They know where to go for lunch in Montlake, where all the bathrooms are, the playbook, the Huskies' innermost thoughts.
They're the most dangerous kind of college football opponent — the former University of Washington coach or assistant coach who comes back as the head man representing someone else, trying his darndest to show up his one-time employer.
The Huskies already have faced two of these guys this season in Bobby Hauck and Justin Wilcox, losing to one of them and getting taken to overtime by the other.
On Saturday, the UW will match wits with a third program alum — Oregon State's Jonathan Smith, formerly the Husky offensive coordinator from 2014 to 2017. He was well-liked in Seattle, at least when he wasn't throwing touchdown passes for the Beavers, which he did from 1997-2001.
After pregame pleasantries in the Willamette Valley, which could be no more than a brief chat to find out how the wife and kids are, the Husky current and old coaches will get after it in a homecoming that's not listed that way on the schedule.
A check of the record book shows the Huskies have been in this awkward position many times before. With awkward results. Here's a refresher, with each coach's record against the UW in parentheses:
Leonard "Stub" Allison (3-5-1)
This Minnesota native joined Claude Hunt's Husky coaching staff as an offensive assistant in 1919, then replaced Hunt as the UW head coach for the following season only, which ended up 1-5. He also coached the Husky basketball and baseball teams.
Fourteen years later, Allison turned up as the California football coach and stayed 10 seasons in Berkeley. In 1937, he guided the Bears to their finest season in school history — 10-0-1 — which included a 0-0 tie with the Huskies and a 13-0 victory over Alabama in the Rose Bowl.
Allison went 3-5-1 against the UW before stepping down during World War II. He died in 1961 at 69.
Jimmy Phelan (1-1)
The former Notre Dame quarterback coached the Huskies from 1930 to 1941, led them to the 1937 Rose Bowl against Pittsburgh and was fired exactly a week after the surprise attack on Hawaii that pulled the U.S. into World War II.
Phelan, who had a 65-37-9 record for the UW, had no idea he was getting let go after closing the season with a 14-13 victory over USC in Los Angeles. Annoyed he called his dismissal "a Pearl Harbor job." He was replaced by one of his assistants, Ralph "Pest" Welch.
Five years later, Phelan brought a St. Mary's team coming off a Sugar Bowl appearance into Husky Stadium and won 24-20 before a full house. A year later, he returned to Seattle with the Galloping Gaels and lost 26-6. He died in 1974 at 81.
Jim Sutherland (2-6)
A UW assistant coach only for the 1955 season, which ended with a slush fund scandal being revealed and everyone on Johnny Cherberg's staff getting let go, Sutherland rebounded nicely. He was named the Washington State head coach.
He went up against the Huskies for eight seasons, winning two of the first three games against them, 27-7 and 18-14. However, he lost the next five rivalry games. He left WSU voluntarily with a year on his contract in 1963, opened some car dealerships and was replaced by UW assistant coach Bert Clark. He died in 1980 at 65.
Darrell Royal (2-0)
Hired from Mississippi State, Royal replaced Cherberg and coached the UW for only the 1956 season, going 5-5, before he left for Texas and made a big name for himself.
At Texas, he won national championships in 1963, 1969 and 1970. In 23 seasons as a college coach and another in the CFL, he never had a losing record. He finished with a 184-60-5 college record, with two of those wins coming over the Huskies.
In 1974, he beat a Jim Owens-coached UW team in Austin 35-21 and the following year Don James' Huskies 28-10 in Seattle. The Longhorns were built around legendary running back Earl Campbell, then a freshman and a sophomore who ran all over both purple and gold teams.
Texas named its football stadium for Royal, who died in 2012 at 88.
Bert Clark (1-3)
After seven seasons on Jim Owens' UW staff, Clark moved across the state to replace Sutherland in 1964. He lasted four years, with his second Cougar team dubbed "the Cardiac Kids" for scoring comeback wins in five games and finishing 7-3. His guys beat three Big Ten teams that season in Minnesota, Iowa and Indiana.
The native Texan lost to the Huskies each of his first three seasons. He was fired in 1967 after WSU finished 2-8, though one of the victories was a 9-7 decision over the UW that couldn't save him. He died in 2004 at 74.
Ray Willsey (4-3-1)
A Darrell Royal assistant for that staff's lone season at the UW, Willsey followed his head coach to Texas and stayed three years. A former California defensive back, he coached his alma mater from 1964 to 1971.
Willsey faced the Huskies eight times and went 4-3-1. He won two of the first three games and two of the final three.
He resigned from Cal to pursue coaching jobs in the NFL. He died in 2013 at 85.
