Category Archives: Husky Football

The Top 11: Seattle sports heroes, #6-2

Heroes #11-7 can be found here. They are as follows: 11, 1995 Mariners supporting cast; 10, Ichiro Suzuki; 9, Brandon Roy; 8, Mike Holmgren; 7, Lenny Wilkens.

6. Steve Largent. The former Seahawks wide receiver was arguably this city’s first superstar athlete. He became Seattle’s first true Hall of Famer in 1992, after a thirteen-year career that saw him leave the game in 1989 as the NFL’s career leader in receptions (819), reception yards (13,089), and touchdown receptions (100).

Despite the national accolades Largent received at the back end of his career, he arrived in Seattle inconspicuously in 1976 after a trade with the Houston Oilers. A star wideout at the University of Tulsa, Largent wasn’t selected until the fourth round of the ’76 NFL draft. Prior to the start of the regular season the Oilers sent Largent to the Hawks in exchange for a 1977 eighth-round pick. There may never have been a better trade in Seattle history.

Following his football career, Largent turned his national stardom into a successful foray into politics. Beginning in 1994, Largent served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a member of Oklahoma’s first district, but resigned his seat in 2002 when he took an unsuccesful run for the office of governor.

In addition to his records and Hall of Fame selection, Largent was also a seven-time Pro Bowler and was chosen as a member of the NFL’s 1980’s All-Decade Team.

5. Lou Piniella. When Piniella came to Seattle in 1993, interest in his Mariners ballclub piqued, but expectations remained low. In 1992, behind manager Bill Plummer, the Mariners had put together one of their worst seasons in history, finishing 64-98, despite a roster brimming with talent. With younger versions of Ken Griffey, Jr., Edgar Martinez (the 1992 American League batting champ), Jay Buhner, and Randy Johnson, the Mariners were on the verge of putting it all together but needed a leader to show them the way. Piniella became that leader.

Piniella’s impact on the team was immediate. The team put together their first winning season in seventeen years of existence with an 82-80 finish in 1993. They took a nosedive in the strike-shortened season of ’94, finishing 49-63, but were bailed out in a sense when playoffs were cancelled anyways. The 1995 season brought renewed hope, new players, and a new attitude to the Kingdome. Sweet Lou managed to get the most out of his team that year, sending the Mariners to the playoffs for the first time in their history and essentially saving baseball in Seattle.

When he wasn’t winning ballgames, Lou was winning over fans and players alike with his on-field tantrums. He would throw bases, kick dirt, toss his hat, yell and scream all in a futile effort to change a seemingly bad call. It was one of his finer points.

Lou stuck with the M’s for seven seasons after that miracle ’95 run, but departed following the 2002 campaign to move closer to his home in Florida. Upon returning to the Emerald City with his visiting Tampa Bay Devil Rays club shortly thereafter, Piniella was greeted with a standing ovation and even gave addressed the crowd in red carpet fashion before the game.

Piniella is the manager that all Mariners skippers have been and forever will be compared to. He may not have won it all with this team, but he won over the fans of the city and kept a Major League team entrenched here for years to come.

4. Don James. When Don James resigned as head coach of the Washington football team prior to the 1993 season, he left college football as one of the last men in a dying breed. James was the type of head coach you rarely see in today’s game. His intensity and passion was visibly reflected on the field by his players, who, despite an age gap between mentor and tutor, played the disciplined, hard-nosed style of football that their coach demanded of them. James was a man who could command both fear and respect, which allowed him the luxury of eighteen solid seasons on Montlake as the leader of the Dawgs.

The Dawgfather emerged as the man to replace another icon, head coach Jim Owens, in 1975 after four years at Kent State University. He wasn’t the biggest name, nor had the most impressive resume, but at the age of 43 was ready to make the leap to a major Division-I school and happened to be the right guy at the right time.

James’ first two seasons at Husky Stadium were the definition of average. He compiled an 11-11 overall record over the ’75 and ’76 campaigns and couldn’t find a way to a bowl game. That all changed in 1977 when the Huskies rose to prominence, going 10-2 and becoming Rose Bowl champions. Following that season, James would take the Dawgs to 13 more bowls in his fifteen remaining years as head coach. His career apexed in 1991 when the Huskies won a share of the national championship.

