BY Steve Rudman 12:20AM 12/31/2010

Top 5 List

Longtimers know that the Huskies have been to a lot of bowl games, but five stand out as decisive in the fate of the program. Thursday night may have added a Holiday Bowl to the list

Not all bowl games are created equal, and we’re not talking the difference between the Rose and the Orange, or the difference between a $5 million payout and a $1 million payout. We’re talking about the impact a bowl can have — win or lose.

As amazing as Thursday night’s Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska was, its long-range impact has yet to be determined. So, for now, in our view, the 1978 UW Rose Bowl victory over Michigan remains the most significant played by the Huskies for reasons listed below.

The 1986 Sun Bowl loss to Alabama was nearly as important because it led to a philosophy change that resulted in a national championship. The five most impactful bowls played by Washington.

  • 5

    1960 Rose: Winning the 1960 Rose Bowl did more to enhance the reputation of West Coast football than it impacted the UW program. Many of the players who were key to the 1960 Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin also were main operatives ini the 1961 Rose Bowl triumph over Minnesota. Washington got enough recruiting perks from those wins to return to the Rose Bowl in 1964, but there the music stopped. UW didn’t return to Pasadena until 1978.
  • 4

    1991 Rose: It might seem that a game that made Washington a co-national champion (with Miami) should have had more impact. But the Huskies didn’t get the bang they could have because Washington went on Pac-10 probation in 1993, forcing UW to miss the 1993 and 1994 bowl seasons, a recruiting killer. No telling how dominant Washington might have remained without that bowl ban, and without the resignation of Don James.
  • 3

    1981 Rose: Although the Huskies lost to Michigan 23-6, UW’s coaching staff spent extra time in California talking up the preps. Many of those recruits, including a precocious running back named Jacque Robinson. formed the core of the 1984 UW team that went 11-1 and won the 1985 Orange Bowl. Robinson, in fact, paid immediate dividends, winning the Rose Bowl MVP trophy in 1982 as a freshman and, later, the MVP award in the 1985 Orange Bowl as a senior.
  • 2

    1986 Sun: The game itself amounted to one of the worst bowl defeats of the Don James era, a 28-6 drubbing administered by an Alabama team that had so much team speed the Huskies could not compete. As a result of the loss, James changed his recruiting style, with a primary emphasis on speed (think Napoleon Kaufman). Without that change, UW would not have won a share of the co-national championship in 1991.
  • 1

    1978 Rose: The Don James era launched as a result of Washington’s 27-20 victory over Michigan. Because of the Warren Moon-inspired win, the Huskies enjoyed an immense uptick in recruiting in the Los Angeles area, acquiring many of the players who would send UW back to Pasadena in 1981 and 1982 and to a myriad of minor bowls well beyond. More than a win, this game became a program-changing reputation enhancer.


  • jerry

    The 1985 Orange bowl win over the Sooners might not have been as prestigeos as a Rose bowl win – but it was pretty cool.

  • Lucky Infidel

    “No telling how dominant Washington might have remained without that bowl ban, and without the resignation of Don James.”

    I think you have that backward. If James had stayedI believe the bowl ban and loss of scholarships would have been not much more than a speed bump in the long-term, and the transition to another coach, whenever that would have occurred, would have been much smoother and more well-thought out.
    I agree with your first choice. That first James Rose Bowl changed so much for the community, and that went well beyond Husky football.

  • Steve59

    Great column.  You are right-on.  And, nothing will happen.

  • spudzDP

    Mark Emmert reminds me of Gorbachev who, after becoming the leader of the Soviet Union, helped to bring it all crumbling down, basically ending Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe. I doubt that Gorby had that intention when he came to power, but he facilitated it with his personality, his relative youth and his new school attitude.  Communism was already falling apart, but it needed someone like Gorbachev to help kick it down the stairs.  Emmert might be in that same position as far as the NCAA goes.
    He is younger than most of the senior citizens who ran the NCAA before, so he is probably more open to new ideas and new ways of looking at things.  This could open the door to paying athletes — not like professional football players, but on a scale perceived to insure college players won’t be as tempted to accept illegal payments.  This will be the beginning of the end of the NCAA.  It will come crashing down faster than any bust of Lenin ever did.  Once the cash begins trickling down, every thing will change. The athletes might benefit, but the entire landscape will go through a radical makeover.  The loss of the NCAA is no great tragedy, but Saturdays will never be the same.  

  • Anonymous Coward

    OK, pay the athletes to make up the difference between expenses covered by a scholarship and actual costs.  But can you pay them enough so the kid won’t still be tempted by a big-money sleaze ball agent who can put the kid’s family in a nice house rent free or set up anything goes weekends at a resort?  The problem is still there whether you pay them or not.  Effective enforcement and penalties will still be needed.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    “The likeliest solution, which is already on the drawing board in some
    form, is for the top 64 schools to break away from the NCAA and form
    their own professional association of four super-conferences, with
    limited connections to the universities and the old rulebook.”

    They can call it the Premier League.

    [Oops, that name's already taken.]

  • 1coolguy

    Come on Art – If the coaches are liable with JAIL TIME as the consequence, this whole issue becomes moot.
    You know it, I know it and Emmert knows it.

    The NCAA only needs to establish rules that result in jail time – it’s not that tough.

    End of strory.

    • Anon

      The NCAA rules are not law, and the NCAA is not the government so they can not make their rules have the power of law. 

  • kent solar panels

    i miss casual posh very much. Getting tired of her mature/professional style.