- Duff McKagan, Playbook
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So, in the long run -- and to be honest about it -- I was glad that my Washington Huskies football team made a bowl game. If you are an old-schooler like myself, well, then you will remember the time in the not-too-distant past, that an unranked 7-5-ish team would in no way make a bowl appearance. That would have been crazy a few years ago.
But geez. We all are aware of the money that even the smallest collegiate football postseason appearance will bring in. Hence, we have what we have now. Bad teams, and sometimes even awful teams (with sub-.500 records, to boot?!), are playing games well after the time that those student-athletes' regular season ended.
It's almost like nowadays the modern Little League tenet of "everybody gets a trophy," has somehow spilled upwards to the collegiate field. Well, at least where collegiate football is concerned. Whose parents' turn is it to bring snacks after the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl?
The pairings of some of these matchups are awful too. As in a "who-the-hell-cares-that-UCLA-is-playing-whoever-the-hell-they-played" kind of way. Two teams that were so bad that their coaches got fired, and the bowl game featured two interim coaches. Eesh!
But the pairing of Baylor vs. Washington did have an interesting sort of sub-story. Great offenses. Horrible no abysmal defenses over the season. Baylor, of course, deserved to be in a bowl game at 9-3. Against the Huskies, though? I dunno. I betcha Baylor fans felt a bit "passed over."
I am a lifelong Husky football fan. From the days of Sonny Sixkiller until now; I have hung in there through all of the bad, good, bad, good and then bad again. That is what we do, right football fans? Well, of course!
But I must tell the truth here. It is the holiday season, and all of us to some degree or another, might just have an out-of-town friend or two visiting, or we might be the ones doing the visiting with other hosts. In my case, to explain how low my expectations for the Huskies were, I had made a dinner reservation for my family and a friend's family from out of town to go to dinner at 6 p.m. PT on Dec. 29. Er, the exact time that the Baylor-Washington Alamo Bowl game was getting underway
The heck with it, I thought. I can't cancel dinner now. I mean, let's be honest; the Huskies would get demolished, right? We'd be playing No. 15 Baylor, with their dominant Heisman Trophy-snagging quarterback, Robert Griffin III. Besides, the restaurant we were going to has a bar in another part of it that would be airing the game. I could just act like I had to go to the bathroom a few more times than usual, and check on the score (my wife, Susan, was not fooled in the slightest).
If any of you know about this game, in fact, no defense was played but the Husky offense actually showed up in a BIG way in that first half. As I rushed the dinner along so I could get home for the second half, my Huskies were up 35-24 at the end of the second quarter. What the ? Could this be the game that gets our team pumped for next year? We'd certainly grab national headlines, right? Heck. Maybe we'd even get some kick-ass recruits because of our impending domination of that Heisman dude's team. Right? Right?
I guess I forgot about our sieve-like defense
I got home, and settled myself in for a "great" second half of Husky football. As we went up 42-24, though, there was just something in the air that never let me get cocky with the notion that Washington might win. It was the worst defensive game I have ever seen. (And that dates back to the 89'ers league I played in -- 8- and 9-year-olds). It wasn't fun football to watch. You just knew that each offense would score in literally one or two plays, and then they'd switch sides and do the same.
When the Huskies lost 67-56, I knew instantly, that a defensive coaching change was imminent before defensive coordinator Nick Holt was fired Saturday. Head coach Steve Sarkisian has a Husky Nation believing again, and he knows he cannot just lay dormant with a subpar or under-achieving staff and still get the support he needs to take this program to the next level.
Washington sophomore quarterback Keith Price is the best we have seen here for years (sorry, Jake Locker). Our O-line and receiving corps are afraid of no one. And before his announcement Monday that he'd enter the NFL draft, I was still hopeful standout running back Chris Polk might stay for another year.
But now, we have to get that "it" defensive coordinator, that can turn things around in a hurry and get those kids to believe in themselves again.
I am sure that this extra game was great for a team like the Huskies. A sort of year-end "shake-out." But these non-consequential bowl games do nothing for the rest of us, if you ask me. There is no allure. There is no playoff next step. I guess they are good for recruiting, and good for those boosters and fans who want to go somewhere for a vacation around the holidays.
Other than that? Bah humbug. Most of these bowl games are a pure bore.
Musician Duff McKagan -- who writes for Seattle Weekly, has written for Playboy.com and now has his autobiography out -- writes a weekly sports column for ESPN.com. To send him a note, click here and fill out the form.
Seeing his Washington Huskies in the Alamo Bowl was a little satisfying, but Duff McKagan can do without the increasing number of watered-down matchups that come with bowl season.