Though he’s been retired for over fifteen years, the Huskies are still searching for the man to replace Don James. The team is now searching for their fifth head coach since James’ departure and to hear people talk about the Dawgfather, one would assume he had just resigned last week. Like Lou Piniella with the Mariners, James will now and forever be the coach that all other Husky coaches are compared to.

3. Gary Payton. Most heroes complement their achievements with humility, affability, politeness, and a sense of respect for others. Not Payton. Built like the one and only foil to all that embodies heroism, GP was a loudmouth, trash-talking, in-your-face gamer who never took a play off. He built his reputation on attitude and intensity, and would eventually become arguably one of the greatest players in NBA history.

Big for a point guard, Payton, at 6’4″, was the second overall pick by the Sonics in the 1990 NBA Draft. Coming out of Oregon State University, the wiry Payton was expected to team up with power forward and 1989 first-round selection Shawn Kemp to form an inside-out, one-two punch. The duo would do just that over the course of the next seven years, taking the Sonics to the playoffs in the final five seasons they played together.

After Kemp’s departure in 1997, Payton would last almost six more years in Seattle before being traded for Ray Allen in the middle of the ’02-’03 season. To this day, Payton is among the top three in fourteen different major statistical categories in Sonics franchise history, including being the leader in points scored (18,207), steals (2107), assists (7384), and games played (999). Payton eventually went on to win an NBA championship with the Miami Heat in 2006, but still considers himself a Sonic at heart. He helped lead a rally this past year to keep the Sonics in Seattle, and continues to be a prominent figure in the Emerald City despite making his home in Las Vegas.

2. Edgar Martinez. Over the course of a professional career that began in 1982 and didn’t end until 2004, Edgar combined 22 years as a member of the Seattle Mariners organization with Hall of Fame numbers to become one of the most beloved sports figures in this city’s history.

He first appeared on the scene in 1987 as a pinch-runner, slender, with a mustache that resembled a small rodent. He wouldn’t crack the everyday lineup until 1990, after starting third baseman Jim Presley was traded to Atlanta. Over the course of the next fifteen seasons, Edgar would play in seven All-Star games, win five Silver Slugger awards, and collect two AL batting titles (1992 and 1995).

But even if you took away all the great years, the statistics, and the achievements, Edgar’s meaning to this city could simply be summed up in one moment. The Double.

The Double stands as one of the greatest moments in Seattle sports history. Like Joe Carter’s walk-off home run to win the 1993 World Series, Michael Jordan’s push-off jumper over Bryon Russell in the 1998 NBA Finals, or Dwight Clark’s “The Catch” in 1982, The Double was a once-in-a-lifetime play that came to define an entire team’s season in one instant.

1995. Game 5. American League Division Series. Bottom of the 11th inning. Down 5-4. Runners on first and second. The opponent was the hated New York Yankees. The pitcher was Yankee ace Jack McDowell, brought in out of the bullpen to close the door and send New York to the ALCS. Mariner second baseman Joey Cora stood on second, Ken Griffey, Jr. on first. Cora could score to tie the game on a single. Junior, with his speed, could possibly score on a double. Edgar emerged in the batter’s box and assumed his stance, hands held high, the head of the bat pointing towards the pitcher’s mound, left foot raised up from the ground, weight back, neck cocked, squinting. McDowell came set, checked the runners, and delivered. As if in slow motion, Edgar uncoiled from his statuesque pose and released his bat through the zone. Smoothly, effortlessly he connected with McDowell’s fastball. A line drive down the left field line. Cora scored easily. Here was Griffey, now, steaming around third base, being waved in by a frantic Sam Perlozzo. Yankee catcher Jim Leyritz positioned himself in front of the plate, awaiting a throw that would arrive too late. Edgar Martinez of all people had won the game and the series.

Our #1 hero will appear in tomorrow’s updates.

Ryan Perkins, you have ruined my life

Ryan Perkins is the pseudo-placekicker for the Washington Huskies football team. He’s also the devil. In stunning fashion, Ryan Perkins has managed to ruin the few potentially joyous moments in this past Husky season by failing to do his one and only job.

