Tuesday, March 31, 2009

His Failure


Greetings Cougar Nation. Hope you all are STILL hanging in there.

As you all have read by now, today Sterk came flat out and said we'll have a coach in tow in the next couple of days. So hang tight.

In the meantime, before we get a first hand update on Spring Drills from Sedi and Longball over the next couple of days, a quick post-mordem on T-Bone.

First and foremost, please know that I feel the collective pain of the Nation. I really do.

At the same time, I think its high time that we EASE off the "Kill Tony" comments and reflect seriously on what his departure signifies.

With that in mind, I think that it is important that you all believe, as I do, that all things being equal, Tony Bennett would have liked to stay at WSU. I really believe that.

But, in the end, I think he left because he didn't think he got the job done here, and because of that, I think this move was his way of rescuing his future as he envisions it.

And while I DO think that jettisoning his previous promises and commitments technically makes him a quitter, I doubt that many of you would shy away from a 1.7 mill a year "do over" if you were afraid you were losing your grip on your current job.

The reason for my suspicion that he left here "in failure" can be traced directly to his decision to NOT take his assistants (less Sanchez) with him. And with that, you can read between the lines: Guys that can judge talent and bring home the bacon get rewarded with the highest quality of salary left-overs. Those who can't, get shown the door.

The reality is that, despite bringing in two All-Staters from Oregon recently, Lodwick didn't look like he could guard a tree all year long. Meanwhile, Harthun gets caught doing his doobies impression, looks uncomfortable as a distributor, and has a J that doesn't look right despite all of his gusto in jacking it whenever able. And Fabian Boeke-Boeke-Goose and Charlie Boy look more Brian Payne than Blue Chip to put it mildly. Last I checked, that's four spots filled for the next 2-3 years on guys who can't and won't play.

In short, what we have is a TON of filled scholies without depth in the front court and without room to build depth in the backcourt at the same time that names like Few and Petino may be coming soon to a Pac-10 school near you.

And, for a guy that has sight on bright lights and the big city both for himself AND the program, that's a recipe for potential hardship if your future goals are an NBA job or a Duke type job in three to five years.

So, in essence, what we have is a guy that ran like hell from his own failure to develop the type of depth you need to be competitive year in and year out. You see it in the broken promises and platititudes, and you also see it as he runs from his loyal assistants whom he failed to properly evaluate, monitor, support, and mentor along the way.

It's really that simple.

Tony is a good guy, Nation, even if he is a flawed good guy (I can only say I'm flawed). He just didn't feel that he could accomplish what he wanted to here, and I think quietly, he would blame himself (and his assistants) for that limitation.

Now, he has a tough, tough road to climb in a tough, tough league where Dad won't be there to help him with the initial HUGE push.

As for us, the mountain is steep, but the summitt portends to be breathtaking.

So, stay on the up and up: Stay away from the negative, and lets see if we can build this thing moving forward.

And remember: Tony was leaving in three years anyway.

Now we get to see if this NEXT group of fellas can be the ones to send us on a Gonzaga like trajectory.

Go Cougs.



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Monday, March 30, 2009

The Bone and the Benefactor

Greetings, Cougar Nation. Hope you all are hanging in there.

Well, this whole development is nothing short of bizarre.

First, Tony leaves. Then, we decide to NOT interview any of his assistants. And then Tony decides to not take ANY of his assistants with him.

Talk about 'servanthood'.



Sheesh.


Then, Sterk makes the statement in his press conference tonight that the search is going to be "short and sweet" or some such. And you know what that means?

Its time for the REAL bone to step forward.



Yep, out with the T-Bone, and in with the Ken Bone.



Bone will bring one heck of a W-L track record with him along with solid ties both with Sterk as well as the NW. And you know what would put the icing on the Cake?

Bring back Ben Johnson and Sanchez.

The success of this program will depend on whether or not we keep that Pac defense. With Johnson, you've got a guy that played in the Bennett system and coached it for a decade. On top of that, you have the guy with ALL of the recruiting connections we've established over the years.

So, Bone and the Benefactor + Sanchez + Bone's top assistant at PSU.

You keep all of our recruits, including Thames and the Australian kid (who will both be GREAT) as well as Capers, Thompson, and Casto.

We'll suck next year, but be dynamite in two years. And then we'll see if Bone can recruit.

Its a slam dunk. Hire bone under the condition that he keep those two assistants and we'll forget this day in no time.


Go Cougs.
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Breaking News: T-Bone Burns Cougs

T-Bone goes Cavalier today and bolts WSU for the trevails of the ACC. Ya, that makes sense.

So, what are your thoughts?

And who is the replacement?

Mark Few? Ben Johnson? Chubby Checker?

Let us know your thoughts.

And here's mine: STUPID move.

But its still a HUGE loss for us.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Photo Contest - Vote Now!


Greetings, fellow Cougies.

I've emerged from my winter slumber to find a fresh layer of snow on the ground, here in Spokane. At this rate, I won't start losing my thick winter coat of back hair until June. We don't dye our kids' Easter eggs anymore, we just scatter hard-boiled eggs around the shady spots in the yard that still have snow. This is not what I signed up for when I moved here from beautiful Renton, WA...

The deadline for season ticket renewals was Friday. Raise your hand if you didn't renew. I myself, did not. Now, I'm not throwing in the towel or anything - I'll still be there when I'm able. I just don't want to pay for five games and only be able to go to three, as the case has been the last two years with Mini McBoob playing Pop Warner. I'm not going to miss the Family Section and I'm pretty sure the Family Section won't miss me.

Unfortunately, this means one of the prizes we planned on giving away for our little photo contest (4 tickets to a 2009 game) is no longer available, so we'll have to find a substitute.

Speaking of the contest, thank you to those of you who submitted photos (and shame on you to those that did not!). While the number of submissions was not overwhelming, it was a fun way to get you guys more involved with the blog. We'll keep the photo gallery alive on the site so if you ever feel like contributing, please e-mail us at wsufootballblog@yahoo.com.

Now, some of the photos in the gallery belong to Hawk and I and we're not eligible to win. If we were, I think I would have won with this one:


I took this one from the sideline before the USC game in 2006. Ah, Pirate Girl. And yes, referee-guy, I'm staring at your girlfriend's boobs...

There were several good submissions and it was actually quite difficult to pick the finalists. Before I get to those, here's our runners-up...

This one just barely missed the cut. It's WSUFootballBlog frequent flyer and ZZU CRU founder, Michelle, with Coach Dreamy. NOTE - PER SPECIAL REQUEST, THIS PHOTO HAS BEEN REMOVED!

From pretty, to ugly. This guy lost points for drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade. If that were a Schmidt's tallboy, I'd have voted you on to the finals.


I just thought this one was pretty cool. It's taken from far enough away that you can't tell that this is the new Butch who just got back from the eye doctor and his pupils are still fully-dilated.



I've seen this picture way too many times to believe that the guy who submitted it is the actual photographer - but it's always good for a laugh. The only thing more embarrassing that a grown man wearing purple, is a grown man pissing in his pants while wearing purple.



...and now, the Finalists! The winner will be decided by YOUR votes, Loyal Readers - so please make your voice heard!

The best photo will be part of a new blog header we will unveil before the '09 season gets started. Actually a few of your photos might make it in, but the winner will for sure be a part of it.

But that's not all - the winner will receive first choice from Uncle Hooty's prize bag:

* Mark Rypien autographed football
* 2003 Holiday Bowl DVD featuring the ESPN, WSU and Texas radio broadcasts
* Marcus Trufant Autographed Rookie Card
* Mark Fields Autographed Rookie Card
* One pitcher of beer at your Pullman bar of choice - as long as it's The Sports Page or The Coug - with the WSUfootballblog gang (Here's a tip: I get very generous when I drink, so one pitcher will likely wind up being eight...).

So, first place gets their pick of one of those five prizes. 2nd place gets their pick of what's left, and so on. 5th place gets stuck with whatever is left.

And now....in no particular order.....here are your 2009 WSUfootballblog Photo Contest Finalists:



"udub Asskick"

These two Cougs swallowed their pride and donned purple and gold on Halloween, looking like two huskies after Stiffmeister and I met them in a dark alley.



"Bone the Dogs"

I haven't seen one of these shirts in a long time. Seeing two of them next to each other on the field after an Apple Cup victory is more of a rare occurrence than a Tyrone Willingham smile.



"Devard Daaauugggghhhhrling"

The beauty of this pic is not the three studs in the foreground; it's Devard Darling puking into a garbage can on the sideline right below them. Awesome.



"Mama Sledge"

Gotta love this one of rising Cougar Head-Knocker Mike Ledgerwood and his proud Mama after the Apple Cup victory. If nothing else, "Mama Sledge" wins the award for coolest nickname for a Mom.

"????"

This pic is of blog regular Stiffmeister and his crew, prior to the Apple Cup. I'm not exactly sure what the guy in front is doing but it looks to me like like he's sufficiently liquored-up to enjoy the game. Good for you!



"Li'l Cougs"

Couldn't resist the "Cute Factor" so we wind up with SIX finalists and only five prizes. These little Cougs are cute - but will they be losers? You decide.



There you have it. Voting will be open on the poll in the right-hand column of the blog from now through the end of April (April 30th to be exact).

Thanks again for all the submissions!

GO COUGS!
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Saturday, March 28, 2009

WSU Football Blog Updates


Nice, epic FAIL by those Zags? And what is a Zag exactly? Oh well. I have to agree with BH's assessment after the game, that they were soft, soft, soft. And as Nuss pointed out after watching them in Portland last week, they looked undisciplined with the basketball, as well as lacking a commitment to the defensive end. It all spelled blowout city.

Here's a question for Coug fans - did YOU find yourself rooting for Gonzaga? Or are they too much of a rival now that you root against them? And I wonder what this does to Mark Few's star? You never overreact to one game when analyzing a coach, and it is admirable with their run of NCAA appearances. But was last night an example of 1) Few's got some weaknesses, big-time, or 2) Gonzaga is a nice, competitive program who is the king of the mid-major, yet will never become the powerhouse they aspire to be?

Few's been bandied about quite a bit for the Oregon job, but of course, that job has to actually come open. We'll see.

So, we made some changes around here. First of all, you may notice the new web address. No longer limited to "blogspot.com", the new address is officially "wsufootballblog.com". Things are transitioning over this weekend, so you may see some weirdness over the next couple of days. In the meantime the regular address should work just fine.

For the new address, you can type in www.wsufootballblog.com, you can type just , it doesn't really matter. You can even use the old-school wsufootball.blogspot.com, and still get here. That old blogspot.com address will always work. You will just get redirected to the new URL. But you might want to update your bookmarks or favorites or whatever.

We also cleaned up our news feed a bit. It was a little clunky and some unrelated stories were showing up, so we ditched it. Instead, we now have a WSU widget to the immediate top-right of the site. Click on the "menu" button, and you will see all the RSS feeds that are available from around the 'net. Click on the arrow buttons at the top of the widget to see the different news sections. It's cleaner and more precise to get all your WSU news. We will be adding other RSS feeds going forward, but it's entirely up to you which news feeds you want to see.

Finally, the photo contest. Yes, it's over as far as submitting photos. We will have a post shortly to show off the final five choices, and YOU will get to vote on the finalists. Should be fun?

That's it for a quick post today. Enjoy your weekend, and as always, GO COUGS!

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Comments and Stuff



Happy Friday to you all. So nice to have football back isn't it? At least for a little while anyway.

I thought the picture was appropriate, based on the idea of how far the team has to go to compete up front. There is no question the offensive and defensive lines were rag-dolled most of last year, and the reasons were many - lack of size, lack of strength, too young, etc. But it does at least sound like we're seeing progress there, such as the article the other day where they ran down the new weights of several players.

And on that note, there were some great comments you have left over the last few days, and we thought it would be a good idea to highlight a few of them.

