From 2004 to 2010, our state’s top two college-football teams had a combined record of 49 wins and 118 losses. This regional tragedy inspired panic, fury, shame, intoxication, and now, on the eve of a potential turnaround season, acceptance. Washington’s college-football players and coaches are finally talking—even laughing—about the Dark Times.
Washington State University starting quarterback Connor Halliday came right out with it. “Half those kids wouldn’t have started for a good high-school football team,” he said. “We actually have some guys who can play at this level now.”
Unviersity of Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian speaks with more subtlety. Read between the lines as Sark explains why he’s only now unleashing the Huskies’ new hurry-up offense: “In years past I felt like, if we could shorten the game, keep it close, have a chance in the fourth quarter, we could win that way. And I thought it was effective for us. Now we have the depth, we have the personnel, we have the athletes on our team that, man, the more chances they get, they’re gonna make plays.”
The evidence on the field also indicates that we’ve emerged into the light. Washington’s Aug. 31 win over #19 Boise State and Wazzu’s Saturday win at #25 USC marked the first time since 2003 that the Dawgs and Cougs beat ranked opponents in consecutive weeks.
I can finally recommend college football in this state again. Both teams will play in Seattle this month: the Dawgs against Idaho State in the gorgeous new Husky Stadium on Sept. 21 (tix $33–$526 on StubHub) and Arizona on Sept. 28 ($45–$703). Washington State hosts Stanford at CenturyLink on Sept. 28 ($18–$250).
OSTRACIZED: The WNBA Storm. They clinched a berth in the playoffs, which start in mid-September, but will have to play their first-round game in the Tacoma Dome because KeyArena is booked.
ENERGIZED: Hopes for the 2014 Mariners’ pitching staff. Taijuan Walker and James Paxton both won their first MLB starts, and Danny Hultzen (the second overall pick in the 2011 draft) has recovered from a shoulder injury.
MONOPOLIZED: State high-school football, by the Bellevue High Wolverines. Kelly Clarkson sang at the team fundraiser last month, which suggests how deep-pocketed the program is. Dominant, too, with a winning streak that now stands at 41 games. On Saturday the Wolverines played their toughest opponent of the year, defending 4A champs Skyline—and crushed them 45-7.