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Road to 1991 Perfection: Hobert's Only Husky Regret Came at Nebraska

The former University of Washington quarterback would take back one word if he could that he uttered on the sidelines of this big game.
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All these years later, Billy Joe Hobert is still Billy Joe.

Three months shy of his 50th birthday, he remains the same glib-talking, I-don't-care-what-you-think-of-me character that he was three decades ago.

This approach brought him ultimate glory and unmitigated scorn as a University of Washington quarterback. It landed him a national championship and a team banishment. 

Billy Joe never goes halfway. He wants to drive the green, not lay up. He wants to heave it deep, not dump it off. He wants to keep the option and run into somebody, not pitch it.

Such was his moment at Nebraska, that supersedes all of his actions that abruptly separated him from the Washington football program, put the brakes on a budding Husky dynasty and caused his legendary football coach to resign over stiff conference penalties meted out.

It wasn't anything Hobert did on the field that day in Lincoln. It was something he said on the sideline. 

The Huskies had 4th-and-8 at the Nebraska 30.

They trailed the Cornhuskers 21-9.

Late in the third quarter, James called a timeout and huddled with Hobert in front of the UW bench.  

In their animated discussion, the coach pressed his quarterback about the moment at hand. He checked to see if Hobert was dialed in. 

A boom microphone relayed their conversation unfiltered to the nationwide ABC-TV audience listening in.

"You know this is a big play, Billy Joe?" the coach asked.

Hobert's amped-up response: "No f***ing s***, Don!"

With that, the brash quarterback ran back out onto the field and delivered a 15-yard pass to Orlando McKay. 

The drive led to the first of four touchdowns in a 27-0 closing blitz that added up to the UW's 36-21 victory.

Looking back at it now, after nearly 30 years of reflection, after suffering the wrath of a lot of Husky fans, Hobert carries a huge regret.

In the heat of the moment, he had slipped and addressed his coach by his first name.

"It showed my arrogance and immaturity," Hobert said. "I remember calling him Don still to this day, having never called him anything but coach before. I loved coach James. I loved what coach James did for me. Coach James was the one guy on the planet who I respected the most."

Keepsakes from a long ago game.

A few items from the 1991 game in Lincoln, Nebraska.

James just looked at him as they parted ways on the sideline that night, Hobert returned to the huddle and everyone got back to the business at hand.

Hobert could feel a lot of regret over what happened the following year, but he doesn't. The loan scandal. His ouster. The domino effects on the program. 

No, he apologizes only for calling James by his first name. He wasn't concerned about the expletives in that sentence, just the name.

"That's the only thing I'm ashamed of," he said somewhat defiantly in the attached video that is well worth watching. "To this day, it's the only thing that makes me shake my head in shame."

This is another in a series of articles and videos that will replay the UW's 1991 national championship season, which is the apex of Husky football. While we're waiting for the 2020 season to begin, we'll use '91 as a conversation piece.

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