"I Know Nothing" ... Sergeant Schultz

Human history is chock full of examples of masses of people who, in times of great distress, look to powerful leaders as an example of how to act. Wanting to declare independence from Great Britain, many people in India looked to Gandhi.

Desiring their civil rights, many African-Americans found inspiration from the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

For Husky fans wishing to preserve their sanity following the biggest nightmare in recent football history, they can take as one example the bumbling Sergeant Schultz from TV's Hogan's Heroes. In each episode, there would be a major blunder perpetrated under his watch, to which he would respond by bellowing out "I know NOTH-ING!"

Schultz knew his football. Between he and Roseanne "It's always something," Rosannadanna, she of the Saturday Night Live fame (God Rest Gilda Radner's Soul), those two would've made great football coaches.

Both were on to something.

There is little use in trying to analyze this latest debacle, a 65-7 nightmare from which Husky fans could not awaken. This wasn't exactly a springboard toward a run for the National Championship next season, you might say. There is no use trying to figure out why Washington couldn't be even slightly competitive against Miami. There is no point in trying to crunch numbers to determine why we couldn't throw, punt, block, tackle or cover receivers worth a plug nickel.

That's what the school is paying Rick Neuheisel $1.2 million per season to analyze. As fans, we all get to take our best shots at being armchair quarterbacks though.

All I know is that the Huskies have to be about the worst 8-3 team in the history of college football. The season is really best described as an enigmatic roller coaster ride. Is the glass half full or half-empty? We can take certain moments from this season and actually feel great about it. By beating Michigan, as well as Top-10 teams in Stanford and Washington State, those were (and still are) nice feathers in the season's cap. You take these three victories, combine it with the fact that the Huskies went 8-3 overall and 6-2 in the Pac-10 (good for at least 2nd place), and the assumption would be that it was a pretty dang good year.

Or you can look at the flip side.

Washington was blown out in their three losses, being outscored 149-44 in the process. UCLA physically annihilated them while Oregon State out-coached, out-hustled, and out-prided them (is that a word? I'll ask Schultz). The loss against Miami was a combination of all of these and a few more – they had more talent and speed and clearly wanted that game more than Washington.

After the number of times Washington shot themselves in the foot, it's no wonder that so many players need surgery before the Holiday Bowl. I'm not sure that there are too many healthy feet left after getting razed by the ‘canes.

I have never seen a Washington team play that badly and these eyes o'mine have witnessed debacles such as the ‘96 Notre Dame, ‘98 Nebraska and ‘86 Arizona State games – all travesties for the purple and gold.

Does anyone remember the 4th quarter collapse of the California Bears against Washington last year? The Huskies duplicated this effort against the Canes, but maintained its futility for all four quarters. This is baffling as well disturbing.

All fans can do at this point is pick up the pieces and move on. With a victory over a quality opponent in the Holiday Bowl, Washington would finish at 9-3 and that is a good year in virtually anyone's book. Good for moral, good for recruiting and a good launching pad for a team that will return four starters on the OL, their quarterback, their best and fastest two receivers, and eight starters on defense.

Having said that, the deep concern lies with the defense. This was supposed to be the strength of the team going into the year but they have been disappointing this season. The loss of Ossim Hatem hurt more than anyone thought it would and not having Ryan Julian or Spencer Marona available forced first-year players like Tui Alailefaleula, Josh Miller, and Terry Johnson into playing significant minutes. Their lack of experience showed.

I always resist being publicly critical of individual athletes, given that these are amateurs that are just out of high school, and keeping in mind that college football is just a game. Furthermore I feel this sentiment even stronger if I can clearly see that the players are giving tremendous effort. After all, what more can you ask for?

However, with a world-record holder as a strength coach and with great facilities, are there any glaring reasons why Washington was physically whipped this season in three games? It's not the fact that they lost those games but that they weren't even competitive. Washington is certainly a program that places monetary and emotional emphasis on football. Getting physically manhandled in the trenches may call for some soul-searching.

In the coming months, Neuheisel has some analyzing to do. He is being paid a lot of money to find out the answers.

Meanwhile, in these darkest hours of the football winter, rest assured that the Cougar, Duck and Beaver fans will come out of the woodwork to give Husky fans grief. It's their right of passage, and it's what you expect when you are a high profile program with high expectations every season – it comes with the territory.

When they start by mockingly asking about what happened down in Miami, you might refer them to Sergeant Schultz or Roseanne Rosannadanna.

At least until next fall.
Derek Johnson can be reached at djohnson@dawgman.com

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