My Two Cents On The Transfer Portal & NIL

I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I understand the ins and outs of these two huge, significant issues in college athletics (presumably just college football and basketball), but I don’t know if a lot of people really take the time to research these topics before spouting off about them either. So, why not me?!

I think one thing is pretty clear: college athletics is broken. It’s always been broken, though. Put me in the camp of the kids have been exploited for generations, earning billions upon billions of dollars for schools and the NCAA, while the benefits of a college scholarship don’t outweigh how these kids have been chewed up and churned through over the years.

So, at the very least, the NIL has been a long time coming. Let a kid make money off of his name, image, and likeness; what the fuck does the NCAA care? I don’t have the problem with it that a lot of people do.

I know one of the arguments against it has to do with certain schools – and certain conferences – having an unfair advantage, by having boosters who are willing to over-spend to bring in the best talent. But, those unfair advantages have been around since the beginning. Now, instead of money being slid under tables, it’s out in the open (to a bigger degree; I don’t think it’ll ever be truly transparent). The NIL thing isn’t a perfect system, and I can’t even say with any certainty that it’s better than what we had before, but it’s arguably on the right track.

My concern is that we’ll never get college athletics to the point where it should be, where it’s just a semipro league for football and basketball, with contracts and salary caps and actual fucking oversight into where all the money is coming from and where it’s going. College athletics before was the wild west, and instead of becoming more civilized, NIL has made things more out of control than ever.

What bums me out is the transfer portal. I’m not against it in theory, but in practice it just sucks the joy out of being a fan.

It’s one thing to sign with a school, then that coach moves on, and you decide to opt out because you never agreed to play for whoever is coming in. And I get the frustration from a kid who’s riding the pine and wants to go somewhere where he can actually see some action. But, now it’s morphed into this yearly excuse for players to leave on a whim. And worse, it’s morphed into coaches needing to not only recruit newcomers, but to recruit their own guys (while coaches also recruit other school’s players to get them to flip).

There was too hard a line before: where, if you left a school, you had to sit out a full year. But, now it’s too soft, and literally everyone is up for grabs.

As a Husky basketball fan, I’ve experienced the highs and lows of this new system. In the 2020/2021 season, the Huskies were as bad as I’ve ever seen them. Following that lost year, a bunch of players departed, and it was absolutely for the best: they all stunk. This was addition by subtraction to the perfect degree. Mike Hopkins was able to bring in a bunch of players through the transfer portal, and the 2021/2022 season was far more enjoyable as a result. I mean, granted, it’s not like we made any sort of post-season tournament. But, we were far more competitive and fun during the regular season, and sometimes that’s enough.

What’s more, it sort of felt like we were on the right track. Maybe, with a few key additions, we COULD parlay that into a return to the Big Dance. Sure, it was always going to be something of a longshot, but it wasn’t crazy to dream that dream.

Then, recently, word came down that Emmitt Matthews was departing. He was one of those transfer portal guys we brought back home last season; after the one year, he’s returning to West Virginia, for reasons that I don’t fully understand. He was a starter and a key player for the Huskies. He was set to continue being a starter, as we really didn’t bring in anyone to vie for his minutes. He was great in our system and had room to grow.

Probably, from his perspective, if his goal is to win – and to get more eyeballs on his game – he has a better chance on the Mountaineers. I guess I get that. But, this isn’t a fucking Baskin Robbins where you stand there tasting all of the 31 flavors! Fucking pick a school and stick with it! Clearly there was a reason why you left West Virginia in the first place; what makes you think it’s going to be good now?

I’m just sad and pissed off. The difference between an NCAA Tourney berth or not isn’t Emmitt Matthews; he’s a role player. But, he was one of my favorite Huskies to root for last year, and I’m annoyed that he opted to leave. If the NCAA had proper contracts for players, you wouldn’t see this as often, and you wouldn’t see other schools sniffing around trying to poach your guys.

I’m not mad at anyone in particular. The players have the right, the coaches are only doing their jobs by enabling boosters or whoever to go and recruit players from other teams; this is the system that’s in place and everyone who can take advantage WILL take advantage. I’m just mad at the system, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

And, the thing is, it’s only going to get worse. I don’t think I’ll ever see a day where the Washington Huskies are national champions in football or men’s basketball. That’s kind of a bummer. That’s not just because of the transfer portal or NIL, but those things certainly play a part. It’s just hard to adjust your expectations. You look at the professional sports leagues and can see a reasonable path to a championship one day. Hell, if the Cincinnati Bengals can make a Super Bowl, then ANYONE in ANY pro league can do it. Even the lousy, fakakta Mariners.

But, not the Huskies. The best we can possibly hope for is a conference championship. Yet, who’s confident we’re going to get there with Mike Hopkins, or this new coaching staff for the football team? You mean the guy from Fresno, and before that some Dakota school? Oh yeah, I’m sure he’s the next Nick Saban just waiting to happen.

Husky Football Is Making More Coaching Hires

I figured it was probably important to talk about the new offensive coordinator, since the last couple were so horrible. Ryan Grubb is taking over for John Donovan, also coming over from Fresno State, to keep things going with head coach Kalen DeBoer.

This was something we all saw coming, since they’ve coached together for much of their respective careers. What’s not to like? Grubb runs DeBoer’s scheme, and together they should work in tandem to get this offense humming again. That is, assuming DeBoer’s scheme is worth a damn. That, of course, remains to be seen.

Naturally, the Fresno State offense with Grubb calling plays was wildly successful this past season. I don’t think we would’ve gone poaching in that general direction if that wasn’t the case. Again, it’s comforting – at the very least – to be hiring someone who is coming off of a successful tenure. You’d think that would just go without saying, but as I’ve lambasted the Huskies for time and time again, neither John Donovan nor Bush Hamdan have ever had success as an offensive coordinator or a play-caller.

