Monthly Archives: October 2013

Bobsledder Schaaf doesn’t make national team; what next?

Bremerton’s Bree Schaaf was a close fourth — .03 seconds out of third — during a U.S. bobsled trials selection race at Park City, Utah, on Friday.

The national team was announced today and Schaaf, a fifth-place finisher at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., was not on it. I’m not sure what this means to her career. The U.S. will send three teams out on the World Cup circuit and two of those teams, and possibly a third depending on how they perform during the World Cup, will represent the U.S. at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February. During an interview with me earlier this month, Schaaf indicated that the odds of making it to the Olympics without being on the World Cup team were terribly slim. It would probobly take an injury to one of the drivers — Elana Meyers, Jamie Greubel or Jazmine Fenalator — or a series of really bad performances by one of those drivers in order for Schaaf to get back on the team.

“There’s a roundabout chance,” she said, “but that’s kind of counting on things going badly for another person, and that’s not how you want to live your life … you never want your success to depend on someone else’s misfortune.”

Here’s a link to a story about Friday’s selection races. You’ll notice that Schaaf’s teammate from the 2010 Olympics, Emily Azevedo, was on the winning sled Friday and is one of six push athletes named to the team. Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams, former track and field stars, are also on the team as push athletes. Williams, a bobsled rookie, was paired with Schaaf for both selection races — the one at Park City and the previous race at Lake Placid two weeks ago where they also finished fourth.

In the men’s four-man bobsled trials, former North Kitsap state 100-meter champion Dak Kongela was part of a team that placed sixth at Friday’s selection races. Kongela’s relatively new to the sport so maybe he’ll have a chance to make it to a future Olympics if he sticks with bobsled.

When I talked to Schaaf, the Olympic High grad was so focused on the bobsled trails that she didn’t have time to think about what life would be like without the sport. She’s got so many talents, it’s hard to predict what she’ll be doing next. If you’ve read any of her Team USA blogs, you know she’s a wonderful writer with a great wit and sense of humor. She’s a versatile musician, artist, goldsmith, and even served as a broadcaster on the World Cup circuit. After all of these years of training, she’s certainly qualified to be a personal trainer.

And it wouldn’t surprise me if the former Portland State volleyball player continues to slide down those tracks in a bobsled, chasing her dream. It’s not beneath her to go back down to the minor leagues of her sport and keep her skills sharp, just in case something does happen between now and Sochi. She has accumulated so much knowledge and is such an inspiring athlete, it also wouldn’t surprise me if the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation kept her around in some sort of coaching/training role.

Good start, tough finish for Villopoto at million-dollar supercross race

The Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas consists of three 10-lap main events. If you win all three, as Poulsbo’s Ryan Villopoto did in 2011, you win $1 million. It’s the biggest prize in supercross.

Villopoto, the reigning supercross and motocross champion, put himself in position to win another million on Saturday when a penalty to Ryan Dungey allowed him to win the first moto. But he crashed hard in the second race and didn’t compete in the third race. Villopoto walked away from the crash, but there was no official word yet if he suffered any serious injuries.

James Stewart won the last two races and claimed the top prize of $100,000.

Here’s the story.

And here’s a Q&A with Villopoto that was conducted before the race. He talks about the offseason surgery he had to repair a nagging injury.

And here’s a photo gallery of Villopoto, racing during the 2013 season.

The 2014 AMA Supercross season starts Jan. 4 at Anaheim. The 17-race series stops at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on April 12.


Respected Husky coach Don James dies

The University of Washington announced that former football coach Don James died Sunday.

James, 80, had been battling pancreatic cancer.

Don’t know that I’ve ever met a more respected coach, or a better coach for that matter. His attention to detail is what set him apart during his tenure (1976-1992) at Washington, where he went from a little-known coach from Kent State to one of the most respected coaches in college history. Every single minute of every practice was accounted for.

