By Race Bannon
When we left off the Huskies were at the bottom of the college football world after a humiliating Owen 12 season in 2008. Ty was gone and the question was, who would we get that is better? Besides everyone that is.
Scott"Pool Boy" Woodward promised to pay tribute to the programs historical reliance on defense and toughness and then hired the soft, offensive-minded Steve Sarkisian. By this point all we could do was hope we would get lucky with the hire.
We had become experts on coaching searches by now and long-time member AllPurpleAllGold did research showing that hiring an assistant was not materially different from hiring a head coach, especially a retread loser head coach like UW loved to hire.
The glib Sark promised the moon and delivered a steady seven wins a season for five years. Most all of us lived through this together so there is no need to dive into it any further.
Needless to say, a sainted Pat Haden saved us all by hiring Sark away leading to Chris Petersen taking over the head job.
Petersen is the closest we have come to Don James and it isn't even close compared to the rest of the riffraff that we suffered under for 25 years. But it was not all roses for the first two years. We were impatient and beaten and abused and a couple of 4-5 seasons in conference had us restless once again.
But Petersen actually knows what he is doing. We saw a complete team this season with players who improved greatly year-to-year and even week-to-week. The best defense since the 90's. An exciting offense that at times needed to be less exciting and more smash mouth. Two special running backs and the worst best quarterback we've had, Jake Browning and his 42 touchdown passes. John Ross Ewing the Third and Dante Pettis stretched the defenses.
The Huskies lit up Oregon for a 70 spot after crushing Stanford 44-6. The two kings of the Pac 12 were dead. UW rolled into a late season home game against USC and got beat. And injuries started to mount. But the Huskies bounced back with easy wins over ASU and WSU and a command performance in the Pac 12 title game that Bama would have been proud of. Stout defense making turnovers and a power running game shut out the Buffs after the first quarter save for a lone field goal following a fluke kickoff return.
Petersen is actually better than James in that he did not lose a little one this year and that was the key to getting to the playoff. The team was ready to play every week. USC was just better that night.
And now finally, we got Bama. We are Owen 4 against the Crimson Tide. The first match up was the 1926 Rose Bowl that Bama won by a point when the legendary George Wilson got hurt. I was there. That was Bama's first bowl appearance and is known down south as "the game that changed the south". Keep in mind that this was one generation removed from the Civil War and the south used football to rejoin the nation. It would only take another 40 years or so for the SEC to integrate.
The next meeting was at Alabama in James' first year in 1975. A 52-0 ass kicking. Bama came to Husky Stadium in 1978. In one of the most memorable games of my life the Huskies fell short 20-17 as a long bomb fell to the ground off of Spider Gaines' hands. Bear Bryant told Don James he had never seen a team improve that much, that fast.
The last meeting was the 1986 Sun Bowl where Cornelius Bennett, the Tide's Hall of Fame pass rusher, was faster than any Husky on offense. Bama won easily and James revamped his recruiting that led to the 91 champs. And we all know what happened after that if you read part 1.
We are back on top of the Pac and playing for the title in three short years under Petersen. We have always said the third year tells the tale. I like this story.
I like Washington in this one in this year of the under Dawg. More to come.
And please, if you're going to the game consider using the package at this site. If not for Hardcore Husky we wouldn't all be here to celebrate this awesome time of restoration for Husky Football.