'03CouveCoug had some good thoughts on what ails the program, and what to do about it:

Alright Sedi, you asked what’s broke, and how do we fix it…so here goes. What’s broke is simple…both lines.

Until the Cougs can send out Pac-10 caliber lines, they will not win many games. It all starts up front on both sides of the ball. We need DT’s that:
1. Clog the middle and allow the linebackers to make plays when offenses run and
2. To occupy as many opposing OL’s as possible on passing plays so that the DEs and/or blitzers can tee off on the opposing QB. Remember Long, Tupai, and Williams? Or Sasa and Eaton? THAT’S why those defenses were so good!

We need DEs that:
1. Can not only pin their ears back and rush the backfield on passing downs
2. That have the strength and quickness to turn running plays back inside toward their friends. Does DD Acholonu have younger brothers or cousins?

The only way to fix this is to continue to recruit “big frame” guys with good feet that we can put weight on to become DTs and to recruit “strong motor” linebacker types that also have the frames to put on weight in order to make them ferocious DEs.

Do we already have guys like this on the team? I believe the answer is yes, we fans just need to give them time to develop. I also believe that it is slightly easier to make quick improvement on defense because playing D does not require as much precision and execution as offense and can be played with more instinct and emotion.

On the offensive line, we need more “big frame” guys that have great footwork, good agility and great smarts. Not to say that every player doesn’t need smarts, but it is my opinion that besides the QB, the o-linemen need to be the smartest guys on the field. I really think that these types of o-linemen are already on the roster. I think health and cohesion will promote a vast improvement amongst this group this year (fingers and toes crossed). Let’s just keep recruiting the TE type out of high school and make them big boys!

I think a great example of this is down the way in Corvallis. The Beavs have developed a very good program because they have the ability to throw out waves of good, if not great lineman on both sides of the ball, which they have the ability to do because of great coaching and redshirting. If we develop our lines like OSU (easier said than done) over the coming years our beloved Cougs will perennially be a team to be reckoned with.

Well said. I think we are on the same page here? I know we've been trumpeting what Oregon State has become for some time, and they are the perfect model for WSU to follow....


Except the part about CHOKING the Rose Bowl bid at home against your hated rival! OUCH. Moving on...


CalebCherry dropped in to say that WSU's future approach should be to focus a lot more on defense, ala the hoops program:

For us out here, I think if we are going to have one side of the ball dominate heads and shoulders above the other... especially in our conference, we stand a far better chance of getting to a bowl game with an offense that puts just enough points on the board and a defense that is our foundation and what keeps us competitive and turns peoples heads.

It seems like the most effective use of our time given we're still a couple years into an completely new offensive philosophy.

There shouldn't be any reason we can't supply some demand for local (even west coast) guys who only have USC (and maybe oregon?) to look to when they dream about playing some pin-your-ears-back defense.

The best way I can say it is... I'd love to have the same feeling I get when cougar basketball plays ANYONE! I know it's not out of the question that our defense will keep us in the game with literally... anyone.


Good takes. I remember Wulff saying on one of last fall's radio shows about how he learned from Mike Price the approach of stocking up on speed and athleticism on defense, and how important that was to our past successes.


It's easy to look at Price's best teams and see how even with some very productive offenses, the D was a huge factor ('92, '94', '97, '01', '02).

Chris'04 weighed in, saying the pound increase on these guys sounds good, but "FAT" isn't always a good thing....

This is GREAT news! I'm glad to see that Wulff has delivered on his promise to bulk up our guys. But, bulk does not always equal performance. Keep in mind that the Fuskies had the heaviest OLine in the Pac10 last year. Look where that got them. But I trust Wulff 100% that he is not adding bulk at the expense of strength and quickness.


Good point Chris. UW boasted about their large line, but yeah, didn't really do much for them. Funny how much hype UW's o-line had coming into 2008, but when they lost the scrambling Locker, suddenly they couldn't move or pass block worth a damn? Coincidence??

"BMels", a newcomer to comments I believe(?), had his thoughts and parallels with the WSU hoops program when the Bennett's started their program flip:

When considering the future of our Cougs, I must think back to the ways of the Bennett crew taking charge at Beasley. First years were atrocious, awful, ugly, painful, disgusting...you get the idea. And for the most part, that continued even when Tony took over and "the big three" (Weaver, Low, Cowgill) were frosh. Their sophomore year, they continued to lose but all games were close, often coming down to the last couple minutes or plays. And the next year, well, I don't need to tell anybody about our first trip to the Dance in recent memory. I honestly foresee the football team following suit and taking steps in the right direction.

No predictions but i see more competitive losses next year where we actually look like a football team with football players making football plays. We continue to grow and build, guys get bigger/faster/stronger, and team character builds. I think 2010 shows serious progress reflected in wins and losses but 2011 is the year where this year's incoming freshman have the chance to make some noise.

And there is no way Wulff has anything to worry about even potentially until after 2010 at the earliest. He's gonna get more than a fair chance to right the ship.


I know I have heard this comp a few times, as a lot of you have as well. While hoops and football are very different and, honestly, it at least appears that it is a little easier to change things in hoops more quickly than football, it is fair to compare both programs at this juncture to see if they follow the same path. Although Dick Bennett did coach at WSU for three losing seasons, and it wasn't until Tony took over in year four before they broke through to the NCAA's, well, we COULD see the improvement this year on the football field in terms of things are tightened up and the foundations are laid for future success. But I think it is difficult to compare the different sports and draw too much of a conclusion. Time will tell.

Finally, our own Hooty had this to say about the sour-face Governor during UW's loss to Purdue:

If Gregoire were green, she'd look exactly like the Grinch.




Good call.

There are some links and stuff out there as well, floating about after day one.

GRIPPI NAILS ONE TODAY with his day-one practice recap. GREAT to hear Lobbestael throwing TD's in seven-on-seven drills!

The TNT's Ryan Divish dives into the improvement expected for this spring.

And Cougfan has been blowing up the coverage. It's all premium stuff, but they are all over it.

ENJOY YOUR FRIDAY, and as always, GO COUGS!



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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring Practice Questions, WSU Football Blog Style

So with spring ball upon us as of today, the optimism is there. Some great comments out of all of you the last few days, so the enthusiasm for football is still alive. They just couldn't kill it after 2-11! Now it's not overflowing with talk of "we're going to open multiple cans of whoop ass", but still, there does seem to be a good feel that things are about to get better.

Paul Wulff intimated as much yesterday in the WSU chat
. While he didn't roll out the pom-poms and lead everyone in the fight song, you could tell in his own, understated tone that he likes the direction. He really went into great detail about his feelings on these here "internets" and such:

Allen (Covington): Coach- in your opinion do Internet recruiting services help or hinder your recruiting process as a coach? There's quite the debate online and offline (see Meat Market by Feldman).
Paul Wulff: They do both.


Well OK then.

Due to the lengthy responses from coach Wulff, I'd like to warn our affiliates we'll be going over...
To repeat, warning our affiliates, we WILL BE GOING OVER our allotted time....

But back on topic, there are questions. MANY questions for this team, and what's to come. Not to TOTALLY RIP OFF Vince Grippi from yesterday....by the way, Vince, "JC Levenseller"? We love you, and you won that phony election last year...but come on man.

Anyway, here are three super-terrific questions that we thought were relevant to what needs to be addressed, cleaned up, fixed, blown up, whatever....


1) WHO IS GOING TO THROW IT??



We WANT to be thrilled with Marshall Lobbestael's potential. Seriously thrilled. And let's face it, the kid did show some major moxie in his limited time last year. Oh, he didn't go out and lead a titanic upset or anything. He had a few shining moments against Oregon, but how excited can you get over a 63-14 loss?

But in looking at Lobbestael, you almost have to just throw out the win/loss type stuff and realize all that was working against him last season. Such as a patchwork offensive line that had a different starting lineup throughout the first seven games, an ineffective running game, and an offense in general that lead the solar system in giveaways. Combine that with a massive malaise that overtook this team the first half or so games of 2008 with the flip-that-culture program running into some, uh, resistance, it is now pretty apparent that he simply wasn't going to succeed. But to Marshall's credit, he came in under said circumstances and held his own, leading the team in passer rating (103.7) and TD passes (4) in five games.

Wow, think about that for a second. A redshirt frosh QB played in just five games, and LED the team in TD passes with FOUR?? Who the?? WHAT THE?? Ryan Leaf used to have that many in one game, heck, one HALF. Mike Price is rolling over in his palatial El Paso estate (I didn't say rolling over in his grave because coach Price isn't actually dead....it's just his career that has flat-lined). But those team-leading four TD passes is a real eye-opener isn't it?

The biggest worry about Marshall is that knee.


I mean the kid did just blow that thing out on October 11th of last fall. It might feel like a long, long time ago, but that's less than six months from right now. We hear that he's made a ton of progress, enough so that he'll actually participate in seven-on-seven skeleton drills this spring. Encouraging? Absolutely. But will he REALLY be ready for game action this fall? Not only do we have to hope for a full recovery in his knee, but will this injury rob him of his ability to move effectively? He's not a Jeshua Anderson-type sprinter, but the kid could move pre-blown knee. Will he be able to do so post-injury? And how long will it take him to not only survive, but actually thrive on that knee? Mentally will he build up his confidence? I don't know what you think, but he can wear the yellow no-contact jersey all fall camp and look great doing it. We aren't really going to know until the season opener vs. Stanford. And we can be assured that the Cardinal D isn't going to take it easy on him either. He will get hit, hard, for the first time in a long time. We just won't know until that moment if he is all the way back.

So if Marshall just isn't ready, what are the other options? JT Levenseller showed some spunk. But he has thrown just 34 passes in very limited time. He was tied with Kevin Lopina for 3rd on the team in TD passes. Of course, that number is ZERO. Young Levy has good feet, and from the looks of it, his arm passes the eye test. His skill-set appears to be a good match in the Todd Sturdy offense.

I know I'm excited as can be about this kid's upside and reported intangibles from all who have been around him. But again, a bushel full of questions with him.

Finally, Kevin Lopina. What can we say? He evolved into a leader in the locker room, calling out the quitters and bad apples when things were falling down around him. For that, he gets points. And that throw to Jared Karstetter was enormous, a throw that will go down in AC history as one of the biggest plays in the series, pro-WSU style. And he is tough as can be, coming back off a fracture in his back to give it everything he had. But all that said, is it enough? How can we ignore his zero TD/11 INT ratio? Is that a starting QB in the PAC-10? You hate to be harsh on the kid, as he gave every ounce of sweat he had for this program last year. But I think many can agree that we might be best served if Lopina is the backup.

One nugget from the Paul Wulff chat yesterday is that the door is NOT closed on Lopina starting.

David California: On a recent radio show you stated there would be only one senior starting on offense in 2009. Would it be safe to assume that person is Kenny Alfred?

Paul Wulff: At the time, what I meant was there could be only up to one senior starting, the only proven senior being Kenny Alfred. But obviously, Tony Thompson has a clear shot at starting, as well as Kevin Lopina and Dwight Tardy.


Oh.

2) WHO'S GOING TO CATCH IT?

Gone is Brandon Gibson, who led the team in catches (57), yards(673) and TD's (2). All numbers down across the board when you look back at how productive a player Gibson was in his career, but given the overall state of the offense, not too shabby either. Jeshua Anderson is back, second in catches (33) and yards (305), but yeah, there's this whole track thing to think about. Hard to know exactly what he'll be able to do by this fall after missing another spring practice session this year. Can't exactly fault the kid either, I mean he's clearly special in track and field, Olympics-type special. But there is also no doubt that he's missing some valuable practice time to mesh with the updated offense, potential new QB's, etc. It is what it is.

