In our view, the best thing that ever happened to a Seattle-based sports team on Christmas occurred in 1982 when the UW football team scored a last-second, 21-20 win over Boomer Esiason and Maryland in the Aloha Bowl (Tim Cowan tossed the game-winning TD pass to Anthony Allen with 12 seconds to play). Aside from that, Christmas has been pretty bleak for fans. The five biggest lumps of coal delivered to the sporting cognoscenti on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
1972 (Christmas Day): Russias national hockey team clobbers the Totems 9-4 before a near sellout crowd of 11,000 in the Seattle Coliseum. The game marks the first time that a professional, U.S.-based hockey team has ever hosted a team from Russia on American soil.
1986 (Christmas Day): Alabama breaks open a 7-6 game by rolling up 21 unanswered points in the second half to record a 28-6 win over Washington in the Sun Bowl at El Paso, TX. Bobby Humphrey scores three TDs for the Tide. Jeff Jaeger accounts for all of the Huskies points on field goals of 31 and 34 yards.
1998 (Christmas Day): Blaine Morgan completes 12 of 16 passes for 267 yards and rushes for 50 additional yards in leading Air Force to a 45-25 rout of Washington in the Jeep Oahu Bowl. Braxton Cleman scores on runs of 3 and 1 yards for Washington. UW athletic director Barbara Hedges cans coach Jim Lambright four days later.
2006 (Christmas Eve): Phillip Rivers lofts a 37-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson with 29 seconds to play, giving the San Diego Chargers a 20-17 win over the Seahawks at Qwest Field. But the Seahawks catch a break and clinch the NFC West title when the Arizona Cardinals defeat the San Francisco 49ers.
1967-07 (Christmas Day): Before they packed up and fled to Oklahoma City, the Seattle SuperSonics provided Northwest basketball fans with one NBA title (1979) and countless thrills — none of them occurring on Christmas Day. In the 11 Christmas Day games the Sonics played between 1967-07, they went 0-11. No one had worse luck than Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens, who went 0-for-5 on Christmas Day as head coach of the Sonics.
Yes, both the Oahu and Sun Bowls were seminal moments in Husky history. The former, as you indicated, led to Lambright’s ouster, and the latter signaled that the Huskies needed to do some serious retooling following the success of the late seventies and early eighties–albeit with that success carrying over, to some extent, to the Orange Bowl the previous year. Thus Don James went to work, first evidenced in force in the Freedom Bowl of 1989 and then even more so in the several years that followed before James walked off in a hissy fit, abandoning the program and his players only weeks before the 1993 season began.