Friday, July 31, 2009

1000th Post Commemerative Edition

Today marks the 1000th post of the WSU Football Blog. This post also coincides with the Blog's 5th year anniversary.

To cap off July sweeps month for Sports Blogs, Victory Bell sat down with the four primary "Blogfathers" Sean, Tad, Shane, and Michael to talk about the blog, its past, and future directions.



VB: Gentlemen, thank you for agreeing to do this interview.


BlogFathers: Absolutely.

VB: First off, tell me about your respective roles on the Blog? Sean, we'll start with you and then follow with Tad, Shane, and then Michael.




Sean: I more or less handle the daily grind. I have made the blogging "experience" part of my morning routine, early in the day before things get moving in a typical day. But let me back up a bit.

For a quick background, we started this thing in September of 2004 as a way to duck the corporate e-mail police. Michael, Rooster and myself were burning up the e-mail servers with long, drawn-out diatribes about the Cougs. Obviously we should have been working, and we were only doing it during downtime/lunch/whatever. Blogs were still pretty new, I mean this was five years ago. But I had heard about it, and thought hey, what better way for us to communicate about the Cougs than a dedicated "web log", or blog? That way we post something, then the others can jump in and comment, etc, etc, etc. And it just went from there. Unfortunately Rooster has kind of dropped off the grid, so to speak, and has moved on to other things. But he definitely should get a mention as being one of the first to get it off the ground. We love Rooster and hope some day we will see him again around here.

Anyway, as busy as we all are with our careers, wives, kids, friends, et al, I still seem to find the time for this blog. But it's all about priorities and finding the energy to do your hobby, and that's what this is. It's fun, for the most part, and I want to write about what I love, and that's this football program....and other stuff....but mainly the football program. I guess it's true what they say, that if you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you really don't want to do something, you'll find an excuse. So here we are.


Tad: The older I get, the less time I spend analyzing, over-analyzing and worrying about my favorite sports teams - Cougs included. On top of that, I just don't have the time or energy to spend churning out blog entries every other day. So where does that leave me? If the blog were a hot dog, I'm the little bits of ground-up pig tripe floating around in the real meat.


Shane: I feel I bring the unique perspective of a Pullman "towney". While most Coug fans started bleeding crimson sometime around or just after matriculating WSU, I was born into Cougness. Growing up here, the Cougars weren't distant, almost imaginary people like other sports stars on TV. They were at the grocery store, or coaching our little league team, going to our church, or visiting our cafeteria to talk to us about staying in school and keeping off drugs. We played pick-up games with them at the gyms and they were easy to find after games for autographs, or just a high five. When my friends and I talk about the Cougs we use words like "we", "our", "us", because we feel that closely attached to whatever is taking place on the field, or court that week. My posts don't have statistical, or deeply analytical information, but they do provide an expert take on the visceral Gameday experience and a complete lack of objectivity.

Michael: On every Rolling Stones record, there are two or three songs that are sung by Keith Richards.

Now granted, those who have heard those songs know that Keith can't sing a lick and most of the time, the songs really suck as a consequence. But, what those songs do accomplish is that they provide a change of pace to the rest of the stuff that Mick does which is really great. And, every once in a while, Keith hits a home run. And when he does, those albums move from being good to stinking terrific.


VB: So what are you saying?





Michael: I aspire to be the Keith Richards of this blog.








VB: What work have you liked the most from your fellow Blogfathers?




Sean: I have several examples, but here's just a few.

I enjoyed our "Football Friday, only on Thursday" posts from last year. Probably WAY too long and drawn out, but still, fun to go back and read those things. Some pretty good calls, all the way around, and some funny stuff as well. And I love the documented fact that we hung right with Ted Miller, Bob Condotta and Grippi-Mania on picking PAC-10 games. BH and I, we were literally within a game or two of the experts. Maybe it's time to open up shop on a gambling website? Sutra's Five-Star picks of "Lock-Tober"?

I will never forget the moment we were first linked to by Teddy Miller, who even said we were "way more creative and entertaining than our generic name", or something like that.

