BY Art Thiel 06:45PM 12/31/2010

SoCal new UW home away from home

Hoops wins bookending ‘Husker wallop make purple the hot color

Huskies celebrate Holiday Bowl win 2010

Washington's defenders celebrate their part of a triumphal Huskies sports week in California / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

The frequent recipient of hand-me-downs, our sports market is not used to owning something cool outright.

Such as the Southern California sports market in 2010.

All those painted-on suntans look good accessorized in purple and gold.

Happy Old Year.

The Huskies basketball team won at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion 74-63 Friday afternoon for what seems like the first time since Bob Houbregs was in knickers. Wednesday, they beat the Trojans 73-67 at USC, a team that beat them twice last season.

The hoops double bracketed the football team’s win Thursday in San Diego’s Holiday Bowl over Nebraska. The Cornhuskers and their fans could not have been more surprised had they awakened in bed with a family of water buffaloes.

Owing partly to the random coincidence of having three games in three days in geographic proximity, the Washington trifecta is unprecedented.

Not to mention nearly unfathomable.

As hoops coach Lorenzo Romar put it Friday for the entirety of Clan Purple:

“I couldn’t be prouder.”

Taking a longer look, the football team was 2-0 in the regular season in California (winning at Cal and USC) and the hoopsters are 5-0 going back to the three wins last March that earned them the Pac-10 tourney championship.

So renaming the state Baja Washington does not seem entirely inappropriate, although before annexation, there must be an insistence that the citizens take out the trash, such as the Kardashians.

As far as great weeks go, it gets no better for a college sports program that is viewed, right or wrong, mostly by the fates of its high-profile teams.

An argument can be made the hoops double among hostiles and traditional nemeses was at least as remarkable as the football triumph, given that Washington was 3-44 at Pauley entering Friday’s game, and had to go OT to win Wednesday.

But the Huskies hoopsters were forecasted to be formidable this season, so success was not unanticipated. For the football team, triumph against Nebraska, a 14-point favorite, could not have been foreseen even with the Hubble telescope.

What was readily observable was that complacency was the Cornhuskers’ biggest foe, owing to the fact that they obliterated Washington at Husky Stadium three months earlier and looked upon the rematch as others might see a New Year’s Eve of C-Span.

Still . . . seven points? And 189 yards of offense? And 102 yards in penalties? Jeez. As the head coach, Bo Pelini, put it: “Ridiculous.”

There’s not showing up, and then there’s not showing up. This was the full too-stoned-to-sing Jim Morrison concert bailout.

Conversely, the Huskies were amped, but mere passion does not make up their deficiency in talent.

Bridging that gap fell to Steve Sarkisian and his coaches, who not only cadged four consecutive wins – the longest streak since 2001 – from their battered outfit, they manipulated the players and strategy Thursday so that their inevitable mistakes didn’t kill their chances.

Two missed field goals and two failed attempts on fourth-and-1 normally are the kinds of shortfalls from which upset bids do not recover. Yet making no turnovers, allowing no sacks and finding many able defenders where previously there were few were coaching feats of Jamesian proportions.

The ability to make the most of extra bowl practices was a hallmark of the Don James era. Taking it a step further Thursday, Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt managed to coach up a profound liability, the defensive line, into an asset. And they seemed to have discovered a force in tackle Alameda Ta’amu, who came up big in more than pounds.

To pull off an upset is one thing. To lead wire–to-wire and win the scrimmage-line beatdown is, for this team, astonishing, even if the Huskers were napping in the combine’s cab. The theme of dominance is particularly relevant not only from the rally from 0-12 in 2008, but from midseason, when they lost consecutive games to Pac-10 powers Oregon, Stanford and Arizona by a combined 138-30.

To keep college kids from losing faith at a fast-fading 3-6 is a splendid achievement, particularly when they had so few previous reference points for success.

The football triumph was a long-sought breakthrough. Not that it guarantees a Rose Bowl anytime soon, but it offers proof that the right direction has been chosen, which makes it a pivot point in team history.

Coupled with the continuing success of the basketball program, it makes Huskies fans delight in the thought that Baja Washington will be a fine place to get a nice pedicure, car wash and a good cigar, lighting it from a match struck upon a SoCal chin.


  • Dave J

    I was very impressed with the focus of the coaching staff post-game. Sark could have been screaming like a girl, but while happy, he was very business like, leaving the impression that “this is just one step forward in the master plan”. It helps no doubt that he’s been there before and tasted success. Recruiting takes a BIG step forward this year!

    Thanks Art, and y’all have a happy and successful New Year!

    • Rich H

      The win was staggering considering what happened earlier in September. WOW is all I can think of. Art there is nobody who writes quite like you, thanks for the smiles.

  • Jeff

    The Cornhuskers and their fans could not have been more surprised had they awakened in bed with a family of water buffaloes.

    lol That’s pretty good I like that

  • Jeff

    Put it this way Sark, Holt, and Romar for even longer have made it fun to be a proud Husky again. And it hasn’t been that way for awhile.

    Geaux Dawgs!

  • Jeff

    Baja Washington? Well since Washington want to be California politically why not

  • nick

    great read. thanks Art.

  • Dennis Noson


    Finally caught up with you in your new venture. You’ve emphatically delivered great news for the Huskies. Just how did Jim Moore know?

    For 2010: I still deeply miss the old P-I … your writing and vision for sports in our Puget Sound culture is a needed blessing in return. Thanks for keeping the faith and for your hard work.

    For 2011: Congratulations and best of blessings for the coming new year.

    –Dennis (Logg) Noson (my mom’s cousin, Elmer Logg, a big man on campus, Husky football in the 30s)

  • Wesley Remmer

    Art — Love the new site and am stoked to read all your stuff. Keep it coming, and thank you!

  • Sally logg

    Dennis – I am Elmer’s daughter – Would you like to correspond?