Courtney Morgan was also hired, to be Director of Player Personnel, a position I didn’t even know existed in college sports. He’s another guy who worked under DeBoer in 2020, but had the same job with Michigan this past season (his alma mater), so that’s interesting given Michigan’s success making the playoffs this year.

What does the Director of Player Personnel do? Apparently, they just recruit. So, that’s cool, the Huskies certainly need help in that area. It sounds like Morgan is good at what he does; this is being touted as quite the get for Washington, to not only draw him away from his alma mater, but to draw him TO a program that is clearly in rebuilding mode (and, at least from a national perspective, to be a step down as far as a football program is concerned, given the name recognition and recency bias of the Michigan Wolverines’ success in making this year’s final four).

He’s a “west coast guy”, which is how it’s being explained away. But, he was able to step into Michigan’s program and make an immediate impact, so here’s hoping he can do the same here. Recruiting always suffers the most in the immediate aftermath of a major coaching change in a program (we’ve already seen at least one high profile player decommit from the 2022 class), so if Morgan can stop some of the bleeding, that would be huge.

Courtney Morgan has also been with four different programs in the last four years, so it’s fair to wonder what exactly he wants from his college football career. I would say it’s a safe bet he won’t be here long, but we’re getting him at a time when we arguably need him the most, so I’m happy about that. Maybe DeBoer is promising him advancement within his staff? Maybe he’s simply making more money here? Or, maybe it’s just a stepping stone to get him back on the west coast, and back in the Pac-12, where he can eventually jump to Oregon or USC, before making his way to the southeast. Who knows?

I’m fairly encouraged by the coaching hires so far. I’m not blown away, I’m not losing my mind over here. But, so far, I don’t see any setbacks; it all looks like improvement – however incremental – compared to what we had in the 2021 season.

I’m honestly more excited to see Oregon’s coaching world torn asunder with Mario Cristobal going to Miami of all places!

The Huskies Hired Kalen DeBoer To Be Their Next Head Football Coach

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I wasn’t thrilled to have Jimmy Lake be our successor to Chris Petersen. I’ll even admit there were times when he was still here when I had hoped Coach Pete would step aside to allow Lake to take over, rather than risk losing him to another program. So, yeah, I was pretty stoked when it was announced he’d take over after Petersen’s retirement! I figured: what better way to continue the roll of success we’ve seen at Washington, dating back to 2014? Really, dating back to 2013, after Coach Sark helped turn things around after 2008’s winless nadir.

Things, clearly, didn’t go according to plan with Jimmy Lake. Really, it’s hard to see how things could’ve gone any worse. A global pandemic decimated our 2020 season; an outbreak from said pandemic resulted in our missing out on an opportunity to play for the Pac-12 championship, or even a bowl game that season; a number of players transferred out of the program (possibly as a result of the pandemic reducing Lake’s effectiveness as a recruiter); and then the 2021 season happened, where the Huskies were 4-5 under Lake before plummeting to 4-8 after his dismissal. As we all know, the offense severely underperformed – to the point that the offensive coordinator lost his job days before Lake lost his – and Lake himself became embroiled in controversy over getting too physical with one of his own players (a trend that may or may not date back to 2019, when he was still the defensive coordinator).

It’s fair to question where things might’ve gone differently had COVID-19 never happened. We figured we knew two things about Lake prior to his ascension to the head coach job: he’s a helluva defensive backs coach and a helluva recruiter. It’s probably fair to also say he’s a helluva defensive coordinator, but I think a lot of that is predicated on how well our secondary has played since he got here. There were instances of this defense being frustratingly inconsistent in crunch time and against the run when we needed them to step up the most. But, that’s neither here nor there.

What transpired is the simple fact that Lake might not be a good head coach. He’s certainly not a good judge of who should be an offensive coordinator, that much is clear with the hire of John Donovan, and the constant support he gave him. I don’t think Lake is a good judge of what offense should be at the college level. The Huskies were wildly conservative, and clearly didn’t have the personnel to support a run-first, pro-style offense. Bubble screens and Wildcat formations can die a quick and painful death, as far as I’m concerned. It’s also not clear that Lake is a good motivator of men; I get the sense that his schtick can wear thin with some people.

Regardless, his firing boiled down to the Huskies not playing well on the football field. Chris Petersen was able to mold lesser recruits into stars and eventual NFL players; Lake’s players regressed and underperformed, even though by the time he was promoted we were regularly bringing in higher-level recruits in Coach Pete’s final years.

I mean, how do you have the kind of consistency along the offensive line that we were able to bring back for the 2021 season, and not be able to do ANYTHING on offense, neither rushing nor protecting our quarterbacks?

This brings us to Kalen DeBoer, the erstwhile Fresno State head coach.

It’s fair to look at this hire – compared to what USC was able to do in bringing in Lincoln Riley, compared to what LSU was able to do in wooing away Brian Kelly from Notre Dame of all places – and come away underwhelmed. After all, there are reports we tried to hire Matt Campbell away from Iowa State (offering him upwards of $7 million per year) and were rebuffed (which is unfortunate, because what he’s done for the Cyclones is truly remarkable). You never want to hear that. You never want to hear that your school is unable to bring in a big name. If it’s because we didn’t offer him enough money, then that sucks because you don’t want your school to be perceived as tightwads. But, if it’s because he just didn’t want to come to Washington because he didn’t believe in the program and our ability to win it all, then that’s far worse. I tend to believe it’s the latter; I don’t have any faith in Washington winning it all because I don’t believe the Pac-12 as a conference is set up for success in the major college sports of football and men’s basketball (for any number of reasons I won’t bore you with here).

