Autzen Stadium/every other real football stadium. Will it fix the defense?

2. This season, the Huskies will unveil “new” chrome and mat-black versions of their hideous helmets, in addition to their other new color schemes and uniform combinations.  

3. Peter Sirmon, former Oregon and NFL linebacker now assistant coach.

4. Justin Wilcox, former Oregon defensive back and member of the legendary Oregon Wilcox family now their defensive coordinator.

DC Nick Holt was replaced by former Duck Justin Wilcox


DC Nick Holt was replaced by former Duck Justin Wilcox, replacing awkward and angry stares with legitimate knowledge of defense

5. Adam Jude

Beyond the obvious ones listed above, the mutts have also experimented with the zone read beginning with Jake Locker, but so far have only dabbled with it in games. After years of professing the merits of a “pro-style” offense, the look of the big purple playbook seems to be changing as well. During this years’ Spring Game, the new-look Huskies went almost completely no-huddle during the live action portion of the event.

But, despite all of the blatant and rampant attempts of stealing Duck-ness by the Huskies, the big question in Seattle is: “Will all the copying and coat-tail clinging be enough, or will this season be another dumpster fire ending in a coaching search?”


Don James Era Pac-10/NCAA Sanctions

For many years, the Huskies did things their way. There was no need to pilfer ideas from other programs because they often set the bar.

From the start of Pac-10 play in 1979 until Don James resigned in 1992 (amid the major NCAA impermissible benefits and recruiting violations that included quarterback Billy Jo Hobert receiving a $50,000 “loan”), the Huskies went a combined 125-40-2, averaging 8.9 wins per season over the 14-year span.

The means to the success on the field though would render the program ineligible for post-season play, as the seemingly rogue program was slapped with the charge of “Lack of Institutional Control” by the NCAA, with sanctions that included a two-year bowl ban, a two-year television ban, and three years of probation. During this time the Huskies’ allowable recruiting visits were cut in half from 70 to 35 and a reduction of 10 scholarships per season were handed down.

The next 20-season chapter of the Huskies history is not nearly as pretty from a win/loss standpoint. Beginning under longtime assistant-turned-head coach, Jim Lambright and through the modern era, the Dawgs have a 121-112-1 record, averaging only 6.05 wins per season over the past 20.

They won the Rose Bowl in 2000, but have posted six or more losses in 11 of the 12 seasons since, including seasons of 1-10 (’03) 2-9 (’04) and of course, 0-12 (’08).

The most complimentary adjective even purple-blooded Huskies can use to describe this span is: mediocre.

But what is next for Husky football? Are they destined to return to dominance as their fans have been touting for two decades? Or are they simply just a middle-tier Pac-12 football school?

We are about to find out.

2013 Outlook

Washington kicks off the 2013 season against regional non-AQ power Boise State in fresh, new Husky stadium. The game is a rematch of sorts, as the Mont Lake mutts ended the 2012 season with a 28-26 Las Vegas Bowl loss to the Broncos.

You may have won the game, but I will DOMINATE the post-game hug. photo

You may have won the game, but I will DOMINATE the post-game hug.


The Dawgs schedule looks like this: (Home games in BOLD. Note games with *)

8/31- vs Boise State * (Beat Wash in 2012 Las Vegas Bowl)

9/14- at Illinois

9/21- vs Idaho State

9/28- vs Arizona * (Beat Wash 52-17 in 2012)

10/05- at Stanford * (The only big win in the Sarkisian era? Wash 17 Stan 13 in 2012)

10/12- vs Oregon * (Oregon going for 10 straight victories in the 113-year series)

10/19- at ASU * (Schools DNP in 2012. ASU picked to contend for South Division Championship in 2013 and playing this one at home)

10/26- vs California

11/09- vs Colorado

11/15- at UCLA * (See: ASU)

11/23- at Oregon State * (Huskies beat the Beavers 20-17 in 2012)

11/29- vs Washington State * (Cougs defeated the Huskies, 31-28 in 2012)

The eight games notated with a “*” are all games that if the Huskies lose, in reality it probably wouldn’t surprise too many people.

YouTube/Josh White photo

ASJ needs to do less of this for the Dawgs to take the next step.

After three straight 7-6 seasons, many are projecting the team will finally take that next step forward, but is a backwards step just as likely? While it doesn’t seem likely that the Huskies lose them all and go 4-8 this season, it appears just as likely to happen as a season with eight or more wins.

Like most seasons in the Pac-8/10/12, team success is often directly related to quarterback play, and coaching. 2013 looks no different. If that is the case, how far can the tender knees of Keith Price and the play calling of “7-win Steve” take them? Will players like Austin Sefarian-Jenkins make bigger headlines on or off the field?

Teams can try to “cut and paste” a number of aspects of the Oregon model or brand, but will it bring immediate success or translate into winning championships? The Huskies have certainly improved from the 0-12 2008 season, but what do you see as their proverbial ceiling in 2013?

