Many in the region are of the opinion that the University of Washington Huskies are in need of a more appropriate place to play home football games. After the Saturday, Oct. 27, 48-41 loss to Arizona, some may believe that a home field worthy of the program might be found at any randomly selected high-school stadium, since that's the caliber of play the one-time Pac 10 power often has exhibited through four coaching programs the past nine years.
The latest loss, for which the recently blogger-flogged coach Tyrone Willingham apologized to a post-game radio audience, in several ways was the worst in recent memory. For one, it came at home against what was apparently an eminently lesser opponent on a gorgeous day when homecoming festivities were being observed. For another, it was registered after the Huskies had gone ahead by two touchdowns during the second quarter and 15 points during the fourth. It happened even though wunderkind UW quarterback Jake Locker had nearly 500 yards of total offense and even while the visiting Wildcats spent most of the game in minus numbers for rushing yards.
In short, a statistical summary of the game nearly - nearly - would have had just about anybody lucky enough to have not been there wondering (or even wundering) how the huck the Fuskies could have lost. In a word: turnovers (five). In a phrase: pass defense (five). Make that 500-plus. A week earlier, the UW "defense" gave up 465 ground yards at home to Oregon; against Arizona, it was 510 yards passing. (Fun with numbers: about the same distance as dropping a ball from the top of the Space Needle three times.) For his effort, Wildcats QB Willie Tuitama has his school record, as does Locker. But the latter's achievement is merely for having essayed his school's longest play from scrimmage when he found receiver Marcel Reece for 98 yards during the second quarter.
Getting back to places to play: The Huskies still have two at home (Cal Nov. 17 and Washington State Nov. 24) and three on the road. This means the team easily could finish 2-11, given a 13-game schedule ending, mercifully, in Hawaii in December, and not in a bowl game. To have qualified for a bowl, the U-Dubs would have needed at least six and maybe seven wins, which is quickly becoming a mathematical impossibility. This business of a new or improved place to play also is seeming to be not only less possible but less in the way of a critical public talking point.
One reason might be the empirical reality. Many who have attended games the past several decades at the 72,500-capacity Montlake monument that is Husky Stadium (some 61K were there Oct. 27) may have concluded that, far from being the decrepit venue many claim, it in fact can be a very pleasant place to spend a Saturday, at least when the Husky-football part isn't happening. The views to the west and east are so magnificent as to nearly distract the spectators when the game isn't going well, which has been usually the past few years. The typical visitor also is not made privy to the structural underpinnings, said to be in need of shoring rather than ignoring. Some have even discussed tearing down the nearly century-old edifice and erecting a sports palace worthy of ...
Which is when the ellipses invariably kick in. Worthy of five or six dates a year of the Huskies giving up hundreds of ground and air yards and losing? Others ask: Why not raze the stadium, do something better with the property, and have the UW team play local games at Qwest Field? The Seahawks home is used no more than a dozen times a year for football and could easily accommodate Saturday collegiate-scheduling demands.
Major decisions about places the Huskies could play will, of course, await public discussion similar to what one might have hoped had begun and ended with the rancorous Sonics-venue debate. Meantime, many wonder whether the Huskies ever actually could play the way they once did. If not, there are a lot of very suitable high-school football fields in the region that may be just right for observing the kind of defense the UW Huskies have been playing for way too long.