His assistants did the hands on coaching and teaching. James used to stand on a tower, observing it all from above. The assistants didn’t want to disappoint the head man, and it became a trickle down effect. The players didn’t want to disappoint the assistants, who didn’t want to be called into James’ office. He didn’t demand respect, but he commanded it and earned it with the way he went about his business.

Like a lot of coaches, James was careful with what he said before and after games when he was surrounded by a large throng of reporters. You’d never get any bulletin board material from James. The answers were often short and to the point. If you didn’t know it, you’d think James didn’t have much of a personality. But that was so off the mark. He was funny with a self-deprevating sense of humor.

If you waited until the mob of reporters disappeared, he’d step away from the podium and take questions in a more relaxed setting and more often than not this serious-minded man who break everybody up with a quip of some sort.

During his coaching years at Washington he spent a lot of time with his wife, Carol, at a cabin in the Allyn area during his down times, and you could find him playing golf at LakeLand Village or other courses in the region. He was always approachable, even when Sports Illustrated and other news outlets were naming him the No. 1 college football coach in America.

Respect is the one word that comes to mind when I think about James. Some took him to task for stepping down at Washington in 1993 after the school was  with recruiting violations. He felt the Pac-10 and his own administrator did not go to bat for him, so he resigned.   At the time nobody seemed to understand why he would do it.  But for James, it was a matter of principle. It was matter of right and wrong. He stood up for what he believed, and I respected him for that.

Here’s some links about James.

This one, from the vault, details the changes James that led to Washington’s national championship season in 1991.

Here’s a column from Terry Mosher at Mosher covered the Huskies for The Sun during the James era.

If you have access, check out the Seattle Times’ online site for a number of stories about James. They’ve already rolled out six stories about the Dawgfather.



Huskies at a crossroads (updated after ASU loss)


Well, I guess we have the answer to the question I posed at the end of this blog on Saturday.

Relevent or irrelevant?

The Washington Huskies found out, once again, that they’re irrelevant when it comes to the big picture of college football. Coach Steve Sarkisian called the 54-23 road loss to Arizona State “embarrassing,” and it was. Washington, coming off losses to Stanford and Oregon, still had a chance to have a special season. Now, they appear headed for mediocrity once again. It was a must-win game for both teams, and Arizona State rose to the occasion. The Sun Devils were very impressive as they took it the Huskies. The Huskies only brought back memories of the mediocrity that’s plagued this program in recent years.

Sarkisian said the Huskies were ready for the second-half of the season, but they were not. He didn’t offer any excuses.

“We appeared a little tired tonight, in my opinion,” he told reporters. “We didn’t appear as fast. We didn’t appear as physical. We appeared (to be) a team that was a little bit lethargic, and maybe we were a little emotionally drained. I don’t know. But that’s an excuse, and there are none. We don’t have time for excuses. We’ve got to fix it.”

Here’s some morning links.

Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer puts the blame on Sarkisian.

Art Thiel of wonders why Sarkisian couldn’t see that quarterback Keith Price couldn’t get the job done with his injured thumb.

Desert Downer. That was the headline on the Huskies’ own web site. The story points out that the game turned in the second quarter when Washington generated 14 yards in 16 plays and had three straight three and outs.

As expected, Washington’s no longer a top-25 team. The polls.


In about 30 minutes, the Washington Huskies will play their biggest  football game of the season, and not just because it’s the next game. I feel strongly that the outcome will determine what direction this team is going to go.

The Huskies found out they could play with then-No. 5 Stanford on the road, but they did enough things (bad specials teams, penalties etc.) to mess that one up.

The Huskies found out they could hang with No. 2 Oregon or a while, but by the end of the 45-24 loss it was obvious that they’ve still got a ways to go to get to where they want their program to be.

That brings us to today’s game against Arizona State, the third game in a tough three-game stretch. A third-straight loss could be disastrous for Steve Sarkisian’s program, which is coming off three straight 7-6 seasons.

Washington’s failed to avoid a three-game losing streak in the last four seasons, and another streak like that won’t bode well for this team.

