Teams: there are a lot of them. In our effort to bring you the finest "bullshit" coverage of college football, our Visiting Lecturer Series today welcomes Seth, the author of the fine Huskies-compatible blog Enjoy the Enjoyment and Executive Editor of the wonderful new publication Sports Northwest Magazine. A Napoleon Kaufman-esque performance follows. (Hey! He has mixed feelings on Rick Neuheisel! Imagine!)
One: what color is your season? In other words, please explain the metaphorical state of your program through the metaphor of color:
Fire Engine Red. Anyone who's bothered to compile a pre-season "Coaches on the Hot Seat" list has Ty Willingham at the top of it. Mix that into a dish that includes Phil Steele ranking the Huskies' schedule as the toughest in the nation (for the second consecutive year--thanks athletic department!) and pre-season injuries to key players, and you'll understand why Willingham often has a sour look on his face--he tastes a set up. Many Husky fans would welcome Willingham's firing, but some (i.e., me) see it as another step back for a program that's rapidly devolving toward irrelevance.
Two: What historical nation and period do you resemble most right now?
Imperial Rome, Crisis of the Third Century.
After the relative peace and prosperity of the Owens/James/Lambright era (1957-1998), Willingham leads a shaky regime, populated by citizens who remember better times and haven't come to terms with the outside forces (parity, the rise of the Oregon schools) that have beset their beloved empire. As a result, the Huskies have had four head men in just ten years, and another coup is imminent.
Three: You have important players. Discuss a few of them hastily.
QB Jake Locker: The Tim Tebow of the West. Locker shares Tebow's speed, strength, and earnest whiteness. One major difference--Locker's spending his summer playing amateur baseball, not circumcising Filipino boys. Locker set the official Pac-10 record for rushing yards by a QB last year, but also the unofficial record for most receivers left standing confused as a pass sailed 20 feet over their heads. The man's acceleration and slipperyness in the open field are a joy to watch, but his accuracy must improve.
C Juan Garcia: He's the guy fans look at and ask "is he STILL on the team?"
Garcia was recruited to UW by Rick Neuheisel. The only returning Husky to appear on an All-Pac-10 team last year, Garcia came back for a sixth year (he got two medical hardship waivers) to improve his pro prospects. Then, in '08 spring practice, he tore a ligament in his foot. Instead of having season-ending surgery, Garcia's opted to hope that the ligament will heal itself by football season. Early reports are promising, so we're keeping our fingers crossed, but it looks likely that the Huskies won't have their second most-valuable player.
LB E.J. Savannah: The Huskies' leading tackler last year (and sixth in the Pac-10) was suspended for part of spring practice for reasons that Ty Willingham wouldn't identify. Then, early this month, Savannah broke his arm. How? While arm wrestling, according to the Seattle Times. To steal a joke from one of my blog commenters, looks like all the post-practice chocolate milk the Huskies were drinking didn't strengthen their bones. Savannah's out three months which (boop beep boop) could force him out of the season opener. Look for the Dawgs defense to improve once he gets back.
Four: Name two games we might actually want to watch featuring your team.
vs. Notre Dame (Oct. 25): Willingham finally gets his chance to prove that black coaches are smarter than fat ones. Willingham typically displays about the same amount of emotion in public as Dick Cheney, but gets an unmistakable glint of anger in his eyes when Notre Dame comes up. If Willingham could suit up for this game, he probably would.
vs. UCLA (Nov. 15): Slick Rick Neuheisel's return to Husky Stadium will be the occasion for the most thorough booing since J.D. Drew's first game in Philly. Husky fans may be divided about Ty Willingham, but we all despise Rick Neuheisel for running the program into the ground (more on that later).
Four-A: Save us all some time and mention the game we're better off NOT watching.
vs. Stanford (Sept. 27): This game is usually close, but in the worst possible way--both teams seem to play down to each other. Two years ago the Dawgs lost by 17 points despite allowing just 7 first downs. Go figure that one out. Someone asked Willingham after that game what the problems were with the Husky offense. He said in his laconic way: "Throwing and catching. Blocking and running."
Five: Every hero forgets something in their toolbelt. What does your team lack?
Any semblance of a defensive line. Three of four starters graduated, and the two top DEs on the depth chart have a combined three career tackles. This disastrous situation (hello? JC?) has led to speculation that new DC Ed Donatell, formerly of the Packers and Falcons, will install a 3-4. Mum's the word, though, the better to surprise season-opening opponent Oregon.
Six: Describe your team with a Jimmy Buffett song. No, we're serious–do it.
I guess I never was meant for glitter rock and roll
And honey I didn't know
That I'd be missin' you so
California has worn me quite thin
I just can't wait to see you again
In the late '90s, the Huskies were rolling along smoothly under Husky lifer Jim Lambright, racking up annual bowl game appearances despite killer non-conference and Pac-10 schedules. But one 6-6 season got AD Barbara Hedges looking into UCLA-grad Rick Neuheisel's dreamy blue eyes, and she was hooked on Rick. Lambright's one-foot-in-front-of-the-other ways (he spent 23 years as an assistant before getting his shot at the head job) were cast aside for Neuheisel's WIN! WITH! GLAMOUR! mentality. The program was already in decline before Neuheisel's gambling got him canned (unfairly, a court later ruled, costing UW a $4.5 million settlement). With the talent cupboard bare due to Neuheisel's disdain for unglamorous positions like lineman, the program went into freefall, and--just to show you how far we've come: that same 6-win season that cost Lambright his job in 1998 would, in 2008 Husky World, probably save Willingham's.
Seven: We're master wagerers. Give us a bet to place for up to ten dollars about your team.
Once per game, Jake Locker's deceptive speed will cause a safety or linebacker to take a terrible angle, leaving him grasping desperately at Locker's winged feet.
If you'd like to read more about Washington football, the Library of Congress recommends Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol. Oh, drat: we meant Enjoy the Enjoyment. If you'd like to contribute your own Visiting Lecturer post, please contact us at harumphharumph of the gmail email variety address.