UW Football’s Darkest Moments of Last Decade
16th-ranked Washington hosts No. 2 Oregon at Husky Stadium on Saturday afternoon, hoping for its first victory over the Ducks since 2003. In the decade since then, U-Dub has endured several lowpoints once unthinkable for the West Coast’s premiere college football program. We rank the five darkest ones.
Head coach Tyrone Willingham’s debut season at Washington, in 2005, ended on a low note with a 26-22 Apple Cup loss to Washington State in which the Cougars scored the winning touchdown with 1:20 left.
That proved to be an appetizer for some even uglier post-game activities on the Husky Stadium field. A scuffle broke out between the two teams’ players and fans after members of the Wazzu contingent rushed the field to celebrate the win. Among the instigators was DT Manase Hopoi, the team’s defensive MVP from the year before.
"If you win the football game, then there is no celebration by the opponent," Willingham said afteward while adding that he was “disappointed to the point of being embarrassed” by his teams extracurricular activities.
Team boosters are tasked with providing well-publicized support, monetary and otherwise, with a school’s community. In 2007, Ed Hansen - a local businessman and 1966 graduate of Washington’s law school - took a decidedly antithetical tack.
In two separate emails obtained by the Seattle Times in a public records request, Hansen told then-school president Mark Emmert that he would pledge a minimum of $200,000 towards a law school scholarship - but only if the school fired both head coach Tyrone Willingham and athletic director Todd Turner within 90 days.
"If someone is willing to make a gift of money for a charitable purpose, they are entitled to put conditions on it,” Hansen explained to the Seattle Times. The "offer" was a public bribe that underscored the embarrassment Washington football had become.
He would have to wait another year to get his wish; Turner resigned in December, while Willingham lasted another season as head coach.
The Huskies likely considered themselves lucky to only lose 56-0 to USC in 2008. The fifth-ranked Trojans scored TDs on their first six possessions before pulling the good majority of their starters. UW was outgained 485-184 and committed three turnovers while forcing none.
In enduring its worst loss in school history, Washington also ran its 2008 record to 0-8 and remained the lone winless team in the FBS.
Until the 2008 season, no Pac-8 or Pac-10 team had ever endured a winless season. Ironically, it was a Washington program that had won four conference titles during the 1990s that became the first to do so. In going 0-12, the Huskies were outscored 463-159 - an average margin of defeat of 39-13. Only three of those losses were by less than double digits.
Following a 33-7 loss to Notre Dame, AD Scott Woodward explained his decision to fire head coach Tyrone Willingham at the end of the season thusly: "It became quite obvious that the performance on the football field wasn’t up to what we talked about at the beginning of the season and previous to the season and it became more obvious as time went on."
Talk about a gross understatement.
2009 was meant to represent a new start for Washington football following an 0-12 season and the arrival of new head coach Steve Sarkisian. Instead, it started out with a bombshell of an investigative report that forever tarnished one of the best Huskies teams in recent memory.
In a four-part piece titled “Victory and Ruins,” the Seattle Times documented how the 2000 squad went 11-1, captured the Pac-10 and Rose Bowl titles and finished the year ranked No. 3 while getting away with “an unsettling level of criminal conduct” - none more grave than TE Jerramy Stevens continuing to play even after being charged with rape.
The September 2009 release of the special investigation was the darkest day for the Huskies program in the last decade.
Posted: October 9, 2013