Washington’s a three-to-four point underdog in a game that looks pretty even on paper. And don’t forget that ASU (4-2) needs this victory just as much as the Huskies. The Sun Devils, averaging 44.2 points per game, are in pretty much the same position as the Huskies. Like Washington, ASU thinks it has enough talent to make a run at a 9-win, or even a 10-win season, and a decent bowl game.

It’s not possible to state how important this game is for the Huskies. This is Washington’s best team since, well, probably 2001, but it won’t seem like it if they lose today. The boosters will be barking and the national pundits will stop signing their praises if they’re 4-3 heading into the final five games of the season.

Relevent or irrelevent? That is the question that will be answered today.


Is there a ‘Super Bowl Shuffle’ in the Seahawks’ future?

Someone on the NFL Network pre-game show, and I can’t remember who it was, compared the Seahawks’ defense to the defense that carried the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl victory in 1985. He talked about the secondary, and the overall quickness and aggressiveness of the unit.

That’s some pretty high praise.

Da Bears finished 15-1 in ’85 and punished New England 48-10 in SB XX in New Orleans.

Seattle’s currently 6-1 and 15-1 seems possible at this stage of the season — only two of their final nine opponents, New Orleans and the 49ers, are currently over .50o — if the defense keeps playing at its current level. If you had to vote for postseason honors right now, Seattle safety Earl Thomas would get a lot of votes for Defensive Player of the Year. The guy — pardon me Marshawn — is a beast. He’s got 43 solo tackles (six more assists), four interceptions and he’s forced two fumbles.

But back to the team. On the road, against a decent but not great Arizona Cardinals team, the Seahawks  had their way . They allowed just 30 rushing yards, had seven sacks and two interceptions, one by Thomas and another that should have been returned for a touchdown but cornerback Brandon Browner was tripped up by Casper (the friendly ghost) before he got to the end zone.

Seattle ranks No. 5 in points allowed (16.6), No. 2 in total yards allowed (282.1), No. 3 in passing yards allowed (190.6) and No. 5 (91.6) in rushing yards allowed. They are first in interceptions with 11, first in forced fumbles with 10, and first in recovered fumbles (8). They have the best secondary in the league, led by Thomas and Richard Sherman. Browner raised his level against the Cardinals after a so-so start. Cam Chancellor remains one of the hardest-hitting strong safeties in the game and you just don’t see him making mistakes.

The Hawks are also as deep as anyone in the league along the defensive front. It doesn’t seem to matter who ‘s in the game — Bruce Irvin, Michael Bennett, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril are getting things done from the outside and Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Clinton McDonald and Tony McDaniel are getting it done inside. If Seattle duplicates the rush it had against the Cardinals’ Carson Palmer, he won’t be the last quarterback who is going to have a miserable day against the Seahawks.

When Chicago was wreaking havoc, the Bears weren’t facing the kind of high-powered offenses that now exist in the NFL. But I can’t remember a defense that was more intimidating, or dominating. Coached by Buddy Ryan, they used an innovative attacking “46 zone” defense that allowed the fewest points (196), total yards (4,135) and few rushing yards (1,319) that year. They also led in interceptions (34) and were third in sacks (64). Middle linebacker Mike Singletary was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, and the award could easily have gone to teammate and future Hall of Famer Richard Dent, who had 17 sacks. Another Hall of Famer, Dan Hampton, was also part of the defensive line.

Da Bears, under head coach Mike Ditka, were also pretty good on offense. Led by His Sweetness, Walter Payton, and quarterback Jim McMahon, Chicago outscored opponents 456-198. Payton was the NFL’s all-time leading rusher at the time and he danced and pounded for 1,551 yards and caught 49 passes for another 485 yards.

