Washington Husky fans have been through a lot this off-season. They lost their starting quarterback, starting running back, three potent offensive linemen, and their legendary head coach. Alas, it is in the worst of times that we humans prove what we are made of and, for Husky nation, that consists of a whole lot of humorous and endearing sarcasm.
After head coach Chris Petersen retired, defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake was promoted to the head position. Expert pundits praised the move because everyone knows that Lake is a player’s coach and a masterful recruiter. What they wondered was whether or not he could hire a staff with equal excellence.
It didn’t take long for Husky heads to begin tilting as coach Lake began filling vacant positions with coaches who had vacant reputations. Fans wanted to believe, they really did, but what was going on? Some of the new faces had been unsuccessful in their previous positions and some seemed to have little in common with UW.
Analysts heard the growling Dawgs and attempted to put them at ease by explaining that it was a good thing that new coaches had been unsuccessful before because that just meant they would be more determined now. I suppose with that logic we can expect Bob Davie (ex-New Mex) to be atop the “A” list in Washington’s next head coach search.
When coach Lake filled the offensive coordinator position with unlisted John Donovan, the Pound had seen enough and that is when the fun started.
Fans took to the airwaves, blogs, and letters to editors to voice their frustrations.
Some hated the hiring of Donovan and they weren’t shy about saying so:
“I ate spoiled meat on purpose and washed it down with kerosene. Send my remains to my mother. Forever yours, Coker.”
“As the old saying goes, aim for the stars and you’ll at least land on that frozen lump of s__t jettisoned from an Airbus.”
“Bleach and soda – make that a double – hold the olive.”
Many Husky fans think that Lake hired the wrong former Penn State offensive coordinator. They think that he was aiming for Joe Moorhead (who interviewed at Oregon the same week), the savior of PSU’s 105th-ranked offense that his predecessor, Donovan, had left behind. Instead of getting a proven OC, they got the one who was fired.
Others figured Lake had gotten confused and hired Johnny Donovan, the game show announcer.
It wasn’t as if there were no other experienced offensive coordinators ready to move. That list included Todd Monken, Scott Linehan, Chad Morris, Mark Helfrich, and Kendall Briles. As one Husky backer commented: “Could have hired Rick Newheisal [sic] and got sweet guitar solos on the sideline, at least.”
In fact, Donovan’s name had never even appeared on media lists as a possible candidate for the UW job. He had never lived west of Tennessee and he hadn’t coached college football since 2015. He admitted that the only thing he knew of Washington football was what he had seen on television. Nonetheless, he was excited about the opportunity.
Analysts pointed to Donovan’s prior success as offensive coordinator at Vanderbilt to which one Dawg fanatic chided, “A Vanderbilt background is always special!”
Those who knew Donovan well were laughing. Penn State fans even commented on UW blogs with such statements as: “Genuinely feel bad for the Washington fans . . . You won’t find a PSU fan with any positive comments about Donovan.”
After being fired by Penn State, Donovan spent four years as a position coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL but as one Husky observer noted, “No greater indicator of strategic mastery and tactical evolution than rocketing up the coaching ranks to … assistant RB coach after being on the same staff for 4 years.”
Although most college football analysts raved when Jimmy Lake was hired as the new head football coach at Washington, our system (Savvy Index) stopped at “slightly better than average”. Now that he has filled out his staff, he won’t likely rise and, in fact, may drop when we next re-rate coaches.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few more comments from Dawg fans:
“This is totally random! What the hell are we doing?”
“Now that the OC has been named, we are allowed to melt down, correct?”
“I am here to help. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-TALK.”
And maybe the best of all . . .
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