Would an 8-5 Record be Cause for Concern in Petersen's First Year?

An interesting debate has been taking place on the Hardcore Husky message boards. A poster said that despite the general excitement over the hiring of coach Chris Petersen, he hoped that people at our website could maintain objectivity if something didn't seem right.

Some of this talk stems around recruiting, of which I don't get too hung up on. When Steve Sarkisian was UW head coach, and people criticized his recruiting during the off season, Dawgman.com's Kim Grinolds would say "It's awfully warm for February."

So when it comes to recruiting in the Petersen era, I will say, "It's awfully warm for February."

But what about on-field results during Petersen's first season? Should there be strong expectations for him and his $3.6 million annual salary?

I'm a Husky Half Brain. So my answer to that question, shouted from rooftops with a barbaric YAWP, is a resounding OF COURSE!

Part of the tragedy of Husky Football started in 2005 when President Mark Emmert and AD Todd Turner hired Tyrone Willingham. For reasons having nothing to do with winning football games, the UW administration did not hold Willingham to any sort of standard for success. The more Willingham failed on the field, the more off-the-field criteria was created to justify calling his miserable tenure a success.

In 2008, I even helped start an "8 Wins" campaign and passed out buttons, with the idea being that Washington should have some sort of minimal expectation for success.  

When Steve Sarkisian was hired, the same thing took place in different contexts. Sark was the partying frat boy head coach who quickly noted the low standards demanded of him and milked it for everything it was worth. When he reached 6 wins for a season, he proclaimed with relief that he was now playing with "house money". When he whiffed on the top in-state talent in recruiting, he blamed the negativity of Dawgman.com's message boards for "killing recruiting".

For the most part, we at Hardcore Husky are thrilled with the hiring of Chris Petersen. I know I am. His 92-12 record and two BCS bowl victories symbolize levels of success Washington hasn't had in 14 years. His attention to detail and modest persona are also attractive qualities.  

But there are standards here. We have history of which I am intimately and perhaps neurotically familiar. When looking at this year's ridiculous out of conference schedule that was originally designed to prop up Sark, nothing but a 4-0 start would be acceptable. Three of those opponents, Hawaii, Georgia State and Illinois, combined for a 5-31 record in 2013.   

Would an 8-5 record in 2014 be cause for concern in Petersen's first year?

I believe it would.

Let's take a look at that schedule to determine which losses would be understandable.

 

Aug 30   at Hawai'i          

Sep 06   Eastern Washington       

Sep 13   Illinois  

Sep 20   Georgia State                                  

Sep 27   Stanford   (Understandable)                                         

Oct 11   at California                      

Oct 18   at Oregon (Understandable)                                        

Oct 25   Arizona State                                   

Nov 01  at Colorado                                     

Nov 08  UCLA (Understandable)                                  

Nov 15  at Arizona  (Understandable)                                       

Nov 22  Oregon State                                   

Nov 29 at Washington State

 

From this schedule, anything less than 9-4 would be extremely disappointing. It's conceivable that a surprise loss could crop up. After all, the 1980 Huskies lost at home to Navy en route to the Pac-10 Championship. The '82 Huskies got knocked out of the Rose Bowl by losing to a 3-7-1 WSU team. So it's conceivable that the Huskies could lose to Oregon State or a depleted ASU team at home.

But by that same token, Washington should win one of those highlighted games listed as possible losses. So in theory, those things would balance out.

For this first of hopefully many fun seasons with Chris Petersen leading the Huskies, fans shouldn't feel shamed to expect 9-10 wins this year.