Don’t rule out 4-8.

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Josh White

Josh White

Josh White has been a dedicated Duck fan since the Bill Musgrave days. He has attended (and lost his voice at) virtually every home game and many away games since the late 1980's, including 96 of the current 97 game sellout streak at Autzen Stadium. A Eugene native, Josh works full time in Eugene area real estate, helping people buy and sell residential and commercial properties, and also volunteers with Habitat For Humanity, Kidsports and Food For Lane County. He welcomes your feedback. Twitter: @WhiteHouseJosh Facebook: EugenesBestRealtor

  • hoboduck

    Great job here Josh……..I’m guessing 4-8.
    Go Ducks

    • duck fan

      I’m guessing huskies go 9-3 this year

      • Mike Pitzler

        I’d like to see the Ducks go 11-1

  • Mike Pitzler

    Gosh Josh. I’m glad all Duck fans aren’t as rancorous as you. The Ducks are my second favorite team. For the Huskies to react to the successes of the Ducks isn’t altogether foolish, though, is it? but there’s an element of truth to everything you say, but remember:

    Let not him that girdeth on his armor boast himself as he that putteth it off. (1Ki 20:11 ASV)

    • His Holiness

      And the lord said: Don’t try to insult others with bible verses. But it is cool that you have memorized all the lines of my science fiction novel. Keep spreading the word, it says a lot about you. – Jesus

    • Joseph Waisman

      “The Ducks are my second favorite team.”
      Good for you! I get along with most Huskies fans…until they discover I support the Ducks.

      • Mike Pitzler

        Sorry to hear that, Joseph. I find that, face to face, I get along well with Ducks, and even Beavers and Coogs. Why not?

  • duckapottamus

    Adam Jude.. lol

  • Gary McAuley

    I have to give the Huskies their due. They face LSU one year and Boise State the next. It’s not like they are avoiding tough opponents.

    • Sports righter

      Gary the question you should answer are why is LSU and BSU playing games with Washington? I am guessing they are not afraid of the Huskies and like the image that they are taking on a big game when it really isn’t.

  • Jon E

    As homerish an article as I’ve ever read. 100% hack job.

    Some of these points are just hilarious-

    Husky Stadium has the second highest decibel level for a college football stadium on record. Death Valley holds the record. Renovation will only help the Huskies.

    The chrome helmet is a mistake by anyone other than the ducks, in my opinion, though matte black can hardly be an Oregon invention.

    The seeking out of former Oregon players is obvious, though. One cannot argue that every program in the country is looking for anyone remotely related to the Ducks, simply on the merits of that relation. It just makes sense.

    The use of the zone read is a copy of the Ducks? I’m pretty sure Northwestern was zone read when Joey Harrington was panning for Heisman with a pro-style attack.

    I’m guessing you won’t see much that resembles the Ducks from the Huskies next year.

    • 31-28cougs

      you mad?

      • Jon E

        Mad? This is the sort of writing that makes the internet the most unintentionally humorous source of “legitimate” information in the history of man. I love reading this stuff!

        • Mike V

          oh yea, your Puppies will go 2-10 at best and be looking to hire Donny boy back out of retirment! lol

    • Mike V

      sounds like an ignorant homer that can’t stand losing to the greatest Pac-10/12 of the last half decade!! Go Ducks! Huskies SUCK!! lol lol

    • hoboduck

      You said, “As homerish an article as I’ve ever read.”
      Well DUH!!!!
      This site “is” about our “beloved Ducks.”
      Again, really nice job Josh.
      Go Ducks

    • hokieduck

      Actually the Ducks were the first team to use the matte black helmet. I agree with Jeff above, the biggest of the compliments paid the Ducks by the Dawg staff (imitation and flattery, etc): the fact that the Dawgs are going uptempo and counting plays in practice, per Adam Jude article last week.

      • Jon E

        Chip Kelly’s practice organization is definitely worth imitating if you want to be successful. He came from New Hampshire if I’m not mistaken. Just sayin…

  • Jeff

    You forgot the biggest one of all: The huskies are now running an up-tempo offense and brag about how many plays they can get off during a practice. Sound familiar?

  • RabbleRabbleRabble

    That win against Stanford was at the Clink, Husky stadium was closed last season for remodel. Not that I would have expected you to have done any real research for an article like this.

  • Reed Smith

    4-8? I certainly count it out; ducks better be practicing silent counts cause they are going to need it; from what I’ve seen, huskies new stadium will rival no other in noise generation, including Autzen.

    • Joseph Waisman

      “huskies new stadium will rival no other in noise generation”

      Yes, as you literally pointed out, they will be quiet after the Ducks go up 3 touchdowns in the first quarter.

      • Mike V

        awesome point! Ducks win that laugher again 63-17!

  • hokieduck

    I may have to venture north for the Duck/Dawg game. I would love to see and hear their new stadium and what better opportunity than to watch the pups pee themselves when the Ducks come to the kennel.