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Originally published November 26, 2009 at 6:14 PM | Page modified November 26, 2009 at 9:01 PM

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Steve Kelley

Heard it here first: Sarkisian's Apple Cup speech

In the moments before his first Apple Cup, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian will gather his Huskies in the auditorium under Husky Stadium and light the fuse on his football team. This is what he should say:

Seattle Times staff columnist

In the moments before his first Apple Cup, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian will gather his Huskies in the auditorium under Husky Stadium and light the fuse on his football team.

This is what he should say:

"There are two things I hate, guys. Cougars and losing. Two other things I hate. Beavers and Ducks.

"Not that long ago, we used to own the Northwest. All the Huskies had to do was show up and they were guaranteed wins. The Northwest was ours. It was our fortress. It was our sure thing. We had the deed locked in a vault deep inside Fort Lewis.

"Now it's as if we are strangers in our own land. We're the Lost Team of the Northwest. And I'm sick of it. Like Peter Finch said in the movie 'Network': 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.'

"We should be the destination school in the Northwest. We should be the place all the recruits want to come. We should be the team that Washington State, Oregon State and — it's hard to even say the word — Oregon aspires to be.

"We should be playing for Pac-10 championships. Instead, next week, 250 miles south of here the Beavers and Ducks will be playing for the title. That's how close the Pac-10 championship is from us. And that's how far away it is.

"How does that make you feel?"

The angry shouts and curses of the players ricochet off the auditorium walls.

"We've set lofty goals here at Washington. We will make bowl games a regular part of our schedule again. We are going to return to the top of the conference. We are going be ranked in the nation's Top 25 again. Will we compete for BCS titles.

"But it starts here, today, against the Cougars. Because to be the best team in the country, you first have to be the best in your conference. To be the best in your conference, you first have to be the best in the Northwest. To be the best in the Northwest, you first have to be the best in your state.

"For too long now, we haven't been any of the above. The best? We've been the worst. How does that feel?

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"We've been getting our butts kicked by our most bitter rivals. We've been annihilated 12 games in a row by the Oregon schools. We've lost 16 of our last 17 games to the Northwest schools.

"We've lost four out of our last five to the Cougars. The COUGARS! How did Brandon Gibson get behind the secondary in the Apple Cup two years ago? How did that happen? How did Jared Karstetter get that open in the second overtime last year?

"Never again. You hear me? Never again. All of this lousy losing. All of this heartbreak. All of it ends today."

Again the bellows rumble in the room.

Sarkisian asks his senior leaders, defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, linebacker Donald Butler, fullback Paul Homer and offensive tackle Ben Ossai, to come to the front of the room.

"We're playing this game today for these guys. This game is about their legacy to this program. They should be remembered for the parts they played at the beginning of our turnaround. They gave it up this year so that all of us could have a better year next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. We want them to be proud of what they did here. We want this game for them."

The players stand and woof their support for this quartet of seniors.

"We made promises when we came here. Promises to the seniors, to the recruits, to the fans, to the community, to the rest of college football. We said we were coming back.

"Today we start making good on our promises. Today losing isn't an option. Today we start to reclaim the Northwest. Today we win back the state.

"Washington is watching. Washington is waiting. What we do today will say a lot about who we'll be in the future. Think about that as you walk through the tunnel. Think about the promises we have to keep."

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com.

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
skelley@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2176

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