Seattle’s offense, considering all of the injuries to the offensive line, has been pretty good. The Seahawks have been successful ramming Marshawn Lynch at opponents and quarterback Russell Wilson, just seven games into his second pro season, is the best at extending plays and keeping opponents guessing.  McMahon spread the ball around to his receivers — speedster Willie Gault (33 catches, 704 yards) was the deep threat, Dennis McKinnon (31-555-7 TDs) had his best season and tight end Emery Moorhead was clutch (35-481) was clutch. It’s similar to how the Seahawks are getting it done. There’s probably not anybody you want on our fantasy team, but Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Zach Miller and Jermaine Kearse have all demonstrated they can make big plays. And the offense should get better. Receiver/returner Percy Harvin has yet to play, but is getting close to being game ready and he is one of the best offensive weapons in the league. Plus, they’ve been without starting tackles Russell Okung (foot) and Breno Giacomini (knee).

One more comparison. The Bears were led by Ditka, who was as fiery as they come during his day. He was never afraid to speak his mind and remains a beloved figure in the Windy City. Enthusiastic Pete Carroll does it with a different style in Seattle, and the outgoing coach has captured the 12s, as well as the team, while turning the Seahawks into legit Super Bowl contenders.

The only thing missing?

The Bears recorded the “Super Bowl Shuffle” and released it to rave reviews three months prior to the Super Bowl. I remember it as being a bit corny, but after some extensive reasearch (thank you, Google), I discovered that it sold more than a half million records, hit No. 41 on the Billboard charts and was even nominated for a Grammy.

I’m sure the Seahawks could get a little help from one of their biggest fans, Macklemore, if they wanted some help on recording their own rap video. The “Super Bowl Shuffle, Seattle-Style” just might be in order.



Bobsledder Schaaf’s latest blog explains how pilots, pushers are paired

This is how Olympic sprinter Lauryn Willliams became Bree Schaaf’s bobsled prom date for the U.S. bobsled trials. The process of how the teams are put together are the subject of Bree’s latest Team USA blog.

Bremerton’s Schaaf and Williams placed fourth during the first stage of the U.S. bobsled trials at Lake Placid, N.Y., over the weekend. That means the duo, providing they are teamed once again, will likely need a second-place finish at the Oct. 25 trials race in Park City, Utah, in order to earn a spot on the U.S. World Cup team.

And if you’re not on the World Cup team, chances of being on the Olympic team for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, are not good.

Schaaf and Emily Azevedo placed fifth at the 2010 Olympics. Azevedo, a member of the U.S. national team, did not compete in Saturday’s trials in Lake Placid.

Following the trials, U.S. coaches will have the final say on putting the teams together.


Predictions, links and other stuff: Ripken, Marvin, Snake, Mongoose, Willie B. …

* UW prediction: Sorry Washington Huskies, gotta go with Stanford. It’ll be close: 31-30.

* Seahawks prediction: Colts are dangerous, but Seahawks have DangerRuss and the best defense in the NFL: Seattle 27, Indianapolis 18.

* Watching the Cal-Washington State football game reminds me that Ripken Reyes (great name, huh?) has verbally committed to play baseball at Cal. Yes, he’s a shortstop.

Ripken is a junior at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, Calif. He’s the son of Paul and Heidi (Westhoff) Reyes. Paul was a quarterback/shortstop at Olympic High who played college baseball at Spokane CC and Whitworth. He developed into one of the top hitters in men’s fastpitch, playing in Tacoma and Bremerton, and later in California. Heidi graduated from Central Kitsap (not Bremerton, as I posted on Twitter). Bremerton’s Pat Westhoff, who played and managed fastpitch, is Ripken’s proud grandfather.

* Watching the Cal-Washington State game also reminds me of what a great venue California Memorial Stadium is. It has some of the best views in college football, BUT IT’S NEVER FULL! So many empty seats.

* The Utah Jazz are “taking a cautious” approach with Bremerton’s Marvin Williams, who had offseason surgery on his heel and Achilles tendon. Hard to believe Williams, 27, is beginning his ninth season in the NBA. Seems like yesterday I was listening to him explain why he decided to go to Bremerton High to play with his buddies instead of riding the ferry daily to play at O’Dea, which arguably boasted the top program in the state at the time.