But the youngsters, while they didn't pop with blazing numbers last year, are intriguing. Kevin Norrell played a lot as a true frosh, and while not a big physical presence, he did show some upside averaging 11.3 yards per catch. He'll get a huge chance to shine this spring/next season. Daniel Blackledge was a little beat up last year but he too showed something, and has drawn some recent praise from Wulff. And Jared Karstetter was pretty overwhelmed as being force fed into the lineup as a true frosh last year, but there are some things to be excited about with him. Like, oh, I don't know, a certain 48-yard catch in a certain game last year?


Most of all, these youngsters all got their first season out of the way. If anything, they've learned what it is like to line up across an all-conference talent like USC, Oregon or Cal rolls out every week. They shouldn't be as overwhelmed by the moment this year. But boy, they will need to step up and be ready, asap. Plenty of opportunities available!

3) WHO WILL LEAD THE DEFENSE?

Gone is the "triangle" of Greg Trent at middle linebacker, A'i Ahmu at defensive tackle, and Matt Mullennix and his 1.5 knees held together with scotch tape at defensive end. All three gave what they had, each and every week, to help shore up a porous D that gave up tons of yards per game(443+) and points per game (43.8). While the world crumbled around them, they did what they could to try and hold things together.


So who shall lead them? My money is on Louis Bland, Xavier Hicks and Andy Mattingly. Bland, of course, burst onto the scene as an undersized true frosh who slid to outside linebacker. Next thing you know, he's all-frosh with 55 tackles, nine for loss, including a couple of sacks, an INT return for a TD, and some huge knocks in the Apple Cup victory. But Bland has exuded "special" since he set foot in Pullman, and there was already talk LAST YEAR about Bland possibly being a team captain!



Xavier Hicks meanwhile has really turned it around. A big hitter with some meathead moves off the field, he appears to have taken well to the leadership of Coach Wulff. Even missing the first three games of last season didn't keep him from finishing second on the team in tackles (78) and tied for the team lead in interceptions (2). Hicks might be the best all-conference candidate of the entire defense, and the timing might be right for a huge senior year.

Finally, Mattingly. A huge 2007 season as a breakout force at linebacker with the well-documented tackles (91) and sacks (8), 2008 was a lost year. Mattingly's move to defensive end resulted in almost HALF the tackles from 2007 (44) and his sacks were trimmed from eight to just one in '08. The good news is it appears they have seen the light, and Mattingly actually moved back to strong-side linebacker the last couple of games in 2008, and sure enough, the move is now permanent with the release of this spring's depth chart. Very nice.

So that's it. The three biggest questions (with possible answers?) to this team. There are many more, of course, ones that we didn't even scratch the surface on. What do YOU think are the biggest questions facing this team? And what answers might you have to fix what's BROKE?!?

That's it for a Thursday. ENJOY YOUR DAY, and GO COUGS!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nobody Likes a Skinny Santa

"Eat Papa, eat. Nobody likes a skinny Santa."
- Mrs. Claus, 1964, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

We've all heard the line, right? Some of you youngsters might not get it, but those of you who used to stay up late for that ONE shot every December at seeing the archaic stop-motion puppets do their magic, well, you follow me. Remember the line? When Mrs. Claus is trying to fatten up Santa before the big night out? For what it's worth, that line is now OUT OF THE SHOW. No kidding. The new exchange goes like this:

Mrs. Claus: Eat, Poppa, eat.
Santa Claus: How can I eat? That silly elf song is driving me crazy.
Mrs. Claus: You're gonna disappoint the children. They expect a fat Santa.

Turns out that enough politically-correct folks decided the "nobody likes a skinny santa" was offensive? Something in regards to promoting bulimia? Really?? Very weird.

Anyway, why even bring this up? Because Cougfan has a good read today on the bulking up of the football team as they head into spring ball (and the article is free btw). WSU has released the first official roster of the spring, and it's eye-opening:
Comparing last year's roster to the spring, an eye-popping 33 players have packed on 10 pounds or more. And in some cases, considerably more.
Remember Tyson Pencer, the hulking giant straight outta BC? He showed up at 6-7, 230 a couple of years ago. Today? Try 6-7, 297! I know they've been banging pots and pans about getting these guys to belly up at the training table, several trays filled with food, but wow, thanks for participating Tyson. Other big names include Xavier Hicks from 196 to 211, Bernard Wolfgramm from 264 (that seems pretty light?) to 288 (that's more like it!), and even James Montgomery went from 192 to 202. Check out that link from Cougfan for more, because there are a whole list of names who are definitely larger than last year. And given where these guys were in 2008, this is very, very, VERY welcome news!

Also some position changes here and there, but the big/obvious one is Andy Mattingly is officially a linebacker again! HOORAY position switches! And Andy Mattingly is right where he belongs.


Let's hope to Mr. Mattingly, 2008's position switch is a distant memory. Get back to chasing QB's, drilling running backs, and flattening WR's who decide to venture into #45's area. Most of all, MAKE THE MOST OF THAT SENIOR YEAR! He still has a chance to turn it all around!

Also, the WSU Official site will post the first depth chart of 2009, sometime today. Be sure to check it out, as there are likely to be a few surprises (there always are a few?).

Some other things floating around as well on the eve of spring camp....

Paul Wulff will be in a chat today at WSUcougars.com. Check out the details here. I know some of you have participated in these things in the past, and to be honest, they were a little dry/boring? However this one should be pretty interesting as we are likely to get a ton of updates on various key players for the hopes of 2009.

There's a new PAC-10 commissioner, and his name is Larry Scott, former head of the Women's Tennis Association(WTA). OK. Not much reaction here. I guess he did a good job with women's tennis.


Let's hope the PAC-10 search committee did their homework, and most of all, that he's worlds better than Tom Hansen. Here's to better bowls, better TV deals, better EVERYTHING with Larry Scott!

Finally, Cougfan (again) has a good read on the UW stadium tax grab bonanza. Greg Witter does it again. I can't do it justice, so please, give it a look. It's pretty amazing what is going on there, and clearly there is concern among WSU nation that this thing might sneak through.

That's it for a busy Wednesday. ENJOY YOUR DAY, and GO COUGS!


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reason For Hope?


So spring ball is set to begin Thursday, and everyone appears excited to wash the feeling of '08 right off their dirty, smelly bodies. And for good reason. But it's a new season, with new faces, and the hope of all hopes that the ugliness of last year is just that - left to linger where it belongs.

But ask yourself this....have you prepared yourself for the idea that what happened last year just MIGHT carry over into 2009? What if we see this team talk of change and overall improvement all spring and throughout fall camp, then gets drilled by the usual round of injuries, a few suspensions, and they still haven't figured out how to win? What if they get blown out to open the season vs. Stanford? Even though last season was a three-month extended scene of crawling through a tunnel of sewage, what if THEY NEVER GOT OUTTA SHAWSHANK??

Look, last year was tough on everyone - fans, alums, bloggers, your general ticket-buying public. I don't need to tell you that. It is hard to imagine a worse season, in terms of blowouts, poor health, and just some lousy football that is so painful to relive that we won't even bother....unless of course you are Ty Willingham.....but I digress. But seriously, how accepting will you be if you have to witness frustrating losses, week after week, in 2009? Are you "out" as a Coug fan, ready to start up firewulff.com, tear up your season tickets and rail against it all on this here site? Or will you ride out the storm, hoping coach Wulff can navigate this thing home and turn the program into another Oregon State?

Not to get all GLOOM here. I mean hey, it's SPRING! The thaw is officially upon us. It's light until after 7 PM. MLB's opening day is just a few weeks away. And every college football program in America is undefeated right now. There IS always hope!

So to get us started for spring, here's three new faces to be excited about for 2009, WSU Football Blog style...OK, actually four new faces to get excited about, two of which are playing the same position....but you get the idea. And we'll look at other things this week, but this is a good place to start.


EXCITED ABOUT NEW FACES

It was said repeatedly for much of 2008 - especially towards the end of the year - and that is there is talent here that isn't even playing, and according to coach Wulff, "We will be instantly be a better football team the moment the 2008 season ends." But is he right?

Well, yes, probably. There are some big-time new faces who will be on the field this year, faces we have only heard about. But keep your eyes open and ears perked this spring for running back James Montgomery, offensive tackle Zach Williams, and D-linemen Bernard Wolfgramm and Josh Luapo.

1) First of all, Montgomery. A fabulously talented young back with moves and speed, Montgomery is a big-time talent. With injuries and other issues haunting Chris Ivory, and Dwight Tardy a solid-if-unspectacular ball carrier lacking that extra burst of speed, Montgomery's skills should be a delightful fit into OC Todd Sturdy's offense.

Montgomery, you may remember, was once the subject of a heated recruiting battle between UW and Cal, where the kid ultimately chose Berkeley. But there were rumors back in the day that Montgomery actually liked WSU quite a bit.


Montgomery played in every one of Cal's games as a frosh in 2007, and even in limited time, still averaged almost five yards per carry (4.8). The future looked bright, but also crowded in Cal's talented backfield. Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen ring a bell? Those two form the young two-headed running back monster for Cal and they aren't leaving anytime soon. Combined with some personal issues, Montgomery made the move to Pullman. After practicing and sitting out all of last year, he's finally ready to make his mark. Don't be surprised if he works his way to the top of the depth chart by the end of spring or at the latest, the conclusion of fall camp.

2) Zack Williams (or "Zach", or even Zachary) has been impressing folks since his first practice in Pullman. While not a prototype NFL-type tackle, he does have decent size at 6-4, 300. Regarded by many who've spied him as the most talented lineman in the program, he was often mentioned as also being the best one on the team...and that was LAST YEAR, just as a scout team guy during his redshirt season.


Given the upcoming full spring and fall practice sessions where he will now "run with the ones", he should slide right into the vacated left tackle spot from the departed big fella/quote machine, Vaughn Lesuma. A redshirt junior, Williams will start and should be a fixture on the line for his few seasons of eligibility.

3) Finally, Wolfgramm and Luapo might be the two biggest keys to any hope of an '09 turnaround. Recall a season ago - if you dare - and what do you remember from the Cougar D? Not good, is it? Obviously the conference-worst turnover margin had smething to do with the weekly thrashings. However, I don't know about you, but the ease in which opposing offenses waltzed up and down the field on a weekly basis was alarming at best, absolutely BRUTAL at worst. The Cal game or Oregon game, I mean turnovers or not, either team could have skipped the whole huddle thing and simply yelled "OK, WE ARE RUNNING IT AGAIN!" And there was absolutely nothing the defense could do about it.

Now things did get a little better later in the season, once the switch to the 3-4 defense was complete, combined with a return to health from Toby Turpin, a welcome playmaker at nose tackle. But I even go back to the Okie State game and watching big Matt Eichelberger getting his 320 lbs driven 5 yards off the ball repeatedly, and you knew that was going to be a long, long season!

Adding Bernard Wolfgamm and Josh Luapo, both JC transfers who have some girth and ability behind them, will go a long way to shoring up the defensive front. Wolfgamm is the smaller of the two, coming in at 6-3, 275, but he's regarded as a real playmaker up front. Look for him to slide between tackle and end, depending on the scheme or situation. But Wolfgramm will be on the field as much as possible.


Meanwhile Luapo is more of your traditional tackle in the run-stuffing mode, at 6-0, close to 300. He just enrolled in January, so he has a lot of road to cover in a short period of time. But one could expect he will either start at one tackle in the 4-3, or be a huge part of the rotation in the 3-4 to keep the bodies fresh up front.

Keep your eyes and ears open for how these guys do this spring. Their performances could be the difference between a huge step towards respectability....or a huge step towards the hot seat for coach Wulff.

Oh yeah, and thanks for the Facebook friend stuff. Some of you have become friends, and that's cool. You are welcome to sign on, as we will keep the Facebook site updated every time a post hits here on the blog. Plus some other stuff as the season approaches. Check out the Facebook "badge" on the right sidebar for a link to our page.