I remember Longball's first post, and what a thrill I got just reading his humorous, personable style, and all with describing the sights and sounds of Pullman with training camp underway. What a cool moment! I knew he "got it" with his picture of an Idaho Vandals cement truck working on the stadium renovation to lead off the post. Shane, Pullman "townie" or not, you are money, and the more you can do, the better.

I loved Hooty's Apple Cup post, complete with pics and video. One of the best with his video of the game-winner, and hearing him giggle like a schoolgirl, yelling "get out there!" to all the fans storming the field. But his story of the bozo climbing the new Coug statue and him pummeling the guy in front of his kids was fantastic. Hooty, you bring a quality and edge that completes the whole thing. Here's hoping you continue to give us what you can, when you can.

I will never forget the laugh-out-loud moments when BH was putting up the election posts last year! Absolutely brilliant. And when Sir Grippi acknowledged that he won the made-up, phony, ridiculous campaign, well, that made it all worthwhile. Those posts from last fall are some of the funniest, well-written blog postings I have ever seen, ANYWHERE!

Speaking of BH, I remember being angry when he first called himself "Brinkhater". I thought that was so terrible, but then it suddenly grew on me. He was the perfect antagonist/villian we could hope for, and it was great while it lasted. And while I would love some brink-like passing numbers out of our current QB's, I have to admit BH was right. He didn't hate Alex, not at all. He hated the situation more than anything else, and the reality is that for the majority of the time, the one-back offense needs the superhero QB to make it go (Gesser is an exception, but such a winner that he fits in his own category). Even with a Jerome-Harrison-led 1900 rushing yards in '05, the team still went 1-7 in the conference. It really was about the QB. So, to BH, I have to say that as much as I cringed when I saw that name, I also have to admit it....he was right.


VB: Wow, that made a drunken Michael seem pithy.





Tad: Well, it pains me to say it, but I think I am also going to talk about Michael/Brinkhater/Coug-A-Sutra/Osho-No-No whatever-his-name is.

I hate saying it because it makes me feel old - but I met Mike 20 years ago. 1989 was so long ago that the fashion styles are starting to make a comeback now - so it was kinda like 2009 except that the girls today dress way sluttier and everyone over the age of 15 has a tattoo. In 1989 only bikers and sailors had tattoos. Bikers, sailors...and Mike, that is. This was no cute little tattoo that could be hidden under a sock, either. It was a big, hunkin' dagger through a rose - there may even be a skull involved (my memory isn't what it used to be) - right on the outside of his shoulder! 20 years later, I can finally admit it...I was jealous of that tattoo.

I always thought I concealed my jealousy over Mike's sweet tat pretty well but then a few years ago, I found out otherwise. I didn't even know that the WSU Football Blog existed until one day when I got an e-mail from Hawk asking if I was the guy who'd been harassing Mike with comments on the blog. Apparently someone had been giving him a bad time for a few weeks and clearly knew Mike based on some of the details in the comments. Despite the fact that I had some killer tats of my own by then, I was being wrongly accused.

O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.
~William Shakespeare, Othello

(I have no idea what that means but it sounds like it might be appropriate here...)

So, that was my introduction to the blog and although it wasn't me that was getting under Mike's skin then, I still enjoy taking some good-natured jabs at my old buddy now and then.

What most of you probably don't realize is that Mike is WAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY smarter than you. It's OK - he's smarter than me too. I'm good with that. When we flame his posts, it's not that we don't agree with him - it's that we don't understand him. He speaks right over the top of our pointy, little heads. That's what I love about him. $10 bucks says he's the only one reading this that truly understands that Shakespeare quote. In fact, he probably already knew it and has used it in the course of normal conversation with his super-smart friends.

Anyway - keep doing what you do, Mike. It seems to really confuse and piss people off.

Shane: You know, I have to single out Hooty for a couple posts that tugged on my crimson heart strings. Last season he did a game day experience post that included his trip from Cheney to Pullman down Highway 27, including stops in the local village taverns along the way, like Grumpy's in Garfield. I hope it encouraged our readers to make the Palouse part of their gameday experience. Get off the beaten track and see what's cookin (or being poured). You may be surprised what you find. I also think his recent post about his mom's illness and the amazing support and inspiration his family has received from Mike Utley was one of the great posts this blog has ever had. It is just another example of how the cougs aren't just heroes we worship from afar, but real people who are part of our community.

