I’m ethically opposed to siding with the people who want to fire Steve Sarkisian from his head coaching position at the University of Washington. It’s not that I’m completely against canning the guy — with each subsequent loss, each confounding play call, and each season of unmet expectations I find myself considering the possibilities of life after Sark — because I’m not. It’s that those diehard radicals who spend every waking moment of their blubbering existences calling for the man’s head are part of the problem. It’s them, not the prospect of a sacrificial firing, that I have a hard time agreeing with.
But first let’s get the obvious out of the way. Steve Sarkisian has not achieved the goals everybody had for this team back in 2009, when he first took the reins of a Washington program very much in disarray. Coming off a winless 2008 campaign, the bar was set as low as it had ever been in the history of Husky football. And yet when Sarkisian was hired in December of that year, spirits were immediately raised, anticipation was at once rekindled, and expectations — in the forms of Rose Bowls and conference titles — were instantly set in place.
The passionate press conference Sarkisian delivered on the day his hiring was announced has served as both a blessing and a curse. It was that first impression of the then-34-year-old that piqued the interest of fans, that suddenly had them believing in a return to the glory days of a championship-caliber football dynasty.
Paying witness to the conviction and energy with which Sarkisian delivered his message that day, set against a purple-and-gold backdrop for the very first time, has become that very thing that keeps the man employed. It is that crutch fans lean on when mulling over all the reasons to keep a coach nicknamed “Seven-Win Steve” in control of the school’s premier athletic program. Hope, it seems, is a powerful motivator.
At the same time, however, the lofty vision of future greatness presented in that very press conference has prompted fans to question whether Sarkisian is indeed the right man for the job. It has been nearly five years to the day since Steve Sarkisian was introduced to us. The Huskies have not yet sniffed a Rose Bowl, nor a Pac-12 championship. Fans find themselves asking, “If not now, then when?” It’s a legitimate question that has not yet been answered.
He doesn’t recruit enough linemen, he needs bigger/stronger/faster players, his offensive system doesn’t work well enough, his defenses have fallen somewhere on the spectrum from “awful” to “mediocre,” his players aren’t disciplined, his team struggles on the road, his quarterback is soft, he issues questionable play calls at critical times, he wears a visor occasionally, his brethren descending from the Pete Carroll coaching tree (namely, Lane Kiffin) have failed miserably in coaching gigs of their own, he hasn’t recruited well in-state, and he has not cultivated talent the way one would hope. That should address the majority of the concerns surrounding the Huskies’ head coach. And certainly, most of those criticisms are warranted, especially the one about the visor. So I can understand why fans would want to find someone different to patrol the sidelines for the good of the program. In a results oriented business like college football, this all makes sense. So why can’t I just jump on the Fire Sark bandwagon, then?
Ah, yes. It gets back to the crazies, the message board commenters of the world. The adults valiant enough to chastise teenage athletes on Twitter for not choosing our school, our team, our heritage, our tradition when, you know, things don’t go the way we (collective “we,” because they’re doing this on behalf of all of us, you see) would like. Frankly, I can’t bring myself to align with them. And maybe I’m wrong to judge them, but when they are the ones most vocal about any topic, regardless of what it may be, my moral compass tells me to walk quickly in the other direction. In this particular instance, they tend to be loudly trumpeting the Fire Sark horn. Hence, I’m predisposed to questioning the rationality of such a move. Because like I said, these people are insane. And agreeing with the insane makes one insane by association. I like to think of myself as a realist, as a semi-rational person. Thus, I sit here unwilling to pine for Sarkisian’s termination. Not because I don’t believe he’s warranted skepticism — he has — but strictly because I can’t support a cause perpetuated by lunatics.
This is the reality of the world we live in. I would rather take no side, none at all, then either of two sides I cannot fully support. Steve Sarkisian hasn’t done enough to warrant an endorsement from a fan base desperate to see its football team return to the top of the conference. Likewise, he hasn’t fully convinced anyone outside of a vocal minority of batshit crazy assholes that he deserves to be axed, either. And so I encourage you to find a spot on the fence next to me and sit here, perched high above the mess, and watch how all of this plays out. The remainder of the 2013 season may give us the answers we seek. Lose the rest of the way and perhaps we all agree it’s time to move on. Win out and maybe we give Sark a vote of confidence. Take one-out-of-two or two-out-of-three and who knows for sure. For now, though, here’s to the wishy-washy, indecisive majority. Hooray for inconclusiveness!