Enjoy your Tuesday, and as always, GO COUGS!

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Turn That Frown Upside Down!

This should get a lot of play in the next few days.....but this is supposedly a reaction to yet another Venoy Overton foul from yesterday's UW loss to Pur-Dont. Oh, poor Governor. State deficit got you down Christine? And I know she's a Husky and all, but still, nice to see the Gov support her local NCAA teams in postseason play. Notice the neutralish-looking purple/light blue sweater which says UW, but at least hints at a possibility of Gonzaga?

Quick, anyone know if she went to Denver to see our Cougs last year in the first round??....No??

And that's her daughter on the left. I'm not exactly sure what she is trying to do.

"Look, no ring on this finger!"
"YOU KNOW WHO MY MOM IS?? DO YOU!?! BRING THAT SH*T TO ME YO!"
"Get your THUGS UP!?"
"Mom, WHY ISN'T LOCKER PLAYING??"
"See how swollen my hand is from texting all game?? YEAH BOYYYYEEEEE!!"

How sad that the refs decided the game by not actually allowing the good, clean Venoy to play his game. You know, the Venoy who grabs, trips, and tries to start fights when things aren't going so well (see: ASU loss, Pac-10 tourney).



So in other words, you de-thug Venoy by actually calling him for fouls that he commits, and he's just another angry, frustrated young player who puts up a goose egg in 16 frustrating minutes? Got it...




Also a little ironic to see the Governor sitting in the palatial Rose Garden. You know, the big-time arena in the city in what is supposed to the "little brother" to big, bad Seattle? The city that has figured out how to keep and support their NBA club? The city where they have an anchor tenant producing 41 nights a year of 17,000 money-spending basketball fans? Not such a bad thing is it? Maybe she'll retreat back to Oly with her tail between her legs and yell down the hall "hey Chopp, you know, maybe we should make sure the Key thing gets done?" Nah.

Moving on, Cougfan had a good article about where the high school talent is coming from these days. Namely, NOT Washington. Sure, we're excited about the kids who are coming to WSU next year. But the state produced just 19 D-1 football players who received full scholarships in this year's signing class, just 13 of them headed for BCS schools. But Texas and Florida combined? Try an amazing 698! That's right, SIX HUNDRED AND NINETY EIGHT players from Texas and Florida signed to play D-1 football. That is unbelievable.

But as Cougfan points out, it's not just WA where the numbers are lacking. Oregon produced just 10 D-1 players, and Idaho had only eight. California helped pick up the west coast slack with 220 D-1 players, 114 of which signed with BCS schools.

I guess the reasons are many. Population density being a big one.

As of July 2007, over 55% of the country lives in the eastern part of the United States, or east of the Mississippi. And the warm-weather states like Texas, Cali, Florida, they just keep producing big-time talent.

Kind of makes you wonder if the idea of "winning the state of Washington" in recruiting battles is really all that important after all?



I mean sure, there are some key players that come out of this state every year who go on to do great things on the football field. And it makes for good headlines in the local rags when your school gets a commitment from a kid you have actually heard of. But don't you need to simply focus on where the talent actually resides, instead of chest-bump over getting local kids who will struggle mightily against the USC's of the world?

I guess the key for our WSU perspective is to do what we can in-state, but continue to hit California, harder than ever. I think that is what we generally hear as well, that coach Wulff and company are all over that state. The key is going to be to figure out how to intercept kids from going to the Oregon schools. You talk about their rise coupled with the demise of the Washington schools, it's not too hard to figure out what has happened.

That's all for now. ENJOY YOUR SUNDAY, and GO COUGS!
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Friday, March 20, 2009

How U Doin'?

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So how's the bracket after day one? I have to admit I did pretty well - as in 16-for-16 - but so did about a billion other people. While there were some real interesting contests early, kind of a "chalk" first day though, sans the needle-moving upsets? WKU over Illinois was your usual 12-tops-5 deal, but that wasn't all that surprising was it? A lot of people I talked to in the office had that as their 12-5 special, so there you go. But alas, as is usually the case, I'll probably take a bath today (meaning: I'll lose HUGE!).

But hey, at least I'm up BIG on Barack Obama! He only rolled out an 11-5 day one score. What's odd is that Barry hates the PAC-10, even though his bro-in-law coaches in the conference?


Out of the six PAC-10 teams, Obama didn't have a single one advancing out of the first weekend. I guess he was close with the UCLA-VCU game that was awfully tight, but still, where's the love for the west coast? Even Obama has an east coast bias?

So, we made the move to the next millennium....finally. Yep, we joined Facebook. Well, at least I joined Facebook as I really don't know what I'm doing. I tried to join it for our site but instead it's just my own name. But I will update it constantly with blog-related stuff, so check it out if you want. Our little Facebook "badge" is now over on the right sidebar of the site, next to our "followers" section, below the archive. ALL ARE WELCOME!

Speaking of the new millennium, we were invited to join Twitter. But I don't know. I mean Twitter is kind of cool if you want to see what a celebrity is up to, right? But honestly, who really cares about what regular Joe's are up to on a moment-by-moment basis?

10:30 AM - Thirsty. Time to refill the water bottle.
12 Noon - Lunch time. Turkey? Tuna? PB&J? SURPRISE ME!
2 PM - Time for a snack.
4 PM - Traffic sucks today.

THAT is interesting? Maybe if I was Sean "P-Diddy" Combs it is. But Twitter isn't for nobodies like me/us (and please, no offense if you do Twitter!).

Finally, in case you were wondering, we ARE winding down the photo contest. Look for a post in the next few days outlining what we are doing next. And thanks for all your entries! We got quite a few good ones, so coming up with the finalists was difficult. And please, even though we aren't technically doing the contest right now, feel free to share. We have decided just to keep the photo album going forever, so if you have some great pics, please feel free to forward them on and we'll put them right in. It's a cool little personal touch and I have received a lot of great feedback on them. Keep it up.

That's it for a Friday. ENJOY YOUR DAY, enjoy March Madness, and as always, GO COUGS!



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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wulff Speaks, Plus Other Stuff


Can it really be, a WSU FOOTBALL story!? Wow. But it's true. And hard to believe they are going to tee it up in just over a week? Also true. Spring ball is nearly upon us, ready to roll on March 26th, and the first round of media is starting to hit cyberspace. Paul Wulff spoke to ESPN's best college writer on the planet, Ted Miller, and gave some pretty good answers to some pressing questions, including the fact that Wulff isn't exactly "phased" by the arrival of the Twitter King, Steve Sarkisian?:

Did things feel any different in recruiting when Washington hired Steve Sarkisian?

PW: Not really. Everything was pretty much the same. Anytime you have a coaching change, a staff change, there's always that new energy and hope. Any school you are recruiting against, regardless of the team, when there's a new staff there's always renewed energy for a little while. But I think that all slows down after a year or so. There was obviously a breath of fresh air on their side of it, no question.


There's some other good stuff here, including Wulff singling out some players who have had a pretty good off-season. And oh yeah, Marshall Lobbestael is not only going to participate in 7-on-7's, but he's already been reinstated from the whole puke-in-a-McDonalds-bag-gate thing...



Meanwhile, the UW Husky Stadium money grab is starting to look pretty real. Even though some media outlets are downplaying the reality of it happening, I don't know if that's necessarily the case. Others who follow this stuff and read deeply into the comments of these state reps believe this thing has a chance. A bill in the Senate has been released, called SB6116. This bill has some language pertaining to the county's ability to tax for things like "stadiums" and "arenas", but it doesn't specifically say Husky Stadium or Key Arena by name. However you get the drift. Basically the word is if this bill passes the gaze of house speaker Frank Chopp, well, then UW is going to pull this thing off.

Our friend "Stiffmiester" asked last night in comments, but it's a very good question - how do the WSU faithful feel about this? Maybe there is a bigger picture angle here, that if they DO in fact toss some tax money UW's way, that President Floyd and Jim Sterk will be running up the steps in Oly, with future renovation plans under their arms, "shovel ready" and all that? Maybe in a way, we lose...but we could also win? And if it greases the skids for a Seattle Center renovation, which includes a Key Arena remodel in an area that so desperately needs not only a renovation but also an anchor tenant that can deliver 15,000 fans for at least 41 nights a year? See where I'm going with this? YES, it would suck if UW gets their $300 million dollar facelift. But if it means WSU can now ask for the same thing with a straight face? And Sonics 2.0 rise from the ashes, under the umbrella of Steve Ballmer?? Hmmm, maybe it's not so bad after all....

Oh, Darth Vader. He's at it again. This time, just being a total smart-ass:



So, the Madness BEGINS today! Who ya got? I don't know about you, but I have a feeling about Gonzaga this year. This seems to me like it's their best team in forever, maybe since their Elite 8 team so many years ago? They seem to have it all, including a bum ankle on Ty Lawson, Carolina's amazing point guard who makes that engine run. Don't forget, Gonzaga took down Carolina in NYC two years ago. Granted, the characters are different for both teams than they were back then, but that upset was with a healthy Josh Heytvelt causing all sorts of problems vs. Psycho T Hansborough.



We shall see. My Final Four was a little odd, but I've got Louisville and Memphis on one side, while yep, Gonzaga, and Pitt on the other side. Louisville cuts down the nets on Championship Monday.

But what do I know?? Nothing. :)

Finally, have you heard the Casey Casem prank call? Howard Stern's guys did a call where they took some sound clips of him and had him call a Chinese restaurant. Check it out:



That's it for today. ENJOY YOUR THURSDAY, and GO COUGS!



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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A-Rod Finally Finds Biggest Fan

After last night's disappointment, it would be easy to go all "WE SUCK" and stuff. But nah. Not today. Instead I am going to just appreciate the effort for these guys keeping it going when the season was unraveling after the OSU loss. Instead of folding the tent, they came out swinging and gave us a reason to care over the last few weeks. No medals for 7th, sure, but it sure could have gone the other way in a hurry. So for that, I am grateful these guys gave what they had instead of quitting when so many others would have easily laid down.

And thanks to the seniors who helped build this thing. The showed up in Pullman with nothing but hope that things will get better and they could be part of something special in building a program. After 3 straight years of postseason play, I couldn't be more appreciative of what they gave to the Bennett's and most of all, to the fans. We officially have a hoops program now, and without their efforts, we wouldn't be where we are today.

We'll leave the 08-09 season wrap-up to BH for the grade-A analysis. But I will say that at least to me, we are who we thought we were. Basically a near 500 team, capable of beating - or losing to - pretty much anyone.

But today....well....it's officially WEIRD with A-Rod, isn't it? I mean a lot of people have played kissy-face with the mirror.....right? No? Well, anyway, the pic sure shows that A-Rod has finally found his biggest fan. He has been staring a back at him his entire life.

The rest of the pics, including some very, uh, "suggestive" photos, can be found here.

http://Men.style.com/details/features/landing?id=content_8397

WEIRD.

Enjoy your humpday, and GO COUGS!
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Winner, Winner....

Chicken Dinner..



Or so we will say at about 10:30 tonight.

Greetings Cougar Nation and the new love of my life, Michele.

Unfortunately, I have NO TIME today for the in depth, non-analysis that I provide for you all on a routine basis.

That said, despite my earlier sentiment to the contrary, we're going to win tonight. The reasons, though short here, are pretty basic:

1) We bother people.

The thing that was talked about A LOT the last two years is how dog gone tough we are as a tournament team. The reason: the Pac defense is just a nightmare if you haven't seen it before. And, as we have seen, #1 seeds like Pittsburgh this year and UNC last year, have a difficult time figuring out how to score against us (you can add all of the non-conference yuck fests we've put on teams the last three years right here as well).

