Oct. 2, 2009
By Tim Booth
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE -- On his first trip as an assistant coach to South Bend, Ind., Steve Sarkisian hit all the sights: Touchdown Jesus, the College Football Hall of Fame, everything that makes a trip to Northern Indiana part of college football nostalgia.
Then Southern California went out and got smacked by the Fighting Irish in 2001.
"I think you can make the mistake of going there and treating it like a vacation and going there and going to the Grotto and the College Football Hall of Fame and Touchdown Jesus and all that stuff," Sarkisian said. "We won't do that. This is a business trip."
"I think you can make the mistake of going there and treating it like a vacation and going there and going to the Grotto and the College Football Hall of Fame and Touchdown Jesus and all that stuff. We won't do that. This is a business trip."
Back in 2001, in Pete Carroll's first season in Los Angeles, the Trojans decided to make time for all the attractions that came with their first trip to play at Notre Dame. Granted, it was the first year of Carroll's rebuilding of the Trojans, and USC hadn't developed its recent dominance over the Irish yet. But the 27-16 loss in South Bend set a tone for all future trips the Trojans made and that attitude was brought by Sarkisian to Seattle.
The Huskies are leaving on Thursday afternoon, but won't sandwich in any fun time around their Friday practice and walkthrough at Notre Dame Stadium.
"We kind of get away and we go play the game and it's just like any other hostile environment, not a whole lot different than going to play at Oregon or Husky Stadium," Sarkisian said.
Still, the Notre Dame name holds a certain level of reverence for the Washington players, all of whom will be playing the Irish in South Bend for the first time. Notre Dame is 7-0 all-time against Washington, with the last two victories coming in Seattle.
Washington quarterback Jake Locker drew mild interest from the Irish when he was being recruited out of high school. Notre Dame became a distant also-ran to the Huskies, but Locker's Catholic upbringing made the idea of playing for the Irish compelling.
"I thought about it a little bit, but not too much," Locker said.
He's also buying into Sarkisian's pitch of making sure the players don't become distracted by the surroundings.
"I don't think we can let that distract us either," Locker said. "Obviously we'll go to that stadium and there's a lot of tradition that goes along with it but we need to understand that it's just another football game and one that we need to prepare really well for and come out and execute against a good football team."