For Pete’s Sake

If this keeps up, this corner of the Internet will be where you’ll find all the latest retirement news. Last week, I bid farewell to Channel 4 weather guy Steve Pool. This week, I’d like to put in my two-cents on Husky Football Coach Chris Petersen.

We’ll begin with the day I found out. I was on the phone with my business partner who was down in Arizona and we were talking about stuff coming up in the week. All of a sudden my phone displayed an alert from the Associated Press. It was hard to ignore, so I glanced at it while continuing to talk. I saw it just long enough that it had something to do with UW Coach Chris Petersen, but I didn’t see the ‘what’.  I immediately stopped talking and let him know I needed to check something out. Sure enough, Chris Petersen had resigned. It wasn’t ‘fake news’ or something from The Onion. I went to the Seattle Times and there it was online–our dream Husky coach was stepping down.

Petersen was the closest thing to a Don James type Husky coach we had seen since the Dawgfather. I began as a student at the University of Washington in the fall of 1973. That first year of going to college football games was a bit surreal, as students protested outside the stadium, demanding that the school fire the longtime coach, Jim Owens. He stepped down after that season and this meek and mild looking guy from Kent State University took over the program. In time, he would take the team to many prominent bowl games, including several Rose Bowl games and guide us to a National Championship.

In time, my career took me to KOMO Radio, “Your Husky Station”, which gave me multiple occasions to talk with the coach. He would come into the studio and I would be awe-struck. There were times when I helped his wife record radio commercials for QFC. In my early days at KLSY, we had a Don James show, believe it or not. And for one of the Dawgs’ Rose Bowl appearances, my KLSY broadcast partner Bruce Murdock and I ordered breakfast to be delivered to his hotel room and he called us up to say thanks.

Yet, for all those times I was with the coach, I never got a picture with him. There was one spring game that I went to when I saw him in the stands and we chatted, but I didn’t want to bug him for a picture. After thinking about it, I went back, but he was gone. He passed away shortly after that.

Coach James resigned after the team was gonged with sanctions for things the boosters were caught doing. He could have stayed, but the team would have been bowl ineligible for years to come and he knew that his time was done. The years that followed were dismal. Losing seasons, including an 0-12 debacle, and a series of expensive but short-term coaches that left the program wallowing in the mud for longer than we deserved.

Then, when Steve Sarkisian wandered off to U.S.C. (and both sides got what they deserved) we were lucky enough to talk Chris Petersen to taking over the program. He had performed miracles at Boise State and I remember seeing him on TV when he was hired, talking about this gig being his dream job. I thought for sure we’d have him for decades.

Thanks to an event called, “Raise the Woof” that the football program puts on every year, fans can pay $75 to hang with the entire team, the coaches, etc. and get a chance to actually talk with the athletes and their leaders. One of the years we went, my wife and I each won a Chris Petersen bobble-head. She had hers autographed. I thought at the time, “No, that’s silly.” Now, I have another regret involving a Husky head football coach.

The reasons Chris Petersen is leaving the program have not yet been revealed, other than he feels he’s done with head coaching. It’s something he’s been doing for 33 years. He says he’s a Husky for life and, after a recharge, plans to come back to the U.W. and work with the other athletic programs to help them achieve as much success as possible.

He was here only six years, but they were crucial years. Petersen righted the ship and brought the program back to Don James’ standards. He even kicked one guy off the team last year because he wouldn’t listen. This guy thought he was better than the team. He now plays in the NFL, but I believe after being kicked off the team, he even came back later that year, apologized and made amends with the coach.

The loss of Chris Petersen is hard and what makes it harder to accept is not knowing the ‘why’. But I’m excited about the future, about the foundation that Chris Petersen built and is now handing off to another brilliant football mind, Jimmy Lake. There are greater days ahead.

But for now, for the second week in a row, I’m saying goodbye to someone I hugely admire. Should I ever have the chance to speak to Coach Petersen again, I’ll only have two words to say: “Thank you.”

Tim Hunter

P.S. Go Dawgs!

The Psychic Curse

Yeah, I wrestled with what I would title this piece. I remembered the old, “Small medium at large” headline from years ago, but fought it off. Valiantly. What I want to say is that I have a curse–I have psychic powers that some of you may not enjoy.

You see, once again, the Washington State Cougars are in first place of the Pac-12 North Division and, should they win next weekend, will be one win away from a 9-1 start to their season and pretty much a cinch to win the division.

But (full disclosure), I’m a Husky.

What does that mean? I attended the University of Washington (from 1973-77) and am a proud Dawg who hates the Cougars on one weekend every year. See, I have too many friends that are alums of the school that resides in the Palouse and I understand their pride. They feel the same way about WSU as I do the UW. And I do cheer them on when we’re not playing each other, because I think what’s good for the state is good for the Pac-12 which is good for college football.

Further disclosure is that I am a Mike Leach fan. When he became coach of WSU, I knew they would succeed because he’s a real head-knockin’, won’t put up with BS kind of football coach that they really needed. This year’s record speaks for itself.

OK, this is where I put on the turban. Now, you can question my psychic abilities and I’ll give you that, because my theories are based purely on experience and following these two teams over the past five decades.

When it comes to the Apple Cup game (this year, held the day after Thanksgiving), it’s going to be a winner takes all game. The Huskies are in second place and have a bye this weekend. The following weekend, they play the Oregon State Beavers, who have had a rougher season than Rick Grimes on ‘The Walking Dead.’  So, the two should meet up in Pullman with the winner going to the Pac-12 Championship Game and the loser going to some nice, but less-desirable Bowl Game.

As I gaze into my crystal ball, I see a Husky win in Pullman that will make Cougar fans even more bitter. It’s one thing to lose and not make the Championship game, but for the Huskies to be the ones to knock them out? Unthinkable.

In the Apple Cup, the lease likely thing happens. Do I have to bring up the “Snow Bowl” and the phased, “Rose petals freeze in 30-degrees.” The team that shouldn’t win usually does.  And this year, with WSU going in with only one loss, ranked #7 or higher and the game being played in Pullman–c’mon, that’s a no-brainer: of course the Huskies will win.

I think this is what draws me to college football so much more than the professionals. In fact, we attended the most recent Seahawks debacle against the Chargers (I’m steering clear of the whole San Diego/LA thing) and it sure seemed like the referees were told to keep it close and favor the Chargers. College football is still made up for dream-inspired athletes hoping to make it to Sundays and I just love that.

So, Cougar fans, just trying to give you a heads up. If you pay attention to history and think that this is script from what’s happened in the past, the Huskies show up in Pullman and crush your dreams. However, if they don’t and you guys really do win the Pac-12 North, I will be among the first to congratulate you and promise to post a picture of me in my WSU Cougar shirt. I own one. Yeah, I’m one of those Huskies that pulls for you every game of the season except for one.

But I’m afraid my psychic curse tells me that won’t be necessary.

Go Dawgs!

Tim Hunter

Wacky Week Podcast EPISODE 132

OK, still reeling from the UW Huskies loss last weekend in the desert to Arizona State University. I’m taking you back to the early 1980s, the last time we beat ASU down there, with Larry Nelson, Bob “the Voice of the Huskies” Rondeau and a cast of several. You’ll hear a KOMO Music promo and a couple of Halloween bits we did at 4th Avenue North.