To be sure, St. Marys has the shooters to do a Vandy job on us and just light the place up tonight. But, as talented as they are in some respects, this SM team is just not as good as Vandy two years ago, Oregon of years past, or CAL this year. And as good as Patty Boy is, most point guards aren't as good when they can't get out in the open floor. And, unless we put up another UCLA brick job, we're going to frustrate the holy hell out of them tonight.

Remember in our losses this year, both Baylor, the Zags, as well as our Pac-10 foes had seen us and prepared for us before. Ditto LSU via Trent Johnson. And given how unseasoned we were early, remember we nearly even with Pitt with 5:00 left.

So keep in mind that not only have the Gaels not played us before, they've had a whopping TWO DAYS to prepare.

Its not enough time.

2) Let Down City

St Mary's is going to be mad. Real mad. But, have you ever tried to take your anger out on somebody you can't beat up or who doesn't play the anger game? IF you have, you know that trying to do so doesn't relieve anger or frustration, it builds it.

Unless we fall down 20-4 to start this game (which we won't), St. Mary's is going to get more and more frustrated as the game goes on. Dare I say "Bank on it."

3) Free Throw Shooting

Besides brother Klay who has done a bit of a clank job from the line lately, everyone else is shooting free throws well. Included in that mix is brother Casto who seems to have found his touch. We're going to lead late, so we're going to get fouled late. So, we're going to have to make our free throws. We will. And we'll win.

That's all I've got for now. Onward to South Carolina.

Cougs 61 St. Mary 52



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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wanna Get Screwed?



Sure seems like the message that the NCAA sent St. Mary's today.

First, they leave them waiting at the alter of the Big Dance. Then, they stick them with a game against a WSU team that would have been dangerous in the NCAA's. For them, the match-up is a big stinkin "Yuck."

As Vince and company already have posted, the Gaels lost ONE game at home this year--to the Zags by two.

So, they're tough.

That said, when bubble teams have their bubble's burst on Selection Sunday, their motivation to move on often goes with it--and they often TANK first round NIT games.

However, St. Mary's matches up VERY well with us (and vice versa) so it should be a heck of a game.

That said, if we advance, does South Carolina or San Diego State scare you?

They sure don't scare me.

Simply put: win on Tuesday and I think we're heading to New York.

Lets go get em.

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NIT Time

Thanks to SC's miracle run, we are headed to the NIT.

The bid is TOTALLY locked up now that Arizona is in the Big Dance.

BH's prediction: Round 1 at either St. Marys or San Diego State.

Meanwhile, the draw is HORRIBLE for the UW who I don't think will make it out of the first weekend.

CAL who I penciled in to KILL Michigan State will face Memphis in Game 2 and will LOSE.

Out of all the teams, AZ has the best chance to make it to the second weekend.

Finally,

Gonzaga's draw is GREAT. Look for a total THRILLER between them and UNC in the Sweet 16.

We'll be back later once the match-up is announced..


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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hawks Punt Peterson, Nab Redding



After a down season where he had a mere five sacks, and then refusing to take a pay-cut, Julian Peterson is gone. He'll be hauling the hot tub full of ladies back to DETROIT, the winless wonders of the midwest. Even though it's FREEZING out there in the winter, well, something tells me you won't have too much trouble keeping warm....Good luck JP.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Cory Redding comes to Seattle. Redding was a tough player at Texas, and then played well early in Detroit, enough to get a 7-year, $49 million dollar deal from the Lions. But injuries slowed him down last year, making him suddenly available. Here's a good scouting report on him from Detroit. He did have eight sacks a couple of seasons ago, which is pretty impressive from the defensive tackle spot.


Overall I'd say it's a good match. Peterson gets to go back to his roots, after all he did play at Michigan State and has family back east. Meanwhile Redding walks into a situation where he will be part of the tackle rotation immediately, with Brandon Mebane and newly-signed Colin Cole. Major upgrades inside for the Hawks.

You also have to wonder what this means for draft day and the #4 pick. Many people are now saying that Aaron Curry, the linebacker from Wake Forest, might be the top player in the draft. There was an article on Friday about Curry and whether or not Seattle would be interested. Suddenly the Hawks have a need, don't they? He sure looks big-time.



He can even have #59! We'll see though. A lot of the mock drafts don't see him making it to the #4 spot. Fingers crossed!


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Friday, March 13, 2009

Bellotti Steps Aside

It is breaking all over, but if you haven't heard, Mike Bellotti is stepping down as head coach of Oregon. He will take over as AD on 7/1. It was announced recently that this was going to happen, and Chip Kelly would be taking over sooner rather than later. But I have to admit to being surprised it is happening now? Anyway, it is Chip Kelly's show now. HOORAY spread offense!

So, naturally the question is, how much does this change the landscape in the NW? Were talented recruits spurning UW & WSU for Oregon because of the mustache(or no mustache?) and sunglasses? Or is Oregon Football, brought to you by NIKE, such an overpowering factor that this really isn't a big deal to where Chip Kelly, Chip from My Three Sons or Steve Kelley could walk around the sidelines in a headset and lead them to a bowl game??

Whatever happens, the spread is here to stay in our corner of the world. And like Oregon or hate them (which is likely if you are reading this), even I can admit that when that offense is clicking, it is a sight to behold. Remember how suffocating the Beaver D was last year against our Cougs in Corvallis? Go watch what the Ducks did to them last year with the Big Daddy on the line. It is impressive, and here to stay. Who knows....maybe, JUST MAYBE, we will actually see more than 50% of our own spread guru's playbook this fall with Todd Sturdy? PLEASE??

Oh, and Ernie Kent might want to stay close to the phone.....as BH texted me moments ago, a new AD and their new hoops building might want a new face for the program? After a 2-win Pac-10 season, it might be last call for old Ernie.

So, why the picture of Mike Price?? Well, for one I can't stand Bellotti. That much is obvious. But also because the Bellotti "path" is EXACTLY what Saint Mike should have followed at WSU! It's not hard to look back to the early part of the decade with such promise, strong recruiting, etc, and wonder what could have been had he not been tempted by Alabama. And it is a lot easier to get to Coeur D' Alene from Pullman compared to El Paso. See, EVERYONE could have won here!

Not that I have lost faith in the direction under Wulff - I haven't - but it will always be something to think about how these last six seasons might have gone had Mike stayed the course. Oh well.

ENJOY the rest of your day, and GO COUGS!



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Thursday, March 12, 2009

YUCK!!!!




Cougs' NCAA hopes officially die tonight at the hands of the Bruins.

(Anyone else think that this felt a BIT like our North Carolina game last year??)

Baynes wound up playing well while Thompson had the EXACT same type of game that he had @USC a few weeks back.

As well as Tony coached us the last three weeks, tonight was his worst.

The match-up of Taylor v. Shipp was inexplicable and his adjustments didn't work (were there adjustments?)

Lets hope we've done enough for the NIT. Arizona's potential drop from the dance does NOT help.


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UCLA At the Half

Down Twelve and looking awful.

Baynes looks like he has the hands of an amputee surgeon.

Harmeling has made his case for never putting on a uniform again.

And WHY (why? why? why? why?) does Tony think that going AWAY from our defensive match-ups of games past is a good idea?

The result: Shipp now has a feel (including a missed dunk because Rochestie is WAY too small to keep him out) and Collison is not bothered.

BAD coaching and BAD playing= BAD HALF.

First five of the second will be key.

Gotta cut it to eight and maintain..


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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Alright!



UPDATE: 12:10PM UCLA QUICK PREVIEW

Greetings Cougar Nation. Quick post today because I am swamped. But here are a few thoughts and keys for tonight:

1) Capers, Capers, Capers.

Nick has been getting a lot of time lately because, in case you haven't noticed, we've moved toward making Taylor a distributing 2 guard. This shift has actually has given our offense a ton of flow since Taylor is allowed to attack from the elbow.

Nick has been a good fit for this set-up because he has largely handled the ball well against the opposing team's #3 and because he distributes into the post as well as anyone on our team.

BUT, one of the reasons why we have played UCLA well is because Marcus Capers has just eaten up Josh Shipp. I'm thinking that we need Capers to log heavy minutes tonight, but if its Nick, then he needs to continue to shut Shipp down. Simply put, if Shipp goes off, we lose no matter what anyone else does.

2) USC, USC, USC.

USC plays before us. Since the tourney is in LA, you can bet that AT LEAST 50% of the faithful will be Trojan fans--at least for that 6:00 game. USC wins that game and you can also bet that those fans will stick around to root AGAINST UCLA.

So, USC wins and all of a sudden, the game may have a much more neutral court flavor. And, as our legs get tired late in the game, every ounce of crowd and building energy that is directed positively toward us will help tremendously.

3) Backcourt Shooting

Contrary to what the pundits may say, we don't have to be 80ppg lights out like we were in Pauley. But, at the end of the game last night, neither Klay nor Taylor were in good rhythm. Tonight, they are going to have to combine for at least 28. Getting Klay off early would be really great.

4) Forrest-Casto, Forrest-Casto

For me, this game--and quite frankly all others in this tournament--depend on the offensive production we get from our 4 spot. When Forrest is hitting his jumper, we are a LEGIT #4-#5 seed NCAA team. When Casto and Forrest are playing well offensively in the same game, then we can beat anyone in the country.

But, when either of those two struggle--particularly Forrest--then we become extraordinarily average offensively.

So, look for Forrest to hit his shot early. If he does, then buckle up. If he doesn't, then we could be in real, real trouble.

5) Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick.

Not ours, theirs. You look at our previous two match-ups and the recipe is simple: Their Nick hits threes, they pull WAY ahead of us. Their Nick misses threes and we beat them.

So, its a combination of how Forrest does and how their Nick does that will decide much of the game.

Of course, the ultimate outcome will depend on who wins the battle of the clutch: Taylor or Collison?

Prediction:

Part of me feels like UCLA is going to run away with this one following an aggressive press early in both halves.

But the other thinks that UCLA's lack of interior play coupled with our match-up with Shipp will lead us to an upset.

WSU 64 UCLA 59

Enjoy (remember how Oregon looked yesterday? That's us next year, so ENJOY!!!)



Nice win tonight.

In winning, we sealed an NIT bid.

Now, its onto UCLA.

Tomorrow should be fun. We're playing with house money now.


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ENJOY THIS!!!!

Happy Humpday, Cougar Nation.

Just wanted to remind the faithful that it is REALLY important to enjoy tonight's game.

Although I am nearly certain that we will win tonight, if we don't, this could be it for our fellas:



With the CBI costing serious dollars and our current status in the NIT uncertain, we lose tonight and it could be over.

And, if it is, I call on all of you to give your congrats and thank you to the Seniors for all of the memories they helped create for us over the year.

WSU 71 Oregon 58


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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Enough

Never had to post something like this before....but....ENOUGH of the Nik-trashing on the previous post comments. It's as if he's morphed from being "ok" to some super evil genius/mastermind who single handedly threw the game on Saturday.

We encourage your comments here. We always have, and we always will. And I'm not Nik's biggest fan, nor will I even attempt to spell his last name. But enough already. It's over, it's done, move along.

GO COUGS!
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Monday, March 09, 2009

What 2 Watch 4

Fantastic Monday Morning to you, Cougar Nation. Hope your week is off to a good start.

So, in view of our loss at Muttlake this past Saturday, our NCAA chances are all-but dead. That said, there is MUCH reason to pay very close attention to what goes on in this week's tournament.

With that in mind, here is what I am both looking for AND hoping for...


1) Beat Oregon

I know that this is a big duh, but I am not quite ready to discount the possibility that this could be a real let down game for our boys. Plus, this is Oregon's last game of the year, so they will be quite loosey goosey and dangerous as a result.

But, as we have seen, you defend the perimeter against the Quack and take care of the ball and its blow out city. The recipe in this game: get a lead and stick Taylor's butt on the bench as early and often as possible.

2) Develop A New Identity versus UCLA

How many of you were thinking about our 7 game win streak over the Defeateds after Saturday's loss? Not many I suspect.