First there was the infamous BYU “excessive celebration” game. A phantom penalty by Jake Locker near the end of regulation turned a chip-shot PAT into a 35-yard point-after instead. This, of course, pushed Perkins out of his 25-yards-or-less comfort zone and resulted in a blocked kick and a BYU victory.

Today, Perkins was at it again. With an 0-10 Husky team faced with the prospect of winning their first game, the 101st Apple Cup no less, Perkins missed not one, but two huge field goals that would have been difference-makers. With just over 3:00 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Perkins missed a 28-yard gimme that would have put the Dawgs up by six. Instead, with 56 seconds remaining in regulation, the Cougars were able to drive down the field and connect on a field goal of their own to tie the score at 10 and send the game to overtime.

Then, in the second overtime, with a chance to take a three-point lead and pressure the Cougs to convert on their ensuing possession, Perkins shanked yet another kick, this time from 37 yards out to all but seal the Husky loss.

After eleven of twelve games so far, Perkins is 7-11 on field goal tries and 15-16 on PAT’s. The 64% field goal conversion rate is bad, but made worse when you consider that Perkins hasn’t attempted a kick beyond 40 yards. That distinction is left up to distance kicker/kickoff specialist/punter Jared Ballman. Perkins has put up a “D” average inside what should be automatic range. Kickers are already one-trick ponies, so what does this make Ryan Perkins? A half-trick pony?

The numbers won’t likely show Perkins to have been a horrible kicker throughout his career, but when all factors are taken into account (no attempts beyond 40 yards, kicking on an artificial surface, the “clutch” factor, etc) he will have to be remembered as one of the worst full-time kicking specialists in Husky history, if not NCAA history. Of his five total misses (4 FG’s, 1 PAT), three have been at critical moments in the fourth quarter or overtime, in what ultimately proved to be game-deciding situations. He hasn’t just been inaccurate, he’s been inaccurate at the most inopportune times.

As if anyone cares, Perkins announced his retirement from football earlier this year, effective at season’s end. A debilitated knee has forced him to give up his trade, but were that knee not a problem, I know thousands of fans who would gladly help Perkins to the sidelines.

Besides the football aspect, there’s a level of ethics involved here, as well. Perkins was able to parlay his high school kicking ability into four years of free education. While his peers were paying thousands of dollars each quarter for the privilege to attend a four-year university, Perkins was sliding buy on scholarship money that one could argue he didn’t earn.

Ryan Perkins has been simply awful. I don’t doubt that’s he’s trying his hardest, nor that he’s truly a good person underneath that jersey, but when it comes to kicking footballs, Perkins is the walking definition of “failure.” He has put the rotten cherry on top of the poop sundae that is the Huskies miserable season, and in the process ripped out the hearts of loyal Husky fans all around the country. All I can say is good riddance to our lost season, and God forbid a kicker like Ryan Perkins ever set foot on Montlake again.

Kiffin should be next Husky head coach

With news breaking today that Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel is set to sign a lucrative contract extension to remain in Columbia, one possible replacement for Tyrone Willingham can be crossed off the list of available candidates. Husky AD Scott Woodward can throw Pinkel on the backburner along with Jim Mora, Jr. for now, and should start taking a hard look at currently unemployed Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin, the embattled ex-head coach of the Oakland Raiders and recent divorcee of Al Davis, has already expressed interest in the Husky vacancy…along with every other available collegiate head post. Needless to say, Kiffin is a big name that will attract attention wherever he ends up. Beyond being a big name, Kiffin has a number of attributes that should keep him on speed-dial in Woodward’s phone.

One, Kiffin is a West Coast guy with close connections to the Pac-10. Prior to taking the Oakland job, Kiffin was the offensive coordinator at USC, where he called the plays for one of the premiere offenses in college football. Additionally, Kiffin was a superb recruiter, inking letters from the likes of LenDale White, among plenty of others. He has a history of bringing in five-star players, as well as pitching to prep prospects in the Pac-10 corridor.