Michael: Whether you're starting a company, a blog, or sports franchise, you've gotta have a star. And clearly, Sean is our 1-4 star and starter. And when you think about what you want in your star, you want (a) Passion for the game; (b) A strong work ethic; (c) Natural ability; and (d) The ability to make those around him better. In my view, Sean has made this blog special because he basically fulfills all of the above--although I think that myself and Hooty may make fulfilling (d) an impossibility for just about anyone.

In terms of Sean's specific work, the Spring Fishwrap series I think is legendary, I really do. I would much rather read his stuff then Athlon. I also think the radio show recaps have always been a really special feature, especially for those non-townies that don't have access to it. But, as Andy Katz says, it all is really about the "Body of Work" and Sean's is better than anyone who has NO firsthand access to primary sources. He's remarkable.

VB: As the 2009-2010 Cougar Sports season approaches, what aspects of the WSU Football Blog are you most looking forward to?




Sean: I look forward to helping take the blog to new, exciting places. OK, not really. Just pushing the envelope a little bit, maybe right up to the line, but not crossing it. I seriously, seriously hope that the product is better to write about. Last year, let's face it, was tough on everyone. The demoralizing losses took their toll, from coaches, players, fans and bloggers alike. I really believe that the worst is behind us, and one day we'll look back at '08 with a "WOW WERE WE BAD!" once we get some success in the coming years!

But also trying to keep up the general theme around here, and that is this - DON'T TAKE THINGS TOO SERIOUSLY! I can't say that enough. Some of the "hate" comments and e-mails I see, some of you just don't quite get what it is we do.

First of all, we love this stuff, otherwise we wouldn't have ever cranked out 1000 posts. We like to think we know a little bit about what it is we see, and we read up and watch pretty much everything. But we are quick to laugh at ourselves and each other just as much as we laugh at everyone else. And this is a game played by kids, not anything more than that. So while the team has been down in the dumps, hard as it may be at times, just enjoy it for what it is. Yes, it's fine to demand greatness and expect a return to the winning side of the ledger more times than not. It's part of your right, as a member of the ticket-buying public, to make your voices heard. But hey, win or lose, you can still have some pops with your friends at a tailgate or The Coug or wherever else you may venture on a yet another wonderful Pullman gameday experience!

That's what being a Coug is all about. No, not the losing. I mean honestly, the program is right at or near the .500 mark all-time, with some fantastic high's and poopy-island lows. But there's a bonding experience of simply being a Coug that brings us all together. We bicker and fight, but we understand each other, for we have been through so much as a fan base. It's something you can't even describe, but rather a general sense of understanding and belonging that you have with fellow Cougs. We "get" each other. So please, no matter how bleak things have been, don't lose sight of the bigger picture. It's never that bad.


Tad: The number one thing I'm looking forward to, is more than two football victories. It's not easy trying to make chicken salad every week, if you know what I mean...

I'm also looking forward to meeting some more of the regular blog visitors. (Keep your eye out for details on the first-ever WSU Football Blog Tailgate Party this fall! With maybe even FREE Natural Light and hot dogs!)

When I was a kid, the first album I ever bought with my own money was KISS Alive II. I loved the fact that KISS was part sideshow, part rock-stars. They were more than just four guys in a band. The makeup and costumes gave them an undeniable aura that no other band has ever been able to achieve. There was a mystery about them.

That mystery was dashed away when KISS took off the makeup on MTV with the release of the "Lick it Up" album. The last few months on the blog have kind of reminded me of that. When the blog was started, we all used aliases to hide our real identities. Despite the fact that we still use them, there's no secret to who we really are anymore. The good news for you, is that none of us are as ugly as Gene Simmons, so we hope to meet some of you this fall. We can always use more drinkin' buddies.


Shane: I look forward to coach Wulff and the boys making some huge strides this year and picking up a few unexpected wins that finally chase the anonymous haters in our comments thread back to the holes they crawled out of. I also look forward to Coug-a-Sutra taking over the prediction duties and using his infinite wisdom and total consciousness to achieve the impossible... a perfect record through football, basketball and baseball seasons.


