By Race Bannon
In the year of 1973 I was a junior in high school and my parents were finalizing their divorce which means I would finally be able to spend crisp fall days at Husky Stadium. With my mom. My dad always took clients and not his son who was a diehard Husky fan from birth. The divorce settlement split the 4 Tyee seats in half in un remodeled Husky Stadium on the 45 yard line in the south side upper deck. The only deck.
That first year the seats were still together so I would be there with my mom and my dad would bring a date just to fuck with her. Throw in a 1-9 season and it is a wonder we ever went back.
The Huskies had just spent three years with Sonny Sixkiller trying to revive the glory days of the early 60's. They couldn't beat USC or Stanford though. It was exciting football but in those days only the champ got a bowl bid.
In 1973 without Sixkiller the Huskies hit bottom again. They lost to Hawaii at home in the opener which was a shock at the time. They only were able to beat Idaho that year. They lost 58-0 at Oregon. The seat was hotter than ever for Jim Owens, who did get another year to right the ship.
1974 was back to mediocre up from horrible. The highlight was a 66-0 beat down of Oregon at Husky Stadium. Denny Fitzpatrick ran wild in the Apple Cup. Owens resigned at the post season banquet. After years of wanting him fired it was a shock to think that the only coach that I ever knew was going to be gone.
Who could we get that was better?
Mike White and Don Coryell were among the hot names but Joe Kearney settled on Don James from Kent State. If I am not mistaken James remains the only Kent State coach to win their conference. He coached Jack Lambert and a grad assistant named Nick Saban. But his hire was met with a resounding "Who?"
As I finished high school and went on to drop out of colleges and pretty much slack off as much as possible for a few years my mother and I would continue to go to Husky games. At this point she was buying the tickets. We got moved by Mike Lude because we didn't pony up the Tyee donation that he made mandatory. We watched James build a program brick by brick.
I was away for the 1977 season but came home to watch the Rose Bowl. I flew in to watch the Huskies play Bama in 1978. From 79 on we were pretty much at every game. I started paying the Tyee and upgraded our tickets.
Husky football was our way to connect and spend time. For 35 years.
As the Husky program slipped this century so did my mother. By 2007 I had enough of paying for what we were getting. I dropped the tickets. At the start of the 08 season she didn't really know that we weren't going anymore. We would watch on TV.
By 2011 she was in a home and I was moving to California. This past weekend as our DAWGS were moving to 7 and 0 she passed away. She had no idea that we were back but she would have been thrilled.
So if Coach Petersen and the boys are ever up against it and everything looks lost I just want them to do one thing, win one for my mom. Bring it home so Tom Rinaldi and his piano can tell the tale before the national championship game.
UW 42, UTAH 17