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Apple Cup is One Big Going-Away Party for Huskies

The rivalry game almost pales when compared to all the impending UW change.

The Apple Cup is not so  much a football game this year, as it's a going-away party.

Tears before, and after, are permitted.

Gifts and cards are welcome.

Take a final Dawg Walk or walk the dog Dubs, whichever comes first.

Please rise for one last rendition of the Husky fight song. 

This rivalry encounter on Friday afternoon is going to be one big drama fest for the University of Washington football team — and the end result against Washington State has very little to do with it.

For three weeks now, the Huskies have been like a table getting stripped down and awaiting a new coat of varnish.

It's been one layer after another.

Jimmy Lake probably left eight or nine years before he envisioned.

Defensive coordinator, John Donovan, in this day and age of the quick-trigger college firing, never moved his family here, which says a lot about his confidence in keeping his job.

Interim coach/defensive coordinator Bob Gregory, wide-receivers coach Junior Adams, defensive-backs coach Terrence Brown, running-backs coach Keith Bhonapha, tight-ends coach Derham Cato, primary secondary coach Will Harris, offensive-line coach Scott Huff, outside-linebackers coach Ikaika Malloe and defensive-line coach Rip Rowan wouldn't be faulted if they had boxes in their offices ready for packing to make room for a new coaching staff.

A lot of high school football recruits find themselves detached from the Huskies because of this situation, among them elite edge rusher Jayden Wayne from Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington.

Linebacker MJ Tafisi and kicker Tim Horn packed up and left at midseason over playing time.

Senior running back Kamari Pleasant, punter Race Porter, quarterback Patrick O'Brien and center Luke Wattenberg are seniors who will suit up one last time.

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Senior edge rusher Ryan Bowman played his last contest a month ago before an injury ended his career.

Senior running back Sean McGrew, injured for a couple of weeks, could be finished, too.

A half-dozen more players with Husky eligibility remaining — offensive tackle Jaxson Kirkland, tight end Cade Otton, edge rusher Zion Tupuola-Fetui, nickelback Bookie Radley-Hiles and cornerbacks Kyler Gordon and Trent McDuffie — likely will make this their last college game and enter the NFL draft.

There's no telling how many added Huskies will be done after Friday's game and enter the transfer portal, but with a new coach coming there should be a bunch.

Besides the players and the coaches, support staffers such Tim Socha, the Huskies strength and conditioning coach, as well as consultants and quality coaches, may have to go elsewhere, as well. 

Football coaching changes have happened before in Montlake, but not of this magnitude, not coming on the heels of a pandemic and not coming at the expense of a UW team ranked entering the season.

Four quarters of Apple Cup football will be the easy part, beginning with the 5 p.m. kickoff. Knocking heads with the Cougars should be a breeze. 

What comes next will be a new leader, new coordinators, new assistant coaches, transfers, recruits, staffers and probably a whole new way of doing things, beginning with offseason workouts and spring football practice. 

No less a big period of adjustment. Players introducing themselves to the new coaches. Trying to prove themselves to coaches all over again. Saying goodbye to these coaches if they don't click.

A whole different vibe for Husky football is coming. No guarantees on what it will feel like.

It's got to get better, doesn't it?

The Apple Cup is a big going-away party in the face of an impending coaching change.

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