As a Washington fan, you kinda have to look at the situation for what it is. Washington is one of the top three or four programs in the Pac-12. But, what does that mean in the grand scheme of things? Being top three or four in the Pac-12 probably equates to being in the top 30 or 40 in all of college football; you can’t like those odds when the programs who are truly in the Top 10 are so far and away more advantaged than everyone below them combined. Matt Campbell isn’t the difference between where we are now and a national championship; nothing short of Dabo Swinney or Nick Saban would be able to turn Washington into a national powerhouse.

That means we have to settle for lowered expectations. Being one of the top three or four programs in the Pac-12 means we need to be competing for a conference championship every single year, period. Washington is worthy of that much. And there’s reason for optimism that Kalen DeBoer could be the guy to take us back to those heights.

I’m going to spend a lot of brainpower comparing DeBoer to our previous two offensive coordinators, because he’s an offensive-minded coach. Unlike Bush Hamdan and John Donovan – who were both miserable retreads who’ve never succeeded at the college level – Kalen DeBoer has improved the offenses he’s taken over at every stop on his coaching journey. He was tremendously successful at the lower levels of college football, with Sioux Falls, leading them to multiple national championships. He then became a coordinator with Fresno State and saw immediate improvement there; he did the same thing for Indiana in 2019, in the same capacity; and when he returned to Fresno State as their head coach, he continued their turnaround, leading them to a 9-3 record this past season (with, I might add, Jake Haener at quarterback, who transferred out of Washington after the 2018 season). This all speaks to a head coach on the rise.

It’s also not lost on me that he actually HAS head coaching experience, which is more than we could say for Jimmy Lake when he was hired. We’ll have to wait and see, but my hunch is that DeBoer will have these Huskies playing much better through sheer coaching ability. What’s uncertain is: how many of these Huskies will want to stick around? And, what will future Husky recruiting classes look like?

I don’t know what DeBoer’s reputation is as a recruiter. Considering everything I’ve read about him so far hasn’t featured that as any great asset, I’m assuming he’s just okay. Of course, he’s never had the kind of resources that he’ll have with Washington, so a lot of that is unknown as well. My guess on this point is that he’ll be worse than Jimmy Lake, at least at first. And, he’s going to have to coach his ass off the first few years to lead Washington to the kind of success where he’ll be able to start bringing in the higher-rated recruits.

Which leads me to the age-old question: what’s more important, recruiting or actual coaching? Obviously, you need both; Lake was perceived to be an excellent recruiter, but it turns out he wasn’t much of a coach, and the Huskies cratered accordingly. DeBoer is perceived to be an excellent coach, but if all he can bring in are nobodies, then it won’t matter how good of a coach he is if he doesn’t have the talent to even hang with the teams of the lowly Pac-12. If we’re doomed to repeat another endless string of losses to the Oregon Ducks, his time here won’t be long.

As with anything new, it’s impossible to judge this move without seeing any results. We can speculate all we want, but we can’t say anything with any certainty until we see how the Huskies play on the field next year. Even that might be too soon; a more fair assessment probably couldn’t be rendered for 3-5 years, to give him enough time to build the culture, bring in a few recruiting classes, and see how he does with “his guys”.

All I can really talk about his how I feel, given the knowledge I have at my disposal. I’m cautiously excited. I’m probably less excited than I was a couple years ago, when Lake was tabbed to take over, but that was coming off of a run of success we haven’t seen around these parts in decades. Coming off of a down year, with all the question marks surrounding our current roster and our incoming freshmen next year, I think it’s fair to be underwhelmed with this move. That doesn’t mean I don’t expect immediate improvement. I think the 2022 Huskies should be, at minimum, a bowl-eligible squad. A record of 6-6 isn’t too much to ask. Where we go from there is up to DeBoer, and who he ultimately decides to bring on as his assistant coaches. I’ve read people talking about how he needs to bring in excellent recruiters; I think that’s a great (if obvious) idea. We’ll see how it goes!

The 2021 Husky Football Team Has Found A New Low, Needed To Fire Jimmy Lake

It’s impossible to say the Washington Huskies football team has hit rock bottom, when 2008 is still a thing that existed, but this is about as bad as it gets.

We headed into the game on Saturday against Arizona State with Jimmy Lake suspended for the one game. Earlier in the day, the Seattle Times dropped a bombshell of a story from 2019 – when Lake was still the defensive coordinator – corroborated by multiple players that he attacked then-wide receiver Quinten Pounds, unprovoked, at halftime in the locker room. There’s a bit of he said/she said going on – and Pounds, to my knowledge, hasn’t commented one way or the other – but if the final straw didn’t already break the camel’s back, this looked like a Bane vs. Batman scenario.

What’s more damning from the same article is that only 4 of 17 outgoing Huskies from that 2019 season would recommend players come play for Washington during their exit interviews. That’s appalling! That means the culture was fundamentally rotten, and given all the defectors over the last year-plus, points squarely at Jimmy Lake having lost the team. No doubt about it: he needed to go.

Of course, Lake will almost certainly be hired as a defensive coordinator at Alabama – or some other successful SEC school that doesn’t give two shits if coaches beat up their players – which will completely rehabilitate his image and have him back as a head coach somewhere else within the next five years. But, that’s neither here nor there.

Things looked especially galling for Washington when the Huskies jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter against the Sun Devils. The offense looked crisp, efficient, and wildly effective. John Donovan should never be allowed to coach in football ever again.

But, unfortunately, the Huskies got saddled with terrible field position the rest of the first half. The defense kept us in it for a while, leaving us with a 17-7 halftime lead, and a 24-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

We saw extended Sam Huard action FINALLY, but he was not put into a position to succeed. His first couple drives saw us backed up deep into our own end of the field. Then, the only drive he got in the second half was a TD drive comprised entirely of handoffs to running backs.

