Dec 27, 2013

Time for the 9th

It's been a very strange month since the Huskies defeated Wazzu in the Apple Cup. The coaching turnover has created a great deal of uncertainty at Montlake, but hopefully Tui's leadership and overall Husky-ness will be enough to refocus this team on the task at hand: securing a 9th win and getting revenge on some Mormons.

I'm still pissed at the Fightin' Brigham Youngs for the infamous 2008 game when Jake Locker was outrageously penalized for a TD celebration, which resulted in a blocked extra point and a Husky loss. That terrible penalty call also resulted in head referee Larry Farina earning Douchebag of the Year honors.

Still pissed at you, Lawrence.

UW also lost at BYU in 2010 when Jake Heaps was their quarterback (remember when that guy was a can't-miss prospect? Spoiler alert: he missed). So the Huskies should be out for revenge in addition to a 9th win tonight.

This BYU team features a fast-paced, run-oriented offense with two 1,200+ yard rushers and a defense that includes one of the top linebackers in the country in Kyle Van Noy. After a mystifying loss at Virginia, BYU went 8-3 with beatdowns of Texas and Boise State. BYU will get yards, but the Husky defense will have to keep them out of the endzone and force field goals.

Sophomore QB Taysom Hill is a legit athlete and fellow sophomore Jamaal Williams has been very productive in his young Cougar career. Plus most of their guys are 1-2 years older than other teams due to taking missions (i.e. pestering people around the world about Joe Smith and cosmology). Just look at this guy:

He actually grew that 'stache in the '80s.

That's Spencer Hadley. He's a 32 year-old, 14th-year senior with 3 wives ((like I wasn't gonna make one polygamy joke, c'mon, you know me better than that.)

On paper, UW is a more talented team than BYU, but could struggle after the emotional roller coaster of the last few weeks. Teams respond differently to coaching changes and uncertainty around the program: Boise State came out flat as hell against the Beavers and got rolled while USC jumped all over Fresno State and blew them out. It'll certainly be a testament to Coach Tui's head coaching potential if he can keep this team focused and motivated tonight. Especially now that it's been reported that starting safety Will Shamburger and starting guard Dexter Charles (arguably UW's best OL) won't be playing.

Speaking of Tui, he will be deciding on his coaching future after the game. The word around Montlake is that he was offered a position on Coach Pete's staff coaching tight ends. It's hard not to see this move as a step down for Tui, and the fact that he's waiting to announce until after the game makes me think he won't be returning to UW next year. I really hope he does though.

Tui showing off his "Husky Face."

Reports came out today that Justin Wilcox will follow Sark to USC. That sucks, but makes sense with Wilcox's good buddy Peter Sirmon going down there and USC moving on from their DC Clancy Pendergast. Wilcox worked wonders for the UW defense so hopefully former Boise State DC Pete Kwiatkowski (man that is a bitch to type) can keep the improvement going.

Then there's Tosh Lupoi. It sounds like he won't be returning to UW or going to USC. My feeling is he'll resurface in the SEC where recruiting violations and less-than-ethical behavior ain't no big thang. Losing Tosh puts a dent in recruiting, but ultimately, he might be more trouble than he's worth. Hopefully the former BSU coaches can develop into top-flight recruiters (I'm looking at you Keith Bhonapha and Jimmy Lake).

As far as tonight's game goes, I was surprised to see that the Vegas line has actually increased from favoring UW by 3 points to 4.5. The coaching flux and Husky injuries make me pretty nervous about this game, but ultimately I think the Huskies are galvanized from their "we all we got, we all we need" mantra and will come away with the victory. It's not going to be easy though, call it 30-27 UW.

Go Dawgs!

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Dec 6, 2013

Coach Pete Joins Husky Nation!

How do you grade UW's head coaching hire? free polls 

What a huge relief to land the big fish. Now Petersen needs to fill out his staff, hopefully by retaining Wilcox, Lupoi, and Tui. The ladder two should be close to guaranteed, but Wilcox's future is very much in doubt. He could become a HC at Boise or another school, or possibly join Sark down at USC. My bet is he'll either become a head coach or return to UW as DC. Still lots to sort out in what has been a crazy couple of days.

Go Dawgs!

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Dec 4, 2013

Petersen or Nussmeier?

With the Seattle Times reporting that Chris Petersen (head coach at Boise State) and Doug Nussmeier (offensive coordinator at Alabama) are now the frontrunners for the head coaching job at UW, it's clearly time for a new poll:

Who do prefer to lead UW? free polls 

Both guys have been very successful in their coaching careers. Petersen is a ridiculous 92-12 at Boise State while Nussmeier is fresh off a national championship as the OC at 'Bama. Between these two, I have to go with Petersen. He's a much more proven commodity as a HC, albeit at a non-BCS school. But make no mistake, he has been the best of the best outside of the BCS.