Two, Kiffin is young. Just 33 years of age, Kiffin’s youth would play two-fold as a college head coach: 1) He could be counted on to provide long-term stability to a program in need of it and 2) his closeness in age to many of the players he’d be recruiting would be more attractive for many kids than playing for an older guy.

Three, Kiffin runs a pro-style offensive system. While many Husky fans want to see a coach running the spread-option to come to Montlake, the transition from any other offense to the spread-option is one that takes time. As exemplified by Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, installing a new system isn’t always easy. And while Dawg fans would like to imagine that they’re patient enough to wait for such a system to develop, the truth of the matter is that a bowl appearance is an expectation within the next two years (i.e. before Jake Locker A.D.). Experiencing a major overhaul to the gameplan, then, should make little sense to the Montlake faithful.

Of course, there are a number of other candidates who will be interviewed for the job (including Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Haywood, no less), but none seems to make as much sense to us here at SSN as Lane Kiffin, the future of Husky football.

Have we really already forgotten about Felix Sweetman?

Fifth-year senior walk-on. Perennial scout-team member. Never really seen any game action. Chance to play in the Apple Cup. The story has been told before, but now it’s being told again, this time for a Husky long-snapper named Robert Lukevich. In recent weeks, Lukevich has been profiled by the Seattle P-I, interviewed on 950 KJR AM, and even had a Facebook group created in his honor. No knock on Lukevich, but I’m not impressed. I’ve heard this song and dance before, and no, it wasn’t being broadcast on a Sunday afternoon on TBS. This isn’t Rudy’s story, or even Lukevich’s. This story belongs to Felix Sweetman.

You may remember Sweetman. It was two years ago this week that the fifth-year senior walk-on QB was preparing for a chance to start in the Apple Cup. That’s right, START. Injuries had decimated the Husky passing corps, leaving only a banged-up Carl Bonnell and a green Sweetman left to practice.

The week before, versus Stanford, Sweetman had taken the field prepared to throw the first pass of his collegiate career when Bonnell decided he was healthy enough to play. This turn of events came immediately after starting QB Johnny Durocher was knocked out of the game with a concussion, only to find out later that he had been harboring a brain tumor for some time. Durocher’s season (and career) was over. Bonnell was one hit away from being done, as well. Felix Sweetman was a play away from being the starting quarterback of the Washington Huskies.

I want to reiterate that this article is meant as no knock on Lukevich. Lukevich has certainly paid his dues. He’s missed just one day of practice in five years. He’s transitioned himself into a long-snapper, as means of um, helping the kicking team. He’s also developed a friendship with Coach Willingham and is searching for the first PT of his career come Saturday. He’s been characterized as an all-around good guy, despite the fact that he’s planning on heading to law school next year.

But come on. First off, Felix Sweetman wasn’t in bed with Ty Willingham. And let’s face it, no one should be (sorry, Mrs. Willingham).

Second of all, Felix was one of a few guys who played–ok, practiced–under three coaching regimes. Do you know how hard it would have been to kiss three guys asses? I’d like to see Lukevich do that.

Third, his name is Felix Effing Sweetman (full disclosure: his middle name may or may not be “Effing”). Robert Lukevich sounds like he should be doing your taxes or examining your prostate. Felix Sweetman? You’re more likely to find him kicking your ass up and down the street all day long.

Yeah, Robert Lukevich is ok. But let’s face facts, people. Robert Lukevich is Caddyshack 2, to Felix Sweetman’s Caddyshack. Robert Lukevich is Saved By the Bell: The College Years, to Felix Sweetman’s Saved By the Bell. Robert Lukevich is the Remix to Ignition; Felix Sweetman is, you guessed it, Ignition. Lukevich might be the hot new kid on the block, but let’s not forget the man who started it all, Felix Sweetman.

The Top 11: Seattle sports villains, #6-2

The recap of villains #11-7, which can be found here: 11, Jim McIlvaine; 10, Shaun Alexander; 9, David Stern; 8, Erik Bedard; 7, Jeff Smulyan.