Michael: A job. Seriously, this coming year is such a HUGE transition year for cougar sports. I am looking forward to the slight possibility of a surprise season from the Football team--which will get better and better if they can nab a couple of early wins--and I am really looking forward to blogging about the basketball team and the new look that Bone brings to that crew--plus the new recruits should be exciting.




VB: Thank you, gentlemen.


Blogfathers: Thank you, Victory.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pac-10 Pre-Season Predictions

Hello Followers. Well, since today is Media Day for the wonderful Pacific 10 Conference, it is time to follow our annual tradition of providing you with how each of the Blogfathers see the Pac-10 playing out this year.

Mind you, these are only pre-camp predictions. We will have a full run-down with detailed conference and non-conference records as September 5th draws near....



So Here....We....Go.



Sean Hawkins:
1. Cal
2. USC
3. Oregon
4. Stanford
5. Oregon State
6. Arizona
7. UCLA
8. ASU
9. UW
10.You-know-who


Remarks: Alright, I am stepping out on the ledge here, and yes, Cal is my choice for PAC-10 champion. Why? Well, several reasons. But I'm hanging my hat on 1) seriously strong, deep, effective running game, 2) supremely talented offensive and defensive lines, 3) a veteran QB in Riley, who, while not great, will be good enough to not screw it up, but most of all, 4) a REALLY good defense full of size and speed. Even with the loss of some top tacklers at linebacker, Cal's still returning eight starters, plus a defensive front might be the best it's ever been under Jeff Tedford's tenure in Berkeley. We know DC Bob Gregory is the current king of stopping the spread offense, so they should handle the quack attack's bells-n-whistles (as they always do). Plus they get USC at home. They won't be perfect, but to me, they have the "look" this year.

Now, the king ain't totally dead. USC is still going to steamroll folks, with layers and layers of five-star talent that comes at you in droves. They have 3rd-stringers who will probably make an NFL roster someday. But remember, USC for all their greatness has had only two undefeated PAC-10 seasons during this breathtaking ownage of the PAC since the turn of the century. They lost at least one PAC-10 game in six of the last eight seasons, and in '06 and '07, they lost two conference games (and those were still really good, Rosebowl champion USC teams!). This time the inexperienced QB stubs his toe a couple of times, and unlike Oregon State unable to close the deal last year, Cal will not only beat USC, but win enough of the other ones to claim the title.

Oregon has a sexy, trendy feel about them this year, and I bet a lot of people will pick them. The schedule sets up great, as USC and Cal both come to Eugene, and over the last quarter of the season last year, they were dynamite when Jeremiah Masoli took over the QB spot. But they've lost their best pass-rusher and really one of the all-timers in Nick Reed, plus some key players in the secondary with Patrick Chung and Jarius Byrd both moving on. Oregon will hang a ton of points on the board, but the D won't be quite good enough to win the conference.

As for a darkhorse, I LOVE Stanford. It may be a bit spotty early, but Andrew Luck is going to be a big-time QB and everyone will be talking about him by the end of the season. They play a tough, physical, no-nonsense brand of football and will hit you in the mouth from kick-off to kneel down. Next to USC and probably Cal, Stanford will be the most physical team in the conference this year.

And finally, the back end of the conference should remain the same. But I will contend that both Washington schools will be much better than their '08 counterparts. UW, if they keep Locker healthy, will be in a lot of games. He still has work to do as a west coast offense passer, and I am not sold on the offensive line nor the pedestrian weapons he will have at his disposal. And no, I am not drinking the Sark Juice just yet, but they will take some real strides this year (yes, it hurts to write that). They will get off to a rough start with that first month, and whether a UW homer will admit it or not, there is always a bit of an adjustment period with a new coach/staff. It might not be pretty. But I do believe they will be on the upswing by the end of '09, and '10 could see a real move up the ladder.

And our Cougs could, potentially, be the most improved team in the whole damn conference, but the record won't reflect it. We will see a bigger, stronger, tougher football team that will take care of the football in ways that won't even resemble '08's turnover-fest. But it won't be enough to climb out of the cellar. Depth will rear it's hideous head, as it always seems to do in the most inopportune times, and we still aren't deep enough to overcome the inevitable hits to the depth chart. The in-conference schedule is as tough as I can remember, playing the best of the best on the road (USC, Cal, Oregon), plus the Apple Cup in Seattle and Notre Dame in San Antonio in a game that will feel like a road trip in every way possible.

