Today marks the 1000th post of the WSU Football Blog. This post also coincides with the Blog's 5th year anniversary.
To cap off July sweeps month for Sports Blogs, Victory Bell sat down with the four primary "Blogfathers" Sean, Tad, Shane, and Michael to talk about the blog, its past, and future directions.
VB: Gentlemen, thank you for agreeing to do this interview.
VB: First off, tell me about your respective roles on the Blog? Sean, we'll start with you and then follow with Tad, Shane, and then Michael.
Sean: I more or less handle the daily grind. I have made the blogging "experience" part of my morning routine, early in the day before things get moving in a typical day. But let me back up a bit.
For a quick background, we started this thing in September of 2004 as a way to duck the corporate e-mail police. Michael, Rooster and myself were burning up the e-mail servers with long, drawn-out diatribes about the Cougs. Obviously we should have been working, and we were only doing it during downtime/lunch/whatever. Blogs were still pretty new, I mean this was five years ago. But I had heard about it, and thought hey, what better way for us to communicate about the Cougs than a dedicated "web log", or blog? That way we post something, then the others can jump in and comment, etc, etc, etc. And it just went from there. Unfortunately Rooster has kind of dropped off the grid, so to speak, and has moved on to other things. But he definitely should get a mention as being one of the first to get it off the ground. We love Rooster and hope some day we will see him again around here.
Anyway, as busy as we all are with our careers, wives, kids, friends, et al, I still seem to find the time for this blog. But it's all about priorities and finding the energy to do your hobby, and that's what this is. It's fun, for the most part, and I want to write about what I love, and that's this football program....and other stuff....but mainly the football program. I guess it's true what they say, that if you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you really don't want to do something, you'll find an excuse. So here we are.
Tad: The older I get, the less time I spend analyzing, over-analyzing and worrying about my favorite sports teams - Cougs included. On top of that, I just don't have the time or energy to spend churning out blog entries every other day. So where does that leave me? If the blog were a hot dog, I'm the little bits of ground-up pig tripe floating around in the real meat.
Shane: I feel I bring the unique perspective of a Pullman "towney". While most Coug fans started bleeding crimson sometime around or just after matriculating WSU, I was born into Cougness. Growing up here, the Cougars weren't distant, almost imaginary people like other sports stars on TV. They were at the grocery store, or coaching our little league team, going to our church, or visiting our cafeteria to talk to us about staying in school and keeping off drugs. We played pick-up games with them at the gyms and they were easy to find after games for autographs, or just a high five. When my friends and I talk about the Cougs we use words like "we", "our", "us", because we feel that closely attached to whatever is taking place on the field, or court that week. My posts don't have statistical, or deeply analytical information, but they do provide an expert take on the visceral Gameday experience and a complete lack of objectivity.
Michael: On every Rolling Stones record, there are two or three songs that are sung by Keith Richards.
Now granted, those who have heard those songs know that Keith can't sing a lick and most of the time, the songs really suck as a consequence. But, what those songs do accomplish is that they provide a change of pace to the rest of the stuff that Mick does which is really great. And, every once in a while, Keith hits a home run. And when he does, those albums move from being good to stinking terrific.
VB: So what are you saying?
Michael: I aspire to be the Keith Richards of this blog.
VB: What work have you liked the most from your fellow Blogfathers?
Sean: I have several examples, but here's just a few.
I enjoyed our "Football Friday, only on Thursday" posts from last year. Probably WAY too long and drawn out, but still, fun to go back and read those things. Some pretty good calls, all the way around, and some funny stuff as well. And I love the documented fact that we hung right with Ted Miller, Bob Condotta and Grippi-Mania on picking PAC-10 games. BH and I, we were literally within a game or two of the experts. Maybe it's time to open up shop on a gambling website? Sutra's Five-Star picks of "Lock-Tober"?
I will never forget the moment we were first linked to by Teddy Miller, who even said we were "way more creative and entertaining than our generic name", or something like that.
I remember Longball's first post, and what a thrill I got just reading his humorous, personable style, and all with describing the sights and sounds of Pullman with training camp underway. What a cool moment! I knew he "got it" with his picture of an Idaho Vandals cement truck working on the stadium renovation to lead off the post. Shane, Pullman "townie" or not, you are money, and the more you can do, the better.
