Friday's Fight Hunger Bowl serves as a homecoming of sorts for Washington interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo, who spent six seasons on the Raiders' roster as a backup quarterback, though his roots in the Bay Area go back farther than that.
His father, Manu, spent three of his eight NFL seasons with the 49ers, meaning Marques, 34, spent a portion of his childhood here before moving back to Washington state.
“I feel at home here,” he said Monday. “It is an unbelievable opportunity to come back to a second home and to be leading my alma mater in this role as an interim, it couldn't happen better than this.”
After Steve Sarkisian accepted a job at USC following the end of the regular season, Tuiasosopo was tagged to fill his role for the Fight Hunger Bowl.
Tuiasosopo, who played at Washington from 1997 to 2000, is heading into his only game as a head coach for the Huskies, as the school already hired former Boise State coach Chris Petersen to replace Sarkisian.
It's a scenario that mirrors the one Tuiasosopo found himself in as a player for Washington, when Jim Lambright was fired after the 1998 season.
Tuiasosopo said the crew he played with came through that situation with a strong mindset.
“The group of men I played with, we came together and decided, it not going to matter who the coach is going to be,” he said. “We have to decide that we want to be winners and we want to do our part to try to win a championship.”
He said he has tried to instill the same attitude in the current Huskies, with one added bit of incentive.
The team has not had nine wins in a season since winning the Rose Bowl following the 2000 season, something that is not lost on this team.
“Guys, we're in a bowl game, so you have something great to play for,” Tuiasosopo told his players. “Nine wins in our program, in our recent history, we haven't done that since '01, so they can leave their mark. Let's focus on that because you guys have had a great season, so you can finish it in an even better way than you started it.”
The Fight Hunger Bowl will be played at AT&T Park on Friday for the last time before moving to the new Levi's Stadium next year.