Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weird End to Ugly Era

As Art Thiel wrote in the P-I today, these things never go well, do they? The Paint Dry Ty era came to an announced end yesterday....five games before the end of the year, which is weird....but an end that everyone in the free world saw coming since he was retained last year. And nice touch with the purple-n-gold sign, eh? That is someone who spent WAY too much time on something derogatory towards their own coach. Must be a pretty proud moment for a guy that age to get his picture in the paper for his sign ripping the local college football coach. And nice purple satin jacket on the guy on the right. ('m thinking 1982, K-Mart?)

Obviously UW fans are beyond frustrated. This was year four of the Ty Willie experiment, a year in which they had planned on taking a big step forward. They blew a few games last year in a 4-9 season, and it was sound enough reasoning to say that if they could have held on in the Apple Cup, the Hawaii game, and the Arizona game, all games they had at least a two-score lead, UW could have been 7-6 and a bowl team last year. So, sure, they would probably struggle early with a tough schedule, but after some lumps it would be the year it all turns around. But alas, here they are, down Jake Locker and a host of other players, sitting at 0-7 and staring at a certain 0-8 after they "bow down" to USC this Saturday. Willingham is 11-32 overall, just a brutal record. And I heard it was so bad during Saturday's blowout loss to Notre Dame that, during a commercial on the big screen featuring Willingham doing charity work with children, the fans booed. The masses are so down right now though, they could throw a picture of the Easter Bunny, Santa, and puppies on the big screen and they would get ripped. Tough crowd.

So here's a question for the WSU faithful - and I'm serious here - but is UW what it used to be? The KJR types are yakking it up about how they need to go hire a rock star head coach to return UW to prominence. But is it that easy? Can they ever get back to how things used to be? I don't care if they hired Nick Saban, Steven Spurrier, Les Miles, Jim Mora, Lane Kiffin or Mike Holmgren, right now this job is NOT what it used to be. Consider:

1) The record - Since Y2k - and this INCLUDES their 2000 season where they went 11-1 - UW is now 44-59. That is good for eight in the Pac-10, ahead of only Stanford and Arizona. This isn't a one or two or even three-year downturn. This is a disturbing trend, especially when you consider where they started the decade. For what it's worth, with UW's loss vs. Notre Dame, they have now clinched their fifth consecutive losing season. Their last non-losing season was 2003, where they went 6-6.

2) The facilities - You know the drill. They have been touting for 18 months how badly UW needs the work done on their aging old lady on Montlake. The place is literally falling apart. And yes, they have their hand out for $150 million in public funds. Good luck with that. For a stadium that would be used, what, 5-6 times a year? The track would be removed in their renovation, so they can't argue it would be used for that. And Qwest Field is already hosting soccer, so that's out as well. So let's see - in a major economic downturn, with a huge state deficit, they are paying Willingham $1 million alone to disappear, and they are saying they are going to go "big" on their next head coach, speculated to be in the $2 million per year range? AND they want public money to pay for half of their $300 million renovation, the most expensive college renovation EVER?? Whatever. Don't ask don't get, sure, but for them to cry poor mouth right now is insane.

3) The Landscape - While UW has struggled during the Y2K decade, guess who has climbed right past them in the NW? No, not WSU (although WSU has finished ahead of UW in the Pac-10 standings for seven straight years, and has 11 more wins than UW since Y2K....not that anyone is counting....but still). Check out what's been going on in Oregon. Did you know that outside of USC, Oregon and Oregon State are two-three in the Pac-10 in terms of record this decade? Better than Cal, better than ASU, better than UCLA. This isn't a mistake or misprint. The Oregon schools have taken off while UW has slid down the pole.

Why? Well, sugar daddies help. Phil Knight with Oregon obviously, and Reser has been a boost. But with the sugar daddies also came better facilities. And nobody can argue against the idea that Oregon and Oregon State have two of the nicer venues in the west. They both have built a strong donor base, filled with rabid fans who expect to win games.

And, when you combine success and great facilities as well as some excellent head coaches in the two Mike's - Bellotti and Riley - well, you can see how the Oregon schools have been heading off the California talent at the pass. Back in the day, when UW was winning Pac-10 titles, the flow of talent into Seattle was impressive from SoCal. Today, not so much.

The biggest thing the Oregon schools have done is to completely hurt the depth at a school like UW. Every school suffers injuries, even the USC's of the world. But they simply reload with all-Americans. With Oregon and Oregon State nabbing that talent that used to show up in Seattle, now, UW has lost their layers of depth that they used to boast as simply reloading, never rebuilding. They'll still get the Jake Locker's of the world, but it's what is next to him and around him that is just as important.

Now, I know, I know, I shouldn't throw stones from this glass house. But I'm really not. WE are in the middle of completely bottoming-out, staring at 1-win world right now. But guess what? We're actually one step AHEAD of UW in the process. I know that sounds crazy. But when you think about it, we are already a few phases into a stadium renovation that, when done, will be a pretty cool game-day setting that will only help in recruiting.

And despite the sniping this year from some of you with our big drop in quality, we already have our coach with which to rebuild. Wulff had an OK first recruiting class last year, but this year is off to an excellent start in the verbal commitment department. UW still has a facility headache on their hands, and, they need to get their next coach to start the process.