I loved Hooty's Apple Cup post, complete with pics and video. One of the best with his video of the game-winner, and hearing him giggle like a schoolgirl, yelling "get out there!" to all the fans storming the field. But his story of the bozo climbing the new Coug statue and him pummeling the guy in front of his kids was fantastic. Hooty, you bring a quality and edge that completes the whole thing. Here's hoping you continue to give us what you can, when you can.
I will never forget the laugh-out-loud moments when BH was putting up the election posts last year! Absolutely brilliant. And when Sir Grippi acknowledged that he won the made-up, phony, ridiculous campaign, well, that made it all worthwhile. Those posts from last fall are some of the funniest, well-written blog postings I have ever seen, ANYWHERE!
Speaking of BH, I remember being angry when he first called himself "Brinkhater". I thought that was so terrible, but then it suddenly grew on me. He was the perfect antagonist/villian we could hope for, and it was great while it lasted. And while I would love some brink-like passing numbers out of our current QB's, I have to admit BH was right. He didn't hate Alex, not at all. He hated the situation more than anything else, and the reality is that for the majority of the time, the one-back offense needs the superhero QB to make it go (Gesser is an exception, but such a winner that he fits in his own category). Even with a Jerome-Harrison-led 1900 rushing yards in '05, the team still went 1-7 in the conference. It really was about the QB. So, to BH, I have to say that as much as I cringed when I saw that name, I also have to admit it....he was right.
VB: Wow, that made a drunken Michael seem pithy.
Tad: Well, it pains me to say it, but I think I am also going to talk about Michael/Brinkhater/Coug-A-Sutra/Osho-No-No whatever-his-name is.
I hate saying it because it makes me feel old - but I met Mike 20 years ago. 1989 was so long ago that the fashion styles are starting to make a comeback now - so it was kinda like 2009 except that the girls today dress way sluttier and everyone over the age of 15 has a tattoo. In 1989 only bikers and sailors had tattoos. Bikers, sailors...and Mike, that is. This was no cute little tattoo that could be hidden under a sock, either. It was a big, hunkin' dagger through a rose - there may even be a skull involved (my memory isn't what it used to be) - right on the outside of his shoulder! 20 years later, I can finally admit it...I was jealous of that tattoo.
I always thought I concealed my jealousy over Mike's sweet tat pretty well but then a few years ago, I found out otherwise. I didn't even know that the WSU Football Blog existed until one day when I got an e-mail from Hawk asking if I was the guy who'd been harassing Mike with comments on the blog. Apparently someone had been giving him a bad time for a few weeks and clearly knew Mike based on some of the details in the comments. Despite the fact that I had some killer tats of my own by then, I was being wrongly accused.
O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.
~William Shakespeare, Othello
(I have no idea what that means but it sounds like it might be appropriate here...)
So, that was my introduction to the blog and although it wasn't me that was getting under Mike's skin then, I still enjoy taking some good-natured jabs at my old buddy now and then.
What most of you probably don't realize is that Mike is WAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY smarter than you. It's OK - he's smarter than me too. I'm good with that. When we flame his posts, it's not that we don't agree with him - it's that we don't understand him. He speaks right over the top of our pointy, little heads. That's what I love about him. $10 bucks says he's the only one reading this that truly understands that Shakespeare quote. In fact, he probably already knew it and has used it in the course of normal conversation with his super-smart friends.
Anyway - keep doing what you do, Mike. It seems to really confuse and piss people off.
Shane: You know, I have to single out Hooty for a couple posts that tugged on my crimson heart strings. Last season he did a game day experience post that included his trip from Cheney to Pullman down Highway 27, including stops in the local village taverns along the way, like Grumpy's in Garfield. I hope it encouraged our readers to make the Palouse part of their gameday experience. Get off the beaten track and see what's cookin (or being poured). You may be surprised what you find. I also think his recent post about his mom's illness and the amazing support and inspiration his family has received from Mike Utley was one of the great posts this blog has ever had. It is just another example of how the cougs aren't just heroes we worship from afar, but real people who are part of our community.