* I was just told that former Kitsap Bremerton Sun sports editor Joe Sherk of Port Orchard (yeah, he’s even older than me) has a credit in the movie: Snake & Mongoose that was just released. Sherk was one of the top motorsports writers around and eventually left the newspaper business to become a publicist. You still see his byline occasionally in The Sun. The movie is based on the rivalry between NHRA drivers Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen.

* Here’s a book I can’t wait to read: “Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile,” by Nate Jackson.

* Freshman Becca Schoales is off to a pretty good start at Washington. The South Kitsap grad has started eight of 11 games and scored three goals for the UW’s women’s soccer team. Freshman Paige Serwold, a Central Kitsap grad, has played in four games for the Huskies.

Port Orchard’s Willie Bloomquist ended up with a .319 batting average in the 47 games he played for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Willie is a free agent, and the Diamondbacks are loaded at shortstop with young prospects. Plus Willie has had some injury issues. Will Arizona bring him back as a utility guy? I think they will.

* Another South Kitsap grad, pitcher Jason Hammel, is also a free agent. Hammel (7-8, 4.97 ERA) was Baltimore’s Opening Day pitcher, but he struggled at times and found himself on the disabled list in July with arm problems.  Will the Orioles try to keep him? Doubtful, but he’ll catch on somewhere. He can be a fourth or fifth starter and he’s shown that he can pitch out of the bullpen, too.

* Oct. 25: North Kitsap vs. Kingston. If you’re a high school football fan and you’re going to go to one game this year, that’s the one. The rivals are unbeaten in Olympic League play and should still be unbeaten when they meet.

* The Olympic College volleyball team lost to Bellevue but is still ranked ahead of the Bulldogs in the latest NWAACC poll. Blue Mountain is No. 1, OC No. 2 and Bellevue No. 3. The Rangers only have five more home matches, including a Wednesday date with Skagit Valley. Check ’em out. Coach Beth Donnelly has OC playing at a really high level.



2013 Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame class a diverse bunch

This is a story about the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame’s 2013 Hall of Fame inductees. You’ll be reading more about these folks as the event draws closer. And in the interests of full disclosure, I am on the Kitsap Athletic Roundtable’s Hall of Fame selection committed. My opinions and suggestions have been sought in the past, but this is the first year I’ve actually had a vote in the process. If you would like to nominate someone for consideration, email me at and I’ll make sure that we discuss it at a future meeting.

In the meantime, here’s the Class of 2013 (which won’t be honored until 2014):

 The Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame’s latest class includes the winningest unlimited hydroplane driver in the history of the sport, the first athlete from Kitsap County to compete in the Olympics, an outdoorsman who is a noted mountain climber, author and artist, the voice of the Kitsap Stampede and a highly-successful men’s soccer team that paved the way for so many others to enjoy the sport in our area.

The Kitsap Athletic Roundtable’s induction banquet will take place on Jan. 25, 2014, at Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo. The event will start at 11 a.m. Ticket information will be released at a later date.

This will be the 26th Hall of Fame ceremony, but only the ninth year that it has been staged in its present form. Before the Kitsap Oldtimers had been inducting deserving baseball and softball players, coaches, sponsors and umpires. When the Oldtimers disbanded and merged with the KAR, the Hall of fame was expanded to include all sports.

This year’s class is among the most diverse in history.

The hydroplane driver is Dave Villwock, the South Kitsap grad who announced his retirement in May after a legendary career that included 67 victories, 10 of them Gold Cup wins.

Ed Eliason grew up in Poulsbo and became one of the nation’s top archers. He won seven national titles and placed fifth at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Burley’s Dee Molenaar, 95, is the author of The Challenge of Rainier, considered the definite work on the climbing history of Mount Rainier, where he worked as a park ranger and mountain guide. He climbed Rainier over 50 times and was involved in several other mountaineering expeditions. He was inducted into the American Alpine Club’s Hall of Mountaineering Excellence in 2012.

Randy Corley, who moved to Silverdale from North Platte, Neb., 12 years ago, has been voted the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Announcer of the year 11 times and he has been a fixture at the Kitsap Stampede for over 30 years.

