Hart has strong allegiances to both programs, and great admiration for both coaching staffs, and don’t try to make him pick sides.

Share story

He’s one of the most respected assistant coaches ever for the Washington football program — for all of college football, really — but you might not recognize Randy Hart on Friday night.

That’s because he might show up in disguise at Husky Stadium for the Huskies’ top-10 showdown against Stanford, perhaps wearing one of those goofy glasses with the fake mustache.

In February, Hart retired after 50 years in college football — four years as a player at Ohio State under Woody Hayes and 46 as an assistant coach, 21 of them spent with the Huskies, the last six at Stanford.

He joked he will be there Friday, but in stealth mode. Hart has strong allegiances to both programs, and great admiration for both coaching staffs, and don’t try to make him pick sides.

It’s an awkward matchup for him.

“It’s like being in two families,” Hart said. “I’m just going to sit back and enjoy it. I’m excited about being there. Somebody’s going to win, and somebody’s going to lose, unfortunately.”

He and his wife, Linda, have returned to Seattle, where his two sons and four grandchildren live.

For the first time since he was a teenager, Hart, 68, has spent his Saturdays this month watching college football as a fan.

“I feel like a fish out of water,” he said.

He should feel right at home in Husky Stadium. Hart was the defensive-line coach for UW’s 1991 national-championship team, and at halftime Friday he will join players and coaches from that team for a tribute on the field. The standing ovation for them — for him — will be well-earned.

“Like any championship team, they just loved to play football, they respected each other and they played for each other,” Hart said of the ’91 squad. “It was like a forest fire: There’s a spark and then a fire and then a raging inferno.”

Hart took part in 10 Rose Bowls — one as a player, nine as an assistant coach — the second-most in the history of the famed New Year’s Day bowl.

He coached under four Hall of Fame coaches: Hayes, Earle Bruce, Jim Young and Don James. And he believes there will be two Hall of Fame coaches in Husky Stadium on Friday — UW’s Chris Petersen and Stanford’s David Shaw.

“Certainly, Chris Petersen has been around and he’s warranted enough (respect) — he’s a Hall of Famer,” Hart said. “And I believe working with David Shaw — he’s a Hall of Famer. I’ve worked for four Hall of Fame coaches, and they have what it takes.”

Petersen, he said, “has done a hell of a job (at UW), and it’s fun to see good guys win. I consider both he and David top-drawer people and top-drawer coaches. It’s great for the game of college football.”

Hart recruited all of the defensive linemen who will play for Stanford on Friday, and he has remained close with UW defensive line coach Ikaika Malloe, a former Husky player. Hart was invited to a Washington practice in August.

“The practices between the two schools are very similar — it’s fundamental football, high reps, disciplined,” he said.

Hart’s day of coaching high-intensity football are over. In retirement, he’s transitioning into a new life, but he hasn’t left football completely.

“I always say: My life has been better than most people’s vacation,” he said. “I really am a lucky guy. I know it.”