The point is that identities versus certain teams can really switch on a dime.

People can say what they want about how our win in LA was a fluke, but when two teams have two games decided by a collective total of three points it means that they are evenly matched. UCLA still doesn't have an inside game, Shipp still is going to be rattled by Capers, and last I checked Jrue Holliday hasn't checked his illusions of grandeur of an early NBA entry at the door. So, this one would again come down to the Collison-Rochestie show. And while you have to tip your hat to the LA advantage, I still like our chances in that game.

Obviously, win that one and the world both now and in the future looks a whole lot different.

3) Root for SC and ASU-UA

I know, I should really NOT be entertaining the impossible at this point. But, since nothing is REALLY impossible, why not imagine our dream scenario?

IF we could get by both Oregon and UCLA, we'd want our third game and fourth games to be low tempo grinders. USC lost in OT @CAL a couple of weeks back, so the prospect of Troy beating the Bears is not out of the question. And, while their season has been disapointing, they may still have enough juice on the defensive end to slow down Randle and Christopher.

Quite frankly, I don't like our match-up with either CAL or USC, but USC gives us the type of game that could give us at least SOME semblance of legs for a game on Saturday.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the bracket, root for the ASU-UA winner to upset the Huskies.

Assuming we're still alive by game time on Friday, a Husky loss gives us a chance. With the depth the dogs have at their disposal, they might beat us by 25 were we to play them on Saturday.

Simply put, for us to win this tournament, someone else is going to have to knock off the Dawgs. While I think Arizona is the more likely team to do that, I would rather have a 51-49 walk the ball up the court game on Saturday so I might be rooting for the Devils if we beat Oregon...

4) Get to Saturday

As I wrote last week, I don't see a 15 loss team getting into the NCAAs. That said, depending on who we beat, I wouldn't entirely write off our chances if we get to the finals and finish 19-15 especially if teams like the Zags and Davidson hold on while teams like Providence and Kentucky bite it early in their conference tournaments.

So, while four wins seems like it is out of the question, three wins MIGHT be doable.

Moreover, getting to 19 wins would ENSURE a first round NIT game in Pullman which would make third straight 20 win season look highly likely for the program.

And, at this point, that goal of three straight 20 win seasons is the one that seems to be the most attainable.

Lets go pound the Quack!!!!

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Great Effort and Heart

Great effort and heart by our boys tonight as the Cougs fell to the Pac-10 Champion Washington Huskies.

Both teams played well and both teams were very well coached.

The reason why we lost the game tonight was Klay Thompson's foul trouble, and within, Tony's decision to have him guard Thomas to start the second half with two fouls. Then, he got his fourth with about 10:00 left on what I thought was a fould on Nick. While we played very well in his stead, we simply cannot overcome what he provides on offense against such a good team on their court.

Meanwhile, I would hope that you all would NOT rip Nick's performance in the game. I thought Nick did a great job defensively, handled the pressure well, and was assertive when he needed to be offensively. Simply put, he gave us the best that we can expect out of that position.

Now, lets hope we can get 7th, beat Oregon, and match up for another go with UCLA.

Thank GOD we won last week!


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Friday, March 06, 2009

On the Brink....

Happy Football, I mean, Basketball Friday, Cougar Nation. Hope you've had a great week.

Last Saturday I was watching young BH play a basketball game while our very own Taylor Roshestie was busy etching his name in Cougar lore.



While my son's game was going on, Uncle Sedihawk was texting me updates every two or three minutes (it felt like an hour between each one).

Finally, I texted him back with about 3 minutes left. I told him I was so nervous that I literally couldn't stand it anymore.

His reply: Don't be nervous, next week is the game to be nervous about.

My response: Nope, this is the one that we need! This one puts us in the NIT.

Well, we both were right. This weekend is one to be nervous about.

But, as we head into this preview, just remember: a post-season birth is already wrapped up for us....



So, onto the Defeateds.

As you may have surmised by our musings this year, both Sedi and I think quite highly of the Huskies as a basketball team. They are quick, long, athletic, and they pound the offensive glass about as well as anyone in the country. Without question, the U has all of the goods needed to make the same type of Sweet 16-Elite 8 run that we made last year. They're that good.

At the same time, it is important to remember that the Defeateds are NOT a top five team. And they are NOT nearly as good as UCLA or North Carolina were last year. They also are not as good as Pitt is this year.

In addition, while Hec-Ed sure is loud as hell, it is not worse than playing @ Arizona or trying to win #2 out of 60 in Pauley Pavilion.

So, while Washington is certainly a VERY, VERY, VERY formidable foe, they can be beaten. And let this much be clear: It won't take a perfect game to do so.

With that all in mind, here is what I am looking for in this game.

1) Three Point Shooting.

The last time we played these guys, they ate us up from three point land. Meanwhile, we were ICE cold. The final stats: UW shot 54% from behind the arc, we shot 20%. When you shoot that poorly from long distance, you're giving up a LOT of long rebounds. When you give up long rebounds to a team like Washington, they get out in transition. When a team gives up a bunch of points in transition and allows 54% on three pointers, they lose by 20 points. Period.

So, for this game to be different, we MUST shoot better. And, we must defend the perimeter better.

We're gonna balance out the difference in 3 point percentage in this game, folks. And that is why the game WILL BE CLOSE.

2) Rebounding

Washington and their main man Johnny B make their living on cleaning the glass and tipping the ball in.



When we are on D, we HAVE to keep them off the glass.

Last weekend against ASU, we gave up ONE OFFENSIVE rebound. Our numbers were also good against Arizona and UCLA. If we keep the U off of the offensive boards, we will win this game.

3) Our Match-Up Strategy on Defense

One of the reasons why Washington is so good on the offensive boards is the slash and burn work of Mr. Thomas. Isiah is easy one of the best freshmen I have ever seen play in the Pac-10. The guy is going to a special pro. The thing I like about him the most is his ability to get in the lane and then score with both hands. He's special. Real special.

So, it will be incumbent upon our Pac defense to try to keep Thomas out of the lane. If we do that, we'll be able to hold our own on the boards. While Thomas MAY wind up going off, if he is the guy who kills us from 3 tomorrow, I can live with that. I can't live with him scoring 21 while leading to 21 more each from Brockman and Dentmon. We've got to make him shoot it.

In terms of overall match-ups, I think that Taylor and Dentmon are going to cancel each other out. Ditto Baynes and Brockmon. So. the guys I'm worried about are Thomas and Poindexter.



Early in the game, we're going to match-up with their backcourt with Capers on Thomas, Rochestie on Dentmon, and Thompson on Poindexter.



IF that lineup works, we'll win this game.

But I think that Poindexter is going to KILL Thompson. So, the line-up I am looking for is the following:

Rochestie-Thomas, Thompson-Dentmon, CASTO-Poindexter,



along with Forrest and Baynes.

If that line-up plays, AND can stay out of foul trouble, we'll win this game.

4) Our Match-Up Strategy on Offense

The Achilles heel of Washington is that their backcourt is the midget army. Thomas gives up about 5 inches to Taylor. Meanwhile, Klay is about 7 inches taller than Dentmon. With one week of preparation, you would think that we would find a way to ISO Klay early on either of those two. He should KILL them. Then, it will come down to our ability to shoot from outside. I think Taylor is ready to really light them up.

5) The X Factors

Certainly, the defense of Casto and Capers could be huge in this game. But I think our X factor is Forrest. If Caleb is feeling it, it will give us about a +8-10 from the four spot. And we'll need that to win. In my mind, if Caleb scores under 14 points, we can't win.

Washington's x factor is Mr. Overton who I think is their hidden MVP and unsung hero. He's solid defensively, is competent around the basket, shoots well when it matters, and distributes very nicely. Whenever Dentom or Thomas has an off game, he ALWAYS seems to step up.

I'm looking for him to come in and really bother whoever our hot hand is. His play in in the middle 10 minutes of the second half could very well be THE game decider.

6) The Last Three Minutes.

This is the big part of the game that I just can't predict. IF UCLA wins on Saturday, does that make Washington tight? If UCLA loses, does that make Washington lose their edge?

Plus, if we're winning heading down the stretch, does the U gut this one out with the same championship spirit that has defined this year for them? Or, do they start to get the yips from the prospect of losing 7 of 8 to their heated rival???

And for us, do we assume the role of the aggressors late, or do we get tight thinking about our NCAA chances?

The team that stays aggressive AND loose will win the game.

Final prediction:

The U is going to be too much for us at Hec-Ed. If the game were at home, I'd really, really like our chances. That said, I think this is a close game and I think we will have plenty of chances to get some separation.

But ultimately, this is their year. Remember last year when we did not lead for an entire OT and then won at the end? Its Deja Vu all over again.

Washington 69 WSU 61 (it will be a two point game with 2:00 left).

Enjoy the game. Lets GO COUGS!
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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Go-2-Guy Exclusive Q&A; - Part Two



Today is part two of the Jim Moore exclusive Q&A. Enjoy.

WSU Football Blog: Have you ever received death threats over your open, undisguised hatred towards the Evil Empire on Montlake? What is the craziest/scary response from readers, coaches or even players that you'd be willing to share after ripping the hell out of UW?

"I've never received a death threat, just a lot of vicious emails and voice mails. They seem to be worse than ever these days. I've never had a coach give me a hard time about anything. They probably never read any of my crap. I think Neuheisel did, but he never seemed to mind. The worst thing I ever got was a voice mail, not even sure what the guy was mad about. But he said something along the lines of "Hey Go 2 Guy, I hope your Go 2 Dog gets run over by a Go 2 Fast car." That was pretty bad. Rip me all you want, but leave my damn dog alone!"



WSU Football Blog: You appear on a weekly radio segment on KJR with a couple of admitted UW suck-ups in "Groz", Dave Grosby, and "Gas", Mike Gastineau. While a decent show with solid banter between the two, but when did Groz become such a Husky apologist?
We hung out with him in the fieldhouse before the '94 Apple Cup and he along with Art Thiel openly MOCKED the Huskies and their arrogance. What happened??

"I didn't realize Groz had become a Husky apologist. I think he's still a Coug fan though. He seems more like a Coug than a Dawg to me. Those guys are great to me. They know I don't follow sports like a lot of their other guests, so they always give me a bunch of softball questions, and I appreciate that."

WSU Football Blog: Is Steve Sarkisian Jesus de Perro? Or will the search continue for the second coming of the Dawgfather?

"If I were a Husky fan, I'd be fired up about Sarkisian. But I'm not, so I'm not. If I hear the words "enthusiasm" and "energy" coming out of his mouth or from other mouths about him one more time, I'll scream. OK, i probably won't scream, but you get my point. I'm sick of energy and enthusiasm already at montlake. they can have all of the energy and enthusiasm they want, but how about some substance? haven't seen that as yet. this man has never been a head coach before. and he's only 34 or 33, I'm not sure.

maybe I'm just irritated with him because he's a hell of a lot more successful and a hell of a lot richer than i am, but come on already. And don't get me started on his sidekick, Nick Holt. He's probably a hell of a coach, and probably proved that already at USC, but he was 5-18 or something like that at Idaho. The time I spent with him, I actually liked the guy. But I tend to think he's a piece of work, and his true colors will be out there for all to see at some point."

WSU Football Blog: Since nobody is reading this....can you give your best off-the-record experience you ever had in your years of Seattle reporting? We KNOW you covered the Sonics during the wild 90's, so there has to be a few good ones you can share? Feel free to change names to protect the innocent....if you want to.

NOTE - The following story was given to us from Jim a couple of weeks ago. He has now told this story on his blog and also yesterday, on KJR radio. We did NOT borrow this from anywhere else, but if you are in fact reading this, you have probably heard this story by now....

