Two Unique Cougs Pass Away

IN THE SPAN of three months this spring, the Cougar Nation lost two crimson soldiers from the golden era of legendary coach <b>Babe Hollingbery</b>: <b>Dick Farman</b> and <b>Tag Christensen</b>. Each had an incredibly unique claim to football fame.

In one of the strangest twists of the Cougar-Husky rivalry -- courtesy of World War II --- Christensen played for the Cougars in 1942, the Huskies in 1943 and then the Cougars again in 1947. He died in March at his home on Mercer Island following a distinguished career as a high school coach and administrator. He was 79.

Farman, a two-way standout for the Cougars who went on to a stellar NFL career before launching the nationally renown Farman Brothers Pickle Co., died May 5 at his West Seattle home. He was 85. As a senior co-captain in 1938, Farman was on the field for a remarkable 589 of the 600 total minutes of football the Cougars played that year.

And in December of 1942, Farman was a key part of one of the greatest upsets in pro football history, the Washington Redskins' 14-6 win over the vaunted Chicago Bears to capture the NFL championship. The victory put Farman, a guard, in elite crimson company as he became just the fourth Cougar to win an NFL title, following in the footsteps of Turk Edwards, Mel Hein and Clifford Marker.

In 1943, Farman's last pro season, he earned first-team all-NFL honors and helped the Redskins to their third Eastern Division title in five years by beating Hein's New York Giants in a one-game playoff.

WHILE FARMAN AND Hein were knocking heads with each other that season, Christensen was suiting up as the starting left guard for the Rose Bowl-bound Huskies.

Christensen and five other Cougars were transferred by the Navy to the University of Washington in 1943 as part of the V-12 program, a precursor to officer candidate training. The Cougar football program, already depleted by the Army's call up, was dropped because of too few players and wouldn't restart until 1945.

In an interview with a few years back, Christensen said it was awkward teaming up with the same Husky players who had kept the Cougars out of the Rose Bowl the season before by virtue of the teams' scoreless tie.

That '42 game ranks as a bitter classic for crimson old timers. The Cougars entered the contest, played in Tacoma, needing a victory over the Dawgs to claim a Rose Bowl berth. In what became known as the "$100,000 miss" – the payday for each Rose Bowl team in those days – All-Coast Cougar end Nick Susoeff twisted and stretched but couldn't quite get the handle on a late fourth quarter pass into the endzone, thus preserving the scoreless tie. So UCLA went to Pasadena on New Year's Day instead.

"You knew there was a rivalry when we walked on the Husky practice field for the first time (in 1943)," Christensen said of the move to Montlake. "But as it turned out, I became great friends with two Huskies I'd shared certain remarks with in the '42 game."

Along with fellow Cougars Verne Oliver, Bill Ward, Wally Kramer and Al Akins, Christensen started for the Huskies against USC in the Rose Bowl on January 1, 1944. Another former Cougar, standout back Jay Stoves, played for the Huskies all that season but was sent to officer candidate school before the Rose Bowl and missed the big game.

On the eve of the 1995 Apple Cup, Christensen said his heart was with the Cougars, but confessed that -- regardless of the outcome -- he could always say his team won.

And he had the letter-sweaters to prove it.

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