vil-lain (noun): 1. A cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel.
Ted Miller had an interesting post this morning on his ESPN.com Pac-10 Blog, picking one current and one all-time villain for each team in the conference. And while I generally think Miller does an excellent job with it -- it's hard to be an expert on 10 teams -- sometimes he totally misses the mark.
Here's his attempt at the Cougs:
Current villain: Bill Doba. Nicest guy in the world. Did a great job as Mike Price's defensive coordinator. Led a winning effort against Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl. But the lack of talent on the Washington State roster in 2008 and at present falls almost entirely on him.
All-time villain: Rick Neuheisel. While Don James led a period of Washington dominance in the Apple Cup rivalry -- he was 13-5 vs. the Cougars -- there was always a grudging respect for James. Not so for Neuheisel, who went 4-0 vs. the Cougars and was reviled in Pullman. The unranked Huskies triple-overtime victory over the then-third-ranked Cougars in 2002 ended with Washington State fans littering the field with bottles and other trash.
Let's start with Doba. No doubt, we lament the current state of the program, but I can't go so far as to be mad at Doba. The guy gave us a lot of superb years as defensive coordinator, contributing a huge amount to two Rose Bowl appearances. As head coach, he led us to our third consecutive 10-win season and the Holiday Bowl victory over Texas in 2003. He may not have been the best judge of talent or character as the head man, but he gave us his best through his wife's long battle with cancer and eventual death. He did get one thing right: Doba is the nicest guy in the world. Because of that, the characterization of Bill Doba as a "villain" is actually nothing less than offensive to me.
As for Neuheisel, one must read this through a certain filter: Miller covered the Huskies at the P-I during the Neuheisel era. While I dislike Neuheisel's 4-0 record against us as much as anyone, that's hardly the stuff of all-time villains. Two of his wins came as the program was still rebuilding itself from the 1998 Rose Bowl, one came against the 2003 Rose Bowl team without Jason Gesser for the majority of the game, and the last one was because of some fluky big plays. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that Coug fans actually like Neuheisel. He's as responsible for the current state of UW football as anyone. That we can trace last season's 0-12 back to Neuheisel makes me like him all the more.
Oh, and I don't know of any Coug who has a grudging respect for Don James and his unending condescension. I'd pick James over Neuheisel on this one in a heartbeat. But even that choice wouldn't be good enough.
With that, here are my two villains:
Current villain: Washington AD Scott Woodward.
If we're going to pick a Husky, how about picking the guy who ...
- Was single-handedly responsible for torpedoing a proposal that would have landed millions upon millions of dollars in WSU's coffers?
- Saw fit to insult not just WSU's athletic director, but its president for having the temerity to not openly support UW's publicly financed stadium renovation?
- Bought out his current football coach at a cost of $1 million, subsequently reset the scale for paying football coaches in the conference by ponying up $2.1 million for a defensive coordinator -- at an annual salary higher than Paul Wulff's -- then ruined the college careers of a bunch of unsuspecting swimmers by telling them the department can no longer afford the program?
Now that's a villain.
All-time villain: Rogers Redding.
Don't know who Redding is? He's the referee responsible for determining that Ryan Leaf's last-second spike in the 1998 Rose Bowl didn't come before the clock expired, even though it obviously did -- the clock did not hit zero until after the ball hit the ground. In the face of a wave of maize and blue flooding the field to celebrate its national championship, Redding didn't have the guts to tell everyone to get off the field, that there was still one second left on the clock. He meekly ran to the tunnel as the platform for presenting the Wolverines with their trophy and presumed national championship was rushed onto the field and those of us clad in crimson and gray could only stare in disbelief. I'm not convinced that the Cougs would have scored ... but with one more shot from the 16-yard line with Leaf throwing to the Fab Five? I'm convinced it was a good possibility.
For a physics professor, the guy sure has no clue how long it takes to snap and spike a ball. I will never forgive Redding for ripping our chance at a Rose Bowl championship out of our hands, simply because of a lack of courage. I certainly hope he's grown a pair in the decade since.
Let's hear it from you. Who are your villains?