The Seattle Slew

Seattle Sports. Through thick and thin

RIP to Don James, aka the Dawgfather

The Seahawks played on Thursday night, so this weekend was a nice one to chill and relax, and enjoy some other games rather than stressing about the Hawks game.

Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse for Huskies fans, as they first got blown out in Arizona State, then got the bad news that Don James, the legendary ex-Huskies coach, passed away on Sunday.

I don’t want to get too much into how great Don James was….mostly because any Husky or even average college football fan, should already know how great he was by now. Not only did he win a share of the 1991 national championship, but he consistently fielded one of the best and most feared teams in college football history. There’s maybe only been a handful of defenses in college football that were as fearsome as the Huskies of the early 1990’s…..These guys were the NFL equivalent to the Steel Curtain, Purple People Eaters, 85 Bears, 2000 Ravens, etc…truly one of a kind.

I sat and thought about it when Don James passed, and what he meant to myself personally. What I realized is that if it hadn’t been for Don James, football in Seattle wouldn’t have been as big as it is today. Seattle in the 80’s and 90’s, was purely a basketball town. The Seahawks, while popular, did not have any sustained success, and while the games at the Kingdome were loud and mostly filled, they never generated much buzz around the city. The Mariners were terrible for so long, and were very close to moving until the magical season of 1995 happened. The Sonics were the only real big fish in town, but they hadn’t done much since the ’79 championship….constantly running into roadblocks like the LA Lakers, Rockets, and Blazers.

From a national perspective-there was really only one team garnering any sort of attention, and that was the Washington Huskies. Perhaps that is why the Huskies are so interconnected with Seattle sports…many of us grew up with them. There are many people like me, who may not have attended UW, but some other college, but consider themselves Husky fans. This city revolved around the Huskies for what would have been an otherwise drab sports era. In that sense, I feel that the Huskies are unique to the city of Seattle that isn’t too common for other major cities. LA doesn’t have a designated college team-they are torn between UCLA and USC. The bay area and Portland also seem torn between 2 nearby major colleges. New York has a few, but none on the athletic level. Perhaps Miami?

Since Don James passed the torch on his coaching position at UW, the Huskies have been in turmoil ever since. Even registering an 0-12 record during the darkest of days. Perhaps more than his X’s and O’s, the program has been missing the leadership and strength that Don James brought to the area. This is why Husky fans find outcomes like the one in Arizona State last Saturday completely unacceptable….because Don James set a standard of excellence with this university that needs to be restored.

A new stadium, and perhaps some new faces will one day bring the Huskies back to glory. Until then, RIP to the Dawgfather….one of the best coaches, and leaders in college football history.

Categories: Huskies

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