6. Tyrone Willingham. There’s a theory in dating that says if you aren’t very good looking, then you better have a great personality to make up for it. Apparently Paint-Dry Ty felt he was either the exception to this rule growing up, or was one hell of a sexy guy. Either way, the soon-to-be former head coach of the Washington Huskies football team has had without a doubt one of the most scrutinized tenures of any coach or manager in Seattle sports history, thanks in large part to two factors: his complete lack of personality and his inability to win ballgames.

Continue reading The Top 11: Seattle sports villains, #6-2

In your face, Seattle: Two Husky losses on same day

Yep, by now I’m sure most of you are aware. The Husky football continued their dismal season by falling 27-7 to Rick Neuheisel’s UCLA Bruins, while the men’s basketball team kicked off their season with a 80-74 defeat at the hands of the Portland Pilots.

The Husky athletic program is setting new standards for loseability. The football team I can understand, because they’ve had nearly three months to flaunt their awfulness. But I figured the basketball team would give us something to root for, and last night that wasn’t the case. We expected an athletic team capable of running all over opponents and playing better defense than a year ago. What we got was a team making the same mistakes, playing similar D, and missing the same shots on the offensive end.

Continue reading In your face, Seattle: Two Husky losses on same day

Friday’s notes

-From the good news department, the Oklahoma City Thunder have lost five straight games and are now 1-7 on the season. On a side note, the Thunder have dubbed their dance team the “Thunder Girls.” Really? You couldn’t come up with something more creative than that? How about “Thunder Bolts,” or maybe “Thunder Cats?” Maybe the “Claymates” would work or “PJ’s BJ’s,” even. How about the “Harlot Globetrotters?” There are just so many unexplored avenues here.

-In case you haven’t heard, Rick Neuheisel comes to town tomorrow with his 3-6 UCLA Bruins. Neuheisel, who was on with KJR’s Mitch Levy earlier in the week, expects to receive a mixed reaction from the crowd and issued a sincere apology to Husky fans for the circumstances surrounding his ouster five years ago. On a personal note, for those of us that have met Rick Neuheisel in person, it’s no surprise really that he’s returned to coaching this quickly after such a messy situation. Neuheisel has the charm and likability factor that colleges seek in head coaches. Given the opportunity, I have no doubt that you could put Slick Rick at a tiny rural outpost (like Washington State perhaps) and watch him turn it into a winner.

-The Husky Men’s Basketball team opens the season tomorrow at the University of Portland. Unlike last year when the Dawgs didn’t play a true road game until 13 games into the season (12 home games and 1 game on a neutral floor), this year they’ll be getting things underway away from Montlake. Portland is led by Bellevue native Luke Sikma, a 2007 Bellevue High School grad and the son of former NBA player Jack Sikma.

-Wide Receiver Courtney Taylor has been signed off the practice squad and will rejoin the Seahawks this Sunday when they take on the Arizona Cardinals at Qwest Field. Taylor was plagued by a bout with the dropsies when he was cut a few weeks back by the team. He was able to clear waivers and had been practicing with the team until the release of WR Keary Colbert earlier in the week.

The Top 11: Seattle sports villains, #11-7

Everyone likes lists, which is why here at SSN we’ve created the Top 11. The Top 11 is a weekly listing of the greatest 11 Somethings to ever occur in Seattle sports history. Our Top 11 is much like a Top 10 list only one better…and 11 is also the number once worn by such Seattle icons as Edgar Martinez, Detlef Schrempf, and Marques Tuiasosopo, so it can do no wrong. Without further ado, on to the list.

11. Jim McIlvaine. It’s hard to do anything wrong when you don’t do anything, but Jim McIlvaine did all he could to disprove that theory during his short stint in Seattle. McIlvaine, the 7’1″ shot-blocking waste of space that he was, came to the Emerald City in 1996 thanks to a horrible decision on the part of the Sonics front office. Given a four-year, $34 million contract by the club, McIlvaine was supposed to be the guy to take the team to the next level, the perfect complement to the likes of Schrempf, Gary Payton, and Shawn Kemp. Instead, Big Jim (really at no fault of his own) set off a catastrophic series of events that drove the franchise into the ground and ultimately led in the Sonics’ departure from Seattle twelve years later. How did all this happen? Let’s review.

Continue reading The Top 11: Seattle sports villains, #11-7