After the darkest year in Washington’s history in 2008, Steve Sarkisian was brought in to reinvigorate the proud Husky Football program. The tangible result from 2008 to 2009 was the improvement from zero to five wins. The more long last impact, however, is the change in culture Sarksian has brought.
There are many ways to judge how optimistic a fan base is about their program. What kind of excitement is being generated in the local community? One thing we can look at is spring game attendance.
Now, obviously the Southeastern Conference is by far and away home to the most football crazed fans in America. Florida’s spring game, for example, drew 65,000 people! So comparing a Pac-10 school’s attendance to one from the SEC is pointless, it is not a direct comparison.
The only real comparison is amongst other Pac-10 teams and with themselves from previous years. For our purposes looking at how much the attendance has grown the last couple of years is a good indicator of the community’s interest, or lack thereof, for a program.
In 2008, Washington had 9,000 attend the final spring game under Tyrone Willingham. There was not a ton of optimism around the program, and a lot of people felt that Ty should have been let go.
The first season under Sarkisian saw a jump in attendance to 10,000. Not a huge leap, but one must consider that this was Sarkisian’s first opportunity as a head coach.
He brought with him a measure of excitement, but largely was an unknown how he would perform given the top job.
During this first season of transition Washington went through a lot of changes. No longer were players asked to control their emotions, and the players just look like they are enjoying themselves out there more.
Not to mention they give off an aura of a team that feels like it can win every time they take the field.
A five-win improvement was the result of the 2009 season, with Washington trouncing their last two opponents Washington State and California. Running with that momentum, Washington brought in a top 10 class per Scout.
So it is little surprise that the 2010 version of Washington’s spring game ushered in a leap to an estimated 15,000. There was an excitement in the air. Husky fans from all around traveling to Husky Stadium just to get an early look at the team.
Those who attended were not disappointed either, as we got a chance to get a great look at the young talent on this team. Montana stole the headlines with his 80 yard winning drive, but the most promising position might just have been running back.
Even with last year’s 1,000 yard rusher sidelined, freshman Deontae Cooper and the rest showed that Washington should have nice offensive balance this year.
Slowly but surely the Washington fans are returning to Husky Stadium. The Football players are wearing football gear, and there is a sense of pride around Seattle about the football team again.
About 5,000 more people felt there was going to be something special to cheer for this year, what will the next year hold?