Meanwhile, after the first quarter, Dylan Morris was atrocious. He threw yet another miserable interception, and was WAY off-target throughout. I refuse to blame the weather for this, because he’s been WAY off-target all season, rain or shine. He stinks. If it wasn’t announced that the team is now planning to redshirt Huard (as long as he doesn’t play in TOO many games, the redshirt is still in play), I would be clamoring harder for Morris to get benched. As it is, whoever the third QB is on this roster can’t be any worse. It’s time to dump Morris and let him transfer away in the offseason.

As a result of Morris’ jackassery, the Sun Devils were able to take over in the fourth quarter. Certainly, the defense being gassed – thanks in large part to a 20-play, 9-minute drive in the period, followed by no rest from the Husky offense on the subsequent drive – had everything to do with it.

I hate the 2021 Huskies. They stink. They’re 4-6 and will probably have a decent chance to win in Colorado next week, but that’s only the precursor for losing the Apple Cup and watching the Cougs dancing on our field on Black Friday. Yay. I can’t wait.

Who the Huskies hire next will be the big story of the offseason. I fully expect to be underwhelmed.

What A Shitty Year For Seattle Sports!

As we celebrate this Veterans Day as only we can – by sleeping in, going out to breakfast, reading the newspaper, and enjoying a most-unexpected day off of work – let us reflect on the year that was in Seattle sports. It’s been a bloody nightmare!

The absolute best thing you can say about 2021 in Seattle is that the Mariners managed to win 90 games and look poised for greater things in the immediate years to come. But, that’s still a team that failed to make the playoffs, and was clearly playing unsustainably above their talent level.

Wanna take a walk down memory lane? I don’t think you do! But, I’m going to take you anyway, so submit to my emotional kidnapping and try to think happy thoughts.

The 2021 sports year kicked off – more or less – on January 9th, as the 2020 division-winning Seahawks hosted the hated Los Angeles Rams. That was another team you could’ve argued played above its talent level, but as a 12-win team playing at home – against a team intentionally going with its backup quarterback, because its starter (Jared Goff) was so mediocre – I think most of us expected the Seahawks to advance to the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Instead, that backup quarterback got injured early, and the mediocre Goff led the Rams to a 30-20 victory.

2021 also welcomed into the world a Washington Huskies basketball team. Heading into the calendar year, the Dawgs were already a paltry 1-7. The Huskies would go on to finish the year 5-21; no hyperbole: probably the worst Husky basketball team I’ve ever seen. And that’s kinda saying something.

Let’s see, following the Super Bowl, we had that whole kerfuffle with Russell Wilson possibly trying to talk his way out of town with his media campaign to voice his frustrations with A) losing, and B) getting sacked so much. Cooler heads eventually prevailed, but not before a zillion words were spilled onto Internet pages about the Seahawks, Wilson, and the list of teams he’d be willing to be traded to. Boy, did those weeks suck!

Then, we get to the Mariners. I can’t deny that was a fun team to watch, but in the early going it was a little rough. James Paxton got injured in his first start, more arms went down in those first few weeks, we were clinging to an ill-advised 6-man rotation even though we literally didn’t have six viable starters to throw out there (often going with miserable Bullpen Days, which severely taxed the biggest strength on this team, and only once translated to an actual win on the field). Sure, the Mariners won 90 games, but this team was below .500 for much of the first half of the year.

Another kerfuffle popped up at the trade deadline, with the Kendall Graveman deal that was actually a win for the Mariners’ organization, but was portrayed as the biggest catastrophe ever to befall Seattle sports (approx). As the season went on, the Mariners pulled together and impressed the hell out of most everyone, but by the last month or so there were too many games to make up in too short of time. The bottom line was: these Mariners weren’t very good against the teams they needed to beat to legitimately compete in the playoffs; the Astros, Yankees, and Red Sox. Time will tell if the 2021 Mariners were a mirage, and we see a huge unintentional step-back in 2022.

If you’re into the Seattle Storm, it appears they largely underachieved, and lost in the first round of the WNBA playoffs. I’ll also add that 2021 was yet ANOTHER year without the Supersonics in Seattle, always adding at least a little bit to our collective sports misery.

Then, football season arrived, and BOY has that been a shitshow!

So much has been written about the under-achieving Washington Huskies. They were expected to contend with Oregon for the Pac-12 North title, which also means they were expected to contend with Oregon for the Pac-12 Conference title (because the South will rise again sucks). We promptly lost to Montana in the first game of the season, dashing those hopes. Then, we got fucking destroyed in Michigan. Yadda yadda yadda, and here we are, with the offensive coordinator FINALLY fired, the head coach suspended for at least the one game (though, looking more and more like he’ll be fired sooner or later), sitting with a 4-5 record and a high likelihood that we fail to qualify for a bowl game. Unbelievable.

The Seahawks have proven to be just as aggravating. We started off with a 2-5 record before blowing out a bad Jags team at home two weeks ago. Our iron man of a quarterback landed on the IR and missed games for the first time in his career. We continued to employ Geno Smith, who led us to a 1-2 record in Wilson’s absence. The offense – which was supposed to be more efficient and improved – has gone in the tank for large stretches of games/this season. And the defense started off as miserable as it was at the beginning of last year, before a turnaround happened (mostly thanks to the schedule easing up). We have no first round draft pick next year – going to the Jets in the Jamal Adams deal – so we can’t even root for the Seahawks to tank! It’s my worst nightmare, manifested. We’ll see if they can turn things around, but I’m not holding my breath.

