Yes, blasphemous as this may sound, Washington fans should stand behind the Zags and Ducks this weekend and hope they meet in the national championship game. It would be good for the region, conference and home state of Huskies fans.
Unfortunately, the bosses say I can’t remove my e-mail address from this column. Same goes for my Twitter handle and what baby boomers refer to as my “phone number.”
So I guess I’ll just find a bunker and settle in for a hurricane. I have a feeling this isn’t going to go well.
Seattle, you see, is brimming with college graduates from across the country, but more root for Washington than any other school. Purple pride is everywhere in Dawgtown USA, especially because UW football has re-established itself as a national power.
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Yes, blasphemous as this might sound, Washington fans should stand behind the Zags and Ducks this weekend and hope they meet in the national-championship game. Despite instinct wishing that each suffer triple-digit losses, a Gonzaga-Oregon final is ideal.
It would be good for the region, conference and home state of Huskies fans. Think of it like a wheatgrass shot — hard to swallow but ultimately beneficial.
Let’s start with the region. The Pacific Northwest hasn’t produced a Final Four participant since Oregon State in 1963, which took place five years after Elgin Baylor led Seattle U to the title game. It hasn’t produced a national champion since Oregon did it in ’39 — and the NIT might have been the more prestigious tournament back then. But now, for the first time, you have two Cascadia schools playing on college basketball’s biggest stage simultaneously. There’s gotta be some PNW pride, right?
Besides, if the Zags lose to South Carolina, haters will squawk that their road to the Final Four was too easy and dismiss their credentials. And if Oregon falls to North Carolina, they’ll point out that the ACC remains at a level the Pac-12 can’t touch.
Would Gonzaga and Oregon falling be worth enduring such derision? Actually, don’t answer that. But I say it wouldn’t.
Remember, not only had it been eight years since a Pac-12 team reached the Final Four, it had been eight years since anyone from the Pacific or Mountain Time Zone had. In fact, 2001 marked the last time a West Coast team from anywhere but Westwood had advanced to the national semifinals.
As Washington hoops tries to rebuild its program, its fans should want the West to gain as much esteem as possible. They should view coaches such as Gonzaga’s Mark Few and Oregon’s Dana Altman as barometers for what’s possible up here.
Competition brings out the best in those in the sports world. If the Zags and Ducks nudge the bar a couple inches higher, new UW coach Mike Hopkins is going to do a few extra squats to make sure he clears it.
Of course, this would be a little different if Washington basketball had been knocking on the Final Four door year after year, only to be denied in agonizing fashion. But the Huskies haven’t even been to the Elite Eight since 1953. If it were the Dawgs in the Final Four and the Zags watching from home, I wouldn’t be offering this same advice.
Oh, and it would be a lot different if Washington football hadn’t just ended its 12-game losing streak to Oregon via TKO. The Huskies beat the Ducks, 70-21, last fall en route to a Pac-12 title and College Football Playoff appearance. They also have one more national championship than Oregon, which gives them temporary bragging rights.
This isn’t little brother reluctantly rooting for the first-born to succeed. This is more like a politician endorsing a rival for the good of the party.
Granted, it’s never easy despising a team one day, then wishing it well the next. To my knowledge, the Hatfields didn’t have many impromptu potlucks with the McCoys.
But if the Zags and Ducks win Saturday, they deserve a grin from the locals more so than a glower. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the adult thing to do. It’s the …
Oh, hell — it’ll never happen.