The Lorenzo Romar Debate Rages On

As this season progresses, the discontent with the Husky basketball program is only going to intensify.  That’s the way it is.  Husky fans have grown accustomed to a certain level of success.  Hell, the Husky PROGRAM has grown accustomed to a certain level of success.  So, losing all these games (to sub-standard programs both in and non-conference), as well as losing all these games in a ROW (after a 4-game winning streak to start conference play), has to be eating away at the psyche of both the players, the coaching staff, the Athletic Department, and the fans at large.

I get it.  Everyone’s pissed off.  Or, at the very least, mildly annoyed.  We’re all ticked because the team is not living up to their regular level of success, and THAT’S making us even angrier because we feel even THAT level of success isn’t good enough.  It’s not enough just to live up to what we’ve seen from other Romar-led Husky teams, it’s a point of contention that:  why can’t we be even BETTER?

The biggest monkey on Lorenzo Romar’s back is:  not getting past the Sweet 16.  For that, I have no defense for the man.  In the Nate Rob/B-Roy years, we had some electric teams.  That 2004/2005 season where we had a #1 seed in the Tourney is particularly galling, because of its rarity around these parts to have a 1-seed college basketball team, and because of the way we ended up losing (in the Sweet 16 round, to the 4-seed Louisville Cardinals).

I’m not here to blindly defend the man willy-nilly, in spite of some of my posts on the subject.  But, I’m also not going to sit around and go along with the crowd who wants to run the guy out of town after one bad season in the last five years.

Someone ran across my last post on the subject and wrote a thoughtful retort; I would recommend reading it even though he takes me to task for some of my sloppier assertions.  Since this is such a dead period in local sports, I’ve opted to reserve my response to his response for a brand new post (content generation, ho!).

I’ll start with this, apropos of nothing:  I don’t think Lorenzo Romar is the perfect coach.  I don’t think he’s the best coach in college basketball.  I think there are plenty of things you could question about the man’s in-game decision-making.  For instance:  why was Desmond Simmons riding so much pine last night, especially at the end of the game, and especially when he’s your best overall defender (who can cover guys inside and on the perimeter)?  Why risk letting Aziz get hacked and put at the line (where he missed two crucial late free throws), or God forbid jacking up a desperation 3-point ball from the corner on an inbound play?

I would also question his preference to have senior guards constantly taking the final shots in games over more-talented younger guys.  How many times did we see Game Overton blasting through the lane, throwing up some wild and crazy shot when it would’ve been more appropriate for someone like I.T. (only a junior) to have the rock with the clock ticking down.  Yes, we all remember COLD BLOODED against Arizona, but really give that season some thought and harken back.  The same goes for Abdul Gaddy this year; Romar needs to have him cede immediately to the younger and more vital Andrews and let him show what he can do.

There are countless other examples of things you COULD question, but for the most part you can see the logic.  Here’s the thing:  I understand being loyal to your upperclassmen.  But, if you’re going to be a top-notch program, you’re going to have to deal with the certainty that you’ll have one-and-done players.  Those players are one-and-done for a reason:  they’re the best of the best (usually).  Put the ball in THEIR hands, if you’re so fortunate to have them, when the game is on the line.

Abdul Gaddy is a real point of contention.  A point made by the aforementioned commenter:  “… I don’t know if Romar is at fault for the poor development of Gaddy and Suggs, but it’s frustrating no less.”

It’s a good point.  We DON’T know who’s at fault for Gaddy not living up to his billing.  I’ll leave Suggs alone, because I think Suggs is what he is, damn his rating coming out of high school.  He’s a spot-up long-range shooter and that’s all he ever was going to be.  Which is fine, if you’ve got the proper guards at point who will drive the lane, draw in defenders, and kick out.  Scott Suggs should be NOBODY’S primary or secondary offensive option (unless he’s playing for some lesser, Sun Belt-ish conference).  But, on a well-balanced team, he wouldn’t be a bad fourth or fifth option, preferably off the bench.

