Well, UW coach Steve Sarkisian turned what would have been mostly another run-of-the-mill football practice into one that will get national attention by arranging to have a live tiger present.
The reason was obvious — to give the Huskies a little sense of what they face this weekend playing at LSU whose mascot is the famed Mike the Tiger (famous enough to have his own website).
Mike the Tiger is typically stationed next to the opponent’s locker room at LSU, causing players to have to walk past him on their way to the field.
UW’s players had the same experience today, as the first the thing they saw when they turned the corner after entering the fence was the tiger.
“I was like ‘Oh, a Tiger? Why do we have a Tiger here,”’ said redshirt freshman linebacker Travis Feeney. “It was kind of scary at first.”
Feeney said he quickly got the point of the stunt.
“Coach wants us to get used to it so when we play them and come out of the locker we already know that it’s there and there is no distraction,” Feeney said.
Sarkisian does not meet the media on Tuesday so we didn’t get a comment from him.
The tiger is a 16-month old Bengal, weighing 300 pounds (apparently she will grow to 600). She is from the Walk on the Wild Side animal preserve in Canby, Ore., and regularly makes appearances at things like fairs.
Steve Higgs, the tiger’s handler, said he thought it was a joke when the call first came a few months ago wondering if they had a tiger that could come to a football practice.
“I was quite confused about what it was all about,” he said. “Then I realized the game was at LSU.”
The tiger was in a cage throughout practice, mostly lounging in her cage, likely annoyed at all the gawking reporters. And no, this did not play during the practice. And yes, it was a lot more interesting than Sarkisian’s 2009 stunt when the Huskies played at Notre Dame and throughout every practice that week played the Notre Dame fight song continuously.
Here’s a little video of the tiger as she appeared during most of practice:
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And here’s some video of UW players looking at the tiger afterward:
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