Another ideal night for football at Husky Stadium. I like to arrive at the palace a few hours ahead of schedule, just to mill around and see who I might see.
Today, my colleague, Ryan Divish, is with me. He'd never been to "The Zone" before, and liked it (although he later pointed out, that sort of atmosphere basks around the entire facility at the University of Montana, where he attended school).
The mood is a little different today than it was during the three-game homestand in September. Back then, it was sheer excitement and anticipation. Now, I think fans are starting to realize the seriousness of all this – a 2-3 UW record, postseason ramifications, etc. – and know tonight's matchup against Arizona is almost a must-win.
The faithful is a little on edge, to say the least.
Bumped into tonight's "Husky Legend" recipient – Gig Harbor's Joe Jarzynka, a former walk-on – who looks great (a bit scruffy, but looks like he could still field a kickoff and go the distance).
Jarzynka, a Huskies receiver/returner from 1996-99, works for a property-management firm in Seattle called Pinnacle. He had spent 31/2 years on the company's commercial brokerage team, but has recently switched to property management.
He lives in North Tacoma with his wife, Jen (a WSU graduate) and two children, daughter Madeline (3 years old) and son, Fisher (8 months old). The couple has been married six years.
Jarzynka said it was right before the start of the season that UW officials contacted him about being inducted as a "Husky Legend."
"I was really excited. I've watched guys run out there – some of the best players that have walked through this place – just to know I was going to be next to one of them, I was trembling," Jarzynka said. "It was really cool."
The 1995 graduate from Gig Harbor High School, and former Pierce County League MVP, was one of the most accomplished punt and kick returners in UW history – even at 5-foot-8.
He is No. 2 in career punt returns (101) behind Beno Bryant, and his 91-yard return for a score against California in 1998 still ranks as the third-longest scoring punt return all-time.
"I've had a chance to meet Steve (Sarkisian). I played against him, believe it or not, back in the day – shows how old I am. And he said, 'Oh yeah, oh yeah, I remember (playing against you)," Jarzynka said. "Whether or not it's true, it doesn't really matter."
Jarzynka's parents, David and Sue, still reside in Gig Harbor.
PRE-GAME UPDATE: Three Huskies are out of uniform and out tonight. They are safety Nate Williams (concussion), receiver D'Andre Williams (concussion) and running back Johri Fogerson (flu). … Fogerson's absence might mean more time for Demitrius Bronson, and Willie Griffin/Curtis Shaw in two-tailback sets. … Sarkisian arrived in a grey suit with light-blue stripes, and was way more interactive with the crowd coming off the bus than in recent walkthroughs.