Gaddy, however, is a completely different ball of wax.  I said it last night (when he biffed that alley-oop pass at the end of the game) and I’ll say it again:  Abdul Gaddy is quickly becoming my least-favorite Husky.  He was supposed to be great.  He was our big catch of the 2009 Freshman class.  We may never know what would’ve been had he not injured his ACL at such a critical period of his development in his Sophomore year, but from what we’ve seen since his return, even if he could’ve gotten that medical redshirt, it’s unlikely he’d be any better next year than what he is right now.  Which is a semi-dependable ball-handler who makes WAY too many mistakes with the ball for a guy in his Senior season.  A guy who has never had even a remotely decent jump shot.  A guy who’s an average defender at best (but who will frequently be beaten by shorter, quicker guards).  And a guy who has little-to-no ability to penetrate a defense and finish at the rim.

So, who’s to blame?  Was it Romar not coaching him up, taking his high school talent for granted?  Was it all those sites who rank prep athletes for dropping the ball?  Let’s face it, we had a pretty good idea pretty early on that Gaddy would be a likely 4-year player in college.  With Gaddy supposedly being in the top-2 of incoming point guards that year nationally, you’d think at the most he would’ve been here 1-2 seasons, had he reached the potential everyone thought he’d reach.  Even if those sites DID drop the ball, if you’re Lorenzo Romar, you have to be BETTER than those sites.  As a talent evaluator, you have to know what you’re getting into with a major recruit.

But, there’s the other side of the argument, which is:  did Abdul Gaddy do enough work on his own to better his game?  Did he practice his shot enough?  Did he keep himself in good enough shape?  Did he work out with other players to better his dribble-penetration game?  Or, is he just lazy and thought he could coast on talent alone through his college career, with no real ambition to go on to the next level aside from a hazy, far-off dream?

Or, did he just not have it to begin with, and everyone fucked up, from the scouts to Romar to Gaddy himself?  I’m apt to believe this over anything else.  He could’ve been the Michael Jordan of practicing, working on his game, and having a relentless drive to be the best, but if he just didn’t have the talent to succeed and grow as a player, then it’s pointless trying to spread the blame around.

But, to say that Romar doesn’t get the best out of his players – which the above-referenced commenter, Taylor, noted – means you simply haven’t been watching his teams very closely.  I’m not interested as much in how guys rate coming out of high school.  There are plenty of blue-chippers who go on to fail.  But, I get it, the more blue-chippers you bring in, the better your odds are of having some dominating teams.  I’m more concerned with how guys look in Year 1 vs. how guys look in Years 3 and 4.

Look at Jon Brockman, as one example.  He didn’t come out of the womb an All-Conference player.  In his first season, he averaged 8.4 (points) and 6.5 (rebounds).  But, he consistently worked on refining his game to where he averaged 18/12 as a Junior before giving way to I.T. in his senior season.  Look at a guy like MBA, who averaged 4 and 3 in his first year.  By his senior season, he was up to 15/8!  How about Q-Pon?  From what I remember (and I could be wrong), he was fairly highly rated coming out of high school.  Remember what he was like early in his college career?  VERY inconsistent.  We kept waiting for his breakout that seemingly would never come.  In his first season, he averaged 11 and 4.  By his last year, he was up to 19 and 8 and led this team to an impromptu Sweet 16 run.

I could go on, but let’s just call it what it is:  Romar has coached up his share of guys.

The big theory in college athletics goes like this:  as a new coach, you do your best to bring in as many good players as possible.  You coach them up, you find some modicum of success in the post-season, and that begets even better recruits, which begets more winning, and so on and so forth.  Taylor’s main point, from what I gather, is that Romar has reached a wall, or a plateau of sorts.  He makes a very good point in his section about the other top-tier schools I listed.  I’m going to save myself the time and take his word for it:  those other coaches had more success, and quicker than Romar’s first 11 years with the Dawgs.  In a lot of cases, those coaches took nothing programs, caught lightning in a bottle, and went on to monster success.

So location has nothing to do with it.  I don’t know if I lamented our location as much (I don’t feel like re-reading my whole previous post to find out), but if I did then I was pretty erroneous on that mark.  However, I will say this:  just because it’s taken Romar 11 years to get where we’ve gotten (which isn’t all that impressive, in the grand scheme of things) doesn’t mean this is as good as it gets and it’s only downhill from here.  He’s a fairly young guy, and if you hear the man speak in person, you can tell he has a good rapport with the younger generation, so if he was given a free pass to coach here as long as he desired, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for him to turn this program into a national power.  Really, it just takes one class, one team, to catch that lightning in a bottle.  Generate a surprise Final Four run and before you know it, those blue-chippers we keep losing to Kentucky and Louisville and Arizona and UCLA are now coming here.

