After a few weeks’ break from the blog, I’m back. But so much has happened in college football, for the Washington Huskies, in my life (I got all A’s!), and in my brain that I hardly know where to start. So, here is a coast-to-coast recap “notebook”-style:
After three of some of the ugliest losses I’ve ever seen the Washington Huskies endure, the purple and gold stormed back. For the first time since 2002, the Huskies are going bowling.
Two years ago yesterday, I’m convinced I saw the ugliest Huskies loss in the program’s history. It was Tyrone Willingham‘s last game as head coach. Jahvid Best had just run through the Huskies’ defense like it was a track instead of a unit of 11 men. The final score was 48-7. I’ve been thinking all morning and, for the life of me, can’t recall how that Huskies scored. It was so bad that third-string walk-on Taylor Bean was playing quarterback.
For the players, the game was an exercise in relief, not a competition. Pride was long ago lost in the 0-12 season.
Cal’s Memorial Stadium wasn’t set up for postgame press conferences. We reporters tracked down a sarcastic and sardonic Willingham. This isn’t the exact quote, but when asked about the late breaking news that UW had hired Steve Sarkisian to replace him, Willingham said, “We hope he is the greatest coach in America.”
Sarkisian hasn’t proven to be the best coach in America, or even the Pac-10, for that matter. But when Sarkisian visited Cal’s Memorial Stadium for the first time in his tenure two weeks ago, he gathered the entire team at the sideline for a last-second timeout. In what could go down as the most legendary break in action in Huskies football history, Sarkisian made his players believe.
In that timeout, the enthusiastic — and often testosterone-filled — coach made his players believe that 0-12 happened to someone else. He made them believe the nightmares of Oregon, Arizona and Stanford were gone. He made them believe that fourth-and-goal failures happened to someone else. He made them believe that anything was possible.
Moments later, rough-and-tumble tailback Chris Polk surged one yard for a game-winning touchdown at Cal. With three feet the Huskies football program moved miles.
The next weekend, Washington beat an upstart Washington State team in a thriller. Jake Locker gets his only bowl game. Sarkisian gets his first. And Washington fans finally — finally — can be excited.
* An unsung hero the last few weeks of the season has to be defensive coordinator Nick Holt. After being simply shredded in the middle of the season, the Huskies defense rebounded in an almost astounding manner. Fickle fans called for Holt’s job. We allow takebacks in fandom — Huskies fans calling for Holt’s job? Take it back. He is the man for the job.
* I was sad to see Boise State lose. I wanted to see the Broncos play Ohio State. I think it would have been a great matchup. I wanted to see what the BCS and NCAA brass would do with that situation. Ah well.
* West Virginia football fans are crazy. They want Bill Stewart‘s head — and just might get it.
With a banged-up and young offense, Stewart turned the ‘Eers into a defensive juggernaut this season and were a half-game away from the Big East’s BCS berth.
* As excited as I am to watch the Huskies play in the Holiday Bowl, I’m not thrilled over the prospect of watching them play Nebraska — again. As a matter of fact, outside the BCS National Championship game, I’m not real excited about any of the bowl games.
Of course, I’ll watch the New Orleans Bowl. Go Bobcats. But if my brother-in-law didn’t coach OU and I didn’t go to school here, the appeal of Ohio-vs.-Troy ranks up there with “Murder, She Wrote” reruns.
This isn’t new material here, but what are these games? The Military Bowl? The PinStripe Bowl? The Chick-fil-A Bowl? Not just the sponsor to an established bowl, but there is actually a Chick-fil-A Bowl!
The amazing part of this whole thing is there are lot of smart people that argue that this lackluster lineup and system is better than a playoff.
* Most of you are aware that I find Tom Brady to be the cheesiest athlete in America, but the guy is damn good. The Patriots are the team to beat. Hands down. And, despite his photoshoots with farm animals, he is the best quarterback in the game. (Ugh, THERE, I said. it.)
But… how ’bout those Pittsburgh Steelers? If Brady is the best, Ben Roethlisberger is the toughest. He still repulses me the same way Michael Vick and Kobe Bryant do, but the guy is just fun to watch when he is on the football field. Did anyone else see him get away from Terrell Suggs in the fourth quarter? Staggering… (However, if he uses “The Lord is good” line in a post-game interview ever again, I might have to rethink this curious allegiance.)
* Speaking of fun to watch, Troy Polamalu is the man. The most exciting, clutch, dizzying defender in the game. God, I love that guy.
* A week ago, I saw that the Austin American-Statesman will be hiring a University of Texas football writer. Think my heart stirred? It did. I had to take some time to examine where I am, what I’m doing and where I want to go. I didn’t even apply.
So, I best get cranking on that thesis because a Master’s degree, a doctorate and a career in academia await. But thanks for providing me with a substantive outlet for something I will always love to do.