What To Do When All The Crazy People Want To Fire Sark

sarkinquisitiveI’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!

23 responses

  1. We hit rock bottom not all that long ago and are still trying to get away from that. I want to know that Sark isn’t capable of taking us to the top before risking our asses on the coaching market. That said, I trust Woodward much more than Babs, so I have hope that he will make the right choice…whatever that may be.

  2. I generally agree with the theme here. I’m definitely not on the fire sark bandwagon although I am disappointed with where we are today.

  3. Copypasta-ing my FB comment about this:

    Here is my argument: Don James went 7-5, 8-3-1, 7-4-1, 6-5, 8-4, then went 10-2 followed by 12-0 and a National Championship. Had he dealt with fans calling for firings like they do now, and we got rid of him after 5 seasons of 7 or 8 wins, we would have had to start over with someone new and we would never be talking about our ’91 NC or the legend that was DJ.

    Not every team can win 10+ games every year. Not every coach had to deal with a team that went 0-12 before he showed up. Sark has the worst of both worlds – extremely high expectations while basically building a team from the ground up. After 5 years I understand people want more, want better.

    But do you really think the team this year is no better than the first 7-5 team he coached? I would say they are a hell of a lot better, this team might have beaten Oregon 3 years ago. This team is GOOD, but every other Pac team has gotten better than they used to be thanks to all the new Pac-12 Network money. This is Sark’s first year to show what he can do, to not deal with Willingham’s leftovers, and he isn’t blowing us away yet, but that doesn’t mean that he should only get this one chance.

    If we end up having another disappointing finish, and have a bad season next year again then I will understand all the vitriol, and probably join in. But as it stands now, I support Sark and think he is a good coach. I appreciate that he has the moral compass to teach these kids, not just coach them to win at all costs, and that’s something that should matter at a quality institution like UW.

  4. My favorite are the guys who say if we win the next 3 he is safe, but 2-1 he should be gone. Seriously? We are ready to base this big of a decision on 1 game? Make a decision after the season is complete and consider all factors to determine if Sark is the best person to lead this program for the long term.

  5. Great article, and great comment, Chris, except I wouldn’t even re-evaluate Sark following the season. Chris, you said it yourself, the legend we now call The Dawgfather didn’t start that legend until 4-5 seasons down the road.
    Today’s fanbase, hell, today’s SOCIETY, wants results, and they want them RIGHT FUCKIN’ NOW! It’s childish, unfair, and in my opinion, plainly unrealistic. To dig ourselves out of that butthole of infamy that was the Willingham era was going to be an exercise in pain and patience. Fans don’t want to hear the word patience. Well, fuck you. Deal with it. Point is, at the end of the surgery and painful rehab, Husky Nation believed Sarkesian had the talent and intelligent strategy to get the program back to prominence. I still believe in it. There’s going to be bumps, frustration, and yes, bad playcalling at times. End of the day, the program’s come a long way and placed itself in good position to win consistently, and I think UW’s fans tend to forget the value of that accomplishment. The program’s ultimate goal is near, let’s not fuck it up because we can’t see the forest for the trees.

  6. It’s a shame that Don James gets worse and worse every year in an attempt to prop up Steve Sarkisian. For example, when Sark supporters cite how DJ “struggled” his first few years, Sark’s critics say DJ went to the Rose Bowl in Year 3. The supporters counter with the response that the Pac-8/10 was easier in DJ’s years and is much, much harder now, thus detracting from what Don James accomplished in his early seasons. But I digress…

    The notion that we had 0-win talent on the 2008 team is a fallacy. Locker, Kelemete, Ta’amu, Foster, Polk, Kearse, there was legitimate NFL talent on that roster and not nearly the bare cupboard that supporters like to claim. There was a psychological hole out of which Sark needed to dig the program and not nearly the talent hole that people claim. Had Jake Locker not been injured, the team finishes with at least 3 to 5 wins and even at 3-9, 4-8, there is a massively different perception as to the program Sark inherited.

