The Huskies are attempting a hard thing. In degree of difficulty, beating the Louisiana State University of Football in Baton Rouge on a Saturday night in September is second only to drinking an ocean.
LSU isn't just a football factory. It's a whole military-industrial complex, with beer.
The latest AP poll of global GNP rankings this week has the LSU athletic department overtaking Turkey at No. 17, one spot behind the Netherlands. But not to worry about this burgeoning powerhouse -- vice chancellor (that's really his title) of athletics Joe Alieva, in a recent speech before the United Nations general assembly, promised never to be the first to use nuclear weapons.
He did, however, call for an end to North Korea. The Dear Leaders are booked for a game at LSU in early October, and LSU is 125-point favorite.
What Washington is doing scheduling LSU isn't entirely clear. The Huskies are just getting over the last trip to Baton Rouge in 1984, a 40-14 whipping in front of the then-largest crowd in LSU history (82,390). They have haven't been back to the Southeastern Conference in the subsequent 29 years, and after Saturday, figure to return not much sooner than when Puget Sound's tides lap against the Space Needle's observation deck.
The situation for Washington is so dire that coach Steve Sarkisian this week went the full Mike Price. The former Washington State coach didn't invent the corny inspirational stunt, but he certainly refined it, once appearing in duck-hunter garb prior to a game against Oregon. For a game against the Trojans, he had a rider upon a white horse enter practice while blaring the world's most annoying sports-music riff, "Conquest."
Didn't work either time, but each pinned the needle on the dork-o-meter.
Sarkisian imported a tiger into practice this week, attempting to lessen the shock value of the players' first encounter Saturday with LSU's live mascot. What Sarkisian didn't explain to his players was that, unlike him, the LSU folks don't bother with a cage.
Sarkisian should have been teaching his players to say, "Who's a pretty kitty?" in a drawl.
But in the spirit of helpfulness, here's a few other things the Huskies should know about regarding their trip down college football's rabbit hole:
- Baton Rouge has a population of 230,000, about 400,000 of whom will be in a drunken stupor by noon Saturday but only 92,000 are allowed into Tiger Stadium. The Huskies already have won.
- Baton Rouge is also home to another institution of higher learning, Our Lady of the Lake College. See if it's possible to swap opponents to the Fightin' Franciscans.
- Since the forecast is for temps in the high 80s with Brazilian rainforest humidity and a threat of Old Testament thunderstorms, it's important not to let conditions affect play. Drink plenty of liquids and know that faster Washington plays, the quicker the Huskies get home and leave hell to the people who invented it.
- The environment won't be entirely unfamiliar. Not only are LSU's colors purple and gold, Baton Rouge's downtown is not far from a large port and Tiger Stadium, so much will seem like their temporary home this season at CenturyLink. So "ingress and egress" problems will be a familiar experience to anyone who has attempted and failed to reach Safeco Field. However, there is one difference: When LSU fans reference "the Clink," they will be talking about recruiting territory.
- A native of Louisiana, Scott Woodward, Washington' athletic director and a former LSU executive who helped book the series, loves to tell the story about how he, as a 10-year-old, sold peanuts at Tiger Stadium. Sometime late Saturday night, after the cringe has concluded, someone in the Huskies' delegation, will need to suggest that Woodward's business career peaked at 10.
- When worse comes to worst Saturday night, the Huskies can always resort to jokes. The fans of Alabama, which beat LSU 21-0 in the BCS title game in January, like to tell this one: How do you make LSU cookies? A: Put them in a big Bowl and beat for 3 hours.