Road to 1991 Perfection: No Friday Night Lights in Nebraska Irked the Huskies

Dan Raley

Don James, as organized as any college football coach, set rigid schedules that he fully expected his University of Washington coaches, players and others to follow without fail. They dared never be late for team events.

To appease their leader, they learned to always be five minutes early.

James had no patience for anything that got in the way of his dogged football preparation, for anyone who didn't adhere to the time frame he set.

While everyone to this day speaks highly of Nebraska's fans standing and applauding victorious Washington players as they left the field, the sportsmanship at the game was pre-empted by a laggard case of gamesmanship the day before. 

On Friday night, the Huskies drove up in their charter busses to Lincoln's Memorial Stadium, piled out and headed inside to hold their traditional walk-through.

One problem. 

No one turned on the stadium lights.

The Huskies asked and asked.


The UW football team waited for an hour, maybe an hour and a half, before its exasperated coach informed everyone they were leaving. 

A miraculous thing happened next. Make that total disrespect. 

"As we were pulling out of the stadium, guess what, the lights came on," said UW linebacker James Clifford, now the Seattle Mariners strength and conditioning coach.

Nebraska players were scheduled to do their stadium walk-through and the lighting worked just fine now. 

Sorry Huskies. 

In the end, this stadium ruse only backfired. UW players and coaches brought more of an edge on Saturday because of it.

"It was a big deal," Clifford said. "They basically didn't turn the lights on. It messed up our routine. It turned out all right."

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. We don't have a 2020 season yet, so we'll use '91 as a conversation piece.

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Comments (1)
No. 1-1

I always wondered where the applause were coming from after the game, at some areas of the field where you as would not think there would be that many Husky fans. I still think it were a pocket of Husky fans dressed in red. A group of friends of mine we used to as dress up in Oregon Ducks gear and oh go to games at Autzen and sit among the die hards. And feign sportsmanship.

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