the Huskies and coach Steve Sarkisian needing to do more. More than just a middling bowl game. More than an overtime loss to the Cougars, which apparently everyone on the west side of the Cascades is really, really pissed about.
Here's the basic core reason that Kelley has for his "Sark, what have you done for me lately?" column.
Washington football is progressing, but it isn't progressing nearly as fast as its fans rightfully expect. For the third straight season, the Huskies, 7-5, are bowl eligible, but for the third straight season, the bowl is a second tier, made-for-TV game, probably the Las Vegas Bowl, which feels like the NIT to a fan base that is antsy to dance on New Year's Day, or beyond.
The way Washington lost the Apple Cup — all of the penalties, the questionable play-calling, the blown 18-point, fourth-quarter lead — shines the harsh light of truth on the head coach.
Sarkisian was hired with the expectation that he could grow into a great coach; that he could compete with Oregon and Stanford and USC for Pac-12 championships and make Washington a player in the BCS rankings.
It hasn't happened.
But I think his arguement falls apart completely just a few lines later, when Kelley starts talking about all the talent that Sarkisian has brought to the program.
Sarkisian has dramatically improved Washington's talent level. He is backing up his highly ranked recruiting class of a year ago with another solid class this year.
Seven of the 19 players who have committed to Washington are rated four stars (out of five) by ESPN.com and the Huskies are close with a couple of other recruits. The talent is there to compete for conference championships.
Without question, Sarkisian has returned hope to the Huskies.
He has turned a bad program into a good program.
And you were expecting more? Mr. Kelley. I don't blame him personally, he's probably reflecting a lot of what UW fans are feeling right now. Why hasn't UW made the big breakthrough and competed for a Pac-12 or even a national championship (Here's something to remember the Huskies national championship with). But do we all have amnesia?
The program that Sarkisian took over was awful. Terrible. It was a laughing stock, even the WSU Cougars kind of guffawed anytime anyone brought up the Huskies. The high brows in Seattle won't enjoy this dose of reality but UW has a football program that was just a dumpster fire. Sarkisian comes in and all of a sudden the Dawgs are upsetting top-ranked teams? They're going to bowl games? Like he.. he.. turned things around. Exactly what he was hired to do (Enjoy the greatest moments at Husky Stadium here).
But uppity UW fan comes in and demands that in four years from a winless season, Sarkisian should REALLY have the Huskies competing with Alabama.
College football has changed, folks. No matter how much you want to believe that UW is some top tier program in the entire country, it's not the truth. There is some history, yes, but the Pac-12 is just so stinking tough that I'm going to guess the Huskies won't go undefeated every year. I'm not saying they will never have great seasons, but remember this is a conference with powers like USC and Oregon and sleeping giants like UCLA, Cal and Stanford.
UW is a good program, they'll get their share of recruits, but they'll also be going up against schools that get their say among the best talent in the entire state of California, and probably the western United States. Throw in that they're mostly warm weather schools - kids love playing in warm weather - and the kind of money that a USC and Oregon have - and it's a slightly uphill battle.
The Huskies have money, a strong alumni base and a new renovated stadium in the future - they'll be fine. The mere thought that a coach that has improved the program consistently for four years and taken them to bowls games is simply crazy and not realistic. Welcome to big boy college football, you guys aren't the biggest fish in the pond even though you think you are.
Keep Sarkisian. In fact, hold onto him. A good, solid coach is way better than taking a flyer on some flashy coach with no guarantees .