Which is why I wouldn’t dismiss out of hand his ability to recruit and build NBA players.  Some guys, like Ross and Wroten, and Roy and Nate-Rob and Hawes, were going to be NBA draft picks regardless.  But, Q-Pon was no guarantee.  Brockman was CERTAINLY no guarantee (an under-sized power forward or a slow small forward, depending on where you think he fits on an NBA team).  I.T.  was another sub-6 foot point guard who ended up being the last pick in the draft.  Yet, he was showcased by Romar on some quality (though not elite) Husky basketball teams, and he made it.  Bringing in blue chippers who leave early is just as important as building NBA-calibre players out of nothing, like he did with the likes of Brockman.  Because it sets an example that you don’t HAVE to go to those other elite schools to get noticed.  You can come here, play for a program everyone respects, and still find success as a pro.

But, I’ll walk this argument back:  Romar hasn’t caught that lightning in a bottle.  His best teams have been disappointments in that regard; they haven’t gone very far in the Tourney.  And his other Tourney teams have lost too quickly to generate much of anything in the way of national buzz.  So, we’re NOT on the level of an Arizona or a UCLA.  We’re in that meaty 2nd tear of the Pac-12, with Cal and Stanford and now, I guess, Oregon (God, just seriously fuck Oregon already!).

So, I get the frustration, I really do.  And Taylor’s point about Romar’s lack of success in non-conference games (especially on the road in non-conference games) is valid.  On the one hand, I’m sitting here telling you that Romar gets the best of his players, that often his players improve from season to season (and during individual seasons, when they’re playing much better towards the end than they are in the beginning), but on the other hand, why can’t Romar have them ready from the beginning?  Why do the Huskies constantly underachieve in their non-conference games?

What’s worse:  the non-conference schedule has only gotten EASIER since Romar’s early days as a Husky coach.  I don’t have an answer for that either.

But, I trust the man’s judgment.  If he feels his teams aren’t ready for elite competition in the first month of the season, then that probably means they aren’t ready for elite competition.  What do I read every year?  Romar’s defense is difficult for guys to learn.  It takes some of them a while to figure it out, which ultimately costs them playing time early in their careers.  I’ll counter Taylor’s point about Terrence Ross:  he WASN’T good as a Freshman until very late in the season.  If he was, he would’ve played a lot from the first game.  Instead, he got very sporadic minutes until he finally figured it all out come conference tournament time.  He certainly didn’t get the kind of minutes that Wroten got as a Freshman, but that’s another story.

What I think Romar gets the least credit for is how he turned this program around.  Taylor felt like belittling me on this point.  Yes, the Huskies are in the Top 15 all time for most college basketball wins.  That’s quite impressive.  They have well over 1,600 wins, which, I mean WOW, right?  Except, the Huskies have been around for 110 fucking years!  They’re tied for the 14th-longest running basketball program in the nation; of COURSE they’re going to have a lot of wins!  Truth be told, though, the Huskies – in those 110 seasons, have exactly 20 conference titles (hardly a “substantial amount”).  A whopping 12 of those were won by teams coached by Hec Edmundson; you know, the guy they named the arena after.  Yeah, Hec Ed had some GREAT teams in the 20s, 30s, and 40s.  Maybe I’ll go back to college, become a history major, and read all about it.

You know who doesn’t give two shits about how good the teams were in the pre-Korean War days?  Everyone born after the Korean War!

Throw your historical winning percentage around all you want.  Keep telling everyone how the Washington Huskies have the winningest home arena in college basketball.  No one gives a shit.  In the 49 seasons before Lorenzo Romar became the Huskies’ head coach, the Huskies won exactly 2 regular season conference championships.  Or, you know, the same number Romar has won in his 11 seasons.  I’m not necessarily saying 2 conference championships is acceptable, but don’t tell me that he was inheriting some program of ANY historical significance.  It’s only significant to Husky alums as a way to talk trash to our Pac-12 brethren.

