Because one firing can set off a chain of hirings—for example, in 1999 Washington hired Rick Neuheisel from Colorado, which hired Gary Barnett from Northwestern, which hired Randy Walker from Miami of Ohio—a lack of firings can keep the total number of changes down. With 25 bowl games scheduled this season, 50 coaches can boast of reaching the postseason. As long as a school's fans have hope of going bowling in the near future, they'll buy tickets. When they stop buying tickets, the coach is in trouble.
Last Saturday night, the Memorial Stadium crowd of 50,750 at Kansas was a sea of Nebraska red. In the third quarter, with the visitors well on their way to a 51-7 victory, the fans began chanting, "Let's go Huskers!" The next day, Terry Allen lost his job.
Huskies Beat Cardinal Again
Flawless in Seattle
When a Stanford defender drove him into the turf on the second play of the second half last Saturday, Washington's righthanded quarterback, Cody Pickett, landed on his throwing shoulder—the same one he'd separated on Oct 6. While shaking off the pain, he avoided looking to the Huskies' sideline, "just in case they were trying to send somebody in for me," Pickett said after the 42-28 win over the Cardinal at Husky Stadium.
Replacing Pickett, a sophomore, is the last thing the Huskies' staff wants to do. Combining pinpoint passing and remarkable toughness, he has helped lead Washington to a surprising 7-1 record and No. 8 ranking. While Stanford also entered the game with one loss, Washington's defeat had been more humbling—a 35-13 setback on Oct. 13 to UCLA, a team that the Cardinal defeated 38-28 two weeks later for its second win over a top five team in as many weeks. Still, Stanford hadn't won in Husky Stadium in 25 years.
Make it 26. Pickett, who sat out the UCLA game because of his separated shoulder, looked superb leading the Huskies to touchdowns on three of their first four possessions. He picked apart the Cardinal's zone defense, completing 15 of 28 passes for 291 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. He also rattled Stanford by running the option half a dozen times, an unexpected wrinkle that Huskies offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson unveiled against the Cardinal, who entered the game with the Pac-10's best rushing defense.
The downside of the option is that it exposes the quarterback to ferocious hits. With Pickett under center, at least one Husky isn't overly worried. "He's a tough cowboy kid from Caldwell, Idaho," says sophomore strong safety Greg Carothers. Pickett grew up around rodeos, specializing in team-roping as a teenager. His father, Dee, was world champion cowboy in 1984 and made his living on the pro circuit for 20 years.
Washington was one of only two teams in the Pac-10 that didn't have a starting quarterback returning this season. Pickett's play has made that a non-issue. "I knew he was going to be good, but damn!" said senior tailback Willie Hurst, after rushing for 108 yards and three touchdowns against Stanford. "Some of the plays he's made, I was like, Are you kidding me?"
"He looks green," says senior center Kyle Benn of Pickett, "but he's a leader. He's got mettle."
Washington wasn't expected to win the league title this season; nevertheless, the Huskies are in a three-way tie for the Pac-10 lead, along with Oregon and Washington State (all 5-1 in the conference). That means, in addition to playing for the Apple Cup on Nov. 17, Washington and Washington State could be playing for the league championship.