I will once again take a stab at this. As I have failed so many times prior. Today is the Apple Cup, the 104th football clash of our state's two highest institutions of learning, the University of Washington (yea) and Washington State (boo-hiss). I think by now you know that I stand with the purple and gold. Part of the buy-in for that (at least football wise) is that all things crimson and gray must be subsequently seen as somehow substandard. In college football terms this is known as a rivalry game. USC vs UCLA, Alabama vs Auburn, Oregon vs Oregon State, Army vs Navy, Michigan vs MSU. Big games. Big money games. Lot's on the line. Bragging rights. Recruiting. Alumni on parade. And in our case, The Cup.
It means a lot to keep it in Seattle for the third year in a row. But it won be easy. For this game you can throw all the prior games out the window. Anything can happen. And probably will. This game has had so many incredible moments, defining plays and spectacular finishes that it is a highlight reel unto itself.
But that is not my point.
Since the first day of spring ball I have been following this group of Husky kids. To watch them grow and mature. To gauge their character both as individuals and as a team. To see if the coaching staff can mold them into something greater than 'the mediocre'. I watch them to see the spark. I love to feel a change in momentum, to witness a green mistake-prone freshman morph into a solid team player. I cheer for the overachievers and the little guys, the third string bench-warmers who when called upon when the chips are down, get their moment in the sun (or rain) to demonstrate what they have learned and to show the depth of their off-field efforts, live, on-stage in front of 70,000 fans and a huge TV audience. Not to mention their peers and coaches.
Calls for some presense. And courage, and focus. You have to play fast as you relax. Try it at home sometime.
So this afternoon, I go to watch my lads with great interest. This is the last game of the regular season. We have already qualified for a bowl. But we are reeling have been beaten senseless each of the last four weeks. Our character will be tested today on what is essentially a neutral field, Century Link. It will be cold and rainy. I don't care. Same for both teams. They play for pride and respect. They play to win.
Character under fire is what I watch for.
Today I hope to see plenty. Show me that lads, and I don't care about the score.
Pic: Gov Chris Gregoire last year prepares to hand The Cup to the Huskies. We like it here. My pic: UW 38 Wazzu 21