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Don't Like Lake Through 9 Games? James, Owens, Royal Were Worse

We examine a dozen Husky football coaches and their early records.

Coming off the weekend and reading the different fan threads, one gets the impression the University of Washington lost to Bye. It wasn't even close. Bye laid an absolute beatdown on the Huskies. 

Or so it seems.

Nine games in, a lot of UW fans, followers, ticket-holders, armchair experts and general complainers have concluded they don't like Jimmy Lake. His offense. Offensive coordinator. Defensive coordinator. Recruiting. Substitution patterns. Media interviews. Any of it.

For a lot of these people, there's no turning back.

They won't be happy until a change or changes are made. 

Actually, the only thing that will ever satisfy this sort of discontentment is winning. 

Repeated winning.

Decisive winning.

It's not happening right now.

Lake's Huskies stand 2-3 this season, 5-4 over two seasons.

Without getting into style points, we thought it might be time to see how other Husky coaches fared through nine games, working backward through the different regimes over three-quarters of a century, everything this side of World War II.

Of the 11 previous UW coaches prior to Lake, seven of them had losing records after nine outings, one matched Lake's ledger, and three coaches were just one victory better than the current leader. 

Chris Petersen

This sainted one opened his 2014 debut season 4-0 against mundane competition, among them Eastern Washington and Georgia State. Petersen next lost three of his first four Pac-12 games, including 45-20 at Oregon, taking a little luster off his reputation. He stood 6-3, on his way to an 8-6 record and Cactus Bowl appearance.

Steve Sarkisian

Cleaning up Ty Willingham's mess in 2009, Sark beat USC 16-13 in his third game. The promoted USC assistant coach also lost close ones to LSU and Notre Dame, taking the Fighting Irish into overtime. At the nine-game mark, he stood 3-6 and probably heard more complaints than attaboys. No bowl game.

Ty Willingham

The new coach didn't wow anyone coming out of the gates in 2005, going 1-8 to begin the season. He beat only Idaho 34-6 in his third outing. Five of the losses were blowouts of 39, 19, 24, 27 and 24 points. No bowl game.

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Keith Gilbertson

Gilby stood 5-4 in his first season in Montlake in 2003, with game No. 9 an impressive 42-10 drubbing of Oregon at Husky Stadium, post Wheaton interception. However, mixed into start was a shocking 28-17 loss at home to Nevada and former UW assistant Chris Tormey. No Bowl game.

Rick Neuheisel

Slick Rick lost his first two games as the new Husky coach in 1999 to BYU 35-28 and Air Force 31-21, but he stood 6-3 after righting things some in a debut season that ended up in the Holiday Bowl.

Jim Lambright

The long-time Husky defensive coordinator, asked to hold things together after the program was sanctioned with a bowl ban, scholarship limits and probation, came out of the gate in 1993 with a 6-3 record. 

Don James

The man who would be King of the Huskies lost his first two games to Arizona State and Texas, and four of his first six in 1975. At the nine-game mark, people seriously questioned the hiring of the diminutive James from Kent State after he went 4-5. Included was a 52-0 shellacking at Alabama.

Jim Owens

People had to be a little squeamish about this former Texas A&M assistant coach in 1957 when he tied his first game against Colorado 6-6 and proceeded to lose the next four, including 48-7 to Minnesota, 35-7 to Ohio State and 19-0 to UCLA. What offense? At the 9-game mark, Owens was 3-5-1.

Darrell Royal

Texas' most legendary coach later on paid some dues in his lone season in 1956 at the UW, winning three of his first four games before losing four in a row. Same as James, he was 4-5 to begin this new job.

John Cherberg

The future Lt. governor lost his first two games as the Husky coach in 1953, including 50-0 at Michigan. His early breakthrough came in a 13-13 tie with USC. After nine games, Cherberg stood 3-5-1.

Howie Odell 

Before All-America running back Hugh McElhenny and quarterback Don Heinrich showed up a year later, Odell suffered through a post-war 1948 season that featured six losses in the first eight games, including to Washington State in his fourth outing. At nine games, he stood 2-6-1.

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