Willingham 'embarrassed' by aftermath

Apparently it wasn't enough for Washington State to win the 98th playing of the Apple Cup. In adding insult to Washington's 26-22 loss Saturday, there were some Washington State players and fans that decided Husky Stadium was theirs for the taking immediately after the Cougars' Alex Brink took a knee to finish off the fourth-quarter clock. It wasn't Clemson-South Carolina, but it had the chance to be.

"I am very disappointed to the point of being embarrassed by the aftermath of that football game," Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham said afterwards. "There's no place for that in Husky football or college football. It doesn't matter whether one thought it was prompted or not, there is no place for that. Regardless of the frustration and emotion, there is no place in football for that."

WSU fans stormed the field after their team won for the first time in Seattle since 1997, and the security on the field let them go unimpeded to mingle with the players and coaches for both teams. It was mostly pushing and shoving, with a few punches thrown. Willingham had more to say about what happened after the game than what happened during the game itself.

"I think football is man's greatest game," he said. "Not chess, not boxing, not rugby - it's man's best game. For it to be played the right way - it has to be played by tough-minded, tough-bodied young men that play the game with the greatest competitive spirit, but also with the greatest respect for their competitors. And the aftermath of that game bothers me.

"Our young men played a spirited ball game that was free for the most part of the things that you might associate with that aftermath. There weren't a lot of personal fouls, cheap shots and hitting people out of bounds. I think our guys played it the right way, but I'm disappointed with our response after the football game."

"Whenever you have rival games and big games, we moved all our security down to where there was the most fan activity," added Washington Athletic Director Todd Turner. "The real objective is to keep people from getting hurt. And sometimes letting them go is better than trying to keep them at bay, so that's what we did."

"I just want to say that I'm sorry about what happened in the middle," said WSU Head Coach Bill Doba after the game. "I don't know who started it, it doesn't matter. Our kids are out there on that 'W' and they shouldn't do that. That started a few years ago at our place and you can't do that. That will never happen again, I can promise you that. This has always been a very class act and we want to keep it that way. It was unfortunate that that had to happen."

The real story, however, was still the game. It was a game that the Cougars dominated in all facets - including the scoreboard. Trandon Harvey's 39-yard scamper off a bubble screen sealed Washington's fate, but if you looked as the final statistics you would have thought the Huskies had just prolonged the inevitable final minute collapse.

"We just didn't contain," said Willingham. "They got outside of our corner and there's nobody there. We turn it inside, there's a chance we can make a play. Our opponents did a better job of executing the one or two plays they needed to to win the football game and we had our opportunities to do it and did not do it."

In short, the stat sheet looks like the kind you would expect in a 21-point thumping: 27-12 in first downs, 262-109 in rushing, 507-327 in total offense, 36:31 to 23:29 in time of possession. For a four-point game, the statistical difference are downright shocking.

"We wanted to get the Apple Cup back home," said Willingham, matter-of-factly. "And we failed. But at this moment, all of that will be overshadowed - good, bad, indifferent - by the incident that took place after the ball game."

Jerome Harrison could make the best case for a Cougar earning the right to dance on the 'W'. He gained 207 yards on 36 carries. The Huskies simply didn't have an answer for him. "We did not succeed in taking away their offensive threats in the manner we wanted to," said Willingham. "Their number-one threat was Harrison. When you stop him, you stop them. And we did not stop their run game."

"He didn't hardly practice all week," said Doba of Harrison. "He had a sore ankle. He's not only pretty good, but he's tough. He just has great patience, he hangs in there."

Conversely, Washington State defensive coordinator Robb Akey did everything he could to force Washington into passing downs and then threw the kitchen sink at UW quarterback Isaiah Stanback in the hopes he could rattle the junior signal-caller into some poor decisions and throws.

It worked.

Washington's final two scoring drives were the only two drives the Huskies had all game that were over three minutes long. "We didn't get our run game going, and their pressure affected that," said Willingham. "And we had something to say about that with our execution. They tried very hard to take it away.

"If you take away our run, you put the game in the quarterback's hands. We had some chances to do things and we didn't get them done."

And in the end, the Cougars were the ones that earned state bragging rights for the year. But make no mistake - if Washington wins at Washington State next year, expect Willingham's team to handle their post-game celebration a lot differently.

"I would have been very disappointed and I would have had a strong reaction," Willingham said when asked what he would have done if the roles had been reversed.

"It is from the Head Coach of the Husky program, a blanket statement. You win the football game. That's where everything gets taken care of. You win the football game and there is no celebration by the opponent."


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