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Moore: Jimmy Lake stoked Apple Cup rivalry in 2018, but Huskies don’t have same kind of defense this year

UW defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake made comments about WSU after the 2018 Apple Cup. (AP)

Last year many things bothered me about the Cougars’ 28-15 loss in the Apple Cup. How much I paid for the tickets. How much I wish it hadn’t snowed. How hard the drive was to Coeur d’Alene after the game. How tired I was of losing to the Dawgs.

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But nothing annoyed me more than comments made after the game by Washington defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake.

Most people subscribe to the adage of winning with class, but Lake went off on his own little detour when asked if it surprises him that Mike Leach does not adjust his offensive game plan against the Huskies.

“It does surprise me,” Lake said. “But knowing what I know about the head football coach there, he does things in a little bit different way. So hopefully he remains there for a long time. That would be awesome.

“They do the same thing year in and year out. So it makes it really easy to game plan when an offense does the same thing every year.”

I will give Lake credit for one thing – at least he’s doing his best to stoke the rivalry. I miss the days of bulletin-board material, which I guess has changed to cyberspace material now. Ripping the other team on a rivalry week is fair game by me and should be encouraged.

Yet even if Lake is right – and I don’t think he is – it was still wrong of him to say it. The thing I get the biggest kick out of is a player like Ben Burr-Kirven calling Lake a genius. Let’s be clear about this: It’s easier to look like a genius when you have several defensive players who are drafted by the NFL. It’s about the talent, and Lake’s defense isn’t quite the same this year, failing to preserve leads against Oregon and Utah.

I don’t hear anyone calling him a genius this year, but I will. He made a genius move, somehow convincing Washington athletic director Jen Cohen to pay him $1.4 million this season, $1.5 million next season and $1.7 million in 2021. I don’t call that getting bang for your buck when you’re destined for the Cheez It Bowl.

I wonder how the former defensive coordinator at Washington feels about Lake. Pete Kwiatkowski went from being defensive coordinator to co-defensive coordinator with Lake, and if I’m him, I’m sick of hearing praise for Lake every time I turn around.

I chuckle every time I hear Lake’s name associated with head-coaching jobs. The latest one connected him as a possibility at USC, as if the Trojans wouldn’t be able to find better candidates.

As far as I know, Lake might be as great as everyone thinks he is. But because of Lake’s comments after the 2018 Apple Cup, I’ll contend that it’s more about the athletes than schemes drawn up to stop the Air Raid by some would-be genius.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jim Moore on Twitter.

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