Huskies Insider Blog

Looking at 2009 ... from nine months away

My annual season-ending take on the state of UW football ran in the Wednesday paper, looking ahead to Steve Sarkisian's first team and on what was left in the cupboard from Ty Willingham.

For blog purposes, here are what I consider two key paragraphs. This one, which reminds that most Pac-10 coaches -- even the successful ones -- rare make a huge win-loss difference in their first season:

Among the top current Pacific-10 Conference coaches, Jeff Tedford is the exception, lifting California from one win to seven in his first season. Pete Carroll bumped USC only from five wins to six. Oregon's Mike Bellotti inherited a nine-win team and won nine games in his first season. Oregon State's Mike Riley inherited an eight-win team and won eight games. Arizona's Mike Stoops took over a two-win team, nudged it forward to three wins in his first season, and didn't get the Wildcats to a bowl until this season – his fifth.

And this one, which is kind of my bottom line as of now:

If the 2009 season started today, the Huskies would be favored in two games: home dates against Idaho and Washington State.

As currently planned, Sarkisian will face Louisiana State in his first game, and USC in his third. The schedule goes on to include all the other Pac-10 teams, plus a trip to Notre Dame: 12 games in 12 weeks.

Athletic director Scott Woodward said that could be tweaked. But no change short of membership in the Western Athletic Conference is going to present Sarkisian with anything but a steady diet of teams more talented than his own.

Willingham's Huskies peaked at five wins. If Sarkisian can manage that in his first season, Woodward and president Mark Emmert will look like geniuses.

And you guys? Any early thoughts on what would constitute an appropriate and encouraging first season for the new staff?