Road to 1991 Perfection: Rongen Left Cal with Something to Remember Him

The University of Washington offensive guard was a little unconventional, with no better example than a moment he had in Berkeley.

Kris Rongen was always the unconventional one.

He joined the University of Washington football team as a huge recruit and then didn't play much at all for three seasons.

When some might have suggested he was a bust, Rongen rose up and earned a starting job at offensive guard for the 1991 Huskies. 

He was as good as advertised, only a little late in showing it.

So it was really no surprise to any of the others when Rongen, waiting on the kickoff in an epic game featuring third-ranked UW (5-0) against No. 7 California (5-0) in Berkeley, announced he needed to relieve himself. 

Offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson was giving a pep talk. 

All of the Husky lineman were listening to him on the sideline.

It was hot out and all of these guys had been drinking a lot of fluids.

Rongen informed those around him that he had to go and it was going to happen right then and there.

"I've got to pee," he said. "I'm not going back up the tunnel."

Offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy and center Ed Cunningham, a pair of 300-pounders similar to Rongen, provided a couple of key blocks. Literally.

They crowded around Rongen to afford him some privacy from the 74,500 squeezed into the seats as best they could. 

Gilbertson noticed what was going on and groaned.

With that, Rongen and the Huskies went out and won their toughest game of the year, beating Cal 24-17. 

Rongen, now a state probation officer in Olympia, Washington, lost a dozen or so pounds during the trench warfare, not counting what he deposited on the sideline that day.

He not only got away with that improvised rest stop, he also leg-whipped a Cal player on a screen pass as blatant as anyone has, and he got away with it.

"I was lying there with my leg in the air," Rongen said. "I didn't know I was that flexible." 

To win a national title, you had to be lucky and a little zany.

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