In many ways, the world in 1997 was a vastly different place than it is in 2013. Cell phones resembled toasters more than the sleek Star Trek gadgets that we've become accustomed to today; the Seattle SuperSonics and The Glove were en route to the Western conference semifinals; and Tamagotchis and JNCO jeans were the hottest tickets in town. Yet through it all, Bob Condotta has covered the Washington Huskies football team continuously since we were all just beginning to worry about the Y2K bug. Such dedication is rare in any given career, yet Bob has served up insightful article after insightful article since Elton John released "Candle in the Wind."
Sadly, as the young inevitably discover and the old have already learned, all good things must come to an end: On Thursday, the Washington faithful's beloved reporter announced that he'll be moving his day job from Montlake to the VMAC to take over the Times' Seattle Seahawks beat. On a Thursday morning interview with Mitch Levy on KJR, Bob talked about how the entire shift was made possible by Danny O'Neil recently vacating the beat, and how the opportunity to cover the Seahawks in the coming season was just too good to pass up.
No matter the reason for his departure, Bob's longevity at his position is nothing to scoff at. It is even more remarkable when juxtaposed against the rapid turnover of the men that he covers — not just players, but coaches as well. Bob's 16 years of covering the Dawgs at The News Tribune and The Seattle Times outpaces Mike Riley, the longest-serving Pac-12 football coach, by more than half a decade, and is more than three times as lengthy as Steve Sarkisian's time as UW's head coach.
As the Times' point man on Montlake, Bob's time with the team encompasses head coaches Jim Lambright, Rick Neuheisel, Keith Gilbertson, Tyrone Willingham and Sarkisian, and athletic directors Barbara Hedges, Todd Turner and Scott Woodward. He covered a Rose Bowl-winning team in 2000, and the dreaded 0-12 season in 2008. Even during the four-year stretch when Washington was coached by the famously media-unfriendly Ty Willingham, Bob produced links and stories of the highest quality, both in-season and out. During the fall, UW fans were cascaded by practice reports and interviews with players and coaches — speaking of which, what UW fan can forget some of the first video interviews he produced, and the Blair Witch Project-style camera work that accompanied them? (We kid because we love.) In the offseason, we could expect at least one post per day answering reader emails and announcing new commitments; speaking personally, I know that I have lost track of how many times I've read his headline, "Another New Husky?"
Always a digital pioneer, Condotta shines especially bright on Twitter, where he has amassed nearly 16,000 followers through a combination of hard-nose reporting and sharp wit. (Seriously, if you're not following at least Bob, Alex Akita and Ryan Divish, you're missing out.) Bob has never been afraid to speak directly with his audience, either, and his weekly (or even more frequent, especially during the football season) live-chats are reflective of the knowledge and confidence that can only come from being an extremely talented and capable reporter. I can't help but think that he'll be relieved to never have to answer another question about Antavius Sims' eligibility in a live-chat ever again.
Interestingly, Bob's first-ever blog post wasn't about the Dawgs on the gridiron, but rather the Dawgs on the hardwood. For that, you'd have to go back to Oct. 12, 2005, when he kicked off the basketball blog with a "welcome-and-here's-what-we're-all-about" type of post.
If you haven't clicked that link, please do. If you still refuse to, I'm putting the whole thing in a block quotation, because this is my article and I'm allowing myself to be passive-aggressive like that:
With the fervor for college basketball, specifically with the Washington men at an all-time high, we thought we’d try something new this year — a season-long web log devoted to Husky hoops and all that surrounds it.
This is in addition to our usual sports coverage in the pages of The Seattle Times, a sort of bonus. We've found there can never be enough of a good thing, so let this serve as another place to whet your appetite for Husky hoops.
What we hope to do here is give you information that for whatever reason doesn’t fit in the paper, or simply explores further and in greater detail what is in the paper. We'll gather notes, quotes, analysis and opinion that can’t be found elsewhere.
What we also plan is some general discussions about college basketball as it relates to the Huskies -- maybe point you to some interesting stories and items about UW opponents, or give you updates on Husky recruits, or talk about the Pac-10.
Hopefully, you will also participate. This will be the perfect place to get answers to your questions about UW basketball. Maybe you have a comment on a story we’ve done, or want to know more about a topic we’ve addressed. This will be the place for that.
And here’s just a little about your tour guide. I’ve been following Pac-10 basketball for more than 30 years, having grown up in Richland in the 1970s when the Bombers ruled the state. As a journalist, I’ve worked at a variety of papers on the West Coast covering college basketball, primarily the Pac-10, and I’ve covered Washington off-and-on since 1994. Yes, I even remember the likes of Andy Roberson and David Hawken.
So welcome aboard our new Husky hoops blog, and remember that your comments and suggestions are always welcome.
There's a sense of optimism and excitement in those words that you can't manufacture or fake. And I don't know how he did it, but every day he showed up to cover the Dawgs, Bob brought that same level of commitment and passion to the beat that is apparent in each of the tens of thousands of stories, blog posts and tweets that he's filed over the years.
Bob, I know I speak on behalf of our entire community at the UW Dawg Pound when I say that you were right: There can never be enough of a good thing. For 16 years, we got to enjoy the best thing of all. Congratulations on your new position, and we all wish you the best going forward.