We've arrived at the doorstep of another football season and there will be no "ding dong ditch". Boise State opens their season tomorrow night in one of the more anticipated home games in memory. We'll see the return of Chris Petersen—a guy whose virtues we extolled for many years and now feel kinda icky about. Bryan Harsin caught us on the rebound and we sorta feel awkward now that our ex is back in town.
All jokes aside, Pete is good people and I sincerely hope he's welcomed warmly juuuuust before we destroy him and his roving band of ex players and coaches. Then, when Saturday hits we can all root for them again and we can put a nice little bow on this whole affair. Jokes not aside, here's the first know your enemy of the season. Some facts will be familiar to you, some not...just like our former head coach. Without further ado—know your enemy.
Ten things you might not know about the University of Washington or their damp dwelling to the west.
10) The area now known as Seattle, Washington was first inhabited by Native Americans some 4,000 years before hipsters came to town. The city itself is actually named for a hereditary chief of the Suquamish and Duwamish people, which, when anglicized, translates to "Starbucks" and "Tullys". Arthur A. Denny and a group of white settlers arrived at Alki Point (the westernmost point in modern-day Seattle) in 1851 and decided the site was sufficiently damp for his party to form a settlement, which they did. They moved the site a bit east of Alki Point in 1853 and named it "Seattle". I was unable to confirm the fact that Denny was the namesake behind Denny's restaurants, but historical records do point to him trading "Moons Over My Hammy" with the natives.
9) The University of Washington was founded in 1861 as the Territorial University of Washington after territorial governor Isaac Stevens recommended such an establishment. The founders were unsure where exactly to put the campus so elected to set up two universities—one in Seattle (thanks to one Arthur A. Denny) and another in Lewis County, but then back-tracked and decided that just one university would suffice and it would be in...you guessed it...Lewis County (provided locally donated land could be found). Alas, no one wanted to part with their precious land, so it was back to Seattle they went, where they found a guy that was straight-up giddy about forking over some of his land...yeah, it was Arthur A. Denny again. "Denny's Knoll" ended up being the first 10 acre lot that TUoW rested upon...it now encompasses 703—and yes, the knoll was grassy.
Now you're craving Denny's aren't you? Kidding. No one craves Denny's.
8) UW played their first game of collegiate football in 1889 against "Harvard and Yale Alumni", but the coachless squad lost 20-0 to the presumably ascot-clad 30 year-olds from the Ivy League. The following year, the team played another single-game schedule and finished with a much better record—a 0-0 tie against Washington College that the local paper called "as entertaining as needlepoint". The very next year, the squad finally procured a coach...one William B. Goodwin, who led the team to its first ever win, a 14-0 romp over Seattle AC and their third ever loss, a 28-0 thumping at the hands of...Seattle AC. Things went on like this for the next few seasons...2 or 3 games a year that generally resulted in losses or generous amounts of yawning, but finally, coach Ralph Nichols procured the winning formula (possibly from a traveling band of gypsies) in 1895 and led the team to a 4-0-1 record with program-defining wins over Seattle AC, Vashon College, Tacoma AC, and...oh...Vashon College.
Thus went the see-saw of Washington football until 1908 when a fellow named Gilmour "Gloomy Gil" Dobie was hired for the princely salary of $3,000 and proceeded to NEVER LOSE A GAME. Seriously, Gloomy Gil coached the squad to 58 wins in 61 tries between 1908 and 1916 and only thrice tasted non-victory—not losses, mind you, but 3 ties...a 6-6 tie with Washington State and two 0-0 stalemates against Oregon and Oregon State (respectively). Maybe the most impressive was that at Dobie's previous job, coaching North Dakota State, he'd never lost a game either and after moving on from UW, he led Cornell to 3 straight undefeated seasons. All told, Dobie won 182 games in his career, with just 45 losses...nearly all of which came after 1923. In his first 18 years of coaching, he lost just 5 games and went undefeated 14 times. Well, I'll catch you guys later, I'm off to get a Gil Dobie tattoo now.
There is a reason he looked and dressed like an undertaker. His teams were going to kill you.
7) Aside from being the host of Soul Train (I think) Don James was also a legendary Huskies coach. Now, we’re not talking Gil Dobie levels of legendary, but he does have the distinction of leading Washington to a national championship...a feat Dobie never accomplished because he was out strangling Kaiser Wilhelm or something. James was born in Massillon, Ohio in 1932, which is fortuitous because Massillon is known as a bit of a football mecca—home to one of the first ever professional football rivalries between the Massillon Tigers and the Canton Bulldogs and currently a high school football Shangri-La. James graduated from Massillon High in 1950 and went on to play QB for Miami (FL), setting school records and probably inventing Gatorade. James’ collegiate head coaching career began at Kent State in 1971, and while he won a MAC conference championship in his second season, he hit what is known as the "MAC ceiling" and departed with a 25-19-1 record in 1974 to take the reins of the Husky program.
Clearly, the sea air and espresso were good for James’ constitution as he started the Dawgs on a path now known as the "NDGA" or Non-Dobie Golden Age of Washington Football. In his 18 years at the helm (1975-1992), James won 6 outright Pac-10 titles and an undefeated national championship in 1991. The good times looked like they’d last forever for James and the Huskies, but then just a year after the school’s *first national title (and a few months after another Pac-10 title) James resigned his post in protest after an NCAA investigation and subsequent sanctions over violations that ranged from "oh really?" to "you don’t say?". James never coached again, but the NCAA learned their lesson and never levied another poor judgement in their storied history.