Yes, this year has been a step back at 8-4. But take a look at '08-'12: 61-5 with a Fiesta Bowl win and an undefeated season in '09. In those five years, BSU finished in the Top 10 three times and the Top 15 all five times. Obviously Boise didn't face the grueling Pac-12 schedule during those years, but Petersen also didn't have UW quality players.

BSU doesn't recruit like a Pac-12 team, yet they had four 1st round picks in the NFL Draft during that span. Petersen and his staff were able to develop decent recruits into the best in the country. I don't think UW will ever be able to out-recruit USC, UCLA, and maybe even Stanford when they're great, so the ability to maximize the talent level of UW's recruits is key to competing for Pac-12 titles. And Wilcox was DC for Peterson at Boise, so maybe he stays on the staff as well.

Nussmeier is a strong candidate too - he's a national championship-winning OC who seems to be a legit quarterback guru. He could also be better than Petersen eventually. But Boise's head man is clearly the more experienced of the two and simply a less risky pick right now. It sounds like Peterson's buyout clause is $750k + another million ($250k x 4 years remaining) so this could all be a moot point. Plus he might just be playing the leverage game with BSU (ugh). We'll have to wait and see...

Go Dawgs!

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The Search Continues...

Who is your 1st choice for the new Husky coach? free polls 

Tui has been named the interim head coach. Not sure what this means for Wilcox as generally a defensive coordinator would get this designation over a QB coach. Maybe Wilcox wants to look around for HC gigs at smaller school without taking on the responsibility of interim HC.  It could also be that UW and Wilcox are parting ways.

This move makes me thinking UW isn't hiring a new coach until after this weekend or even the bowl games. On one hand, that sucks for recruiting, though this year is a small class and coaching turnover always makes recruiting a good class difficult. On the other hand, this could be an indication that UW is high on a head coach that doesn't want to leave their team floating in the wind (a coach unlike Sark). Pinkel certainly fits in this category with his team's huge game this weekend.

I'll be a little pissed if UW is forced to wait for Nussmeier. I feel like he should come to UW right away if he's named head coach. Alabama has almost no chance of playing in the NC and if Nuss wants to be the head man, he should immediately start reviving this program that has had a very rough couple of days. But then again, Sark stayed at USC for the bowl game... maybe we should have read more into that at the time.

The Seattle Times reported that both Wilcox and Tui interviewed with Woodward today, but potentially more for the "interim coach" position for the bowl game. There's supposedly mutual interest between UW and Nussmeier as well, but no reports of an interview.

There was some twitter chatter yesterday that Petrino is in town, but I don't see that confirmed anywhere. Petersen is said to be interested, but with his track record of turning down jobs, that seems iffy at best.

Pinkel is a little busy prepping Mizzou for the SEC Championship game this weekend. Haven't heard much about Franklin (Vanderbilt) or DeRuyter (Fresno State).

Sounds like more waiting game for awhile...

Go Dawgs!

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Dec 3, 2013

So... Who's Next?

Well, there ya go. It's not shocking that Sark would take the USC job (hometown, old employer, SoCal talent pool, etc.) but it is a bit of a surprise that USC would extend the offer. Sark was 34-29 at UW (24-21 in conference) and while he righted the ship after the brutal Gilbertson/Ty Willy years, he never won big at a school that has certainly won big in the past.

It's a shame that UW players found out about Sark's move from social media as opposed to Sark himself. While I'm sure Sark would have preferred the news to have broken after today's 2pm meeting, he should have realized that social media waits for no one and done the right thing by notifying the team first.

But ultimately Sark got this program on the right track. Clearly UW is headed in the right direction and with the new stadium, facilities, and upgraded talent on the roster, the university should be able to reel in a much bigger coach this time around than when Sark was hired in '08. Unfortunately, the rumors are indicating that much of UW's impressive staff will head south as well. Justin Wilcox and Tosh Lupoi have both been linked to SC though Wilcox would almost definitely stay if UW offered him the head coaching gig (which in my opinion would be a mistake).

So where does UW go from here?

Jim L. Mora

You know the story on Mora. Former Husky player, former NFL head coach, current UCLA Bruin. He has revived UCLA in less than two years, going 18-8. Obviously everyone likes the idea of a former Husky taking the reigns and Mora does seem much better suited for the college game than the NFL (fiery, impressive recruiter, etc.) UW could undoubtedly give him a big raise from his $1.935 million salary, but UCLA would most likely match or exceed the offer. We'll find out if Mora is willing to spur his current employer to seize the chance to become The Dawgfather II.

Gary Pinkel

Pinkel is from the Coaching School of Don James, having spent '79-'00 as an assistant at UW before head coaching gigs at Toledo and Missouri. At 11-1, #5 in the country, and playing this weekend in the SEC Championship game, Pinkel is at the top of the coaching profession. Look what he has done at Mizzou:

The 13 years before Pinkel: 51-91-4 (.359)

The 13 years with Pinkel: 101-62 (.620)

Clearly he has proven himself as a consistent winner. But at 61 years old and heading a Top Ten team, he may not be interested in relocating to Montlake.

