By Derek Johnson
As epic as the message boards of Hardcore Husky might be, there exists an even better place. A secret oasis of football talk and juvenile antics. A nirvana devoid of sh*t posters like PostGameOrangeSlices and HondaFS. Enough said on that.
This secret place is a hidden Facebook page where a dozen buddies congregate to basically do what we do here. (Okay, it's not any better than here, but I did want to get in that shot at the above posters).
One of my buddies recently posted something at that oasis that resonated with the group. Here's basically what he wrote:
"So, I'm going on vacation Sunday (August is really the best time to go to Fire Island)...I just realized that 25 or so years ago when I went somewhere in the summer I would buy a couple NCAA football magazines such as Athlon and read them cover to cover. I would get pissed if they had UW too low. And feel optimistic if they were too high. I knew every starter at UW and most backups. I knew a ton about the other PAC 10 teams and a lot about the teams in the top 20. So when I leave Sunday I won't have an NCAA magazine with me and I honestly can name 51% of the starters on a good day. I know a little about other teams, but not much. I just have lost most of what I loved about it. The Huskies have changed, NCAA football has changed, the fans have changed. It will never be like it was. Now get off my lawn!!"
A long thread ensued. Someone chimed in saying they would be lucky to name 14% of the current UW starters. Several others echoed the sentiment. We jokingly began calling ourselves The 14% Club.
This brings us to a recent experience I had in my car. Ten days ago I was driving to Sea-Tac Airport to fly to Phoenix (August is really the best time to go to Arizona).
A radio spot came on the radio for Husky Football. It featured a clip of former Husky Walter Bailey intercepting a pass and running it back for a touchdown. This play took place before 10% of the current posters on Hardcore Husky were even born. The narrator then proclaimed: "It's time to make new memories."
Well, no sh*t... Great advertising as always. Brought to you by the same artsy folks who foisted the "Crazy Larry" Campaign upon a beleaguered Husky Nation two years ago. The same folks who couldn't tell you if the ball is pumped or stuffed.
The UW understands on some level about the 14% Club. They understand that the fan base which comprised a Golden Goose in the Don James years has largely taken their interests and dollars elsewhere.
But they don't understand that hearing a Walter Bailey interception is only going to sink the old guard of Husky fans into deeper despondency. Memories of the dynasty we used to have and then pissed away. Thos radio spots aren't going to rouse anyone into ordering season tickets.
It boils down to winning more games, of course. But also, much of the game as we knew it has changed. 7:30PM kickoffs, effeminate uniform combinations, and frenetic stadium advertising with pulsating electric lights which will cause our Little Jimmy Cornell to succumb to an epileptic seizure.
The UW athletic department needs to pick a path and stick with it. If they want to appeal to the old guard, then bring back our cool uniforms from the early 90s, endeavor for 1PM kickoffs, and cut back on the blaring music and foster a more collegiate environment in Husky Stadium.
If you want to go after the new money and younger generations, then be all about that, and mold your advertising accordingly.
Speaking for myself, the Washington Huskies I grew up with and loved in my soul are dead and gone. Hearing an audio clip from the early 1990s just causes a brief flirtation with the distant past. There is no connection to what those teams were about and the current day. It's an insult to try to draw that comparison. Give me a reason to love the here and now.
I'm still here because I love college football.