For a few years this decade, this city's two revered football teams had been inching closer to each other on their respective escalators. But at the dawn of the 2018 football season, the baton handoff is complete. Seattle has gone from being Seahawk-city, to Husky-town.
You can argue who has the louder stadium.
CenturyLink Field has been regarded as one of the nation’s most boisterous venues for more than a decade now. Husky Stadium, meanwhile, still holds the college football record for highest decibel level, at 133.6.
One can make the deaf hear, the other can make the hearing deaf. You can debate which is harder on the eardrums all day.
What you can’t debate, however, is which team has more folks clamoring as their season-openers draw near. What you can’t debate is that, right now — Seattle is a Husky town.
For a few years this decade, this city’s two revered football teams had been inching closer to each other on their respective escalators.
When the Seahawks were in the midst of their Super Bowl-winning season in December of 2013, then-Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian had left Washington for USC.
When the Seahawks were in the midst of their second straight Super Bowl run a year later, new Huskies coach Chris Petersen had just completed his first season at Washington.
What followed was a second-round playoff exit for the Seahawks and a Heart of Dallas Bowl appearance for the Huskies. Then another second-round exit for the Seahawks and a College Football Playoff appearance for the Huskies.
Now, after missing the postseason last year, the Seahawks are rebuilding while the Huskies are returning a slew of the most talented players to ever come through the program. And, well, the previous sentence might be copy-and-pasteable for years to come.
Not withstanding what a certain coach-quarterback duo has accomplished in New England, consistency might be NFL teams’ most elusive trait. You’ll see some squads leap from a division’s basement to its penthouse within a year, and others nosedive as stars get old, get injured or get released.
There’s a reason the Seahawks are 50-to-1 to win the Super Bowl this season after spending years as the class of the NFC. When you lose Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and perhaps Earl Thomas, Seattleites don’t worry that a vacation in February might cause them to miss the parade.
Hitting on draft picks and/or free agents is as much about good fortune as it is good scouting, and the Seahawks’ haven’t had Lady Luck’s blessing in those areas over the past few seasons.
But maintaining success at the college level? That generally comes down to the coach. And few in the NCAA have a better track record than Petersen.
The fact that Petersen was able to lead Boise State to two Fiesta Bowl wins and four top-10 seasons despite never having a top-50 recruiting class speaks to his eye for talent and coaching ability. The fact that he has led Washington to 22 wins over the past two years and just landed his best recruiting class ever screams to those things.
The Huskies have former Pac-12 Player of the Year Jake Browning coming back at quarterback, 49-career-touchdown scorer Myles Gaskin coming back at running back, likely first-round pick Trey Adams returning at left tackle, and likely pros Greg Gaines and Taylor Rapp returning to the defensive line and secondary, respectively. No surprise, then, that The Associated Press has the Huskies No. 6 in its preseason poll… unless the surprise is that the ranking is too low.
But as good as those core players are, none were part of a recruiting class ranked among the nation’s top 16, as this past one was by 247sports.com(16th) and Scout.com (13th). And prolific as Browning was for his first three years, he had one fewer recruiting stars than Jacob Eason, the transfer from Georgia who will compete with a bevy of other esteemed quarterbacks to replace Browning as the starter next year.
Barring a surprise departure by Petersen, who doesn’t seem particularly motivated by upward mobility, the Huskies should stay at or near the top of the Pac-12 in perpetuity. As much as opponents may appreciate the mercy, nobody’s calling off these Dawgs.
Of course, it must be noted that a great quarterback can usually keep an NFL team competitive, and Russell Wilson has proved himself to be great. Throw in four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner and head coach Pete Carroll, and the foundation is there for future success.
For now, though the Huskies stand at the top of Seattle’s football hierarchy. This town has two of the loudest stadiums in the country, but as their tenants’ seasons approach, one sound sticks out.