During the 2015 season, the outlook began with "Wait, we have how many freshmen?" and ended with something like this:
Obviously this isn't because 7-6 is that satisfying of a record. But there was clear, tangible evidence that Washington was in the process of turning into something cool.
In January came the first of the way-too-earlies, and Husky fans were delighted that UW was being included in top 25 counts even if they tended to be near the back of the list. February and March saw Washington's rankings hype rise some more. And now here we are, with people naming Jake Browning as a Heisman contender and numerous publications going so far as to call the Dawgs a "playoff dark horse." On a side note, if I hear the term "playoff dark horse" one more time so help me Zeuss there will be hell to pay by order of the sports cliche gods.
Another side note, I'm not resting my happiness on Washington making the playoffs. In fact I would put money on the Pac-12 getting locked out again this year. Not - before any of you suggest otherwise - that I want that. Nor do I think the Dawgs won't be good and likely great. To be clear, I'm psyched about next year and, more importantly, I think Pete's building a sustainable program for maximum consistent ass-kickage.
But what if we'd lost to Southern Miss? Instead of Myles Gaskin answering the Golden Eagles' game-tying touchdown with an 86 yard run to the endzone on the next play, what if they crumbled like the ASU game and ended up 6-7? Washington would still be the same team on the same path, but I surmise that the prognosticators of college football would be predicting that path were different by at least a couple degrees.
Regardless of the result of the Zaxby's Mega-Chicken Aorta of Big Ol' City in Texas Bowl, the Huskies would be pointed the right direction for the future. However, the note on which a team ends the season resonates disproportionately within both fans' guts and football media everywhere.
Which brings us to tonight's word:
Giant Effing Expectations. That's one word, right?
And in regard to those GFEs I think it's important for us all to calm down, take a breath, and enjoy the crap out of each game.
We're all expecting a good record in 2016. Assuming we all have fun when the Dawgs win, the win-loss column really is just a quantifier of "how-much-fun-was-each-game-to-watch." And nothing's ever much fun when it's "fun or bust."
Although this was about completely unrelated stuff, some words from
Buster Bluth Tony Hale apply here: If you're not practicing contentment where you're at, I promise you, you're not gonna be content when you get it. (That's right Andrew, I appreciated you appreciating my last reference to Arrested Development, so I thought I'd throw in another one!)
I say this not because I think the Huskies won't take some serious names next year, and maybe while they're at it end a couple streaks that shall remain nameless. Nor do I mean to suggest we should all be satisfied with a "meh" team we've become so familiar with over the last 15-ish years. I say this because I keep seeing statements from fans going something like "If we don't make 10 wins, I will consider this season a failure." Dude.
It's in our nature as fans - and I am not above this - to apply external standards to our teams, but this sort of mindset is so setting us up for disappointment. Do I want us to win 10+ games? Duh, I'm not a Satan worshiper. Do I think we will? Sure! But a lot of us have forgotten to enjoy watching the process unfold.
Between now and Washington's next Rose Bowl, we will lose games. (Unless you're Backspin, in which case absolutely we're going 49-0 every week and it's gonna be killer.) That's just how it goes.
Seeing as how, the last time UW was in the Granddaddy, I was six and our quarterback was one of about .5 people from my high school to do anything noteworthy... Yeah, I'd like to see us back there. It's about damn time.
And I'd sure like to see the return of Apple Cups with some weight behind them. The first number I associated with football was #3 not because of Russell Wilson but because 11 years prior to him, Cody Pickett wore it. And while he wore it, Washington was textbook mediocre. So so so mediocre. But you know who doesn't care? A seven year-old girl doesn't. Because she doesn't know any better than to just have fun watching Washington football.
So. Although it's impossible for me (or any of you) to completely disregard our expectations for this year, I'm going to do my very best to channel a little bit of my seven year-old self - from kickoff at Rutgers until the final whistle at Wazzu - and just enjoy it.
Do good things, don't do bad things, and bow down to Washington.