    Everything Alex mentioned in his 6th paragraph is a legitimate criticism and is trumpeted by the Twitterverse AND those who’ve never posted on any UW internet forum (they do exist). The problem is that those aspects, along with the 7-19 road record (3-10 since the Utah win), being 3-11 against the Top 25 in Years 3 through 5, and other Win-Loss arguments are consistently countered with “you have no idea how bad the program was, all traditional metrics shouldn’t apply until Year X,” with “X” now being 6 after it had been 5 (this year, when Price was a senior, ASJ/Sankey/Williams were upperclassmen, the lines had depth/talent as did the defense). No one questions if this is a better program now than before, but to say it’s trending upwards at an acceptable pace? THAT is lunacy.

    These aren’t the voices of the lunatic fringe who reside in their mother’s basement drinking apple juice all day, they are cold hard facts. Finish the year out? Sure, it can still be salvaged.

    It’s time to start demanding that reality meet expectations and stop adjusting expectations to meet reality.

  7. Matt, notice I said DJ was a legend. In fact, THE Legend. But hey, keep smacking your head against the wall in frustration. But I won’t.

  8. “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.”

    Hes had 5 years to earn this endorsement. This is the reason why you fire him. HTH.

  9. Winston Churchill. “The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”

  10. Be honest with yourselves. If not Sark, then who? There are no ‘big name’ coachs that are chomping at the bit to take over the huskies. Mora would be crazy to leave UCLA. And you are all delusional if you think he would be lured by UW. If you (a uw alum) were the coach of UCLA right now (with that team) would you want to drop everything to go work at Mountlake? no, not even for 3 mil.

    From where the huskies were in 2008 and to where they are now, it’s night and day. And you should be damn lucky for it.

    Face it your stuck with Sark and his 7-5 seasons. And in the PAC-12 North it’s not a bad place to be considering its probably the second best division in the country (behind SEC west).

    See ya next week in Seattle. I’ll be the drunk coug in crimson!

  11. you’re*

    my bad.

  12. Logic > Feelings

    Sarkisian himself said this team will compete for Rose Bowls and Championships in both the 2011 and 2012 off season.

    How about we hold him to his OWN standards instead of those founded by media propaganda and teen boy stalking sites (Dawgman.com).

    Lets take the emotion out of it and stick to data:

    3-25 when trailing at halftime.
    7-20 on the road.
    1-12 on the road against Ranked teams.
    21-20 in conference.
    #1 in penalties and penalty yardage in all of FBS (123 total schools)
    8-19 total against ranked teams.
    9 Games lost by 29 points or more. (Ty Willingham had 8 for example).
    HORRID Special Teams (5 years running)

    75 percent of the Div 1 coaches in America could coach this team’s talent to this level of mediocrity.

    If average is what the AD and this blog wants – sign Sarkisian to another extension after mediocre performances (He was extended after a 9-9 conference record in 2011 – and has improved that record to a stellar 21-20 record even with Colorado and Utah have been added to the conference).

    Stick to the facts. Take the emotion out of it.

  13. I was about to reply to the conjecture provided by the original author – but Logic > Facts knocked this one out of the park.

    If this was a business that you started and had a financial stake in, and the GM you hired had plateaued at “average to mediocre” for three years (2011-2013) – what would you do?

    -Give an extension or a raise?
    -Hire a head-hunter to back fill the job?

    Its your money….

  14. Don James won a Rose Bowl after his 3rd year. His legend was born at that point.

    Sark did well in year 1 going 5-7 but when you consider the talent on that team, he probably underperformed. He rallied at the end of year 2 beating Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Year 3 started off strong but with questions because of the weak opponents. From that point, it’s been the same thing. Beat up on the weaklings on the schedule and with few exceptions (Stanford & Ore St with terrible QB play) get crushed against the better teams on the schedule.

    Using the Don James example of his lessor seasons disregards the fact that James bought himself time by going 3-1 in BCS-level bowl game (2-1 in the Rose, 1-0 in the Orange). Sark is 1-2 thus far in all bowl games and hasn’t even been in the conversation for the Rose Bowl.