The Bremerton Chuggers — a men’s soccer team — formed in 1974 and played at a very high level until 2000. They made a major impact on the local soccer scene, and Lance McCoy, one of the founding players and primary coach over those years, said the Chuggers are thrilled to be going into Kitsap’s Hall of Fame.

“We’re the first soccer group to ever go in,” McCoy said. “It’s a sport we all cherish and love, and you can’t know what an honor it is to be inducted into this group of incredible athletes. For us, it’s kind of a culmination of 27 years of work.

“… There wasn’t a lot of soccer in this area when we started and to see where it is now, it’s rewarding. So many of our players have given back and are now in the coaching ranks.”

In addition to the Chuggers, two other teams will be inducted: the 1951 Bremerton High football team, which was unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the state before losing 14-13 to Ballard in the annual Thanksgiving Day game in Seattle and the 1984 Suquamish slowpitch team that won a national championship.

Other athletes and coaches voted in include:

Mark Rill: Former South Kitsap star played on Ed Fisher’s first state playoff team in 1980 and helped the Wolves reach the semifinals in his senior year in 1981. He went on to have a standout career at Pacific Lutheran as an offensive tackle (brother David, already in the Kitsap HOF, was a linebacker at Washington).

Gary Rouse: The Bremerton drag racer made a name for himself in the National Hod Rod Association as one of the top competitors in super stock class, competing in four decades. He was a seven-time world record holder and two-time NHRA Division 6 champion who won the 1987 California Nationals.

Allison Eoff: One of the top competitive female bowlers in Kitsap County history, she’s also been a good ambassador for the sport and handled various administrative roles over the years.

Kerry Keefe: The former Bainbridge basketball star — she averaged 18.6 points her senior year and is the career leader in rebounds for the Spartans — started two  years at Georgetown University.

Chris Thorsen: The Central Kitsap grad was one of the best athletes to come out of the area in the mid-1960s, starring in football, basketball and track and field, where he ran a sub-two-minute half-mile.Thorsen earned All-Evergreen Conference honors as a  wide receiver at Central Washington, where he was also recruited to play basketball. He was also part of Olympic High’s football coaching staff that helped the Trojans to a 35-1 record and four league titles from 1983-86.

Ernie Hahn: Longtime junior high coach — baseball, football and wrestling — in Port Orchard impacted a lot of lives during his career. He also worked as an assistant football coach at South Kitsap when Ed Fisher was the head man.

Mike Welch: Bainbridge girls’ basketball coach was guy who started the winning tradition for the Spartans. In his first three seasons, Bainbridge placed second, sixth and third at the state tournament.

John Ross: Smart, quick and aggressive, “Rocket” Ross was the leading rusher at West Bremerton High, Olympic College, where he earned honorable mention All-American honors, and at Central Washington, where he rushed for 1,119 yards in two seasons.

Jerome Walker: A state sprint champion in the 100 and 200, the 1978 Bremerton High grad went on to a successful career at one of the elite track and field programs in the country — the University of Oregon. His all-area record in the 200 (21.6 second hand-timed which converts to 21.9) lasted for 35 years.

Bonnie Burmaster: The respected former Olympic Aquatic Club coached worked with youth swimmers in the area for 27 years before retiring in 2009. Among her students: Olympians Tara and Dana Kirk, and Nathan Adrian.

Frankie Lee: One of the top roller hockey players and coaches in U.S. history, Lee was on the U.S. National team from 1984-99, and still coaches the USA Ladies National team that usually includes a handful of players from his Bremerton Hurricanes team.

The Rex Brown Distinguished Service Award will be awarded to the Carlson family, which has owned and operated Minder Meats for 70 years and been huge contributors to the community. The KAR, Special Olympics and Kitsap Stampede are among the organizations they’ve supported for years. Jim Carlson Sr. was among the founding members of the roundtable and is past president. He was an all-state lineman and was a sophomore on the ’51 Bremerton High football team. He played basketball for legendary Hall of Fame coaches Ken Wills (Bremerton) and Phil Pesco (Olympic College). His wife, Maryln (Minder) Carlson was among the first females to join the KAR and remains one of the biggest sports boosters around. Siblings are Jim Carlson, Jr., a past president of the roundtable, Kris (Carlson) Tweten and Steve Carlson.

