Ty Willingham has just inked a deal that would place his Washington Huskies on a football field with the LSU Tigers. The first of the home-and-home series will be played in 2009, in Seattle. The Dogs would then travel to the bayou in 2012.
The Huskies have never dodged opponents, so there’s nothing surprising about the agreement. 2007 showed Washington playing one of the toughest schedules in the country, with 3 of their opponents appearing in BCS bowl games, and 6 finishing the year in the AP top 25. They roll into 2008 with Oklahoma, BYU, and Notre Dame as their non conference opponents.
Willingham’s philosophy is, “to be the best, you have to play and beat the best”, though he’s yet to do it, since returning to the Pac 10. He scored some big victories over ranked Tennessee and Michigan programs, as a coach in South Bend. But since his return to the west, he’s still failed to beat USC, though he has come close in the past two attempts, and he’s also fallen to Ohio State and Oklahoma. In fact, this past season gave him just 2 Pac 10 wins, with the program's other victories coming outside the conference, against Syracuse and Boise State.
If the Huskies fail to show improvement in the upcoming season, Willingham won’t be coaching against the Bayou Bengals in 2009. If ever there was a hot seat coach, he is it. The AD that hired him is now gone, terminated for the program's recent bout with futility. Willingham is a remnant of that athletic director’s reign, and I believe anything short of bowl eligibility in 2008 will leave Ty searching for new employment.
As for the fans in the Pacific Northwest, this news must have them buzzing. 2009 will not only bring USC and Cal to Seattle on the flip, but now they’re also hosting LSU.
Note: LSU is 4-0 versus the Pac 10 in the BCS era:
2006: LSU 45 Arizona 3 (Baton Rouge)
2005: LSU 35 Arizona State 31 (Tempe)
2004: LSU 22 Oregon State 21 (Baton Rouge)
2003: LSU 59 Arizona 13 (Tucson)
The meeting will mark 20 years since Washington has played an SEC opponent, since beating Florida 34-7 in the 1989 Freedom Bowl.