Former Washington player and coach, Jim Lambright (Stephen Dunn/IconSports)
We all heard the recent news of the passing of Jim Lambright, at the age of 77. At different times, he played for the Huskies, served as defensive coordinator, and later guided them for six years as head coach.
He and I always got along fine, in the handful of times that we spoke. Most notably, I interviewed him for my book The Husky Hitman, which was about the UW football career of Dave Hoffmann.
But the most memorable encounter with Lambo happened at the 2003 Apple Cup. In the fourth quarter, I was standing in the back of the west end zone at Husky Stadium. Lambo was to my left.
The Huskies trailed 19-14 with 1:15 to go in the game. The Dawgs were driving right toward us. Quarterback Cody Pickett dropped back to pass, pump faked, and then threw up the right sideline. Corey Williams made a diving catch as he fell into the end zone. Husky Stadium erupted in sheer bedlam.
In that moment, I wasn't exactly Cool Hand Luke. I grabbed Lambo and bear-hugged him. He turned toward me with bulging eyes that seemed to say What the hell are you doing? I let him go, then smiled abashedly, nodded and said "sorry about that!" Then I regained my journalistic composure and watched everyone else celebrate.
On WSU's ensuing possession, Joh Swogger threw a pass, and the late Marquis Cooper picked it off and raced 38 yards for a touchdown. The Huskies won 27-19, to avoid their first losing season since Jimmy Carter was president.
Lambright's tenure as head coach might not have been Hall-of-Fame caliber. But his time as defensive coordinator was stellar. His dominating defenses of the early 1990s provided us all with incredible enjoyment.
RIP Jim Lambright.