I’ll close with Taylor’s closing point.  Romar has, indeed, lost a lot of confidence in Husky fans.  To have two first round draft picks last year and only manage to make it to the N.I.T. Final Four is kind of a travesty.  But, the year before that he led a VERY young team into the second round of the Tourney, and the year before that we were in the Sweet 16 with a team that essentially only had two scorers!

I ask again:  is a guy not allowed to have a down year?  I disagree with Taylor’s argument that the Huskies are destined to be terrible again next year.  First of all, with Gaddy leaving, we’re talking about addition by subtraction.  I think any game now, we’re going to find out that Andrew Andrews is something special and a solid foundation piece in the seasons to come.  I agree wholeheartedly with Taylor’s point about rather winning a national championship with 15 guys who never set foot in the NBA over having a bunch of lottery picks and losing in the first round, but that’s neither here nor there.  When do you EVER see that?  Inevitably, with college basketball, you need a good mix and some luck.  You need a couple blue chippers, but you also need those four-year veterans who know the system, who lead by example, and who can chip in as complementary players on both ends of the court.

This year, we kind of got caught with our pants down.  We’re very young AND we’re lacking in any blue chippers (unless you count Gaddy, but I don’t with the way he’s played his whole career).  Our veteran presence – Suggs, Aziz, Gaddy, and Wilcox as a Junior – isn’t enough, because they’re not talented enough to carry the mail.  But, they’re forced to carry the mail, and that’s why you see games like we had last night.  We can contend with some of the best Pac-12 teams, but ultimately we’re going to come short this season because the talent just isn’t there.

But, that doesn’t mean we won’t have the talent NEXT year.  Darin Johnson and Nigel Williams-Goss look like a one-two punch at guard to be reckoned with.  I don’t know if both will play next season, but you’re talking about 3-4 star players.  If we DO somehow land Aaron Gordon (which, I don’t think we should get our hopes up too high on that end, but what a coup that would be!), then the sky is the limit for the 2013/2014 season (especially if we’re fortunate enough to have Wilcox stay for his senior season, where he isn’t necessarily the ONLY offensive option and doesn’t constantly draw the other team’s best defender all game long).

Truth be told, even if we don’t get Gordon, all hope isn’t lost.  There have to be players in the JC ranks out there for Romar to poach.  I think he would be well-served to tap into that well again.  We keep getting our panties in a bunch over these 4-star high school guys, but there are effective JC transfers out there just WAITING for the chance to shine for a program desperately seeking a big man or two.

I’ll actually finish (seriously this time) by 100% agreeing with Taylor’s closing statements.  Yes, if attendance keeps falling, Romar probably won’t stand a chance.  It’s a shame, but that’s the reality in today’s major college sports.  I would hope that Romar has at least earned one more season on top of this one, regardless of how far attendance numbers plummet.  If we get these new recruits for next season and the team STILL struggles to find its way, then I might just be there with everyone else, leading the charge to run the guy out of town.

But, I don’t think this is a Tyrone Willingham situation.  I don’t think we’d be doing more harm than good to give the guy at least one more season.  Honestly, I think we’d be well-served to give Romar at least the next TWO seasons.  I don’t subscribe to the notion that just because you haven’t made a Final Four in your first decade, that means you’re destined to never be elite.  I won’t do the research at this time, but there HAVE to be late bloomers out there, who might’ve struggled or been middling in their first decade as a major-conference head coach, only to turn it on later in their careers.  I just don’t see why Romar can’t be one of them.

Taylor and I agree on one final point as well:  it would be foolish to make a change just to make a change.  The University of Washington has a ton of money.  If you absolutely HAVE to pull the trigger, don’t go out and hire the next Paul Wulff (or whoever the basketball-equivalent would be).  Go out there and make a big fucking splash!  Bring in one of the big dogs, give him free reign over the program, and get the fuck out of his way!

Apple Cup 2012: Black Friday Blues

I hate that this game is today.  I hate that this game is being played at 12:30.  I hate that I have to work today, DVR the game, and wait until tonight to watch.

There’s no reason to be thankful for this abomination, but such is the world we live in, where television rights dictate when games are played.  If you praise the Pac-12 for all the millions it raked in with its latest TV deal, then you have to accept a few Post-Thanksgiving 12:30 games.  You sign a deal with the devil to try to get ahead in life, but there are always drawbacks.  This situation is no different.

