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Northwest reign
By Todd Harris
Special to

Back in the 1850s, Horace Greeley was quoted as saying, " Go west young man, go west." But if Greeley had known then what we know now, and was counseling young college football recruits, he might alter his directive to, "Go to the Pacific Northwest young man." The power shift is on, and the epicenter of Pac-10 football may be in the Pacific Northwest for some time to come.

Ken Simonton
California native and Oregon State RB Ken Simonton ranks fifth in the nation with 145 rushing yards per game.
This is not a fair weather fan piece rooted by the Oregon Ducks', Washington Huskies' and Oregon State Beavers' success this year. The northward shift of dominance in college football has been in the making for years. The success these teams are experiencing is due to these universities' commitment to building winning traditions.

Bottom line? Get used to the quack, bark and whatever a Beaver does when it gets riled up.

The coaches at the helm deserve much of the credit. Mike Bellotti, Rick Neuheisel and Dennis Erickson have each taken mediocre programs and turned them into to Top 20 powerhouses. They have instilled a winning attitude and the belief that "we don't have to rebuild, we can win NOW."

The players that have made Eugene, Seattle and Corvallis home have heard the call and have placed their trust in these coaches. So far so good. Like other schools, these programs have used the Junior College, high school and walk-on avenues to build a winning nucleus. The only difference? These schools seem to be finding the proverbial jewels in the rough when it comes to talent. So many of the kids that are making an impact for these programs were not your typical blue chip recruits. However, you can bet that recruiting kids to the Northwest will get a whole lot easier after this season.

It also doesn't hurt that these schools are committed to having some of the most state-of-the-art facilities found anywhere in the nation. They practically have a facility for whatever Mother Nature can dish out. This, coupled with the Pac-10's recent decision to provide a year-round training table -- what else could a High School All-American want? So, if in the coming years, there is a glut of U-Hauls headed to Eugene, Seattle and Corvallis, don't be surprised.

On a more important note, I would like to take this opportunity to send out best wishes to Washington Senior Safety Curtis Williams. Last Saturday, he sustained a spinal cord injury in the third quarter at Stanford and was taken off the field unconscious. He remains at the Stanford Medical Center on a respirator with an uncertain prognosis. When something like this happens to a player, we should take a moment to think about what is really important, and that is that Curtis gets better.

It won't matter if he plays football again. What does matter is that he will walk again. So while it is fun to talk about who will go to what bowl game and what team will beat who on Saturday, please remember the young man from Fresno, Calif. I know the Huskies will play with a heavy heart this Saturday in Seattle when Arizona comes to town (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET). They will most likely play a little harder for their fallen teammate who remains hospitalized. I, for one, will think of him often as I roam the sidelines at Husky Stadium and don't see No. 25. To Curtis and his family -- Our thoughts and prayers will be with you long after the game is over.

Todd Harris is a sideline reporter for ABC's Pac-10 games and is a frequent contributor to

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 Maurice Morris takes the shovel-pass from Joey Harrington and rumbles into the end zone.
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 Joey Harrington lays it in nicely for Josh Line on a 23-yard TD pass.
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