I was kind of hoping the inaugural season of the Seattle Kraken might be a nice little wintertime distraction, but so far they’re 4-8-1 and look to be pretty punchless both offensively and defensively.

I don’t care enough about soccer to give a shit about what the Sounders are doing.

My last hope was the Washington Husky basketball team, potentially-rejuvenated with a vast influx of transfers. But, they just lost their season-opener to a team they were favored over by 20 points. Feels likely to be more of the same as last season’s team.

Maybe some Hot Stove action in baseball could improve my outlook on life in the weeks ahead, but I know in my gut the Mariners will find a way to make all the wrong moves to continue being among the worst-run organizations in all of professional sports. When you’re hanging all of your hopes on the Mariners … I mean, can it get any worse than that?

2021 has been a sports disaster for Seattle. I’d say it’s time to adopt another city’s teams and move on with my life, but I’m a sickeningly loyal man. This is the laundry I’ve attached myself to. This is the laundry I’ll die with.

It’s Time For The Washington Huskies To Fire Jimmy Lake

Look, he’s officially become a clown. I don’t know how else to explain it. He’s trying to straddle some line between aggressive and conservative, between brash and humble, between forthright and cryptic. Which ultimately makes him intentionally contradictory, and proves without a shadow of a doubt that he has no identity for himself, nor any actual plan as to how to lead a football team.

If you’re going to shit-talk the Ducks about how they let dum-dums into their program, then fucking lean into it! Don’t sprinkle in something you KNOW is going to be twisted and contorted into Bulletin Board material (you’ve been around the game of football long enough, you know how the media works by now; if you don’t, then we have a completely different problem on our hands) and then try to play it off as a media-contrived misunderstanding.

If you’re going to talk about how we’re going to have this aggressive offense that takes shots down the field and is all about explosive plays, then fucking run that offense! Stop with this run-heavy bullshit, and ditch the fucking Wildcat on critical third and fourth downs; defenses have figured that shit out.

If you’re going to preach competition and the best man for the job, then that has to apply to everyone – especially the starting quarterback. You can’t talk out of one side of your mouth one day, but then do something completely counter to what is supposedly your character. Dylan Morris is not the starting quarterback for this team and this offense. He might not even be a competent starting quarterback PERIOD. You know who is? The only 5-star recruit you’ve managed to bring into this program in ages. It’s time for Sam Huard to get his shot.

You say you want to be aggressive, then why are you punting on 4th and 10 when you’re down by 8 with less than two minutes left in the game. I don’t care if you’re on your own 10 yard line; it’s idiotic! And if you don’t believe in your quarterback to make a crucial play on 4th and 10, then YOU HAVE THE WRONG QUARTERBACK IN THE GAME!

The coup de grace was video that came out of Jimmy Lake getting so angry with one of his own players on the sideline – admittedly, that player was doing too much shit-talking, in a game where the Huskies had already been penalized multiple times for doing dumb shit just like that – that he took a swing at the player, connecting with his helmet. I’m sure that hurt his hand more than the kid, but just think about the optics for a fraction of a second and you see why Jimmy Lake is not the guy for the job. Chris Petersen wasn’t the be-all, end-all, but if this is the guy you’re trying to emulate, you’re doing a TERRIBLE job of it!

And I’m tired of Jimmy Lake “taking responsibility” by saying things like, “It’s on me.” Yeah, no shit it’s on you. YOU are the reason the Huskies are underperforming. It’s your decision-making – starting with an offensive coordinator we all knew was a terrible choice the moment he was hired – that has gotten us into this mess! Of course, blessings and good-tidings, we no longer have John Donovan to kick around anymore; we’ve been beating that dead horse since the Montana game. The simple fact that Donovan wasn’t immediately fired after we only scored 7 points at home to Montana goes to show Jimmy Lake is inept.

I don’t know how Jimmy Lake hasn’t lost this team yet. Maybe he’s a different, more inspiring guy behind closed doors. But, from the outside he looks as clueless as it gets. And when you factor in all the guys who’ve already transferred out of the program, and all the guys who have decommitted, I’m beginning to think my assumption is accurate.

There’s only one reason why the program would hang onto Lake at his point: money. He’s only two years into a five-year deal; he’s set to earn nearly $10 million through the 2025 season. It’s mind-boggling to see how fast his approval rating has fallen. I remember everyone was worried about Lake leaving for some other program while Petersen was still at the helm; now you can’t ride him out of town fast enough!

The big thing is feeling like we’ve been sold a bill of goods. I think we all expected the best things of the Petersen regime – great defense and discipline – with a more high-flying offense after the debacle that was Bush Hamdan. Instead, we brought in yet another failed retread to gum up the works even more on offense, while losing every semblance of discipline on this team.

The only problem from here is: I don’t have any solutions. All I know is I’m living in a college football nightmare right now and I desperately want someone to wake me up. I couldn’t give you a single name to come in here and fix this mess; all I know is I want the architect of this mess out of my life. Jimmy Lake needs to go. Literally anyone else is invited to come and give it a shot.

Can The Huskies Cover Against The Ducks?

I did one of these last week with the Seahawks and I still contend the smart money was to stay away. Going forward, I’m just going to go out on a limb and say the smart money is ALWAYS to stay away. Stay away from gambling entirely!

Okay, now that we’ve properly scared off the squares, let’s get down to it. As before, I’m only interested in football as far as it can hypothetically win me money this year. That means fantasy, and that means keeping an eye on the point spreads and testing my brain power on various lines.

Washington is hosting Oregon this week. Oregon is a 7-point favorite. The Huskies are 4-4 on the season, a collosal disappointment. Nevertheless, we’re 3-2 in conference play, and in theory, a victory over the Ducks would put us in a huge logjam of teams in the Pac-12 North with 2 conference losses.