Of course, I’m sure the players don’t care.  They just want to get out there and bust some heads.

The Huskies are essentially playing for nothing today.  They’re bowl eligible, they got their 7th win just to ensure they actually guarantee themselves a bowl, and really, they have no reason to play this game.  A win won’t move the Huskies into a better bowl; they’re either going to play in the Sun, the Vegas, or the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.  At the worst, a loss might knock them down to the New Mexico Bowl, but really what have you lost at that point?  If you’re not in one of the top 3 bowls (Rose, Alamo, Holiday), you’re really not in any kind of national spotlight.

The Cougars, on the other hand, have just about everything to play for.  They currently sit dead-last in the Pac-12, with an 0-8 conference record.  Yes, even worse than Colorado (who beat them back in September).  New head coach Mike Leach, supposedly a savior who would bring back some flash and sizzle to the Cougar program in desperate need of shaking up, has seriously underwhelmed and is already embroiled in a scandal involving a disgruntled former player.  A win in the Apple Cup could single-handedly make this year a rip-roaring success and secure Leach’s job security for at least the duration of his contract.

Obviously, the standards for Wazzu are much lower than they are at Washington, but you take what you can get if you’re a long-suffering Cougar fan.

Granted, a Cougar win wouldn’t be as satisfying as it would be if it prevented Washington from a chance at playing in the Pac-12 Championship Game, or if it prevented Washington from going to a bowl game at all, but it would still vindicate Leach’s hiring and the job he’s done this season.  A Cougar win means that Leach can say, “We struggled, but we improved as the season went on, culminating in a victory over a top-25 BCS-ranked opponent.”  Once he’s able to rid his team of the garbage left over from the Paul Wulff regime, and once he gets his type of guys in there, watch out.

The best way to prevent that from happening, the best way to keep Mike Leach from turning that program around and giving the Pac-12 fits for years to come, is for the Huskies to win this game today.  So, in that sense, there IS something to play for.  We’re playing for the future of the conference, and for the future of Washington football specifically.

Because on the flipside, what happens if Washington goes Martin Stadium today and rolls over the Cougars by 30 points?  That means the Cougs would have been blown out in 3 of their final 4 games.  That means the Cougs will end the season on a 9-game losing streak, all of them in conference to finish 0-9 in the Pac-12.  Does that mean Leach gets fired after the season?  Well, if this whole Marquess Wilson fiasco comes unhinged and they find there really was abuse by Leach and his staff (especially considering that’s how things ended for him at Texas Tech), I think that’s definitely a possibility.  How does a program recover from THAT?  Burning through two head coaches the past two years?  That might be worse than NCAA sanctions!

But, forget all that.  What are we looking at today?  Well, we’re looking at a Washington State team that averages 30 yards rushing per game.  30!  They’re 10th in the NCAA in passing yards, but they still average less than 20 points per game.  And their defense?  Forget it!  Sankey should be able to run all over this defense.  Price should be able to have an outstanding game.  They have no one to cover ASJ, so expect him to have a monster game.

Our defense, on the other hand, is quite stout.  Our passing defense, especially, is one of the best in college football.  The Cougs do have a veteran of sorts starting today in Jeff Tuel, which really is the only thing that concerns me.  He’s a senior looking for his first Apple Cup victory.  And I don’t think anyone forgets how the Cougs almost came all the way back in 2010 to narrowly lose in one of the more exciting Apple Cups in recent memory.  Tuel was a major part of that game being so close (when the Huskies were big favorites, much like today).  25 for 35, 298 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT. 

Tuel has played somewhat sparingly this season, but that doesn’t mean he’s played poorly.  I would look for him to try to make a statement today.  To go out on a high note.  To show this Cougar coaching staff what they’ve missed all along by not keeping him as the starter.  Often, a college career can be defined by one dynamic game.  What better day than today, in his final college game?

I’m confident in a Husky win, but let’s just say I’m not OVERLY confident.  We’ll save that for later, when I’ve consumed sufficent liquid courage.  God Awgs!