Chris Petersen

92-12. Petersen has won 88.5% of the games he's coached at Boise State. That's insanopants. Yes, the competition level isn't close to the Pac-12, but this guy clearly develops players - BSU has a ton of NFL alumni for how mediocre their recruiting classes have been. Hiring Petersen could also be UW's best shot of keeping Wilcox at DC as the two had a good relationship working together at BSU. 

Petersen has turned down more job offers than Steve Sarkisian promised to win Rose Bowls at UW (like I wasn't gonna take a shot or two), but UW might be his best fit so far. He's a Northwest guy and UW offers an upgrade across the board from BSU (facilities, recruiting, salary, etc.) It's unclear whether Petersen can recruit elite talent, but his winning record is without question.

Doug Nussmeier

Former OC at UW and current OC for Saban at Alabama. Nuss impressed a lot of people at UW during his time here and was instrumental in helping Keith Price flourish in '11. He could be UW's first choice if they end up going the coordinator route.

Justin Wilcox

The current DC at Washington has done a fantastic job improving the defense just like he did at Boise and Tennessee. Wilcox is a very respected DC, but is a bit young at 37 and might need and/or want more seasoning before becoming a head coach.

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Nov 27, 2013

Apple Cup Special!

Is it though? I'm honestly dumbfounded.

Apple Cup week, y'all! Time to avenge that turd of a game last year in the Palouse. The Coug faithful is feeling way too good about themselves with a one-game winning streak over UW and a team that is somehow over .500 at 6-5. So that means it's the perfect time for the big brother Huskies to lay a beatdown on their annoying, red-headed sibling from east of the mountains.


Side note: it's been way too long since I've seen a good babyfight - like a real hard-nosed, bare-knuckled, 15-round baby throwdown. Just sayin'. 

For the first time since 2003, the Apple Cup features two teams with winning records. The Couglets have finally gotten up off the mat after years of futility and now sit in a position to play in a bowl game for the first time in a decade. But with an AC loss, Wazzu would be 6-6 and could miss out on a bowl. It would be a nice revenge for Washington to knock Wazzu out of a bowl as it really could be another ten years before they play in one.

Hmm, maybe if you replace "smart" with "self-loathing."

Wazzu has had a strange season: they beat USC at the Coliseum by holding the Trojans to 7 points (though to be fair, Lame Kiffin was running the show back then), but then gave up 52 at home to the Beavers in a blowout loss. One thing is for certain, Wazzu is gonna throw the ball. A ton. They threw it 89 times against Oregon. 89. Insano. I didn't realize Napoleon Dynamite had that kind of arm.

C'mon Connor, grow out the hair, buddy...

While Connor Halliday is #3 in the nation in passing yards, he's #1 in the nation in interceptions (19). This could spell disaster for Wazzu as UW has intercepted five passes over their last three games, and forced nine turnovers overall. If Connor Dynamite turns the ball over, it's going to be very difficult for this to happen:

As opposed to Win the Defeat?

What is it with Cougs and dumb shirts? "Win the victory!" is something the not-so-bright freshman cheerleader yells when she goes off-script, like "Score the points!" Just stick to the black pants:

Not sure if you guys remember this, but during the Apple Cup last year, Coug fans tore off a bleacher at their own stadium and carried in through the crowd.

 Such a Coug move.

Yes, Couglets are a strange, strange breed. And can be so creepy that even a self-professed pirate wants to get the hell away from them.

"No, I don't want to see your 4-H trophies."

Every Apple Cup raises the question of whether Wazzu is a bigger rival than Oregon. Obviously the UW/WSU has its own name and pits many family members against each other, but when asked who they'd rather beat, many Husky fans would pick the ducks.

Who is UW's biggest rival? free polls 

It does seem like the players see this game as the bigger rivalry however. Throughout the years, there has been significantly more shit-talking involving UW/WSU than UW/OU. I was happy to see Husky center Mike Criste getting pumped about playing the Cougs even during the midst of the locker room celebration after destroying Oregon State. From The Daily:
“I’m thinking about it right now,” center Mike Criste said after the game. “[I’m thinking about] kicking their ass.”
I love it. And Las Vegas believes the Dawgs will kick some Cougar ass as well with UW favored by 14.5 points. Obviously anything can happen in this game, but I'm betting on the Husky passing defense to cause a lot of trouble for Halliday, and for The Bishop to churn out yards against a mediocre Wazzu defense. If the O-line imposes their will against WSU like they did against the Beavs, it shouldn't matter if Keith Price or Cyler Miles is running the show. UW 41-24.

Go Dawgs!

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