Don James – The James Gang – The Dawgfather

25 Oct

The University of Washington will host the California Golden Bears Saturday night in an NCAA football game.

Yes, they will play the game, but most who make the trek to Husky Stadium will have legendary UW Coach Don James on their mind and in their hearts.

Mr. James passed away earlier this week.

I went to high-school (HAZEN) in the early 1980s and my main goal was to have good enough grades to be accepted to the University of Washington.

That was the goal – Plain and Simple. I didn’t bother applying at other schools in the state, I wanted to be a Husky.

As a HS senior, I wanted to go to a school that was big-time. The U-Dub was big-time. Why? The football team under Mr. James was ranked #1 for many weeks in my senior year of HS. They had won the Rose Bowl my Junior year, blanking Iowa 28-0. My grades were just good enough as I spent 5 years on the UW campus before graduating in 1987.

My first recollection of Husky Football came in 7th Grade:

UW Rose Bowl 77

I can remember to this day being at my Grandparents house on Friday Harbor for Thanksgiving 1977. The following night USC kicked a late FG to beat the UCLA  29-27 and clinched a spot in the 1978 Rose Bowl.USC-UCLA boxscore

When the Dawgs played on New Year’s Day 1978, they beat Bo Schembechler’s Michigan Wolverines 27-20!

That is why many kids growing up in the 1970s-80s became huge Husky fans.

Lets look at the UW-CAL rivalry in the James era:

1975 – @ CAL 27, UW 24 – Cal QB Joe Roth passed for 380 yards, throwing 4 TDs and completing 24 of 36 passes.

1976 – CAL 7,  @ UW 0 – The only time Mr. James got shutout at home.

1977 – UW 50, @ CAL 31 – Mr. James first win against CAL and he would win the next 11 matchups to go 12-2 against the Bears.

1978 – NO GAME

1979 – UW 28, @ CAL 24

1980 – NO GAME

1981 – UW 27, @ CAL 26

1982 – @ UW 50, CAL 7 – The Huskeis are #1 in the country and run their record to 5-0.

1983 – NO GAME

1984 – @ UW 44, CAL 14 – The Huskies again are #1 in the country and improve to 9-0; the next week they would lose at USC 16-7.

1985 – UW 28, @ CAL 12

1986 – @ UW 50, CAL 18 – 500th win in UW history.

1987 – NO GAME

1988 – @UW 28, CAL 27

1989 – UW 29, @ CAL 16

1990 – @UW 46, CAL 7

1991 – UW 24, @CAL 17 – The game of the Year and of the UW-CAL series! Both teams came in a perfect 5-0. Cal #7 in the nation; UW #3. Washington would go 12-0 that season.

1992 – @UW 35, CAL 16 – UW was ranked #1 in the country; Cal #24.


Washington State 13-5, Streaks: W7, L2

Oregon 15-3, Streaks: W6, L2

Oregon State 15-1, Streaks: W10, L1

USC 9-8, Streaks: W3, L4

UCLA 5-8-1, Streaks: W1, L3

Stanford 13-3, W9, L2

Cal 12-2, W12 L2

Arizona State 9-5, Streaks: W3, L2

Arizona 7-3-1, Streaks: W5, L2


Washington will try to stop a 3-game losing streak tonight against the lowly Bears. This is the 10th straight year UW has had at least a 3-game losing streak.

The Huskies have had FOURTEEN 3-game losing streaks since the 1997 season (17 years).

During Mr. James’ 18 years (1975-92), UW had just TWO losing steaks of 3 games.

Thanks for the Memories Don.

Fun times that will live on for ever.


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