Gary Pinkel (0-1)
The Ohio native played for Don James and then joined him on the Husky coaching staff on two occasions for a dozen years, rising to offensive coordinator.
He left to become the head coach at Toledo for 10 seasons and then on to Missouri for 15 more, enjoying huge success. He facilitated the latter's move to the SEC and led the Tigers to 10 bowl games, including a pair of Cotton Bowl appearances. He retired in 2015 for health reasons, finishing with a 119-110-3 record.
Along the way, he twice was considered for the Husky job. In his first season as a head coach in 1991, he brought Toledo to Seattle to face James' national championship team and lost 48-0.
Keith Gilbertson (0-3)
After serving as the Idaho head coach, Gilbertson joined the James staff as the offensive-line coach and then its offensive coordinator. He stayed three seasons, leaving the 1991 national championship team to become Cal's head coach.
He coached four seasons in Berkeley, had a 9-4 bowl team and went 0-for-3 against the UW before getting let go.
He resurfaced with the Huskies in 1999 as offensive coordinator on the Rick Neuheisel staff for four seasons and took over as the UW head coach for two more years when Neuheisel was jettisoned. He got fired in 2004 after a 1-10 season and finished his career in the NFL.
Chris Tormey (1-0)
The Spokane product coached 16 seasons as an assistant at the UW for four coaches, Don James, Jim Lambright, Keith Gilbertson and Tyrone Willingham, plus two added seasons as a graduate assistant for James.
He left to become the head coach at Idaho, his alma mater, from 1995 to 1999 and at Nevada from 2000 to 2003.
In his final season in Reno, he coached the Wolfpack to a 6-6 record and scored a 28-17 upset of Gilbertson's Huskies in Seattle, but it couldn't prevent him from getting fired.
That following season in 2004, Tormey joined Gilbertson's UW staff, stayed on when the Huskies replaced Gilbertson with Willingham, and he most recently coached in the CFL.
Rick Neuheisel (2-1)
The former UCLA and Rose Bowl MVP quarterback was hired away from Colorado to restore the Huskies to prominence in 1999 in the wake of Jim Lambright's firing.
In his second season with the UW, Neuheisel did just that, directing the Huskies to an 11-1 record that ended up with a Rose Bowl victory over Drew Brees and Purdue. In his fourth season in 2002, he was dismissed for his involvement in an NCAA basketball betting pool that later was deemed not a firing offense.
In 2008, Neuheisel took over as coach at UCLA, his alma mater, but experienced losing seasons in three of his four years and was terminated. He coached against the Huskies three times and won twice, 27-7 and 24-23. He's now a TV college football analyst.
Bobby Hauck (1-0)
Hauck served as the Husky defensive-backs and special-teams coach for Neuheisel during the latter's four-year stay in Seattle. He was named head coach for Montana, his alma mater, in 2003 and stayed seven seasons. After five at UNLV, he returned for a second stint at Montana in 2018, where he is now.
The Huskies painfully know this after losing 13-7 in shocking fashion to FCS Montana and Hauck to open this season.
Steve Sarkisian (0-1)
The former BYU quarterback was put in place as the Husky leader in 2009 to pull the program out of the ashes following an 0-12 season that cost Tyrone Willingham his coaching position.
Sarkisian stayed five seasons before leaving for USC, becoming the first coach in 57 years since Darrell Royal to use the Huskies as a stepping stone for another job.
Dealing with alcoholism issues, he lasted with the Trojans for just a season and a half before getting axed a few days after losing to the Huskies 17-12 in Los Angeles. It was his only meeting with the UW. He's now a first-year head coach at Texas.
Justin Wilcox (2-1)
The former Oregon safety joined Sarkisian's Husky staff as the defensive coordinator for the 2012 and 2013 seasons and then followed the head coach to USC for two more seasons. After a one-year stop in the same role at Wisconsin, Cal summoned him to become head coach in 2017.
In his five seasons with the Bears, he's faced the Huskies three times, beating them 12-10 and 20-19 before losing last weekend in overtime 31-24.
Jonathan Smith (0-3)
The former Oregon State quarterback came to the UW in 2014 with Chris Petersen as his offensive coordinator and stayed for four seasons before the Beavers brought him home as head coach.
In four years at his alma mater, Smith has faced the Huskies three times and is still awaiting his first victory following 42-23, 19-7 and 27-21 losses, getting closer each year.
Could he knock off the UW this weekend in Corvallis? He knows all of Jimmy Lake's preferences, what he eats for lunch, what he might do on third-and five.
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