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September 13, 1971
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September 13, 1971

But This Year It's...

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For Woody, at least, they certainly seem to keep popping up and no one doubts they'll be popping up again.


Now opponents know what to expect of the Washington Huskies. A year ago they were caught unawares by a change in coaching philosophy as radical as any in modern times. As a disciple of the old Oklahoma coach, Bud Wilkinson, Washington's Jim Owens had always subscribed to the theory that when a forward pass is thrown, three things can happen and two of them are bad. So his teams had passed about as often as Fielding Yost's, and promising young quarterbacks and wide receivers had scrupulously avoided the Seattle campus for fear of being converted into watch-charm guards or blocking backs.

But that was before Sonny Sixkiller, grandson of a Cherokee chief and already the most celebrated Indian in the Pacific Northwest since Sacajawea found a safe pass for Lewis and Clark (the explorers, not the college). Sixkiller came to Washington quite conscious of the ban on bombs but confident he could turn the obdurate coach's head with his artistry. Although an outstanding passer in high school at Ashland, Ore., he had been ignored by most recruiters because of his relatively slight stature—he has grown an inch, to six feet, and gained 14 pounds, to 184, since enrolling at Washington two years ago. Indeed, Owens might have overlooked him, too, had it not been for a series of unhappy events.

Owens' 1969 team floundered to a 1-9 won-lost record and was torn by racial dissension, much of it attributed to Owens and his coaching staff. The coach found it necessary to open his mind in more ways than one. His problems with black athletes did not measurably improve in 1970—eight quit the squad—but he prospered on the field with a red one, Sixkiller, and his team employed an offense that made such traditionally pass-oriented schools as Stanford look positively stodgy by comparison. In 10 games, six of which they won, the Huskies threw 415 passes and completed 213 for 2,721 yards and 22 touchdowns. Sixkiller, only a sophomore, completed 186 of 362 for 2,303 yards and 15 scores. He set 10 school records and led the nation with an average of 18.6 completions per game. And talk about excitement! In 1969 the team averaged 11 points a game. When Sixkiller took over last year the average zoomed to 33 a game, with 61 points against UCLA the highwater mark.

Now he is back, even more poised and with a corps of increasingly swift receivers, the best of whom are the tiny Jim Krieg, 5'8�", and Tom Scott, who looms over him at 5'9". The offensive line is mobile, although inexperienced. Twelve lettermen return to the defensive unit, however, including the fine linebacker, Rick Huget. Owens has added a black, former Husky Fullback Ray Jackson, to his coaching staff, and he is optimistic that racial harmony will be achieved.

Without dissension, with improved defense, with Sixkiller and with luck, the Huskies could be a factor in the Pacific Eight race. No matter what, they won't be dull.


For a league that once featured some of the wildest gang fights in college football, the Southwest Conference has recently produced about as much drama as a daytime TV soap opera. The only game that counted, really, was Texas-Arkansas. Everything else, all those SMUs vs. TCUs, was just so much cold chili. But then last fall along came Jim Carlen, a Bible-thumping, quick-smiling, smooth-talking disciple of Bobby Dodd by way of West Virginia, and suddenly the old SWC was at least a three-team league. He popped up in Lubbock, of all places, and wasted no time in changing Texas Tech's Red Raiders from a 5-5 team into an 8-4 one—their best showing since Donny Anderson was breaking rushing records in 1965.

Two of those losses were to Texas and Arkansas, but the day may be coming when even those monopolists receive their comeuppance. Shortly after arriving at Tech in January of 1970, Carlen signed the state's two best high school quarterbacks, Jimmy Carmichael and Joe Barnes, now sophomores. And this past spring Carlen recruited 48 prospects of such quality that many experts agreed he had outhooked the Texas Longhorns.

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