So there you have it. Willingham coaches out the rest of the year while UW begins the search for his successor. A weird end to an ugly era.

Enjoy your Tuesday, and GO COUGS!


Medina Booster said...

Excuse me if I dont take your comments seriously re: Husky football. Just another slanted article from a couglet perspective. You dont think we will return, just wait. I cant wait to come here when the press conf goes down with our next coach who will kick your wulff's tail from day one.

Anonymous said...

Aw... you hurt the puppy dog's feelings :( Why would you come down here when you get a new coach? shouldn't you wait until next year to see how your team plays? Coaches can only do so much...

atlanacoug said...

I remember about 10 years ago reading an article in the Seattle times about how the UW football program was the richest in the Pac-10. No one was even close. Talk about some mismanagement to mess up that golden goose. You telling me there are no rich UW alumni to fork over cash to make that stadium makeover? Amazing how the mighty have fallen.

LouisianaCoug said...

A great analysis of their current state. It will be very interesting to see who they can lure to the UW.

But for how it concerns us as Cougs- which I would argue is on the field, and head to head, the U has won 7 of the last 10, and completely deflated four of our best seasons in recent memory (2006, 2003, 2002, 2001). Interestingly, this 7 out of 10 is right on par with the U's all-time Apple Cup winning percentage. (It pains me just as much as everyone else).

So yes, at least in relationship to us, the UW is still entirely what they used to be. Now to everyone else and everything else (facilities, etc), that's a totally different story. But this is a WSU site, and as such, all that matters is that Apple Cup record and it doesn't lie.

kaddy said...

Well, my 401k is officially down 50%...exactly half of what it used to be...thanks a lot.

Woody said...

As much as I hate to admit it, I have no doubt that UW will be "back" someday. Is it the most wonderful delightful bestes job in the whole wide world as many in Seattle like to believe it is?...no answer necessary.

Will it be back to the hallowed days,...probably not but it will be back.

Mainly because of three reasons:
1. Money
2. Location
3. Money

First off the money: It all begins and ends there!
The facilities will be renovated...eventually. A new coach to breath life into the donations kitty will get that started. Fans will have to wait a few more years to get the money raised for those improvements, but it will eventually happen.

The second reason is location. There is a reason that 50% of WSU Alums live in the greater Seattle area,...it is a great place to live! That applies too for UW recruits, Coaches, etc., the Seattle Area is enticing, that can't hurt for keeping people around.
Also that dinosaur of a stadium is in a great spot! I curse it every time I drive by it on 520 or float by it on a boat going through the montlake cut. That stadium is in a great location, period. If it were not such a craphole of a rust bucket it would be one of the better venues in all of college football. (I say that have been to every Pac-10 stadium, the Horseshoe, Notre Dame, and Auburn)
Do not get me wrong I am not talking about the people inside the stadium or the atmosphere surrounding it before the games! I am just talking about the pure locale of the stadiums.

Is it a good job, Let's see: Get paid 2 million a year, live in Seattle, have thousands of fans and supports revere you (at least temporarily) oh and did I mention get paid 2 million to live in Seattle. So, yes it is still a good job.

Are the expectations of the UW alums way out of whack? Where is it not? Besides this is coming from a guy who has just spent the last 30 minutes at work writing on his college's football blog.

Is the UW job as good as coaching the Cougs? Let's not be absurd,...of course not!

Go Cougs!


Dcarpenter said...

I have heard second hand that Gary Pinkel has been offered the position and is SERIOUSLY considering it. He would be a good fit, coached under Don James and has roots here.

They would still suck, but would be great for recruiting in the near term.

Logan said...

that'd be perfect. the pink(el) and purple pansies!! i kinda hope it happens.

Sedihawk said...

Uh, NO, I don't want Pinkel at UW. That is a worrisome proposition. The guy is a pretty damn good coach a hot, successful scheme that everyone in the Big 12 seems to be running. He can take an above-average QB and make him a guy who will get heisman votes. Maybe the Don James roots are too deep? Sort of like Dean Smith asking Roy Williams to take UNC? I know that's a bit of a stretch, but still.

Speaking of Don James, I heard him on the radio last week. When asked about Pinkel, the first thing out of his mouth was "missouri has perhaps the best facilities in the nation". Can't exactly say the same thing about UW right now. Facilities really and truly matter in things like this. But who knows, maybe Pinkel has topped out at Mizzou, and he knows it? It's not like they have been going 11-1 every single year there. He's only won the Big 12 north one time since 2001. And getting past Oklahoma or Texas in the Big 12 championship game is always going to be that one extra obstacle to getting to a BCS game. Maybe he views UW as a real shot to get back to the glory days? Boy, the UW honks will HONK hard on Pinkel though. It might take a few years, but even I have to admit that would be a home run.

Anonymous said...

I think everyone is forgetting the one coach that has a clause in his contract that says he can leave his current position if UW coaching job opens up and he already lives in Seattle......Jim Mora. He was fired for SAYING he wanted the UW job a few years back. He is already here, why would he not be in consideration now??