    Finally, to the author of this piece, you lose all credibility with your name calling. I am not batshitcrazy nor am I insane. I do not stock high school athletes on Facebook or Twitter when they choose another school. And most of all, I don’t resort to name calling people who disagree with me – I prefer facts over that. I’ve found that most times people resort to name calling when their position is weaker than the opponent and need something to distract from the argument.

  15. I’m only going to compare the first five years as James has more of a weight. However the Pac-12 back then was Pac-8 so four less teams meaning less team could possibly be ranked so I’ll just a % of teams ranked by them. For fun I’ll also include what their record was against ranked teams who finished the season ranked. Also keep in mind up until 1988 was only top 20 so I won’t include teams ranked 21-25 in the Sark era or I’ll make a note of it.

    I’ll start with James

    1975: Year One

    Pac-8 had 3 teams ranked: 37.5%
    One team top 10: 12.5%
    One team top 5: 12.5%

    Don James record vs ranked teams in conference: 2-1 including wins over eventual #5 ranked and Rose Bowl champion UCLA on the fucking road in November. Lost to eventual #14 Cal on the road 27-24 in November and defeated eventual #17 USC 8-7 in November. All three games were in a row as James was turning the ship around.

    1976: Year two

    Pac-8 had 2 teams ranked: 25%
    One team top 10: 12.5%
    One team top 5: 12.5%
    Don James record: 0-2, USC finished year ranked #2.

    1977: Year three

    Pac-8 teams had 3 teams ranked: 37.5%
    One top 10 team: 12.5%
    Top 5: 0%
    Don James record: 2-0.

    Huskies finished ranked 10th in the nation

    1978: Year Four

    Pac-10 teams had 3 teams ranked: 30%
    One top 10: 10%
    One top 5: 10%
    Don James record: 1-2

    1979: Year Five

    Pac-10 had 2 teams ranked: 20%
    One top 10: 10%
    One top 5: 10%
    Don James: 0-1 as he lost 24-17 to eventual national champion USC

    UW final ranking was 11th.

    Now the Seven win Steve era where in 2011-13 teams are feasting on Utah/Colorado.

    2009: Year one

    Pac-10 has one team ranked: 10%(USC was 22nd but under old format not ranked)
    Top 10: 0%
    Top 5: 0%
    Steve Sarkisian: 0-1, highest ranked team was Oregon at 11th

    2010: Year two

    Pac-10 has two teams ranked: 20%
    Top 10: 20%
    Top 5: 20%
    Steve Sarkisian: 0-2, lost by a combined score of 94-16 to #3 Oregon and #4 Stanford

    2011: Year three

    Pac-12 has three teams ranked: 25%
    Top 10: 25%
    Top 5: 8.3%
    Steve Sarkisian: 0-3, lost by a combined score of 139-55 to #4 Oregon, #7 Stanford and #6 USC

    2012: Year Four

    Pac-12 has three teams ranked: 25%
    Top 10 2 teams: 16.6%
    Top 5 one team: 8.3%
    Steve Sarkisian: 2-1 as he defeated #7 Stanford, a RANKED OREGON STATE(#20) but was killed on the road to Oregon 52-21

    2013: Year Five, which is up to date so could change

    Pac-12 has 4 teams ranked(USC is #23 so doesn’t count under old format): 33.3%
    Pac-12 has 2 teams top 10: 16.6%
    Pac-12 has one team top 5: 8.3%

    Steve Sarkisian: 0-4 so far.

    Those rankings could change as UCLA is #14 plays #19 ASU while #23 USC still has to play UCLA. One of those three will play at Oregon as well so one will drop out if not two.

    So let’s add up the results shall we?

    Don James first 5 years:

    Pac-10/8 had 13 teams ranked out of 44 possible teams: 29.5%
    Pac-10/8 had 5 teams in the top 10: 11.3%
    Pac-10/8 had 4 teams in the top 5: 8.8%
    Don James record vs ranked opponents: 5-6(45.5%)

    Steve Sarkisian first 5 years:

    Pac-10/12 had 13 teams ranked out of a possible 56 teams: 23.2%
    Pac-10/12 had 9 teams ranked in the top 10: 16.0%
    Pac-10/12 had 5 teams ranked in the top 5: 8.9%
    Steve Sarkisian record vs ranked opponents: 2-11(15.3%)

    So for all this talk that Sarkisian has had it tougher he has only coached against two more conference opponents who were ranked than James did in five years. James is often hurt in this strength of schedule argument as his teams typical won a lot so his teams were ranked while his opponents wouldn’t be. Say Sarkisian had defeated ASU they wouldn’t been ranked.