Michael: Whether you're starting a company, a blog, or sports franchise, you've gotta have a star. And clearly, Sean is our 1-4 star and starter. And when you think about what you want in your star, you want (a) Passion for the game; (b) A strong work ethic; (c) Natural ability; and (d) The ability to make those around him better. In my view, Sean has made this blog special because he basically fulfills all of the above--although I think that myself and Hooty may make fulfilling (d) an impossibility for just about anyone.
In terms of Sean's specific work, the Spring Fishwrap series I think is legendary, I really do. I would much rather read his stuff then Athlon. I also think the radio show recaps have always been a really special feature, especially for those non-townies that don't have access to it. But, as Andy Katz says, it all is really about the "Body of Work" and Sean's is better than anyone who has NO firsthand access to primary sources. He's remarkable.
VB: As the 2009-2010 Cougar Sports season approaches, what aspects of the WSU Football Blog are you most looking forward to?
Sean: I look forward to helping take the blog to new, exciting places. OK, not really. Just pushing the envelope a little bit, maybe right up to the line, but not crossing it. I seriously, seriously hope that the product is better to write about. Last year, let's face it, was tough on everyone. The demoralizing losses took their toll, from coaches, players, fans and bloggers alike. I really believe that the worst is behind us, and one day we'll look back at '08 with a "WOW WERE WE BAD!" once we get some success in the coming years!
But also trying to keep up the general theme around here, and that is this - DON'T TAKE THINGS TOO SERIOUSLY! I can't say that enough. Some of the "hate" comments and e-mails I see, some of you just don't quite get what it is we do.
First of all, we love this stuff, otherwise we wouldn't have ever cranked out 1000 posts. We like to think we know a little bit about what it is we see, and we read up and watch pretty much everything. But we are quick to laugh at ourselves and each other just as much as we laugh at everyone else. And this is a game played by kids, not anything more than that. So while the team has been down in the dumps, hard as it may be at times, just enjoy it for what it is. Yes, it's fine to demand greatness and expect a return to the winning side of the ledger more times than not. It's part of your right, as a member of the ticket-buying public, to make your voices heard. But hey, win or lose, you can still have some pops with your friends at a tailgate or The Coug or wherever else you may venture on a yet another wonderful Pullman gameday experience!
That's what being a Coug is all about. No, not the losing. I mean honestly, the program is right at or near the .500 mark all-time, with some fantastic high's and poopy-island lows. But there's a bonding experience of simply being a Coug that brings us all together. We bicker and fight, but we understand each other, for we have been through so much as a fan base. It's something you can't even describe, but rather a general sense of understanding and belonging that you have with fellow Cougs. We "get" each other. So please, no matter how bleak things have been, don't lose sight of the bigger picture. It's never that bad.
Tad: The number one thing I'm looking forward to, is more than two football victories. It's not easy trying to make chicken salad every week, if you know what I mean...
I'm also looking forward to meeting some more of the regular blog visitors. (Keep your eye out for details on the first-ever WSU Football Blog Tailgate Party this fall! With maybe even FREE Natural Light and hot dogs!)
When I was a kid, the first album I ever bought with my own money was KISS Alive II. I loved the fact that KISS was part sideshow, part rock-stars. They were more than just four guys in a band. The makeup and costumes gave them an undeniable aura that no other band has ever been able to achieve. There was a mystery about them.
That mystery was dashed away when KISS took off the makeup on MTV with the release of the "Lick it Up" album. The last few months on the blog have kind of reminded me of that. When the blog was started, we all used aliases to hide our real identities. Despite the fact that we still use them, there's no secret to who we really are anymore. The good news for you, is that none of us are as ugly as Gene Simmons, so we hope to meet some of you this fall. We can always use more drinkin' buddies.
Shane: I look forward to coach Wulff and the boys making some huge strides this year and picking up a few unexpected wins that finally chase the anonymous haters in our comments thread back to the holes they crawled out of. I also look forward to Coug-a-Sutra taking over the prediction duties and using his infinite wisdom and total consciousness to achieve the impossible... a perfect record through football, basketball and baseball seasons.
Michael: A job. Seriously, this coming year is such a HUGE transition year for cougar sports. I am looking forward to the slight possibility of a surprise season from the Football team--which will get better and better if they can nab a couple of early wins--and I am really looking forward to blogging about the basketball team and the new look that Bone brings to that crew--plus the new recruits should be exciting.
VB: Thank you, gentlemen.
Blogfathers: Thank you, Victory.