The initial Pac-12 season ends later this week when Oregon beats UCLA roughly a hundred to nothing, thus winning the first championship game of the nascent conference.
All other league matters, including Washington’s latest Apple Cup triumph over its country cuzzes, have been settled except, as this is written, certain bowl match-ups and the lightening of the Pac-12 coaching load. At least three mentors well known in the Northwest are expected to soon be seen backing their Ferraris out of their team parking spots for the final times.
Among them will certainly not be Steve Sarkisian. With the 38-21 win against Washington State at CenturyLink Field on Saturday (Nov. 26), the Sark can still park wherever he likes. During his tenure the Dawgs have been taken on an ascending trajectory and now have a chance to finish the season at 8-5. Whether his oft-knocked buddy Nick Holt will be asked to stay on as defense-coordinator is a matter that ought to have fans babbling for a while.
Paul Wulff, on the other hand, has had a Tyrone Willingham-like ride with the Wazzu Cougars. His nine wins with the team would earn him a raise and a contract extension if only the victories hadn’t been spread across four seasons.
Also said to be heading to the exit: Dennis Erickson. The veteran leader of three Pac-10 programs as well as a pair of pro teams didn’t fulfill the early-season promise at Arizona State. School authorities may not be mollified by the 6-6 Sun Devils getting to a ridiculously named bowl game. The good news for former Seahawks and Forty-Niners head coach Erickson is that he’s 20 years younger than Joe Paterno and still can count nine teams in the league that he hasn’t coached.
The third said to be about to bid buh-bye would — and should — be Rick Neuheisel, who scarcely needs introductions in Greater Seattle. Who but Neu could parlay a 5-4 league mark and an overall 6-6 record at alma mater UCLA into a chance — albeit, a snowflake’s chance in hell — at the conference championship? That’s what his Bruins will have next Saturday in Eugene, even after ending the regular season losing, if not 100-0, half that bad: 50-zip against USC Saturday.
At 7-5 the Dawgs are said to be headed after Christmas to either the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio or the Holiday in San Diego. The bowl visit could be the last chance for fans to watch junior Chris Polk as a Husky. The rugged back had his 20th 100-yard rushing effort against the Cougars.
Certain to be seen and heard about for several more years: Kasen Williams, who literally leapt to fame during the Apple Cup game. I wasn’t surprised, having met Williams and his (very custodial) parents during a campus visit when Williams was still a junior at Skyline High in Redmond. After skimming through a survey of the accomplishments of a kid who later would be the Parade magazine high-school-football Player of the Year, I seized upon one number that stood out: track athlete Williams having high jumped 1 inch short of 7 feet.
In full gear Saturday, it looked as though he cleared a would-be Wazzu tackler with more like a 5-foot vault. Not incidentally, the freshman led his team with five grabs for 74 yards and two first-half touchdowns.
Williams is part of a wealth of Husky receivers who will be looking for Keith Price’s passes the next two seasons. Assuming Polk opts for the pros, the Dawgs also have several candidates for featured running back, including Jesse Callier, who had 44 yards on four carries against the Cougars.
The latter team await sthe impending decision about their mentor. Some believe the new team leader will be Mike Leach, the controversial former mentor at Texas Tech.
Here, on the other hand, is a pitch for bringing back Dennis Erickson. Hey, he’s already had two stints at Idaho plus two seasons at Wazzu so, if nothing else, he must have a hankering for that great Palouse weather.