I know it is a highly over used concept, using the yearly State of the Union address and applying it to our favorite team, but the timing works very nicely in college football. Now that signing day is over, we can close out the 2011 chapter of Husky Football and start preparing for the 2012 chapter.
The greatest perk of being a pilot is the stunning views you see as you travel. I've been to the sunny beaches of Florida, the frozen tundra of Alaska, and everywhere in between. You really can't appreciate the world we live in until you've seen in from high altitudes. Just a week ago, while over Crater Lake in southern Oregon, I could see the Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Rainier. It's pretty impressive when you can see roughly 400 miles in every direction!
Flying at high altitudes is quite similar to being a sports fan, you think you can see everything, but the distance causes you to miss the smaller details. That's also the perspective of my State of the Program article, I think I see everything, but reality tells me there are tons of small details that we as fans can't see. Here is one pilots opinion of the current health of the UW football program:
UW Football Program: As a program, Husky Football is stronger than it has been since Jim Lambright was the head coach. We have a great young coaching staff, a pro football administration, in 18 months we will have a brand new stadium with top of the line football facilities, and the on field performance is steadily improving. We might not be at the top of the conference yet, but the foundation has been laid, we are headed in the right direction and the future could not be any brighter.
Administration: An often overlooked, but vitally important aspect of any great football program. We know too well how much damage a school's administration can have on a football team, we witnessed it first hand. Although I don't know too much about President Young, I do know that he over saw some of the brightest football years for the Utah Utes. As far as I can tell, he is a pro football, pro athletics president. Scott Woodward is probably the unsung hero of the group, opening the purse strings and letting Sark bring in a great group of assistant coaches. Most importantly, he has put the focus back on the cash cow of UW athletics, the football program.
If you don't think a schools administration plays a huge part in the health of a football program, look at Cal as exhibit A. Cal is quite similar to the UW in the late 90's, they don't give the football program the vital funding and attention it needs to compete with the rest of the conference. While everyone in the conference is in a full on sprint, they are just trotting along and are about to be passed up rather quickly.
Coaching Staff: I'm very pleased with Steve Sarkisian as our head coach. When he was hired three years ago, I was concerned about his lack of experience as a head coach. While there has been some bumps in the road, he has shown the ability to learn quickly and the ability to adapt the ever changing world of college football. Sark is great with the media, a top notch recruiter, an excellent X's and O's coach, and is growing as a manager of the program. One of my biggest concerns was whether or not Sark had it in him to fire a friend and do what was needed for the continuing growth of the program. He answered that question with amazing flare, firing multiple coaches and upgrading the staff, making it one of the top young up and coming staffs in the nation.
Facilities: $250 million dollar upgrade to Husky Stadium, with a 70,000 square foot, state of the art, football facilities building, on the most scenic setting in all of college football Any Questions??? Unfortunately the upgrade is about 15-20 years later than it should have been, but come September 2013, we will have some of the best facilities and the best stadium in the nation.
Recruiting: There's been some good and some bad, but overall recruiting has been improving and just got a major shot in the arm. The bad news: we let some amazing in state talent slip away, which is NEVER acceptable. The good news: It won't happen again. Sark's hiring of assistant coaches made it quite clear that recruiting is a major point of emphasis and that he was not pleased with the in state recruiting production. One of Sark's strengths as a head coach is his ability to see a problem, fix the problem, and use it to keep the momentum of the program positive and moving forward.
The Offense: Could you ask for any better? Given what he had to work with, Sark has performed miracles on the offensive side of the ball. With Keith Price leading the way, 4 returning starters on the offensive line, Kasen Williams, ASJ, Jessie Callier and Bishop Sankey, the future looks very, very bright. With guys like Jeff Lindquist and Cyler Miles joining the group, I can only imagine how much fun it's going to be watching this offense continue to grow and become more explosive!
The Defense: I'll keep this short and sweet, the last three years has been a pitiful excuse for defense. Lucky for us, there is hope! With Justin Wilcox, Tosh Lupoi, Peter Sirmon, and Keith Heyward, we have a breathe of fresh air of defense. Finally we should have coaches in place who can coach up players and can adapt to the current players talents. I don't expect to suddenly have a great defense, but we finally have hope that great defenses will be in our future and will once again be a trademark of Husky football.
Special Teams: While they haven't been flashy, they have been steady and consistent, no longer are they an area of great fear. The quality of athletes has greatly improved, there should be some great competition to see who will be our kickoff and punt return guys. Unfortunately we will be pretty green at kicker and punter, this will be a great chance for Johnny Nansen to prove (or disprove) his worth to this staff.
Fan Support: Seattle is well known for having some of the best and loudest fans in the nation. The attendance numbers haven't been great, but they are still among the best in the conference. A few more wins, a brand new Husky stadium and I expect fully expect those numbers to increase greatly.
Overall, I think the football program is as healthy as it's been in a very long time. The program is improving in most every area imaginable, and the area's that have been lacking are being address with great resolve. I truly believe that the program is being built the right way and being built for long term success (no street agents required). We are seeing continual improvement on the field and a healthy dose of resources being put into facilities and infrastructure to support the program for a very long time. In conclusion, the football program is healthy, it's headed in the right direction and showing continual growth. In other words, the future of Husky football is VERY bright.