WSU Hires Leach; UW Commences Sarcastic Boots Shaking

I’m still trying to lock down my official opinion of Mike Leach.  Overall, I think it’s generally positive.  Yeah, he allegedly kidnapped and tortured some player who defied him (or something to that effect or another), so I guess that would fall under his coaching umbrella (to say nothing of his personal demeanor & personality, which I understand to be batshit crazy), but as a play-caller and a leader of men who score a shitload of points, I would say he’s pretty impressive.

But, I’ll say this without equivocation:  I would much rather have Sark on my side than Leach.

Sark strikes me as more of a full-fledged head coach.  Leach strikes me as a sometimes-dominant offensive coordinator (sort of a Mike Martz type).  I feel like Sark could take any type of offensive talent and mold him into a winner; whereas I feel like Leach requires a very-specific type of talent to fit into his system, otherwise he’s going to sputter and flail (again, like Mike Martz).  Just looking at Keith Price alone, you’d think Sark is a quality educator of the game of football; but, look at what he accomplished in two seasons with Jake Locker and you can see:  Sark is like some kind of miracle worker!  He helped mold the kid into an 8th overall draft pick!  He’s currently running with Price, taking him from obscurity to Pac-12 dominance!

It’ll be interesting to compare the two in a few years.  Who has more Pros playing in the NFL?  Who has more QUALITY Pros?

Are you a quarterback and want to play in the NFL?  Come play for Coach Sark.  He’s already helped mold two Top 10 draft picks.  How many has Leach had even get DRAFTED, let alone stick?  You could argue that the numbers his receivers will put up will give him an advantage with the wideouts, but again:  would you rather play for a Pro Style offense that will better prepare you for the next level?  Or, would you rather play for a gimicky offense that generates gaudy numbers and no substance?

Honestly, I don’t know if most high schoolers are capable of distinguishing the two.  You gotta think quite a few of them will pick gaudy over substance.  Ultimately, it’s going to come down to Wins & Losses.  I mean, you gotta play for this school for 3-4 years; do you want to be a quality player on a bad team, or do you want to contend for conference championships?

In that regard, you gotta think UW has the advantage, but the proof will be played out on the field.

Leach isn’t exactly inheriting the same team Paul Wulff inherited; he’s not saddled with a roster full of scrubs.  He not only has the advantage of taking over a team on the cusp of winning more games than they lose, but he’s got the cache of being a big-name head coach, which will instantly generate the kind of positive buzz Paul Wulff never could’ve possibly dreamed of.

On the one hand, as a Husky fan, I’ll miss having the “Whipping Boys of the East” to kick around.  On the other hand, as a football fan, it’ll certainly be more interesting to have a direct rival that’s not completely inept.  A direct rival that can grow as we grow, from the depths of 2008 to an infinite world of possibility.  Let’s face it, Oregon can’t dodge sanctions forever.  Eventually, the NCAA will catch them on something big, and then it’ll be one of the Washington teams ready to step up and claim our rightful throne.

I anticipate that it’ll be UW regardless of who’s coaching WSU.  But, either way, it’ll be a series of more-satisfying victories in these upcoming Apple Cups when we’re beating a team that’s expecting greatness as opposed to dreading utter futility.

So, bring on the Mike Leach Era!  You don’t scare me!  Besides, he strikes me as the type of guy who will jump ship at the first sign of greener pastures.

Apple Cup Preview

Aside from our wounded pride, there are still some interesting things about this year’s Apple Cup.

First and foremost being:  is this Paul Wulff’s last game as a head coach of the Cougs?  Win or lose, his job is in severe jeopardy, but I gotta think if the Huskies prevail, he is 100% fired.  On the flipside, if the Cougars prevail … who knows?  He might be playing for his job on Saturday.  Doesn’t mean a whole lot to the Huskies, but I gotta think if his players still give a damn about him, they’ll be busting their asses like nobody’s business.

Another story is Chris Polk.  It’s impossible to figure out exactly how many yards Napoleon Kaufman has as the number 1 Husky running back (every site I’ve checked so far has a different number), but I think it’s safe to say that Polk is within 300 yards.  Yeah, that’s a lot, but don’t forget his HUGE game in last year’s Apple Cup.  I don’t see why he couldn’t take the All Time Husky Rushing lead as well as the All Time Single Game Rushing lead in one fell swoop.