I apologize, Coug Nation, for the non-homerish pick. But fear not. Better days are coming.


Longball:

1. USC
2. Cal
3. Oregon
4. Stanford
5. OSU
6. ASU
7. WSU
8. UA
9. UW
10. UCLA

Remarks: No way am I picking against USC until someone proves that it is actually possible to dethrone them with Carrol at the helm. However, this may be the swan song of their dominant run as the NCAA prepares to move in with a wrecking ball. WSU in the #7 spot is nothing but pure, crimson tinted optimism on steroids. I dread a 10th place finish, but from what I've seen, heard and read this team is moving dramatically in the right direction. Of course, I may have a totally different perspective after Fall camp. I expect UW to get a Sark bump with Locker back. But I doubt they start playing up to all those stars that Fetters and company dumped on them when they committed to the Dawgs. I would love to see Harbaugh make a run at a title this year, of course after a little set-back/wake up call on the Palouse September 5.


Hooty McBoob:
1. Cougs (Duh)
2. OSU (I predicted their upset over USC last year. Just so you know...)
3. USC (A third place conference finish and Sun Bowl victory in a "re-building year" - how novel.)
4. Cal (They still have that Best kid, right?)
5. UO (The Phightin' Phils will start slowly and phinish strong. This message has been brought to you by Nike.)
6. Stanford (Tough to overcome the demoralizing opening week loss to the Mighty Cougs.)
7. ASU (I couldn't name a single player on this team so don't quote me on this.)
8. UA (The veins in Stoops' neck will explode during the 2nd quarter of their 3rd game, throwing the program into disarray.)
9. UCLA (I see a second-half flop as clear as the mole on Hermie's chin.)
10. uw (Duh)

Remarks: I really don't pay enough attention to the other programs in the Pac-10 to speak to them with even the slightest bit of authority, but as for the Evergreen State, you can bet the farm on these predictions:

Cougs go worst to first and blow out Northwestern in the Rose Bowl, earning them 23 seconds of airtime on ESPN and a #24 BCS ranking.

While leaning on his trusty crutches on the sideline of another WSU Apple Cup victory, jake locker wishes he had signed a MLB contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Sutra:

T1. Oregon
T1. USC
3. Oregon State
T4. Stanford
T4. California
6. Arizona
T7. Washington State
T7. UCLA
T7. Washigton
T7. Arizona State

Remarks: First of all, I love the idea that we could have a four way tie for last place in the conference that a) make us finish 7th and b) allows me to win my bet with Ted Miller while we still bring up the conference's rear (winning on a technicality is STILL winning, you know).

Its a tough race to call this year as all of the teams top and bottom have serious questionmarks. My deal is simple: IF USC or Ohio State had the type of skill position guys Oregon (RB/QB) has returning, they'd be picked to win the conference. So, this is a put-up or shut-up year for the Quackers this year because if they have the depth they say they have amassed over the years, then I think they beat USC at home and win the tie breaker as a result since both teams will have one conference L.

With regards to the others, well, I just see so much separation between the top half and the bottom half of the conference this year. And, the way that the schedule breaks, I see two conference wins being a real possibility for all of those lower division teams--although I think AZ is the most likely of those to surprise in a positive way. They are also the only team out of the bottom five that I think can become bowl eligible. But his year in particular, INJURIES or lack thereof in the pre-season will mean a whole lot--especially for the Washington schools who need just about everything to go right in order to have anything better than a 1-3 win season.

Feel free to give us your pre-season conference picks so we can look back as the season rolls along.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vince Grippi for US Senate?



Hello Followers. I trust that you are having another pleasant week—the last week in the month that precedes the hallowed start of Cougar Football!

That said, while I know that it is only July of 2009, I felt it important and timely to let you know that my channels have been strongly signaling that none other than Sir Vincent Grippi, the 2008 Washington State Sportswriter of the Year, is actively setting himself up to challenge Patty Murray, the two-term Democratic senator from the State of Washington in her re-election bid in 2010.



