Football got off to a slow start at Washington. In fact, after playing the first game ever for the newly minted University of Washington (UW was known as The Territorial University until two weeks before the contest), on Thanksgiving Day 1889 at Jefferson Street Park, the school did not organize an official team for almost three years. Probably because we lost 20-0 in that Thanksgiving game to a team of Eastern College Alumni. Eastern College Alumni means effeminate Ivy Leaguers. Pacific Northwest loggers were in no mood to watch us get beaten by sophisticated girlie men from places like Dartmouth and Yale. One hundred and fifteen years later we call these sophisticated girlie men Sounders fans.
It took a Yale man, William “Billy” Goodman to bring the Indians Vikings Purple and Gold (see below) out of the gate playing organized football in 1892. “If you can’t beat them join them” was the thinking on the aforementioned girlie men and Billy from Yale. This “join them” attitude was a foreshadowing of the up-tempo offense we installed for almost 3 games in 2013. Anyway, back to Billy Goodman. He sucked, went 2-4-1, and was replaced in 1894 by Charles Cobb. He sucked too. Canned, I assume but I didn’t check so piss off if my facts are wrong, after one year with a 1-1-1 record playing the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind, some Sailors off a Destroyer and the Sisters of The Poor. For those wondering, we beat the blind kids, went to the brink to tie the poor, and narrowly lost to the Sailors, who were drunk as shit at the time.
It should also be noted, that in this early stage of grid iron failure, the University of Washington had no mascot. We were unofficially called the Indians, and oddly nobody got offended, and then later the Vikings, which was cleverly ripped off by Western Washington University. In an ironic twist, nobody gives a flying fuck about WWU, then or now. Maybe they should have gone with Indians, or Redskins. At the same time the UW was variously called Injuns or the Vikes, most local media referred to UW as “The Purple and Gold.” This really beats “All Purple All Gold” if you ask me. But you didn’t. So fuck off. In another interesting twist, the University oftentimes perverts this traditional “Purple and Gold” moniker into ‘Wear Purple Give Gold” to try to leach money out of dumb alumni who wear scarves and “enjoy Merlot that drinks like a Cab.” Whatever that means. Only an idiot would say that.
We finally got our first half decent coach in 1895, along with our first field to play on: Denny Field. Incidentally, Denny Field was known as “The Pit,” because it was kind of a shithole but lots of lowbrow people liked it anyway. Anyway, Ralph Nichols went 7-4-1 between 1895-1896 and the 1898 seasons. For some dumb shit reason, in what would become a long standing tradition of stupid ass decisions, upper campus pissed it away and brought in a loser for the 1897 season. We finished 1-2 in 1897, under the crap-tastic leadership of Carl Clemans, who is better known as a fraternity organizer (Sigma Nu at both Stanford and Berkeley) than a football Coach. Go figure. A frat boy can’t coach. This is a lesson we would learn again 110 years later.
Between 1899 and 1901, we had three different Coaches. A.S Jeffs went 4-1-1 in 1899, while James Dodge went 1-2-2 in 1900. Lastly, “Jack” Wright went 3-3 to close the 1901 campaign and was hired away by some Pat Haden FS Athletic Director at Kentucky. Though to be fair, he did go 7-1 at Kentucky his first year, before deciding to hang up the whistle and become a Judge. He also died of syphilis in 1931, though the papers at the time covered it up and called it a heart attack, to protect his wife’s virtue. So that was pretty cool. Not the virtue you dumbass. The syphilis. This event also started a trend of the media covering up extracurricular marital activities in Joey’s the Puget Sound.
Going into the 1902 season, the Purple and Gold did not have much reason for enthusiasm other than the fact that “The Tenderloin,” the largest house for prostitution in the world at the time, was moved out of the downtown area of Seattle, thus making it an easier commute for the players to get hookers and blow. The 5 didn’t exist yet, so blow had to be snorted off the hookers ass in a wagon, which really helped our players hand eye coordination. Remember, this was in an era before top tier training advances like chocolate milk and 18 mph treadmills existed.
With expectations low, imagine the surprise when the next guy tapped to coach the Purple and Gold turned out to be pretty damn good. In 1902, James Knight, who had played at both Princeton and the University of Michigan, grabbed the whistle on crisp Fall Saturdays at Denny Field and finally made watching the Purple and Gold with your two Dads fun! In three seasons at the UW, Knight went 15-4-1 for an astounding (at the time) .750 winning percentage. Now beat cops could watch winning football before getting legal hookers. What a great year to be Seattle.
Additionally, in a sign of things to come, Washington received their first big victory by knocking off Nevada 2-0 in 1903, and being crowned West Coast Champions by nobody in particular. What an honor! Nobody even knew what it was, and nobody of any importance had approved it, but who gives a shit, we’re champions of something! Legend has it that orange slices and lemon wedges were passed around and gleefully enjoyed by the entire team and three old dudes who showed up that nobody knew.
During the time Knight coached, he also worked as a civil engineer for Seattle Electric Company, and was the Head Coach of the track and rowing teams at the UW. A real winner. Until he wasn’t. For some stupid reason, Knight left after 1904 to pursue seminary studies at Princeton and after graduation moved to Idaho to pursue a career in farming. What a fucking loser. But, UW had finally experienced the sweet taste of winning football, so Knight gets credit for that, but then losses credit for going full retard. In both cases, it was interesting.
Because we finally knew the sweet feeling of winning, we went big and lured the Head Coach of Purdue, Oliver Cutts, from the Midwest to the great Pacific Northwest. He went 4-2-2 in his inaugural campaign, and decided that the rain and expectations on Lake Washington were too much for him. Pussy. He later became the Athletic Director at Purdue, which seems a fitting spot for a non competitive loser. He died later, but nobody gave a shit.
Following Cutts was Victor Place, who in 1906 through 1907 went 8-5-6, and in another strange Pat Haden FS turn of events was lured away from the warm embrace of the Purple and Gold Nation by Notre Dame, where he promptly went 8-1 in his first year, and was then fired. This being the second case of a mediocre Coach being hired away from Washington, only to have one great year followed by getting fired, leads us to Iron Law #1: If you hire away a mediocre Coach from UW he will be good one time, and then suck. The problem with this Iron Law is named Darrel Royal, and it’s why Iron Laws and those who espouse them are fucking dumb.
Washington was now tired of fucking around, and got serious about football. In 1908, the Purple and Gold hired “Gloomy” Gil Dobie away from North Dakota State for the unheard of sum of $3,000 per year. All this unhappy son of a bitch did was go undefeated for nine straight seasons after being hired! That’s right, 58-0-3. That included a 39 game winning streak and a still NCAA best 63 games in a row without a defeat. Remarkable. During the entire nine year run, Washington only surrendered twelve touchdowns. Twelve mother fuckers! In nine years!
Many claim that Dobie was much maligned and not loved by the hometown fans. These people are we in the industry like to call “cuntwaffles.” In fact, in the 1915 song “Bow Down to Washington,” Dobie was memorialized with “Dobie, Dobie pride of Washington.” Unloved my ass. Gil Dobie ushered in an unparalleled era of WINNING at Washington. He was the original UW panty dropper. Slutty girls like winners. And he was a winner.