Another interesting wrinkle to this game is Bowl slotting.  If the Huskies lose, we’ll be 6-6 and 4-5 in the conference.  That would put us behind Utah, behind UCLA, and either behind Cal or Arizona State (who play one another).  THAT would put us squarely in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on December 31st against Army.  I suppose that would be okay for Husky fans living in San Francisco (which hosts the bowl), but it’s kind of a slap in the face for Husky fans who were hoping for something a little more.

A win, however, puts us at 7-5 and 5-4 in conference.  That puts us ahead of Cal, tied with Arizona State (or better than Arizona State if Cal finds a way to win), better than UCLA (pending their loss at USC this weekend) and tied with Utah in conference record (though, a game behind them in overall record pending their victory over Colorado).  If the bowls choose by conference record, a win could put us as high as the 3rd bowl (which would be the Holiday Bowl again).

Maybe it’s the homer in me, but I can’t see the Huskies dropping this game.  Oh, who am I kidding; of COURSE I can see it happening!  It almost happened LAST season!  Remember that 4th quarter when the Cougs were moving the ball up and down the field?  Remember when they were about to tie it up before the miracle interception?

Remember the last five games when we gave up nearly 42 points per game, including an embarrassing 38 to Oregon State last week?

Yeah, this defense is VERY capable of sucking about 90 bags of dicks on Saturday.  The question is:  will our offense figure it the fuck out and give us the shootout we’ve so desperately needed the last three weeks?

I think so.  I HOPE so.  I can’t handle another loss to a team we should beat.

Huskies Are 6-5, Losing Grip On An Erstwhile Great Season

All right, now I’m pissed.

I’m not pissed at any specific person; I’m just pissed in general.  Remember how I was talking last week about not really giving a shit about this Oregon State game until I heard that Nick Montana was getting the start?  Because we have our bowl eligibility and all that already wrapped up?  About how it might even be a struggle to care about the Apple Cup?

Yeah, forget all of that now.  That’s what happens when you lose a game you’re supposed to win.  Now, every single game hereafter I’m going into with the rabid ferocity I had going into that Nebraska game earlier in the season when we were hoping to go 3-0.

I want blood.

I want to take out every last one of our frustrations on a Cougar team that has no business doing anything other than sniffing our jock straps.  I want this seventh win like it’s a freshly baked apple pie and I’ve been starving in a desert for the past week.  I want to crush them by 50; I want to run up the score even after the game is well in hand.  I want to sprain the ankle of their third string quarterback.  I want Paul Wulff’s head on a stake in my front yard.

I want them to suffer for what I had to witness two days ago.

And, like I said, I’m not really mad at any one person.  There were mistakes to go around, on all fronts.  Austin Seferian-Jenkins dropping what would’ve been the go-ahead touchdown; dropping the easiest, most wide open go-ahead touchdown I’ve ever seen.  Sark seemingly abandoning the run (or, at the very least, not calling the right running plays – if I never see a handoff from a shotgun ever again, it’ll be too soon).  Keith Price trying to jam a pass into the endzone on first down after we’d just recovered a kickoff return fumble when there was still plenty of time on the clock while we were down only ten points.

And, of course, the defense.  Nick Holt’s defense.  I’ve been defending the guy all year, pleading for the university to give him another year or two to get the ship righted with his guys.  That’s not going to change.  There’s a talent deficiency on this team that isn’t his fault.  He’s starting to get some more talented players in here, but it’s still going to take time.  As I’ve said before, it’s much easier to throw a bunch of freshmen on offense at the skill positions and start paying dividends right away.  You can’t necessarily do that on defense and expect to get away with it.  You need depth, you need leadership, and most of all you need experience on defense.  We don’t have any of it.  That’s not Nick Holt’s fault.  And this loss shouldn’t be his final straw.  I want him back next year and I’m willing to stake my entire reputation as a sports fan on him turning things around.

I also, for the record, want to go as Nick Holt for Halloween next year, so we’re going to need that costume idea to be somewhat relevant.

This game really could’ve been something.  If just a few things go our way:  the drop, for instance; or the interception in the endzone.  If just a FEW things go our way, we make a brilliant comeback and head into the Apple Cup 7-4.

Now, we’re 6-5.  My God sir, I will not abide another toe!