Fire Sark? No Way
There seems to be a movement afoot to cite some random statistics and build on mounting frustration over the Washington Huskies’ three game losing streak that would result in the firing of Head Coach Steve Sarkisian. People are pissed that the Dawgs seem destined for a 7-6 season at best again despite the fact that most of these fans would have taken that record before the season started based upon our schedule and talent returning. People are tired of watching the Dawgs look pathetic on the road. People are feeling embarrassed to be a fan of this team. And all of these feelings are completely legit.
But that doesn’t mean Sark should be fired. Not now. And not at the end of the season.
Why? There are a number of reasons starting with Sark’s success thus far. Look at the chart at the end of this post. Sarkisian inherited a “franchise” (yes, college football can essentially be considered a franchise at this point in society due to boosters, field renovations, and the money spent on coaches) that hadn’t posted a winning record since 2002. That was also the last time they had been in a bowl game. Yet Sark went to back-to-back bowls and brought the Dawgs back into the conversation nationally. (I don’t mean for a national title. I mean they weren’t the joke of the country anymore).
Additionally, the Dawgs went out and brought in better recruits since Sark arrived at Montlake. From 2004-2010, the Dawgs only had one top 25 recruiting class (2008 with Chris Polk, Jermaine Kearse, Everette Thompson and Kavario Middleton). In the past three seasons, each recruiting class has been in the top 25 at Scout. Next year’s class is currently ranked #14 and that is thanks in large part to new coaches Justin Wilcox and Tosh Lupoi.
Yet people want to cite other stats as a reason to let Sark go. Take this for example a friend on Facebook:
Under Tyrone Willingham, the UW lost by 30 or more, 6 times.
Under Steve Sarkisian, the UW has lost by 30 or more, 8 times.
What is left to question? This is not working. Stability is overrated if you are moving in the wrong direction.
Or how about the attempted trend on twitter of #firesark?
So are they going in the wrong direction? So Willingham’s teams lost closer games? They still lost. And lost. And lost. Sark beat USC twice. He beat Stanford this year. He beat Nebraska. And yes, he lost to good teams a lot. So fire him? Now?
They certainly aren’t catching Oregon anytime soon, but this team beat Stanford and was right there with a talented USC team. They got blown out by LSU on the road, but feature an offense that will return 10 starters next year with WR James Johnson potentially returning as well (depending on a medical redshirt this season). Or how about a defense that is improved, despite this week’s result, that returns eight starters?
Do we blame Sark for the fact that QB Keith Price is ranked 10th in the conference in rating with eight interceptions and only eight touchdowns? If you believe it is Sark’s fault than you must believe in some version of flawed logic that somehow Sark is coaching horrendously worse this year on offense than last year. That somehow Sark is telling Price the wrong thing. That somehow Sark is coaching Price up in a vastly different manner than last year when Price was second in the Pac-12 in QB rating behind Andrew Luck. You must believe that Sark is blowing it for Keith Price who last year finished with a better rating than Matt Barkley. It must be Sark who is regressing Price’s game. It can’t be Keith himself, right?
And yes, I understand that ultimately it comes down to the coach. And yes, Sark should be held responsible for the poor play of his team the past three weeks. But yes, he should be applauded for the progression of TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He should be applauded for beating Stanford. He should be applauded for turning Kendyl Taylor into a weapon as a hybrid RB/WR now. But no, you want to fire him because you want instant gratification. It will make you feel good about the direction of the program for a few weeks.
Husky fans want Sark gone because this is a school that used to dominate the Pac-10. This is a school where anyone in the country would be proud to coach. This is a school that used to steamroll Oregon. Guess what Dawg fans? This isn’t that school anymore. What coach with a higher profile than Sark will leave their job to go to Washington? Tell me who. And why would they? Yes, the Huskies are building a better stadium. Yes, we love Seattle. But it is time to recognize that this isn’t the same school that owned the 1990s in the Pac-10. Why don’t the Huskies get the best recruits in the country? For the same reason many of you want to fire Sark. We live in a instant gratification society that doesn’t want to view the long term. Sark and Tosh are out there recruiting 17 year olds. What memory do they have of the Dawgs? These kids were five years old when the Dawgs went 11-1 and finished 3rd in the nation. Five! All these kids see are flashy uniforms and four straight 10 win seasons or better by the Oregon Ducks. Yet you want to believe the Dawgs are still relevant? They aren’t there yet. So let’s fire Sark since he hasn’t got it done yet. Great solution. Let’s start over despite just luring away a top-rated defensive coordinator and a top recruiter. Let’s start over despite the gaining momentum in recruiting including stealing Shaq Thompson from Cal and bringing in three four star QBs in the past two years. Let’s start over because you want the Huskies to be who they were when you were 12 years old. But they aren’t. Not yet. And so your solution is to fire the coach who took this team from the basement to back-to-back bowls? Are you willing to lose Lupoi and Wilcox? Are you ready to start over again?
Put your phone away. Stop tweeting. Take a breath.
But feel free to blame Tyrone Willingham and Keith Gilbertson. There is a reason neither of them are coaching anymore.
Year Record Bowl Ranked Coach 2000 11-1 Won Rose Bowl #3 Neuheisel 2001 8-4 Lost Holiday Bowl #19 Neuheisel 2002 7-6 Lost Sun Bowl Neuheisel 2003 6-6 Gilbertson 2004 1-10 Gilbertson 2005 2-9 Willingham 2006 5-7 Willingham 2007 4-9 Willingham 2008 0-12 Willingham 2009 5-7 Sarkisian 2010 7-6 Won Holiday Bowl Sarkisian 2011 7-6 Lost Alamo Bowl Sarkisian 2012 3-4 Sarkisian