Arizona 52 and UW 17. Nuff said. It was sad and it was the third straight loss for a Husky team that has suddenly lost its way, not to mention its quarterback, its resolve, and its resilience. Now at 3-4, the Huskies need to win at least 3 of their last 5 games in order to qualify for a bowl game and the 15 developmental practices that come with it. It can still happen and they can salvage this campaign if they just quit hurting themselves. Of course, believing they can must come first.
It was trains, planes, and automobiles again on the ride home with Dave “Softy” Mahler after he and I, along with Hugh Millen, went well into the night trying to talk Husky fans off the cliff or ledges they were ready to jump off of. Their team (our team) is in rough water again and the ship appears to be listing so being a “Husky Honk” and a loyal fan continues to get harder and harder. Just when the program had been starting to hit some smooth water all of a sudden the ship is sinking again. With a 6-0 Beaver team coming to town it doesn’t get any easier but a win here against another top-10 team would do more for this team than any win in the whole season. They need to play their best game of the season and they could start by eliminating their own mistakes.
Ten penalties for 100 yards is stupid. Come on guys, clean up your act. Two interceptions with one coming as you’re going into score and a fumble the very play right after your defense causes and recovers a fumble by Arizona. Come on guys! Then add on another kicking game score by Arizona on a punt return and instantly the game goes from a two score deficit a 52-17 blowout. Game over.
I arrive home after our flight got delayed (of course) a good ten hours after we left Tucson. My wife and I had just settled in when she yells, “Look outside; there’s two deer in your garden”. Our dog didn’t even notice (cause it was her dinner time) so I go running out to shoe them out the gate but both panic and start running all over the garden crashing into the fence because it is green and they obviously couldn’t see it. I immediately open all three gates and with a stick chased the fawn out but momma was confused and kept bounding around into the fence and it kept throwing her back so she just takes off in a full sprint ignoring the wide open gates and barrels head first into the fence, tearing it down and the posts for the gates with it and in doing so gets wrapped up in it all as she struggled to free herself. I’m yelling at her that I don’t want to hurt her but she’s not listening and suddenly flips herself upside down, gets untangled, and takes off with our now angry dog quick in pursuit.
The whole episode only took about 10 seconds but it was high paced natural drama at its best. My wife, Kim, and I live on a little lake in the woods so having deer, bear, eagles, cougars, ducks, geese, wolves and other creatures is just part of our world but this was the first time it was so up close and in person. Oh, we’ve had both raccoons and weasels wipe out our chicken coop but usually the dog, Marley, chases off most critters but not this time.
When it was over, Kim and I just looked at each other and started laughing because we think we live “On Golden Pond” and now I just have another project to work on. I knew the posts were rotting so the deer merely tore it all down for me forcing me to fix it. That’s sort of what Steve Sarkisian is facing. He needs to rebuild the belief system of his team and he needs to do it now. I’ve already harvested most of my crop so I don’t have the urgency that he and his coaches have. I also don’t have anyone who is telling me how to do it or who even cares about my project. It just made me realize how lucky I am to be out of the rat-race of professional coaching.
Besides not having hemorrhoids, migraines, skin rashes, and all the other things that came with the stress, I above all don’t miss having to explain losing. Coach Sark and his coaches and players know that winning games is hard and that they are always being second guessed. Nobody likes losing but it is like an illness in that if you don’t want to get better then it isn’t going to happen until you do. Sark inherited a broken team four years ago and there was no transition from the Willingham era to his. He has recruited well except for that first year and after beating Nebraska in a bowl it looked like he was well on his way to an instant recovery. Not so fast. Unfortunately for him, he had to replace his whole defensive staff along the way and now is rebuilding all over again.
This Husky staff, just like the one before it, and the one before that, and the one before that have all been trying to right this ship. Building a team from the bottom up is a long process but unfortunately the public, the fans, the media, and critics have no time for excuses. Losing begets losing and when a program has gone thru 4 coaches in 10 years it’s hard to find continuity much less rebuild an entire mindset that is necessary for winning. So, while the coaches are spending sleepless night agonizing over their many problems I am rebuilding my garden fence and gate. Now I ask you, who has the easiest project? Fortunately for me I prefer to keep re-building fences and all I can do (or you for that matter) is hope they figure out how to rebuild theirs. (As in defense and offense.)