San Jose State, Washington's opponent in its season opener Saturday, has never won a game at Husky Stadium in nine tries.
But that will be a fairly irrelevant statistic to both head coaches, who alternately know what it's like to lose to San Jose State, and what it's like to win at Husky Stadium.
When he was the coach at Stanford, Tyrone Willingham's team lost three consecutive years to the Spartans. Among those teams was the 1999 Cardinal squad that went to the Rose Bowl.
And San Jose State coach Dick Tomey was on the opposing sideline for one of the most memorable defeats in Huskies history, Ortege Jenkins' Leap by the Lake that propelled Arizona to a 31-28 victory over UW in 1998.
"We come to Seattle believing we can win," Tomey said of the Spartans, even if oddsmakers don't, listing the Huskies as 18 ½-point favorites.
San Jose State @ Washington, 12:30 p.m.
On the other hand, Sports Illustrated recently tabbed UW as the No. 98 team in the country, four spots behind San Jose State.
That is more an indication of UW's recent fall from grace, obviously, but Tomey also said things are finally beginning to look up for San Jose State, which has just one winning year since 1992.
"We're much better than we were a year ago, I'm certain of that," said Tomey, who took over last season and led the Spartans to a 3-8 record.
It was Tomey's first season as a head coach since 2000, when he resigned under pressure following a 14-year run at Arizona. In the interim, he had been an assistant with the 49ers and the Texas Longhorns.
But when San Jose called in December 2004, Tomey decided he knew the way there, even though at age 66 (he's now 68) he could have easily decided to do just about anything else.
"I just felt this was too good to pass up," Tomey said, adding that being able to live on the West Coast was a plus. "I can remember when this program was a terrific program. That was 15, 20 years ago, but there's no real reason why that can't happen again."
In fact, the Spartans finished the 1990 season ranked No. 20 in the country by United Press International after going 9-2-1, one of the setbacks a 20-17 defeat in Seattle to a UW squad that finished 10-2.
Matters quickly declined from there, however, and earlier this decade there were rumblings the school might kill the football program. Tomey said that's not an issue now.
"I don't spend any of my time thinking about whether we are going to have a program, but how we are going to turn this program into something that everyone is going to be proud of," he said. "And we are going to do that."
This offseason, however, provided some mixed results.
In July, cornerback Ellis Jones, who was expected to contend for a starting job, was charged with robbery, and was kicked off the team. Police allege Jones used Craigslist.com to lure potential victims and then zap them with a Taser or threaten them with a gun.
Last month, a former player, Katrell Collier, who had been with the team from 2003-05, died when he fell off a parking structure in what police have said was an apparent suicide. The San Jose Mercury News reported that Collier had been good friends with Jones and that some "have doubts" about whether Collier's death was really a suicide.
"That was a very difficult moment for everybody," Tomey said of Collier's death. "And it still is to this day. But I believe that everybody is handling it the best possible way that they can."
San Jose players say getting back on the field has helped them move on.
And while San Jose State's players have never won here, many remember how close they came in 2004. Washington beat San Jose State 21-6 that year for UW's only victory of the season. But the Spartans trailed just 7-3 midway through the third quarter before UW pulled away.
"I think this year's going to be another really close game the entire game," said linebacker Matt Castelo, who had an interception that day.
Castelo is one of just two returning starters on defense. But Tomey, the architect of Arizona's famed Desert Swarm defense, said, "I think we will be a better defense" this season.
Offensively, San Jose State is in some flux. Junior college transfer Sean Flynn had the lead on the quarterback job before suffering arm and groin injuries that have limited him. Junior Adam Tafralis is likely to start, though Tomey said both will play.
"Of course we believe we can win," Castelo said. "We're going in with the mindset to play the best of our ability and come out with a victory."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com