Always when writing about the Huskies and Seahawks of the 1980s, the tendency's to become a list maker of moments. Football-wise, it was a golden era growing up in the Seattle area. I remember late in 1983, when I was 13. Dad and I went to the Kingdome on Christmas Eve to see the first playoff game in Seattle history. The Denver Broncos came to town with their rookie quarterback John Elway. The Kingdome had all the charm of a bomb shelter urinal, but when 60,000 crazed fans screamed in unison, the cacophony ricocheted off all that concrete and made life hell for opposing teams. Seattle won 31-7.
I could barely sit still on the drive home that night. The Seahawks had won, Christmas was the next day and on top of that, the Huskies were also playing Penn State in the Aloha Bowl.
I suddenly became aware then that Seattle had a rabid fan base supporting both the Seahawks and Huskies with equal gusto. Both had waiting lists numbering in the thousands to become season ticket holders. As a rabid and well-informed football fan, I could think of no other major city in the country with that kind of zealousness.
I remember saying something to Dad about it. I don't remember his exact words, other than acknowledging that we had a special thing going with Chuck Knox coaching the Hawks and Don James with the Dawgs.
That was another lifetime ago. We're about to enter a new era.
The Seattle Seahawks look as poised as ever to win a Super Bowl championship. The team had a few glaring concerns during its playoff run last year, and those have all been addressed. Their roster teems with Pro Bowl talent. The city of Seattle, the state of Washington, the Pacific Northwest, is all abuzz about the Seahawks. Season tickets were gobbled up long ago and a waiting list numbers once again in the thousands. Owner Paul Allen's cup runneth over.
Meanwhile, six miles to the north, the finishing touches of a newly-renovated Husky Stadium are underway. What a gorgeous sight and dream venue. Gone is the track, and the fans are right atop the action now. Aesthetically it couldn't look better.
Hardcore Husky fans are revved up for the debut, which will occur vs. Boise State on August 31st. There will be electricity in the air, and the eyes of some long-time fans will no doubt be moist as the opening kickoff commences.
But the excitement is over a beautiful stadium, and not generated from the team itself. As a head coach over the past four seasons, Steve Sarkisian has been the poster child for mediocrity.
The team doesn't have a real identity, doesn't have the respect of its opponents, and has not inspired the imagination of the Puget Sound public. Season tickets still remain for sale. Going 7-6 in each of the last three seasons will do that.
It's no longer 1983 and I'm not sure this can be a two-team town.
We live in a time of technological wizardry and rapid progress. Shiny new gadgets like iPhones and Kindle Fires excite people in the short term, before people get fidgety and look for the next new thing.
That's why the Boise State game might be a must-win for Sarkisian. Pete Carroll's Seahawks will dominate people's attention all season long. The beautiful new Husky Stadium will only catch people's fancy for a fortnight if the Huskies continue to muddle through mediocrity.
The night of the Boise game will generate such fresh excitement and nostalgia that the Huskies will enjoy a huge home field advantage. I feel confident the Dawgs will prevail by 10-14 points.
But a loss that night would be devastating. Not just from the win-loss standpoint, where defeat would sound the alarm of another 7 win season. But also from the standpoint of a largely vanilla schedule through September. Games against Idaho State, Illinois and Arizona won't fire up the fan base.
Sarkisian's Huskies need that win over Boise and to run the table in September to get people excited about the team again. Lest they fall into the role of red-headed stepchild amid the Seattle sports scene as dominated by Pete Carroll.