In case you haven’t noticed through the Cosmos or through your own secular points of communication, Grippi has been sending out numerous “feelers” to the political establishment by drastically changing his overall phraseology on his now world famous blog, Sportslink.

Apparently, Grippi’s sudden change in blogiconaclastic tone has created quite a stir for insiders operating both inside and (paradoxically) outside the beltway of Washington, DC. As David Gergen of Harvard University communicated to me recently: “One of the things we always look for at the early stages of the campaign is a switch in self-referral from the first person singular directly to the third person, a la Robert Dole.”



(Said Gergen some more)“But what is particularly interesting and fascinating about Grippi’s approach is that he appears to be trying to bridge the first and third person by referring to himself in the global collective (i.e., “we” or "us") as a way of bringing to light all activity that could be relevant to a broad-scale, grassroots campaign. I mean, have you seen Grippi's Twitter page recently? It's electric!”

While Grippi’s incessant use of the words "we" and "us" to describe ostensibly singular journalistic endeavors is peculiar (for recent examples, see here, here, and here), additional signals of a budding Grippi megalomania are becoming increasingly apparent. For instance, there have been numerous reports from my sources that Grippi has been photographed and videotaped on several occasions doing shirtless sit-ups in the Spokesman’s newsroom while shouting “Who’s the T-O of this town, suckas?” to interns and other staffers who pass by.





Meanwhile, other reports have linked Grippi to the increasingly puzzling, consistent, and irritating emergence of “Kick me if you want Vince to Run for Senate in 2010” signs that are frequently attached to the backside of fellow Spokesman reporter Greg Lee.



Needless to say, Sir Vincent, even though it’s a small state and an even smaller Cougar community, “WE” at the WSU Football Blog COMPLETELY endorse your run against Murray in 2010. For all that you do, Vince, here’s four Carma Chameleons for you, our brother........



And to the rest of the true and unbridled faithful, I bid a hearty “Coug-De-L’Amor” to all of you.

-Osho Rojo

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Magnificent Front Seven? Or Something Else Entirely?


Time to glance at the defensive front of our beloved Cougs. But instead of doing just the D-line or just the linebackers, I thought what the heck, do the entire front seven. And for good reason, I guess. I mean really, both sets of positions rely heavily on each other for success. The linebackers rely on the defensive line to plug up holes and/or occupy blockers long enough to fly to the ball and make plays. And the d-line, if they do their job? They still need competent, strong-tackling linebackers who are capable of getting to the ball and making the play. Both positions need each other, and together they complete the heart of any defense. They are almost one with each other, one feeding off the other's success. But will it be a "Magnificent Seven" up front? Or something else entirely?? Let's see...

First of all, it better be said now, and let's just get this out of the way - the defense was abysmal last year. I mean how else do you explain the 43.9 points per game allowed, 118th in the country? The 247.6 rushing yards per game allowed, 119th in the country? Hey, passing defense wasn't too bad, at 195.8 yards per game allowed, or 44th in the country. But let's be honest, I mean the team was buried so deep and so early that many games saw teams doing nothing but student-body-right/student-body-left for half of their possessions. USC even took a knee at the 15-yard line of WSU before the half.....things were THAT bad.

I don't think any Coug fan who watched them all season would argue against that statement, and many inside the WSU program would probably agree. Of course there were many circumstances as to why they were so bad, such as a madly ineffective offense, injuries, suspensions, blah blah BLEH! The list is too long to accurately point out every single thing that was wrong, so, you get the gist. In a nutshell, what could go wrong, did go wrong in '08.

So let's get to it. We'll start from the inside out, meaning defensive tackles, defensive ends, and then the linebackers.




D-tackle rotation:
Some starting combo of Bernard Wolfgramm, Toby Turpin and Josh Luapo. If Wolfgramm is healthy, he will start alongside Turpin to form a thick, talented interior. Wolfgramm is pushing 290 lbs on his 6-3 frame, while Turpin checks in at 6-4, 285. The buzz from last year was that Wolfgramm was the best defensive lineman on the team, and Turpin wasn't far behind. But even as injuries and other off-the-field issues hurt last year's defensive line, Wulff resisted the urge to burn Wolfgramm's redshirt. And now that move, hopefully, will pay off!


