In a bizarre way, all the Washington Huskies’ reunions under new coach Steve Sarkisian have taken on a pop-culture flavor.
Something like “The Brady Bunch” mingled with “The Partridge Family.”
Episode I: “Staff Starting Point” (Idaho).
Episode II: “Who’s The Boss” (USC).
Episode III: “Return to L.A.” debuts Saturday when the Huskies take on UCLA in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
It’s the last one on Sarkisian’s reunion checklist – going home. He grew up in nearby Torrance, Calif., a few miles south of Los Angeles.
“This town is on fire for him,” said Fred Peterson, Sarkisian’s former offensive coordinator at El Camino College. “Everybody follows Washington now. In fact, the first thing they ask is, ‘How did Washington do?’ ”
Seb Sarkisian, the father of the first-year UW coach, noted “there’s not a store, or a church” in town he or his wife, Sally, can visit without being flagged down to ask how one of the town’s all-time great quarterbacks is doing in his first stint as an NCAA Division I coach.
“We get calls, you wouldn’t believe, from all over the country, from people he knew or we know,” the elder Sarkisian said. “They’re always wishing him the best of luck.”
Story lines, especially prior to a game, inevitably crop up. Sarkisian does his best to address them early, and not allow them to develop into distractions for his players.
This week is no exception.
“He hasn’t really talked about it,” Huskies receiver Jermaine Kearse said. “It’s just a business trip for us.”
In fact, unlike the last time Sarkisian made a business trip to the area – for the preseason Pacific-10 Conference coaches media day in late July – when he arrived early and stayed a few extra days with family, this trip will not allow for any extracurricular activities.
Fly in. Walk through. Have team meetings. Play the game. Fly out.
“There is no time,” Seb Sarkisian said. “And we don’t want to bother him.”
Make no mistake, flying into Los Angeles International Airport, and being near Torrance will always hold sentimental grip on Steve Sarkisian and his family. But home is now – clearly – Seattle.
“I think it took a pretty short time, to be honest with you,” Seb Sarkisian said. “When he relocated in Oakland (in 2004 for one season with Raiders), it didn’t take him long to adjust. I guess when you’re busy, you don’t have that much of an outside life.”
For the first few months, the new Huskies coach admitted that adjusting to Seattle was a challenge.
“When you’re in and out of a hotel, and flying back and forth (to Los Angeles), that stuff is difficult,” Sarkisian said. “But when you get into the home, and when your kids start school and start making friends ... I think that’s all part of getting settled.”
His oldest, daughter Ashley, plays soccer and basketball in youth leagues. Son Brady is too young – “he’s only 4,” Sarkisian said with a laugh, “but he looks 6.”
Last Saturday, during Washington’s bye week, the Sarkisian family went trick-or-treating in their Bellevue neighborhood – right after the coach watched Oregon’s victory over USC.
“It’s the first time in years,” Sarkisian said. “The bye fell on a good weekend, that’s for sure.”
Whether it has helped in their transition to a new city or not, the Sarkisian house is filled to the brim for home games. Roughly 25 family members and close friends gather to attend home games, then convene at the Sarkisian home afterward.
“Maybe sometimes we go up there too many times,” said Seb Sarkisian, who has not missed a UW game this season, home or away.
The coach’s wife, Stephanie Sarkisian, recounts a story from their last visit to Torrance during the summer. A day or so into the stay, the Sarkisian children asked when they were going back to “Wash-ting-ton?”
“Actually sometimes you almost want a quiet house because there is so much going on. It’s fun just to know it feels like home,” Steve Sarkisian said. “Because it feels like normal.”
Here were Sarkisian’s exact words after evaluating quarterback Jake Locker (deep right thigh bruise) in practice Thursday: “I expect him to play. We won’t hold back.” … Locker showed no hindrance in his lateral movement, even though his leg was a little sore from practice Wednesday. … Defensive tackle Cameron Elisara (neck stinger) will not travel with the Huskies, marking his second consecutive missed game and prompting the question whether the team has seen the last of his services this season. Also, linebackers E.J. Savannah (broken left wrist) and Jordan Wallace (left knee), who tweaked his knee during a tackle in practice Wednesday, will stay in Seattle. … Sarkisian was reminded that a couple of his siblings attended UCLA. Would that be an issue? “Just a piece of paper,” Sarkisian said. “Not at heart.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442