My mother went to UW, and in my grade school years, nothing was bigger than Husky football. The first season I truly remember was the 1991 season. One of the most dominating teams in the history of college football. The Rose Bowl was a shellacking, the defense was invincable, and the offense could run the ball like no other. I remember missing the Apple Cup on tv because we had to pick my mother up from classes.
I remember we were in the car when the Billy Joe Hobert story broke. I remember I was at my friend Adam's house when their almost three year long win streak was broken by Arizona. His dad sat by the radio at the kitchen table in complete disbelief, pounding the table and swearing.
I remember the Snow Bowl that year where Bledsoe solidified his draft status. I remember the Rose Bowl, and Michigan getting revenge.
Once Lambright took over, the teams were still good, but you can't quantify what those sanctions did(to check out the whole story on the atrocity of the sanctions, read Derek Johnson's book on the Don James years, it makes me sick just to think about it), the loss of scholarships killed the depth for the entire decade of the 90's. Keith gilbertson left for Cal and the offense didn't recover until Scott Linehan came along and the Huskies adopted a power running, vertical passing offense.
The 1997 team had national title level talent, but the team was riddled by injuries, and the depth showed. One must wonder what would've happened had Shehee played and Huard stayed healthy the whole game, or even most of the season.
Lambright never got along with Barbara "title IX" Hedges, and she canned him the first chance she got. Despite leading them through cataclysmic sanctions and a coaching change, Lambright was replaced by a coach Hedges thought was "cute".
The problem many Husky fans have with Neuheisel isn’t actually the lying, it’s not the deceit, or the NCAA violations, or his participation in betting pools. The real issue is that he took the very essence of Husky football, and destroyed it. The powerful running game, the intimidating defenses, the hard hitting linebackers, all gone. Why? A) He didn’t recruit quality linemen, B) He only recruited skill position players(Kind of like Willingham) and C) Running the ball was an afterthought. When you don’t stress running the ball, you aren’t able to stop the run. Thanks to two coaches, Willingham and Neuheisel, the Huskies don’t have linemen and are incredibly soft. The principles that the program was built on for 30 years were stripped away.
Granted, Neuheisel won the 2000 Rose Bowl, but whisperings are that the seniors that led that charge turned a deaf ear to Neuheisel and put the season on their back. For reasons previously explained, when Neuheisel was fired, he left Gilbertson, an average coach, great football guy and mediocre recruiter with very little in the form of recruits. Willingham, took on the same approach as Neuheisel, neglecting line play and going after the flashy players.
Now, the Huskies posted an 0-12 record last season. Some people blame it all on Willingham. Some on Neuheisel. All it really comes down to, is a President that didn't care about football, and an AD that was more concerned with the little sports than the program that brought in all the money for the sports that never turn profits. Now, with programs getting cut all over the place, I'm sure the big wigs at UW point to the economy, and don't stop to think what would happen if they hadn't set out to destroy exactly what made them all the money in the first place.
Thankfully, things have changed, the President is football crazy and the AD knows where his priorities lie. A good coach has come in and things are looking up.
It just makes me want to throw up how things got this way in the first place.