He also coached in the PCE (Puffy Coat Era)
6) Washington's sports teams have only been known as "The Huskies" since 1922, prior to which they were known as the "Sun-Dodgers" in an obvious allusion to the fact that Seattle is partly- to mostly-cloudy for the better part of the year. It also may have referenced the fact that Sun Microsystems passed up Seattle and chose to put their headquarters in Santa Clara...but we may never know. The school mascot during the Sun-Dodger phase was named Sunny Boy and was a childlike imp that looked like Will Rogers suffering from dwarfism (Exhibits A–Z). Sunny Boy (really, only ever a statue) was retired in '22 when the Huskies moniker was adopted and soon live Siberian Husky sled dogs were accompanying the football teams to the field. The current iteration of the live UW mascot is named "Dubs" and took over for (and this is not a joke) "Whitepaw’s Arlut Spirit of Gold Dust" aka "Spirit" after his retirement in 2009. Oh, and Dubs is actually not a Husky, but an Alaskan Malamute. Washington...you sit on a throne of LIES!
5) Hey, how about another Gil Dobie anecdote? "Why not", the masses cry in unison. So, we’ve established by now that Dobie dranketh not from the bitter cup of defeat whilst in Seattle, but that wasn’t to say that some of his methods weren’t, technically speaking, "legal". To be fair to Dobie (and why wouldn’t I be), his methods were only deemed illegal at a later date, he just coached at a time when "trickeration" was taken in more of a David Blaine street magic sense. To wit: the Dobie Bunk Play that was used in a victory over Oregon in 1911. The play was described thusly:
The center faked a handoff to QB Wee Coyle and kept the ball, while the two guards fell down in front of the center. Coyle took off his leather helmet, tucked it under one arm and bolted around end. After counting to 3, the center turned and handed the ball off to the end, who scampered in the opposite direction from Coyle and scored a touchdown. All eleven Oregon players chased Coyle.
UW won that game 29-3 and the assembled crowd attempted to burn Wee Coyle at the stake for witchcraft.
4) Possibly not the oldest, but definitely the bitterest of Washington's rivals would be their counterparts in Pullman—the Washington State Cougars. The UW-WSU rivalry began in 1900 and ended in a 5-5 tie, but WSU owns the first win in the series—one they got the following year by defeating Washington 10-0. Out of the 105 meetings between these squads, the Sun Dodgers/Huskies have won 67 and they've played virtually every year since the get-go...they even played twice in 1945 for missing a WWII-forced postponement in '43 and '44. The two teams competed for the Governor's Trophy up until 1962 when the game and corresponding trophy were renamed The Apple Cup to celebrate Washington's apple crops and Washingtonians love of keeping the doctor away. UW's largest win streak in the series is 8, while WSU's win streaks have topped out at 2. However, WSU scored 21 unanswered points in this year's contest to defeat the heavily-favored Huskies, so "put that in your pipes and smoke it" say Cougar fans everywhere (if there are Cougar fans everywhere, that is).
Don't eat yellow snow...or purple apples.
3) 3…nay…31 cheers for Washington alum Irv Robbins, who was just a lowly Poli-Sci major until he returned from WWII and teamed up with his brother-in-law Burt Baskin to form the ubiquitous ice cream shop Baskin-Robbins (how they arrived at that name, we’ll never know). Baskin-Robbins started out as two separate entities in California—Snow Bird Ice Cream in Glendale and Burton’s Ice Cream in Pasadena, but in 1948, the two merged the shops into a single enterprise and decided their 30 flavor selection was just not good enough, so they dreamed up a 31st—chocolate mint. Robbins was the ice cream pioneer that convinced his brother-in-law to ditch his men’s wear career for frosty treats, so why does Baskin get the marquee spot in the franchise name? Simple. The two flipped a coin and Baskin won. Today, Baskin-Robbins has 5,500 outlets around the world and in my estimation is the chief importer of tiny pink spoons.
31 Flavor Flav
2) 1929 was a dark time in the U.S. On October 24th of that year, the stock market crashed, hurtling the country into a decade long depression. It was also the year that UW president Matthew Lyle Spencer banned kissing on campus after witnessing a spirited "spooning" session on campus. Keep in mind, 1929 fell within the confines of the 13 year U.S. prohibition era, so the poor, kiss-deprived students couldn’t even drown their sorrows at a local watering hole. History may regard Mr. Spencer as a dedicated public servant, but frankly, he kinda seems like the guy that sees you have a paper cut and swings by to dump some lemon juice in it.
Make way for the fun police.
1) The University of Washington has many distinguished alumni, but only one was jungle royalty. Harold Herman Brix played tackle for the Huskies from 1925 to 1927—including a start in the ’26 Rose Bowl (aka "the game that changed the South) where UW was narrowly defeated by Alabama. After Brix hit the bricks, he turned up at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam and returned home with a silver medal in shot put. After his Olympic success, Brix moved to Los Angeles to compete for the Los Angeles Athletic Club. It was there he met actor and mustache maven Douglas Fairbanks who arranged a screen test for Brix at Paramount. In 1931, Brix was cast Tarzan in MGM’s film adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs classic. Unfortunately, while filming another film Touchdown, Brix broke his shoulder and wasn’t cleared for vine swinging, so MGM gave his spot to a different Olympian, Johnny Weismuller. Brix did eventually get his turn with Jane in 1935’s The New Adventures of Tarzan. Brix changed his name to the less German-sounding "Bruce Bennett" in 1939 (the popularity of Germans being on the decline at the time) and acted in films and serials until 1958. Brix/Bennett lived to the ripe old age of 100, dying in 2007, and outliving that showboat chimp Cheetah.
He's a Brix...house.