Other unknown or relatively unproven backups are (potentially) Dan Spitz, Justin Clayton and Anthony Laurenzi.

D-Tackle analysis: Starting to see a little depth develop here. Contrast these guys with what you saw for most of '08, and it's a whole different world inside. Wolfgramm redshirted, and Luapo didn't even enroll until January of '09, following the gray shirt route. And Turpin came on strong at the end of the year, but he didn't really play until the last month of the season.


All that said, '09 could still see this group as not-yet-ready for prime time. While Wolfgramm redshirted last year, and it's great that he did so well and all that. But we're talking about practice. PRACTICE!



Seriously though, he still hasn't had a snap of PAC-10 football. And he had a balky shoulder that kept him out for some action this spring, so who knows what kind of shape he'll be in by the opener. I know I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for how he does in August camp. While Luapo is big and all that, a fire-hydrant type at 6-0, 325 lb, like Wolfgramm, he hasn't seen any PAC-10 action either.


Defensive Ends: Kevin Kooyman and Jesse Feagin are projected starters.

Defensive end analysis: Hmmm. Well, we like Kooyman. He has had some injury issues over the years, and started seven games last year. Kooyman is good-sized at 6-6, around 250, but isn't exactly hell on wheels in terms of getting up field and rushing the passer. He is more of your all-around type of defensive end who isn't a huge playmaker, with 31 tackles and one sack last year. It's hard to believe he's already a senior isn't it? His career has absolutely flown by. He was regarded as one of the top recruits in the state when he came on board under Doba and company, regarded as a good guy, and last year, there was considerable buzz that he was set for a big '08 season. It just never happened. He is the undisputed leader up front this season, and here's hoping he goes out with a bang in '09.

Feagin is another interesting case. Reportedly adding 16 lbs of muscle in the off-season, now near 270 lbs, he could make an impact right away. There is always some speculation that with the added weight, he could slide inside on passing/nickel situations, as a smaller pass-rushing defensive tackle. But it's likely he'll be at the top of the depth chart, opposite Kooyman as a starting defensive end. Feagin, like Kooyman, is also a senior. He played sparingly as a JC transfer in '07, just three tackles in nine total games, and then missed last year due to academics. We've heard good things about Feagin over the last two+ years, so now we will find out what he's really got in the tank.

As for backups, I would speculate heading into camp that Casey Hamlett, the transfer from Western, and Adam Coerper, the redshirt frosh who was the scout team defensive player of the year last year, will be the first d-ends off the bench. Hamlett was profiled in the spring as to opening some eyes with his high-energy approach. The opportunity is right there in front of him, and to go from playing at Western WA to being a regular in the defensive end rotation on a BCS school in one year has to get his heart racing! Coerper, meanwhile, is another kid on the rise, a youngster who has drawn praise since he arrived in Pullman. One of those nice, athletic frames at 6-4, 250, in the versatile mold who could play tight end or defensive end, the redshirt frosh has a real shot at regular playing time.

For a real young sleeper/long shot for '09, Travis Long must get mentioned here. Long was one of the top recruits signed in February, and while he hasn't yet put on the pads, there are some that believe he could see action as a true frosh. Long is, yet again, another one of those tall (6-4), athletic build-type kids at 245 pounds who can play tight-end or defensive end. He projects more at defensive end at this level, so, it's at least possible he'll open enough eyes in August to potentially get on the field in September.

Sadly, this is where we must mention Cory Mackay. Mackay had a big spring on the field, and was looking like he was headed for a lot of PT this fall. Then the terrible car accident a few months ago, and his life has changed for the foreseeable future. I would encourage you all to go check out the Cory Mackay fund group at Facebook, which has now grown to over 1500 members. They have done some good fund-raisers, such as car washes and even a hair-cutting service for donations, and the news has been positive there. Still, he has a long road ahead, so all our thoughts and prayers go out to Cory Mackay and family.

OK, that's it for the d-line. Now, the linebackers.