The Dick Todd Award goes to a sports official and this year’s honoree is Jim Lamont, who got into officiating basketball because of Todd.



Links and thoughts while waiting for the government to rev back up

Shooting from the hip with linkage while waiting for the government to reopen:

Four weeks into the season, Don Banks at’s MMQB has the Seahawks and Broncos in the Super Bowl with Seattle winning 33-30.

My weekly Thursday column for The Sun was about the Mariners’ managerial search. I like Joe Maddon, so why not give his bench coach, Dave Martinez, a long look. He might be the answer.

Was going to head across the water to see Robert Earl Keen play some music, but never made it Wednesday night. Keen, a clever singer/songwriter from Texas, once competed in the rodeo as a bull rider. He’s what he had to say about riding a bull: “It’s like being in a can going 70 mph down the freeway and chucking the steering wheel out the window.”

I know it’s way too early to start thinking about it, but how cool would it be if the Saints and Seahawks are both 11-0 when New Orleans rolls into town Dec. 2 for a Monday night game at the Clink? Russell Wilson vs. Drew Brees, two quarterbacks who were supposed to be too short to play in the NFL. There are no gimmes on the schedule, but Seattle’s toughest tests should be at Indianapolis this week and at Atlanta on Nov. 10. The Saints’ schedule is tougher, starting with road games at Chicago and New England the next two weeks and another one at Atlanta. New Orleans also has to play San Francisco.

How will No. 15 Washington match up physically against No. 5 Stanford Saturday night (7:30 p.m., ESPN)? That seems to be the storyline going into the game. Can the Huskies, allowing just 3.80 yards per play, slow down the Bruisers from Palo Alto? It’s an intriguing matchup: Washington’s outstanding team quickness and up-tempo offense, similar to what Oregon’s used to become one of college’s elite teams, against a Cardinal team that would look a lot like Alabama if you put them in some Crimson Tide uniforms. Steve Rudman of poses the question: Can Washington can with an elite team on the road?

I have to admit that Washington is better than I thought they’d be. Bishop Sankey’s the real deal at running back. The nation’s leading rusher is so good in open space, but he’s better in the trenches than I thought he was. And after carrying the rock 40 times against Arizona, you know he’s durable. And don’t sleep on UW defensive lineman Danny Shelton. Only a sophomore, he’s Washington’s version of J.J. Watt, the Texans’ one-man wrecking crew. Shelton’s the guy doing all of the dirty work in the middle of the line, absorbing double-teams to free up teammates for tackles.He anchors a Husky defensive line known as the “Flintstones.” Read about it here.

I still can’t get that Golden Tate punt return out of my mind. It’s overtime and he fields the ball at the goal-line, maybe a yard deep, and gets it out to the 31. It set up the Seahawks’ game-winning field goal against Houston. I wonder what special teams coach Brian Schneider was thinking when he saw Tate take off.

Los Angeles Times writer Chris Defresne believes USC’s coaching search should send with Steve Sarkisian, providing the coach is willing to leave Washington. For Sarkisian, he seems to be managing the distraction well. At least better than Rick Neuheisel did during his days at Washington, writes Art Thiel of

Stewart Mandell of writes that the Washington Huskies are on the verge of becoming relevant after being down for so many years.

Talked to bobsledder Bree Schaaf today. U.S. Bobsled Trials are next week in Lake Placid, N.Y., and the Olympian from Bremerton is ready to go after a year’s worth of intense training. Look for the story next week.

PGA Tour golfer Troy Kelly, a Central Kitsap grad, has moved back to the Northwest. He’s living in the Lakewood/Steilacoom area after calling La Quinta, Calif., home the past few years.