Can Oregon Put Jimmy Lake on the Hot Seat?

David Marsh Editorials

It’s going to come up in tomorrow’s game against the Washington Huskies that, according to last year’s silly rules due to COVID-19, Washington “won” the North. Last year I wrote a whole article proclaiming the Pac-12 Championship game being a sham, especially if Washington backdoored its way into the game while not playing Oregon. Washington’s head coach Jimmy Lake proclaimed Washington “Pac-12 North Champions” which irked Oregon fans to no end, and still does. However, Washington would be denied a chance at playing for the Pac-12 Championship game because they could not field a team to play against Oregon and then to play a week later in the Pac-12 Championship game.

Lake is no stranger to the Oregon-Washington rivalry and he has actually been a vocal and willing participant in the fun that is Oregon and Washington Hate Week. Lake’s declaration of Washington being the 2020 Pac-12 North Champion was not the first shot Lake fired at Oregon, as a year earlier after his promotion to head coach, he declared in front of a crowd of Washington fans at a basketball game that Washington had landed the No.1 recruiting class in the Pac-12 for 2020. As we all know, it was Mario Cristobal and Oregon that landed the Pac-12’s top recruiting class in 2020.

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Now in 2021, Lake has fanned the Hate Week flames again buy issuing a statement saying that UW only recruits players who meet Washington’s academic prowess, meaning he only competes with schools such as Stanford and USC in the Pac-12. Never mind the fact that Oregon has flipped two recruits from Washington this cycle and has finally started pulling recruits right out of Washington’s back yard. It’s a poor shot at Oregon and Ducks fans, but it’s Hate Week, so this sort of thing is not wholly unexpected.

Mario Cristobal is gracious in victory, can the same be said about Jimmy Lake?

In contrast, Cristobal has been quiet, like he is every year before the game against Washington. To date Cristobal is 2-0 against Washington as Oregon’s head coach and Oregon looks poised to make it 3-0 when the dust settles on Saturday. Cristobal was asked about his response to Lake’s comments and it was a typical Cristobal response.

“This is probably going to be the most boring press conference we’ll have. It’s going to be redundancy of what we’re doing because honestly, that’s what we’re doing. The juicy response ain’t going to come out.”

Cristobal knows how important this game is to fans, and so do the players. Cristobal just refuses to play the same game Lake is playing by stirring up the fan bases before the game. He knows all he needs to do is produce a win for Oregon on the field because that is all that matters to fans at the end of the day.

It really does feel like Lake is trying to cover up for how bad this Washington team is this year. This game could really make or break his career at Washington. Lake is looking at the very real possibility of not making a bowl game and Washington fans have quickly lost their faith in him. Washington opened the season with a lackluster loss to FCS Montana and followed it up with a blow-out loss to Michigan, on the same day Oregon fans watched the Ducks triumph over Ohio State. Right now Washington sits in the middle of the Pac-12 North rankings with their season teetering as to which way they may fall. They only have one easy game left on their schedule and they need two wins to make a bowl game.

Oregon is favored to win tomorrow. If Oregon shows up and blows Washington out of their own home stadium, how tolerant will Washington fans be for those results? For Oregon and Washington fans alike, there is only one game on the schedule that must be a win every year, and if it isn’t that year is a failure, and that game is the Oregon-Washington rivalry game.

Lake has taken great joy in heating-up Hate Week for Oregon fans, though is he going to back those words up with on-field results? Or is it more likely that Oregon fans are the ones who will be laughing as Lake feels the burn coming from his seat as Washington continues its losing streak against the Ducks?

David Marsh 
Portland, Oregon
Top Photo By Tom Corno

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