Indeed, there are only two teams in the entire conference with fewer than 2 losses – the Ducks in the North and the Utes in the South – so it’s fair to say there really aren’t any dominant teams in this conference, and it’s pointless to get confident one way or the other about ANY of these teams, because literally anyone could beat anyone else on any given Saturday. Even if you look at the dregs – Colorado and Arizona – they are 3-5 and 4-4 against the spread, respectively (in spite of the fact that they have two total wins – including non-conference games – between them).

But, let’s face it, the Ducks are the 4th ranked team in the College Football Playoff Rankings for a reason. That reason is: they’re 7-1 and went on the road to defeat Ohio State. The Ducks’ only loss this year was on the road against Stanford – a team the Huskies just managed to handle last week – so I understand the desire by Husky fans to dismiss the Ducks.

What we’ve got going for us is: the game is at home. We’ve got a defense that’s in the upper eschelon in total yards and points given up per game. Of course, that has everything to do with our pass defense giving up the very fewest yards per game; our run defense is among the worst in college football.

The Ducks, clearly, run much more than they pass. They’re among the best rushing offenses in the game, and middle-of-the-road in passing. The Ducks, on defense, are middle-of-the-pack in rush defense, and slightly worse in pass defense (which would make sense, since they play from ahead so much and employ more of a prevent style late in games).

Weirdly enough, the Ducks haven’t shown up in a lot of these Pac-12 games. They easily handled the Wildcats and Buffaloes (again, the two worst teams in the conference), but could only eke out one-score victories against Cal and UCLA, with a one-score defeat coming to the Cardinal.

But, what can you say about Washington’s resume thus far? One-score victories against Cal, Arizona, and Stanford, with defeats coming on the road to Oregon State and at home to UCLA. The fact that we’ve managed to keep all of our conference games to within one score is irrelevant to me when you actually look at the numbers.

Oregon is great at running the ball; Washington struggles to stop the run. That’s all you need to know. Washington also struggles to run the ball, so if Oregon is smart, they’ll take that away from us completely and force Dylan Morris to beat them through the air. I would expect we’ll be down big in the early going, with the outside possibility of a late backdoor cover. At best, I think the Ducks win by 7 points, which would be a push. At worst, I think there’s no limit to how big the Ducks win by. There’s a non-zero chance the Huskies keep it close, but I think there’s no chance whatsoever that we win outright.

In this case, if you absolutely HAD to bet this game, I think it’s smarter just to bet the first half. Take the Ducks, lay the 3.5, and watch them get a comfortable halftime lead. Then, spend the second half either doubling down, or rooting for a Husky comeback. I don’t think you can lose in this scenario!

That is, until the Ducks ultimately prevail anyway, because they’re more talented and have better coaching. Really, the only way to lose as a Husky fan is to watch this game. Because fuck the Ducks. I’ll be looking for literally anything else to do during this time on Saturday.

Who’s In A Worse Position Right Now, The Huskies Or The Cougars?

The simple answer is to say: the Cougs. Always the Cougs. But, I dunno. There are, as usual, good people idiots on both sides.

Earlier this week, Nick Rolovich was fired by WSU. The short story is that the governor of Washington instituted a mandate stating all state employees needed to be fully vaccinated by October 18th. The head coach of Washington State University is technically considered to be a state employee. Nick Rolovich is not vaccinated and does not wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Therefore, he was let go.

That’s obviously an oversimplification. Muddying the waters is the fact that the state is supposed to grant legitimate religious exemptions, Rolovich applied for one as a Catholic, and it’s unclear if he was granted one or not. I’m assuming it’s also an oversimplification to say that since the Pope encouraged getting the vaccine, that negates Catholicism as a viable pathway towards an exemption, but either way, even if he was granted the exemption by the state, Wazzu refused to grant the accommodation that would be needed to make everything work. With the accommodation denied, there was nowhere else to go but job termination.

It doesn’t really help Rolovich’s public relations cause that he spent EVERY press conference answering questions about the vaccine mandate like Marshawn Lynch at the Super Bowl. Then again, once people have their minds made up on an issue like this, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of leeway as far as listening to differing viewpoints. I’m not so naive as to think Rolovich could’ve changed any minds by speaking his beliefs. But, saying literally nothing on the matter, other than he’s going to follow the mandate or whatever, just makes this all look like litigation was his goal all along.

Maybe that’s just a college football thing, though. College coaches are notoriously tight-lipped about even the most innocuous of subjects. In that sense, Jimmy Lake of the Huskies is as bad as any of them. Just try getting a straight answer out of him about the program! At best, he’s going to give terse, meaningless replies about keeping things the status quo. That’s fine if you’re winning – because why give your opponent any information they can use against you – but when you’re 2-4 (after being projected to contend for the Pac-12 title), you better fucking come up with some different answers, or else it’s going to be your ass with a pink slip stapled to it.

My point of view on this whole vaccine mandate thing is: I don’t think these issues have any business being turned into a political conflict. I think there are lots of legitimate sources that provide quality information on the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19, and I think there are lots of bullshit sources raising questions that infect the minds of people who are on the lookout for contrarian viewpoints. The same people questioning the safety of vaccines – because of some bullshit they read on the Internet – are also people who will blindly gorge themselves on unhealthy foods and beverages, or take medications prescribed by their doctors that they haven’t themselves vetted. Everyone’s a fucking scientist all of a sudden.

But, I’m not here to solve all the world’s problems. I’m here to talk about the Huskies and Cougars.

