Anticipation for the Husky Legends Center

Dawgman.com recently spoke to Tyee booster and Husky Hall-of-Fame Curator Dave Torrell to get a bead on the upcoming Husky Legends Center. The facility is scheduled to make its debut September 29th, when the hated USC Trojans come to Seattle.

DEREK JOHNSON: Give us an overview of the facility.

DAVE TORRELL: I think the Husky Hall of Fame is great, but I think what we will have with the Legends Center is something related to football with enough to pizzazz to be appealing to recruits—and appealing to fans coming to Husky Stadium on game day. They will all say, "This is great! This makes me want to go watch a Husky football game."

I think that's what it's going to do. It's not as big as the Hall of Fame. But it's completely different. The Hall of Fame is intended to be a great history of University of Washington athletics. The Legends Center is, in a snapshot, a highlight of the history of Washington football. It's really nice. As you know, there is going to be video in there.

There are four different major areas to be highlighted. One of them will be the Husky success in bowl games. My feeling has always been that the thing that separates us from everyone else on the west coast with the exception of USC, is our success in bowl games. That is featured prominently. We are highlighting the fact since 1960, Washington has won eight major bowl games, and that Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State have won a combined two. My point is that we are really accentuating the positive of what Husky football has accomplished. The great thing about Husky football is that when we have had a chance to rise to the occasion in big bowl games, for the most part we have closed the deal, unlike the other northwest schools.

To me, the greatest thing about Husky football is our history in the Rose Bowl. If you go to Oregon and go through their beautiful building—

JOHNSON: It is beautiful…

TORRELL: There's no question. But when I went through there I saw the Freedom Bowl trophy and the Sun Bowl trophy and a couple more like that. And the guys I was with, I turned to (a prominent member of UW's athletic department) and I said "These trophies won't make the cut in our deal. In ours, we will only be featuring trophies from the Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl."

Oregon has all these trophies from secondary bowl games, and I don't disrespect them, but there's nothing like the Rose Bowl.

JOHNSON: Negative campaigning, huh Torrell?

TORRELL: All is fair in love and war.

JOHNSON: And in comparing football programs.

TORRELL: Right. And the first thing you will see when you go in there will be the national championship trophy and the Rose Bowl trophy. And you will see a very nice case with a highlight of our bowl record, as well as a video of highlights from key plays from bowl games.

JOHNSON: Running on an endless loop?

TORRELL: Right. And then the next part will be "Players and Coaches." There will be a video running in there of 10-12 plays from the regular season of years past, reaching as far back as (legendary UW running back) Hugh McElhenny in 1950.

JOHNSON: How big of screens are these?

TORRELL: I wish I knew exactly. These will be about 32-inch screens, and at the end there will be a big collage on the wall with a larger screen, but it just depends on what is going on. There will be significant memorabilia and artifacts that will set this Legends Center apart.

There are a number of sports collectors in the area who are very enthusiastic collectors of sports memorabilia. Guys like Brian Blaisdell, Joe Saxson and some others. Unbelievable collections. Whatever you can think of, they have it. I went to one guy's house the other night in Stanwood, and he had the game day program from every single bowl game the Huskies have been to since 1937-- in mint condition! These guys have been very generous in lending certain items to make this Legends Center extra special. I don't want to tip off too much of what is being included, but there are some very special items going in.

JOHNSON: What are the third and fourth sections of video exhibits?

TORRELL: Well, the third one will be about Huskies in the pros. There will be a unique presentation of the breadth of Husky participation in the pros. There will be very special memorabilia donated by great players, and some film of Huskies playing in the NFL. And finally, the fourth one will be an endless loop video feature on the game day experience at Husky Stadium.

JOHNSON: Like images of long concession lines and boring halftime routines?

TORRELL: That's right! Hopefully there will be enough people there to have long lines!

JOHNSON: I know you don't want to give too much away, but in terms of the featured plays, can you divulge one or two snippets of what to expect?

TORRELL: Everybody has got their own idea of what the greatest plays are. Not everybody can agree what the best ones are. Obviously, the miracle touchdown of Warren Moon-to-Spider Gaines in the 1975 Apple Cup-- I think everybody agrees that that one should be in there. There will also be a significant representation from the 1959-60 Huskies. We will have a full uniform from one of the prominent players—I don't want to go on the record with his name so as to leave some surprise. But it is such a great contribution.

JOHNSON: What will the effect be upon people who experience the Legends Center?

TORRELL: This is not designed to be an extension of the Husky Hall of Fame. It has its own personality. It is going to be really uplifting and make people even more fired up to go to the game. It won't be enormous in size, but everything inside is going to be of enormous quality. The look of the cases and everything in it will look completely different.

JOHNSON: What is exciting to me is that the complete focus is on Husky football, so as to not dilute the impact with references to other sports.

TORRELL: I don't think people will be disappointed. Approaching from the south side of the stadium, it will be hard to walk by and not go in.

JOHNSON: It's almost like in recent years that Washington football has become represented by an inability to run the football, pansy lavender jerseys with space-age numerals, and half-empty seats in Husky Stadium. As time progresses we have all become disconnected with the true tradition of Husky football. I am really hopeful that this exhibit can help link us to our heritage of who we are and what that W on the helmet means.

TORRELL: Yes! And you know, the thing that makes it possible, is that we have the heritage to make it possible. If we didn't have eight major bowl wins since 1960, if we didn't have way over 100 former players in the NFL, if we didn't have a great game day location and scenario, none of this would be very special. But this Legends Center is capturing the essence of the good things that we have in Husky football history.
Derek Johnson can be reached at derekjohnsonbooks@comcast.net

His website is www.derekjohnsonbooks.com

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