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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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May 23, 2008 4:55 PM

Examining the schedules

Posted by Bob Condotta

Lots of interesting debate on here today about UW's schedule and whether it's the right thing for the program right now to bring a team like LSU to kick off the 2009 season.

I'm one of those who likes big games and respects the fact that Washington has traditionally not shied away from tough competition, so in general, I think this is the right way to go. I also think that by 2009, the Huskies ought to be ready for it, with almost everyone back from the 2008 roster, notably a QB who would be entering his third year as a starter.

Also worth keeping in mind is that a lot of the schedule maneuvering of the last few years was forced on the Huskies a little bit.

The Huskies planned, in 2007, 2008 and 2009, to play teams like Indiana, Illinois and Nevada. All three schools asked out of those games (Indiana after playing here in 2003), forcing UW to scramble.

Let's review year-by-year to see how the schedules were intended to look (according to the 2004 media guide) and how they look now.

2007

Here's the original non-conference schedule in 2007:

at Indiana
Oklahoma
Ohio State

Here's how it up after Indiana pulled out and Todd Turner then tried to soften it a bit, eliminating the back-to-back games against Oklahoma and OSU:

at Syracuse
Boise State
Ohio State
at Hawaii

I think the schedule UW ended up playing was easier than what it originally planned to play, excluding the Hawaii game, which was an extra, and which ultimately didn't do much to determine the fate of the season anyway.

2008

Here's the original non-conference lineup for 2008:
BYU
Boise State
at Illinois
Notre Dame

Here's how it ended up:

BYU
Oklahoma
Notre Dame

A couple things happened here. First, the Pac-10 decided to play nine conference games, so the Huskies had to cut out one of the non-conference games. That was made easy when Illinois asked out of its series with UW. Turner then switched the Boise State and Oklahoma games to make the 2007 a little softer, the thought being that the Huskies would be readier to play a tougher slate in 2008. Ultimately, you get Oklahoma but lose at Illinois and Boise State. Definitely a little bit tougher.

(If you're wondering, the Pac-10 team UW would have missed in 2008 is UCLA, which would have prevented what will be one of the highlights of this season --- the return to Husky Stadium of Rick Neuheisel).

2009

Here's the original schedule for 2009:

Nevada
Illinois
at Notre Dame

Here's how it ended up:

LSU
Idaho
at Notre Dame

Again, both Nevada and Illinois asked out, so UW had to scramble. Ultimately, it looks a little tougher with LSU a bit of an upgrade from Illinois, though Idaho probably a little bit easier than Nevada figures to be.

The 2010 schedule is also now set as UW will play at BYU before hosting Syracuse and Nebraska. Originally, UW had a home game set with Navy for 2010, but that's another one the Huskies lost when that school decided to pull out (there are usually some sort of buy-outs written into the contracts when schools do that though I don't know the particulars in any of these cases).

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May 23, 2008 12:38 PM

More on UW and LSU

Posted by Bob Condotta

Despite his ties to LSU, Washington acting athletic director Scott Woodward said he wasn't really trying to schedule a football game against the Tigers --- it just sort of happened.

"(We) had an opening and (they) had an opening and it just sort of fit,'' Woodward said.

The Huskies announced today that they have signed a deal to play a two-game home-and-home series with LSU, with the Tigers coming here to open the 2009 season on Sept. 5 and UW going there on Sept. 29, 2012.

UW needed another game after Nevada pulled out of a scheduled contest in 2009. Woodward said the Huskies called a number of schools, including some in the Big Ten and ACC.

Along the way, Woodward, who worked at LSU from 1999-2004, also talked with old friend Verge Ausberry, senior associate athletic director for the Tigers, and the two realized that each school might be able to help the other.

"We were looking for BCS schools,'' he said. "When you do home-and-homes you're looking for really good matchups, but this late in the game trying to get someone can be problematic. It just worked out they had a nice fit.''

UW hasn't played an SEC school in a regular-season game since visiting LSU in 1983, a 40-14 loss. The Huskies haven't hosted one since losing to Alabama and Bear Bryant in 1978, 20-17. UW last played an SEC school in any setting in 1989, beating Florida in the Freedom Bowl 34-7.

"It'll be fun for our fans to experience a different type of geographical and football culture,'' Woodward said.

Adding LSU will give the Huskies another pretty stout schedule in 2009 as UW will also play at Notre Dame while hosting Idaho in non-conference play.

Some have wondered if the Huskies shouldn't downgrade the schedule a bit while it is attempting to dig out of a four-year rut of losing seasons.

Woodward said that was discussed, but that ultimately the school wants to continue its philosophy of putting together the most attractive schedule it can each year. He said UW coach Tyrone Willingham shares that view.

"He likes to have competitive schedules for our fans and he likes the challenge,'' Woodward said.

There is also the chance that both LSU games will be nationally televised, possibly by ESPN, though no agreements are yet set.

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May 23, 2008 10:46 AM

Huskies to host LSU in 2009

Posted by Bob Condotta

Just noticed on UW's future schedules on GoHuskies.com that the Huskies are now slated to open the 2009 season at home against LSU.

That had previously been an open date. Rumor is UW may return the date in 2012.

The school hasn't officially announced this other than putting it on the future schedules. When we get more details later, I'll pass it along.

This would be UW's first game against an SEC opponent since beating Florida 34-7 in the 1989 Freedom Bowl. UW hasn't played a regular-season game against an SEC team since losing at LSU 40-14 in 1983.

Obviously, the connections between the leaders at UW and LSU are well-known and it's likely that those relationships helped cement this deal. UW president Mark Emmert and acting athletic director Scott Woodward each worked at LSU from 1999-2004 before coming to UW.

Adding LSU in 2009 gives UW another power-packed schedule for what would be Jake Locker's junior year. UW will also host Idaho and play at Notre Dame in non-conference play.

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May 23, 2008 8:50 AM

Rayford signs with BC Lions

Posted by Bob Condotta

Former Husky defensive end Caesar Rayford signed a free agent contract with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League having impressed the team during a tryout in Portland earlier this month.

That makes Rayford one of five ex-Huskies currently on CFL rosters.

Others are defensive lineman Brandon Ala, with BC; linebacker Joe Lobendahn with Winnipeg; defensive end Kai Ellis with Montreal; and quarterback Cody Pickett with Toronto.

Ellis is making a career out of the CFL as he is entering his sixth season there.

Pickett played in three countries in three leagues last year, also playing for the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe and the Oakland Raiders before signing with Toronto. Among his teammates in Toronto is former OSU linebacker Richard Seigler, who along with having recently been acquitted of prostitution charges, also once famously called Pickett "rodeo man'' before a UW-OSU game in 2002. The two have been teammates with the 49ers, as well.

The CFL season begins June 12.

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