In a vaccuum, it’s always better to be a Dawg than a Coug. We have access to better recruits, we have better facilities, we’re located in a more populous city with more things to do, and our history in the game of football is vastly superior. We’ve actually won a national championship! We’ve actually played in the College Football Playoffs within the last decade.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that it has to stay that way forever. If the Cougs ever found the right coach – who was willing to stay there for the long term – he could certainly build up a program that eventually surpasses UW. It’s not impossible.

But, it’s also not likely. What I see are two programs in need of new head coaches, and new directions overall. And, I see one program – Wazzu – that’s got a head start. The lawsuit is just a distraction, but it’s not like there’s any chance he gets his job back; that’s a headache for the university, not the football program. The football program is going to move on with a new coach by next season. When will Washington follow suit?

Jimmy Lake very nearly inherited one terrible offensive coordinator, but Bush Hamdan was fired at the close of the 2019 season. He hired another terrible offensive coordinator, who he finds himself tethered to. The decision at the time was justifiably panned, and it’s proven everyone but Lake knew best. As I’ve written about, he’s weirdly aggressive-yet-conservative in his decision-making. He goes for it on fourth down like no one we’ve had around here before, but he’s also committed to running the ball even though our offensive line sucks at it, and opposing teams are gearing up to stop it.

Lake is also supposed to be this defensive mastermind, but we can’t stop the run to save our lives, and he refuses to let his elite defensive secondary play man-to-man to open up extra defenders to try to stop the run. As I’ve written before, he’s coaching this team like it’s got Vita Vea in the middle, when he has no one even close to that level of talent along the interior!

I’d still be bitching if the Huskies were merely mediocre, but mediocre would be an improvement! The Washington Huskies don’t lose to teams like Montana or Oregon State. They don’t get consistently out-muscled at home. And they sure as shit don’t struggle this mightily to move the football on offense! This isn’t the worst it’s ever been for the Huskies, but it’s as bad as it’s been since 2008.

As for the Cougs, they’re actually 4-3, having won three games in a row. They managed to take care of business against Cal, Oregon State, and Stanford; we’ve beaten only one of those teams so far. They’re at least in the hunt for a bowl game, if not a full comeback to win the Pac-12 North. What do the Huskies have going for us right now? We’re 18-point favorites down in Arizona tonight, and you KNOW we won’t be covering that spread!

I’ll be honest, part of me is jealous that the Cougs have this head start on a new coaching regime! Not only do I think the Huskies are stuck with who we’ve got, but that’s probably going to extend into next year. We MIGHT get lucky with a change at OC, but I don’t think Lake is going anywhere. And, as long as we’re saddled with his philosophy, we’re going to continue to be disgruntled with the play-calling. Considering we’ve got a 5-star quarterback just sitting there, collecting dust on the sidelines, it’s a total nightmare.

No one expects anything from the Cougs. That’s why they’re able to delight their fanbase when they do anything well. That’s as beaten-down a group of fans as you’ll find across all sports, but they always come back for more like a fucking Whac-A-Mole game.

Huskies are expected to be great. Husky fans are a different sort of delusional, because we still believe this program has a chance in hell at competing for a national championship. The fact of the matter is: as long as we’re saddled in the Pac-12, recruiting is going to forever be at a sub-optimal level, and we will NEVER compete with those other national programs. The best we can hope for is Pac-12 success, and maybe a seat at the playoff table when they expand it so every major conference gets a slot.

What Husky fans don’t realize is, to the Alabamas and Georgias and Ohio States of the world, WE are what Wazzu is to us: the perpetual little brothers, ineffectual and unimportant. I would argue that we’re in the worse spot, because denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

The Cougars succeed when they win the conference once in a blue moon. The Huskies are expected to contend every year. Falling short of that – settling for an Alamo Bowl or a Holiday Bowl, or God forbid a Las Vegas Bowl – is unacceptable. The Huskies have been trending in the wrong direction for a while now, and when your goal is to be among the college football elites, it’s much harder to turn everything around.

This Is The Worst Washington Husky Football Team Since 2008

It’s difficult to explain just how terrible that 2008 team really was. Nothing could possibly top that squad when it comes to sucking! But, that was the end result of deep-seeded, entrenched sucking. Sucking that started towards the tail-end of the Rick Neuheisel era. Husky fans like to point to the head coaches that followed in the wake of Neuheisel’s firing, but the team was clearly going in the wrong direction by his final season here in 2002; that’s what happens when there’s such a discrepency between your recruiting of skill guys (very good!) and your recruiting along the offensive and defensive lines (pretty mediocre).

Nevertheless, Keith Gilbertson and especially Tyrone Willingham did nothing to help the cause, with Willingham’s final season here being the perfect storm of ineptitude that was 2008. The Huskies had been so mismanaged, so neglected, for SO LONG, that even if we didn’t suffer numerous injuries to key starters that year, we still wouldn’t have been worth two shits.

The turnaround started in 2009 when Sark came to town, but really solidified into the Huskies being BACK when Chris Petersen was hired away from Boise State in 2014.

But, Petersen’s sudden retirement after the 2019 season has thrust the Huskies into a tailspin. And, of course, the pandemic didn’t help, particularly when you consider the one thing Jimmy Lake does well – recruit – is something he couldn’t do nearly as effectively with COVID restrictions being what they are.

And now, I mean, how do you recruit on a 2-4 record? And would it even matter?

The Huskies have to have the most overpaid and inept collection of assistant coaches in all of college football. At the very least, all of the Pac-12 (which, again, puts us well in the running for all of college football). Right at the top, you have to talk about John Donovan, who is the second offensive coordinator in a row – Bush Hamdan being his predecessor – who has gotten the absolute least out of his players thanks to his scheme and his play-calling. But, don’t forget all the positional coaches below him. Don’t forget the wide receivers coach, who oversaw a mass exodus of players this past offseason. Don’t forget the offensive line coach, who has had tremendous stability among his starters, yet everyone seems to be regressing as they go along.