"Your blog is just like my column if no one's reading it. don't know if i can describe this very well, but here goes. and i might be off with my details. 1996, first round of the NBA playoffs, Sonics vs. Kings. Sonics win the first game but lose the second. Find out that Gary Payton had to go to the hospital after the second game because he was so dehydrated he needed IVs. Thought that was a good story...something along the lines of "Sonics lost, but their leader played so hard that he had to go to the hospital." So I pursued it before game 3 in Sacramento.

Went into the Sonics' locker room at Arco Arena before Game 3. Asked Payton about it. He was tying his shoes and looked up at me and said: "What's that got to do with basketball?" I repeated the story, told him that it just showed a lot about him to play his heart out to the point that he had to go to the hospital, etc. "What's that got to do with basketball?" he repeated. I tried one more time to get him to play along and got one more "What's that got to do with basketball?"

And then after years of growing tired of dealing with him, I got fed up and instead of walking away with my tail between my legs like I'd done so many times before, I said something like: "You know what, Gary? I'm sick of your shit."

And he got up, got right in my face and said: "So what are you gonna do about it?"

Quickly, I thought to myself, Jesus, I don't know, but I can't back down now. I noticed that he had just brushed his teeth and there was a little toothpaste in the corner of his mouth, so I pointed to the corner of his mouth and said: "Hey, Gary, you've got a little toothpaste in the corner of your mouth."

To this day, I have no idea why I said that. I just didn't have an answer to "So what are you gonna do about it?" I knew I couldn't say: "I'm gonna kick your ass" because I was a flabby 39-year-old sportswriter and he was 26 and ripped at the time.

So his response to the toothpaste comment was this: He came at me with an overhand right that was intercepted by either Sam Perkins or David Wingate, thankfully, because it no doubt would have hurt my face. Then again, maybe if he'd connected, I could have sued him and never had to work again and wouldn't have to be looking for work now.

Then George Karl bear hugged me, as if I was going to charge after Payton. Then we just shouted "F you" back and forth to each other before I was escorted out of the locker room.

My punishment: I couldn't talk to Payton for 48 hours, which meant no Payton comments in my stories for two whole days. I didn't mind that at all. And I'm sure he didn't either.

To his credit, from that day forward and through the NBA Finals, we had a decent professional relationship. But I did better with him when other reporters asked questions and I listened in. Five or six years later when I covered the team again for one year, he was great.

Now if I were to see him, I'd hope that it would be a case of no hard feelings. But I do know this: He wasn't my favorite player, and I sure as hell know that I wasn't his favorite reporter either."

WSU Football Blog: Describe your greatest - and worst - moment as a Coug.

"I won't be so long-winded with the rest of these. Greatest Coug moment: Tie: 1997 Apple Cup, running onto the field after beating the Huskies at Husky Stadium. Ask and Cougar and we'll tell you, all we ever wanted was to see the Cougars in the Rose Bowl one time in our lifetime. And that day we realized it was going to happen. I say it's a tie because it's tied with seeing the Cougars run out of the tunnel at the Rose Bowl when they played Michigan. I don't care that they lost (might have something to do with the fact that I had money on the Cougs and the points; i think they were getting 7 and lost by 5); it's just the fact that they finally did it, they were there in Pasadena playing in the Rose Bowl."

WSU Football Blog: Sue Bird or Lauren Jackson? Neither? BOTH??


"Jackson. I like the whole tall Aussie thing about her. Bird's cool too. Just doesn't do as much for me as Jackson does.
I have a pretty strong feeling that I don't do a darn thing for either one of them."

WSU Football Blog: Worst moment as a sports reporter. A spat with a player, coach, etc?

"The Payton incident. No. 2: Many worst moments standing on the sidelines watching high school football in Anchorage as a reporter at the Anchorage Daily News. Too much snow and too cold. But the bars were open 'til 5 a.m. in Alaska, not a bad thing for a Coug in his 20s."

WSU Football Blog: Since you are a self-proclaimed "award losing columnist"....which local writer do you want to see become an award winning columnist?

"At the P-I, Greg Johns should win awards if he hasn't already. And Dan Raley. And Gary Washburn. And if I leave anyone out, I'll feel like an idiot, or more of one than I feel like already. But if you want me to spread it around, I like Larry Stone of the Times a lot. i think he does a nice job, and i like him. i also think bob condotta should win something. his husky football blog is unbelievable. he does a great job with that. and the guy's a coug. also enjoy jerry brewer's columns over there. and one more name on the list, it's john mcgrath at the news tribune. solid stuff day in, day out, and he doesn't take himself too seriously."

WSU Football Blog: Any thoughts on the outcome of this years made-up election for Washington State Sportswriter of the Year? Why did we hear next to nothing from your campaign?? (To refresh your memory: http://wsufootball.blogspot.com/2008/10/breaking-news-wsu-football-blog-enters.html)

"my vote goes to bud withers of the times because i didn't mention him in the answer to question No. 8. like condotta, he's another coug who hides his cougness. bud does a nice job covering college football and basketball and he throws a heck of a Christmas party."

WSU Football Blog: Where oh where is the most stunningly beautiful former SeaGal, Amber? Did she go all Hollywood on you and won't return your calls, texts or e-mails?


"Amber's on the price is right as one of drew carey's models. i think she's dating one of the stars of Friday night lights. she was in town modeling the sounders' new uniforms a month or two ago. she's great. love her to death. as beautiful as she is, she's an even cooler person, if that makes sense. i plan to write a column about her before the P-I closes."

WSU Football Blog: Dave "softy" Mahler - could there be any UW honk you would rather punch in the face than this guy? Or are his nonstop UW honking and childish antics actually good to stir up their fanbase, and most of all, provide a villain for WSU nation?


"Believe it or not, out of all of the KJR hosts, I am most entertained by Mahler and think he's a good guy. Sorry, not the answer you were looking for. Whether you like him or not, he is never boring. They all do a good job over there. Naturally I love Furness because he's as crimson as they come."

WSU Football Blog: Art Thiel.....any chance of a hair or saliva sample? The search for Sasquatch continues.....just saying. Any thoughts on Sir Arthur?

"Let me say this about Art: He's the best sports columnist in town and one of the best in the country. I think he's overlooked nationally because of where we are in Seattle. No one turns phrases or has a better grasp of the vocabulary than Art. And he's done it for a long time. Really admire him and Steve Kelley for sustaining their columns for as long as they have. It's not easy to do that.

But I'm pretty sure by the tone of the question that you wanted me to rip Art. I have no problem doing that. The guy's a little too cerebral for me, but then, most people are. Especially Art. Some days his column have 15-syllable words and 18-syllable words. He used one one time that I busted his chops for: legedermain, or some damn thing like that. i still don't know what it means. still don't want to know what it means. but i can tell you this, whatever it means, it was no doubt used in the proper context and was the perfect word to convey whatever the hell he was trying to convey.

One more thing, he's 6-8 and posted up a lot during NBA media 3-on-3 games in the past. In case you're reading, Art, I never threw the ball to you because...
A) They were fronting you.
B) They were double-teaming you.
C) I'm a lot better shot than you are.

That's right, Art, it's C, every day of the week."


WSU Football Blog: Finally, in your humble opinion, greatest WSU QB ever?

"Out of all of the great cougar QBs, i put jason gesser No. 1 for doing the most with less; jack thompson at no. 2 because he's the throwin' samoan, no one has ever or will ever have a better nickname than that."


Thanks for the time Jim! It's greatly appreciated.

Whether or not Jim is out of a job in the next few weeks, I know this - the biggest thing I took from him, not just from this Q&A but from his work over the years, is to never take things too seriously. After all, like he says himself, none of this is brain surgery or rocket science or whatever. Nobody is dying on the table here. It's sports. And while it's entertaining, and a great source of fun and pride for those of us who follow it on a daily basis, it's really not THAT important. At least it shouldn't be.

As to what Jim will do, it's hard to say where he's going to fit in today's ever-changing sports media model. He's an admitted "old man" when it comes to today's media, and either you evolve, or you don't. Here's hoping he lands on his feet and we can continue to read his WSU love/UW disdain, all over again!

ENJOY YOUR THURSDAY, and as always, GO COUGS!


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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

WSU Football Blog Exclusive - The Go-2-Guy Speaks


May you live in interesting times.

You've heard that before, right? And why not? If life went according to plan, then wouldn't it be pretty boring? And these are, obviously, interesting times. I don't know about you but I could go for some "boring", run of the mill days right now...

So, with everything in complete turmoil, what about sports media today? And more specifically, with the struggling state of newspapers everywhere, where exactly are we headed with sports reporting? We know newspapers are in serious trouble, at least in their current state they are. But with these changing times, we thought hey, why not talk to a true professional? Wouldn't it be a good idea to touch base with the biggest Coug in the Seattle media? Get his take on all things, including the media, but also Coug stuff, as well as all Seattle sports? That's right, Jim Moore, better known as the Seattle P-I's Go-2-Guy, agreed to a two-part interview with this here blog. How 'bout them apples?

Most of you already know the Go-2-Guy, Jim Moore. If you don't, here's a link to his work at the P-I. Jim has been a Seattle icon in the sports media business, writing for over 24 years for the Seattle P-I. He loves dogs, and will always try and mix that into whatever he's doing. But best of all, he's a cool Coug who isn't afraid to call out the establishment in Seattle (UW) while refusing to take life too seriously.

So, OK, this wasn't exactly a sit-down Barbara Wa-Wa, 20/20 type interview where we tried to make him cry. Not even close actually. Jim did offer to meet, or do it on the phone, but we (read: me) chickened out and took the e-mail way. In reality we did want to do it over the phone or in person, but we didn't want to miss anything important either. After all, we aren't exactly professional reporters 'n such. So we did it over e-mail.

But still, some good answers to rambling questions, blogger-style. We also thought it would be a good idea to actually split it up over a couple of posts, with the first post as a more serious look at the state of the sports reporting business and where things are headed, as well as what's next for Jim Moore. Part two, which will run tomorrow, will be more off-the-cuff stuff, some behind the scenes stories, things like that.

So, here is part one. Get Jim's takes on the media, local teams such as the M's, Seahawks and the franchise formerly known as the Sonics, and oh yes, he has a few things to say about Paul Wulff and the WSU football program. So enjoy. And remember to check back tomorrow for part two!



1) WSU Football Blog: With the big news of the P-I's potential END OF DAYS, and with newspapers all over feeling the crunch (Times layoffs announced, 300 newspapers have either closed or had deep layoffs in the past year, Denver's Rocky Mountain News just shut down after 150 years of daily print), what do you think is the future of mainstream media sports reporting in these dark economic times?

Go-2-Guy: "I don't know. Wish I had a better answer than that. If I had a better answer, I'd know where to go to look for work. I'm not sure what it means locally, for instance, if the P-I goes out of business."


2) WSU Football Blog: We have a hard time with the idea of Seattle having just one major newspaper/sports section. What do you think will happen with the quality of Seattle's coverage if the P-I goes under? Will the establishment get lazy with less competition? Or could the quality increase based on a better opportunity for the existing beat guys to get their story with less reporters in the room and/or looking for interviews?

Go-2-Guy: "I assume that reporters at the Times will continue to work as they always have, pursuing stories and attempting to be the "watchdogs" that they've always been. That's the way I'd go about it if they were going out of business.

But if Times goes out of business too, I'm not sure what will happen. I assume that teams would have to start giving credentials to more website organizations than they have to this point. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, to have more websites and bloggers covering teams. it's not like it's rocket science what we do, though i do think it helps to have a background in journalism, especially one from Washington State! God I love that place."

3) Where do you think blogs fit in to the way sports information and entertainment are delivered to the masses? Do you think blogs are here to stay, or merely a blip on the radar and ultimately they will fade away while the big boys (ESPN, SI, AOL, Yahoo) fight it out?