    Sure James never had to face a RANKED OREGON STATE or the Ducks when they were powerhouses like Sark has. However, when James coached the LA schools were always ranked and he always to face them both while Sarkisian in only two out of five seasons has had to face the LA schools in the same year(3-4 all-time vs them). Sarkisian in two out of five seasons has only had to face the Arizona Schools three times in the same year(3-5 all-time vs them). Instead he has gotten to play Colorado and Utah who he is 5-0 against.

    Despite what Fleenor, Kim and others want you to believe the conference is just as strong back when James was breaking into the conference as when Sarkisian was. The only difference is James was defeating those opponents and in his losses was going toe to toe. Meanwhile Sarkisian isn’t defeating those ranked opponents and is often being destroyed.

  16. Don James had established himself by year three and in year five had UW in a stretch where they were competing for Rose Bowls every year.

    Sark has yet to coach a meaningful November game.

    As for those bashing on recruits twitter pages? That’s actually the fans who want to keep Sark who do that.

    Those who want Sark gone often blame him for his recruiting failures.

    This piece and every other keep Sark piece is very reminiscent of 2007. Just replace “Sark inherited 0-12″ with “Ty inherited 1-10″ and the rest is the same.

    We retained Ty and you know what happened? The team went 0-12.

    Sark is currently 32-29 as a coach and 29-29 vs D-1 opponents about to be 29-30.

    If Sark isn’t fired then this program is going to keep going backwards. Now is the time. You are breaking in an easy OOC next year, new QB and this class due to small graduation will not be a good recruiting class regardless of the head coach.

    In fact we only have 7 kids committed and aren’t really in on any big time guys. The evidence is there to fire Sark but keep thinking people are “batshit crazy” for producing hard core facts against keeping Sarkisian for year six.

  17. lol you are gay

  18. A few things…

    1) You seem to have a few things confused. There are the teen boy stalkers that attack high school kids on twitter and say things like “We didnt what him anyways” or call a recruit an “idiot” (Your friend Kim) when he doesnt sign here. They resort to making claims about a high school kids character if they dont return phone calls, and complain about Myles Jacks character for licking his fingers while being a beast but ignore character issues displayed by our own players (ASJ) or extra marital activities (Sark).

    2) The group that doesnt want Sark fired will throw anyone they can under the bus, this includes kids, the fans that stand during the game, the student section, high school recruits, Hardcore Husky fans, Husky Halfbrains, the altitude, the dry heat, lack of local talent, ugly cheerleaders, and coordinators like Kent Baer or Nick Holt. This is the Tyrone era deflection all over again. The most fervent defenders of Sark are the “crazies” that throw the kids under the bus in order to prop up a mediocre (at best) coach.

    3) The next 3 games aren’t going to change who Sark is, he has had 61 games to show exactly who he is. Winning out, losing out, splitting isn’t going to change or prove how good a coach Sark is or isn’t

    4) If a coach can’t prove to you after 61 games, nearly 5 years of football, a bunch of recruiting classes and countless press conferences that he is a good coach then he isn’t a good coach.

    5) you already know the answer, you want Sark to be a great coach so badly that you cant say exactly what you already know, Sark isn’t the guy, he isn’t the great coach we all wish we had hired. Sark is a mediocre coach who has a thing for Joeys waitresses and he should be let go now because every year we keep a mediocre coach is a year wasted.

  19. Houhusky- i have nothing more to add. You nailed it.

    Fire Sark.

  20. This is the worse article I ever reed.

  21. terrible Sarkhomerism in thie wretched article. The guy is a mediocre coach. What he is good at is wasting talent, making odd and curious decisions, a being the champion of coach speak. That’s what you all want?

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