For those who have followed Husky football for the last 20-30 years, this is a story we've seen before. An inexperienced coach, convinced his team is playing at a high level, gets asked about the upcoming game at Washington. About the reputation for loud fans and raucous noise.
And the coach shrugs. Says he's been preparing his team all week for it. Thinks they'll be fine.
Then he leads his team out onto the field. Right into a blast furnace of noise and ear-splitting pain. Even from the upper decks of Husky Stadium, a spectator can view the impact it has on the visitors. Mix in some cold, rainy weather, and a team from southern climes can find itself in dire straits.
I can think of numerous examples, like the 1987 game against Arizona State, when Sun Devil quarterback Paul Justin said the Husky Stadium noise wouldn't be a factor. (His first pass of the game was intercepted by UW's Bo Yates and returned for a touchdown. Washington won 27-14).
But the most profound example comes from the 2000 season, when the Miami Hurricanes visited Seattle. Star left tackle Joaquin Gonzalez and head coach Butch Davis both said the noise wouldn't be too much of a factor. Davis cited the fact his team had played at Virginia Tech. He couldn't imagine a louder place than that, he said.
Looking back at that game now, it's one of the truly superb moments in time for UW football. When I interviewed former Huskies Rich Alexis and Marques Tuiasosopo for my book The Dawgs of War, they both talked about seeing the goal posts sway from all the noise. They both marveled in the memory.
The level of intensity projected from the crowd onto the Hurricanes proved almost mystical. The Canes were stunned.
The Huskies jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead, before holding on to win 34-29.
Miami would go on to win the next 34 games in a row. That's how superb they were. Washington wouldn't have won without the crowd.
While surfing the innerwebs this morning, I found these quotes about that day from Fox Sports. Here was what the participants said after the fact.
Coming off a long flight, the No. 4-ranked Hurricanes weren't prepared for what they got when they arrived at Husky Stadium.
And what they got, was the craziest road venue anyone had played in.
Santana Moss: You look at the conditions that day, it was cloudy, it was cool. And the stadium was loud. Even back then Seattle had a 12th man.
Mike Rumph (junior, cornerback): They have the same type of stadium in Seattle (that the Seahawks do) where they have those little cuffs at the top of the stadium and then sound bounces back down.
Rick Neuheisel (Washington head coach): It's one of my favorite games to go back and watch copy of the tape, because the Husky Stadium has those big roof overtops. Well the press box hung over one of those roofs, with like a little catwalk to get to it. The crowd was so loud, it was literally shaking the roof. So when you watch the film, the film bounces.
Joaquin Gonzalez (junior, offensive tackle): The loudest place that I've ever played at. That includes my NFL career. That is the one thing that resonates in my mind.
Butch Davis: The toughest thing was that we were going to start Ken Dorsey. He was young, he had very little experience. He had played some, but it was mostly in relief of Kenny Kelly the year before. We had a tremendous amount of faith in him, but it was an unbelievable environment.
Neuheisel: I don't know that Ken Dorsey was ready for the noise.
Ken Dorsey (sophomore, quarterback): It was an extremely, extremely loud environment. That stadium, when they get going, they get going.
The weather report calls for rain and wind today. Husky Football weather! And our message boards at Hardcore Husky have been amped up all week. We're ready for this day.
Clay Helton and his talented but wet-behind-the-ears quarterback Sam Darnold will soon share the same experience as Butch Davis and Ken Dorsey.
This will be fun.