Go-2-Guy: "I think blogs are here to stay, hope they're here to say. Would not have said that a year ago, but it is the way of the world. You'll have all kinds of views from all kinds of sources, and the better ones will rise to the top over time."

4) WSU Football Blog: Name your top five blogs or web sites that are part of your usual web surfing regimen. What makes these sites your favorites?

Go-2-Guy: "OK, this will prove what an oldster I am, I don't have a top-5 blogs that I look at. I don't have a top-1 blog that I look at. I don't look at anything to speak of. Gee, maybe that's why I'm so out of touch. The only things I look at from time to time are the Spokesman-Review blogs because I want to read about the Cougs, and Cougfan.com. I think those guys do a nice job over there. I feel like I'm on my computer too much anyway; I'd rather be throwing sticks in lake washington for my dog. but maybe this is why i'm soon to be out of a job, maybe i should be more in tune with what's going on. but when you turn 51, you might feel the same way. you look at life differently when you get older, at least i have."

5) WSU Football Blog: Assuming things don't change, and the P-I is going to close soon, what would be the next thing for Jim Moore? Will you look for other reporting/columnist gigs locally, such as the Times or News Tribune? How about the new KIRO all-sports format? Is that something you've explored? Or will you (gasp) consider a career change altogether?

Go-2-Guy: "i'm not sure what i'm going to do. i have absolutely no idea. i have looked into working at the Times, but I don't think they're hiring. i've talked to KJR and do have an interview scheduled with KIRO, but have no idea if that will lead to anything or not. i'm currently writing occasional golf stories for cybergolf.com. i say occasional; i've actually only written one so far, but i think it'll end up being three or four a month. i haven't hit the job search as hard as i should. i guess i'm mostly hoping that we stay in business with a website-only newspaper and that i'll be somehow involved with that. no guarantees whatsoever with that though. we've been told that even if there is a website-only paper, it will be operated with a drastically reduced staff. and it could mean that those who are still employed will have drastically reduced salaries too.

"All of it's a great unknown. i just keep telling myself that i have my health and that there are worse things that can happen to a person than losing your job, a lot worse. oh, and career change? thought about that too. might get into teaching and coaching, though my wife hates that idea: she said: "Great, get into a field where you make less than you're making now." Nice to have that loving and unconditional support at home."

6) WSU Football Blog: What do you think of the Griffey return to the M's? Purely a marketing ploy (that is already working btw?)? Or do you think they might coax 25 HR's out of his bat as a lefty DH/very part-time left-fielder?

Go-2-Guy: " I live in the past and love that Griffey is coming back. And it's not just for nostalgic reasons, I do think with a healthy knee, that he might be capable of 20 to 25 HRs and 90 to 100 RBIs. I don't think that's unrealistic. He's Ken Griffey Jr., one of the best players of all-time. Can't wait for summertime at Safeco Field. And when the games are on TV, I will stop everything I'm doing to watch Griffey when he's in the batter's box. He's one of those rare stop-everything-you're-doing-to-watch ballplayers."

7) WSU Football Blog: I know from your comments before that you really don't care anymore for the NBA. But now that we are experiencing, for the first time in 41 years, NO NBA franchise in Seattle, do you miss it? And further, with some really sick franchises out there right now in New Orleans, Memphis, Sacramento, etc, do you think that it is only a matter of time before the NBA does in fact return to Seattle?

Go-2-Guy: "Not trying to sound like the burned-out, jaded, cynical sportswriter that I am, but I truly have not missed the Sonics, not for a single second. Wish I felt differently because at one time I loved them, absolutely loved them. My favorite team in town far and away. Not sure what happened. I mean, I covered them for six years from '90 to '96, saw some great teams, great players, great series, went to the '96 NBA Finals against the Bulls. had courtside seats at most of the games. it was unbelievable, really, to be some kid who grew up in Redmond following these guys on the radio and to be courtside watching them and writing about them? it was a dream come true for me, but as the years went by, i stopped going to keyarena. only went to a few games last year.

i hope the NBA comes back to town, though. i think i'd feel differently about an expansion team. i feel the worst for kids. they must miss their favorite players. they will never see kevin durant grow into the superstar he'll become. i remember being one of those kids."

8) WSU Football Blog: Did the Seahawks make a grave error in letting Tim Ruskell's supersized ego outweight the supersized ego of Mike Holmgren? Or was it truly time for a new voice in Jim Mora to be heard in Seattle's lockerroom?

Go-2-Guy: "i love mike holmgren and it sounds like he was pulling a brett favre and changing his mind and wanted to come back, but the plug had been pulled and ruskell went ahead with mora. it is what it is i guess. and maybe it was time for a change anyway. we'll see how mora does. i don't have any strong feelings on this one way or the other. i'm more of a college football fan."


9) WSU Football Blog: Paul Wulff has been in some hot water recently, and your column basically said he doesn't have any good excuse for what happened. But doesn't there have to be at least some sympathy for the fact that EWU is the poorest kid on the block, yet has to follow the same compliance rules of the big boys where compliance is an ever-growing field? Is it really fair to blame Wulff for trying to run the entire program on 80K a year and all that goes with it? Isn't it at least somewhat amazing that what he accomplished at EWU had basically nothing to do with the violations, as none of them were done for any sort of competitive advantage? We don't want to sound too much like an apologist here, but the more that comes out about the situation, it at least seems like the better Wulff looks in all this.

Go-2-Guy: "Sean, it's interesting to hear you being an apologist for Wulff, and that's fine. and i can see your point. i'm just not as sold on Wulff as I used to be. I don't really care about the violations at Eastern so much, though it bothered me to see him blame it on the so-called "culture" at Eastern and the lack of a compliance dept. He should have just come out, publicly anyway, and blamed himself. Then privately, go ahead and blame all of the other people. It just didn't look good. This is just my opinion though. I'm wrong about most things, so hopefully I'm wrong about him."

"I pull for the Cougs. They are far and away my favorite team, much more than our basketball team, though I pull hard for them too. That win over the Bruins was great. But Cougar football is a much bigger deal to me. And let's face it, we've seen a lot of bad Cougar teams over the years, but that team last year was far and away the worst. Wulff has plausible explanations for why we were so bad, but I still wonder about him and his leadership. You do not lose by 50 points every week just because your players aren't very good; losing that badly, that consistently, suggests to me that there are other problems in the program. we'll see if he can get things straightened out with better players coming in, but i have my doubts."

That's it for today. Thanks to Jim for the time. Remember, we'll roll with part two of the conversation tomorrow. (And as a hat tip to Grippi), 'TIL THEN!
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Monday, March 02, 2009

What 2 Watch 4



Greetings Fellow Cougar Hoops-addicts. Hope you're having a great start to your week!

Well, in view of my previous post as well as a bunch of stuff I'm seeing on other blogs and message boards, it's time to set the record straight.

You want to really know about our NCAA chances?

Read on....


Question: Why are the Cougs not getting mentioned currently in the National Bubble Talk?

Comment #19 from the previous post, had it right. We are not getting current press about being a bubble team because right now, we are NOT a bubble team. Think about it, if you saw a team that is 8-9 in league and 16-13 overall, would you be thinking about an NCAA tournament birth?

Nope. And neither is anyone else.

Win on Saturday and we should be a part of the discussion.

Question: People like Bob Condotta and Andy Katz are on recent record in stating that the Cougs have NO CHANCE of making the NCAA tournament unless they win the Pac-10 tournament. Is that true?

In my view, "no" that is not true. At the same time, all of us Cougars have to come to grips with this harsh reality:

WE'VE LOST WAY TOO MANY STINKING GAMES.

So, the reason why the naysayers are saying we can not make it is that they believe that no team can receive an at large bid with 14 losses. If you believe that, then we truly have no chance.

Question: What do the Cougs have to do to make the NCAA tournament?

The answer here is much clearer than what was indicated here a few days ago as well as on other Cougar blogs.

The obvious answer is to win the Pac-10 tournament. But, we are not going to do that.

So, the best answer to that question is to start with the bare minimum and work forward:

First and foremost, I am of the belief that we can make the tournament with 14 losses. However, we CANNOT make the NCAA tournament as an at large with 15 losses.

As a result, if we lose to Washington this weekend, our (realistic) NCAA hopes are totally over.

Now, lets suppose that we beat the Puppies. That win would put us at 9-9 in conference and 17-13 overall. That might be okay if there was no Pac-10 tournament. But since there is, that means that unless we win it, we're going to lose 14 games.

So, does 17-14 get in? My answer is "no." In order to have a chance to get in, we'd have to be at least 18-14. Of course, each win after 18 improves our chances considerably.

I consider 19-14 or 20-14 to be total locks.

Question: Why do you think we can get in with 14 losses if others think that we can 't?

Cuz I'm dumb.

The main reason is that our quality wins would be too much to overlook (we'd be at plus or minus 1 of .500 versus the top 25). In addition, while we'd have some warts (lack of a big non-conference win as well as losses to OSU, Stanford, and @ home versus USC), our non-conference losses are quality losses. Consider:

1) Loss to Pitt when they were in the top 5.
2) Loss to Gonzaga when they were in the top 5.
3) Loss to Baylor when they were in the top 20. (this is a bad loss now)
4) Loss to LSU who is now the SEC champ.

Question: Who should we be rooting for this week?

There's no easy answer to this question.

Barring a shocking sweep of the LA schools, Oregon State's loss on Sunday to Oregon means that we will be no worse than seventh if we beat the U-Dub. And that's a good thing!!!!

But its also very difficult for us to be above 7th even if we beat the Pups.

So, what we really need is to root for the teams that we have beaten over the last two weeks so our resume looks as good as possible. So:

1) Root for UCLA to sweep the Oregon Schools.
2) Root for Arizona and Arizona State to sweep the Bay Area schools.


If that happens, and we beat the U, then the Pac-10 standings will look as follows:

1) Washington (I think based on sweep of ASU, but the tie breaker still is a bit confusing to moi)
2) UCLA (13-5)
3) Arizona State (12-6)
4) Arizona (10-8)
5) Cal (10-8)
6) USC (9-9) assuming they sweep the Oregon Schools
7) WSU (9-9)
etc.

In that scenario, a win over the U gives us wins over the top 4 teams in the conference including wins over the conference's Top 3 (which would be ranked) on the road.

Then, we'd have to win AT LEAST one more game.

So, if we're seventh, we'd have to beat Oregon.
If we're sixth, we'd have to beat ASU.

If we have to win TWO MORE GAMES AFTER UW (e.g. finish 19-14), then:

If we're seventh, we'd have to beat Oregon and UCLA
If we're sixth, we'd have to beat Arizona State and UCLA.

Any of you see why I think its better for us to finish 7th?

Question: What can I expect from the WSU Football Blog during this Apple Cup week?

On Friday, I will provide you with my keys for Saturday's game as well as a prediction.

On Wednesday and Thursday, we will be providing you with two parts of an exclusive interview that we recently had with a Cougar Great.

Have a great week.

Until Wednesday....



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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Win and We're In

(The Dance, that is)



Terrific Sunday Morning to you, Cougar Nation.

And how about our boys?

Well, all the stuff about needing to win five before the end of the year is looking like it may not be that necessary.

You want to know what we have to do to dance in a couple of weeks?

Beat Washington on Saturday.

Were we to upend the puppies at Muttlake on Saturday, we would finish the regular season batting .500 (4-4) versus top 25 competition.

When you add that to a .500 conference record as well as a HUGE four game win streak to end the year and you have an NCAA tournament team. Bar None.

So, the ball is squarely in our court. (USC's loss to Stanford and UCLA's win against CAL were both VERY helpful. Now, if the Beavs can eat one against Oregon, we'll be really set).

And the good news is, we're playing among the best basketball west of the Mississippi right now. So strap it on and enjoy the rest of the ride.

Barring complete collapse, I think we just secured an NIT birth tonight.

Congrats Seniors!!!

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