And we shouldn’t discount how diluted the defensive coaching staff has gotten. Jimmy Lake’s promotion turned our biggest strength – our defensive coordinator – into a clear weakness; this was furthered by Pete Kwiatkowski jumping this sinking ship for greener pastures in Texas. Talent alone seems to be holding things together reasonably well, though the defense isn’t perfect, and isn’t able to overcome an offense incapable of making big plays or scoring when it needs to.

Defensive line is the biggest problem on this team, and has been for years. It’s nice that UW has become DB-U over the last decade, but how does that help us when teams are able to ram the ball down our throats? I would argue the D-Line problem extends back for decades now, and the “good” ones since then were held together by maybe one or two dominant defensive tackles. That string of good fortune has come to a close, and with it our ability to control the line of scrimmage and get to the quarterback.

Jimmy Lake might be a decent head coach, but he doesn’t have the pieces around him to succeed. He doesn’t have the coaching staff, nor the recruiters, to make this a successful program. He’s also hamstrung by being in the Pac-12, but that’s no excuse for being this terrible AGAINST the Pac-12, let alone a program from a lower division like Montana.

I don’t think it’s going to work out with Lake, because once again there’s some deep-seeded, entrenched sucking going on. As usual, it stems from the offensive and defensive lines. He’s also both weirdly aggressive (going for it on 4th downs, which I like) and bull-headed (not making a switch at quarterback when it’s clearly in the program’s best interest). There’s no salvaging this season. The Huskies are 2-4. We’re clearly not as good as Oregon or ASU, we probably have no business going down to Stanford and beating them. That’s 7 losses, for those of you needing help with the math; that means no bowl game.

We should probably go down to Arizona this week and beat the winless Wildcats, but I’m not holding my breath. You would think we could take care of business against the Buffaloes next month, but that’s a road game, so you never know. And, the Cougars’ whole season is going to hinge on beating our asses for the first time since 2012 (since they just lost their head coach and will probably need that game to make a bowl game).

There’s a version of this team that goes winless the rest of the way, with our easiest remaining games being on the road. Best case scenario, I think the Huskies might scrape by with a 3-3 record the rest of the way, which is still not good enough to make a bowl. So, what are we playing for? Why are we clinging to Dylan Morris, who has 8 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and a miserable 60% completion percentage? Why would we risk alienating our only 5-star recruit, who has the kind of arm talent most schools only dream of?

It’s not like we’d be breaking any kind of mold by going with a true freshman, plenty of WAY better programs do it all the time. Shit, we just had one in Petersen’s tenure with Jake Browning!

Nothing is quite so damning to this program than just having a BYE week – giving us two full weeks to shake things up and prepare for UCLA – and coming out with the same exact problems as before. That tells me Jimmy Lake, ultimately, isn’t the man to lead this program. If he can’t get this team to get its shit together at home, with multiple weeks to prepare, then what the fuck are we even doing here?

The collapse under Lake’s watch has been immediate and a total embarrassment. What’s worse is there’s no hope for the future. There’s only burning it all down and hoping the next regime knows what the fuck it’s doing.

There’s No Excuse For How Inept The Washington Huskies Were Against Montana

That was the single worst Husky football loss I’ve ever seen, and I had a functioning brain cell in my head during the 2008 season.

There aren’t words to describe how shittily everyone on the Huskies performed on Saturday night against the Montana Grizzlies, an FCS school that marched into Washington and came away with a 13-7 victory. Everyone. Every single person affiliated with the Huskies, from the athletic director on down to every single man on that football team failed. They were FUCKING EMBARRASSING, and I’m frankly ashamed to be a fan of this team right now. There’s no worse, more laughable feeling in college athletics than to be a Top 20 ranked football team that loses to another team from a lower division.

Jimmy Lake is a fucking joke right now. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but let’s look at the total package: he’s losing highly-ranked committments left and right. He’s currently running out the players that Chris Peterson got for him. He lost his defensive coordinator to the Texas Longhorns, and he hired an offensive coordinator who is somehow worse than Bush Hamdan. He couldn’t keep the team from succumbing to COVID last year – costing us a chance at the Pac-12 Championship – and now he lost to Montana in the season opener.

Dylan Morris won the starting job last year and was okay. He came into this year as the frontrunner and managed to beat out true freshman Sam Huard (our only 5-star recruit). By all accounts, he’s a hard worker and natural leader. But, what did he do on Saturday? Led this team to an opening-drive touchdown … and then nothing the rest of the game. 27/46, 226 yards, 0 TDs and 3 INTs. PATHETIC.

You know what I don’t want to hear about? How there were starting wide receivers who didn’t play for whatever reason. You are the WASHINGTON HUSKIES; they are the Montana Grizzlies. Your third stringers should be able to overwhelm that school’s number ones!

Boy did the offensive line suck! What was this I heard about the Huskies having the best O-Line in the conference? They couldn’t protect for shit!

I have no notes for the defense. I don’t expect the Husky defense to hold a team to 3 points – even one as bad as Montana – especially when the offense keeps shitting down its fucking legs the entire fucking game. What a FUCKING wretched experience; everyone affiliated with that team needs to take a long look in the mirror.

I can’t guarantee I’m going to want to talk about this team a whole lot after this. What is there to say? Even if we improve and beat some teams, there’s always going to be the dark cloud hanging over the season. They could win the next 11 straight games and we’ll all know, “Yeah, but you fucking lost to Montana, you fucking wastes of space.”

Fire Jimmy Lake. Bench Dylan Morris. Start Sam Huard. And find a fucking offensive coordinator who doesn’t have his head up his own fucking ass.