Starters: You can book Andy Mattingly at strongside linebacker and Louis Bland at the weakside position, provided they are healthy? Alex Hoffman-Ellis and Mike Ledgerwood will battle for the inside. As for backups, we would do a lot worse than Myron Beck. Nine starts last year at strongside backer, now pushed to backup status with the Mattingly move back from defensive end. Hallston Higgins is in there as well, likely backing up Bland at the weakside.


Mattingly on one side and Bland on the other could be one of the best OLB tandems in recent times for the Cougs. They are both recognized as two of the best players on the defense, and it will be interesting to say the least at the idea of seeing them both starting from day one. However, injuries area already an issue here, as Cougfan broke a story the other day that said Bland is still nursing a bum knee, to the point that it could cause him to miss the season opener (damn). And Mattingly missed time this spring, and now has a lot to prove as he moves back to linebacker after a failed move to defensive end last year.

This is it for Mattingly, a player two years ago some pegged as a can't miss star at linebacker. I include myself in that group who thought he was going to be the "real thing", but last year was a loss on many levels. They finally moved him back to linebacker at the tail end of the season, and the defense overall did perform better vs. ASU, UW and Hawaii to close out '08. Most of all, Mattingly simply looked more comfortable, almost like going home again, and should have a nice finishing kick to his up-and-down career at the strong-side position. Bland, if he can keep that knee right, looks like an absolute player on the rise. Sized like a strong safety at 5-10, 205, Bland has the heart of a lion and hits like a truck. 55 tackles, nine for loss as a true frosh last year in nine starts had him on some frosh All-American teams. The kid is a real bulldog and should be a strong leader for years to come.

The youthful match-up at middle linebacker is going to be something to watch. Mike Ledgerwood played in 10 games last year, and logged 14 tackles with 2.5 for loss in limited time behind Greg Trent. We like the looks of Ledgerwood, a solid 6-0, 225, and appears to be another young player on the rise. But Hoffman-Ellis is going to give him everything he can handle inside. The JC transfer who arrived last year, he and Ledgerwood are going to be in for a real fight for the honor in replacing Greg Trent in the middle.

As for some younger breakthroughs, it's hard to say. Maybe a super-strong Darren Markle will emerge in the middle? Markle is a high school weight-lifting legend, with a 605-lb squat video making the Youtube rounds. 605 lbs!?!? That's ridiculous strength. I would imagine trying to move him out of the middle is akin to trying to take down the Martin Stadium goal posts, complete with cement reinforcements. Good luck.

It is a younger group of linebackers, no question, and losing Greg Trent, Cory Evans and Kendrick Dunn thins out the depth. But if they can stay relatively healthy, they will be fine. And of course, the better the play is in front of them along the line, the better this group will do overall.

As an overall, I would say this group of front seven is in much better shape than last year. In '08, they were too young, too light, and too few in numbers to compete against BCS talent. While six of the top eight projected in the two-deeps at defensive line are new faces for '09, normally that isn't a recipe for success. But I think this is a unique situation. Last year they had lost Andy Roof before the season started, so backups like Matt Eichelberger were thrust to the forefront. The personnel just wasn't up to the challenge. Now, there is talent that is new, sure, but still it's talent that has been on campus and in the system for a full season up until now. Bernard Wolfgramm, Jesse Feagin, both guys who should start, both guys who red-shirted last year, both older guys who have had that initial year to get used to everything. So while they are new, they aren't exactly nervous true frosh who are overmatched from the beginning.

The best news around is that Wulff continues to recruit the big, lean frames out of high school and then have them grow and mature in the strength program, some of whom will ultimately end up on defense. It's the old Mike Price philosophy - recruit speed and athleticism on defense, and let them develop and grow up in the program. And build it for speed, from the "outside-in". So safeties become outside linebackers, outside linebackers become middle linebackers, middle linebackers become defensive ends, and defensive ends move inside to defensive tackle. All in a natural progression as their bodies add strength and "the right kind of weight".

The downside to this approach, well, it's a strategy for the long haul, not the quick fix. No 6-4, 325-lb SEC-style behemoths are walking through the Bohler Gym doors, ready to start from the day they arrive. Obviously Josh Luapo is the exception to this rule. But fear not. This developmental approach will start to bear fruit, and I bet we start seeing some of the changes this year, but really witness the evolution in 2010. Just not yet.

At linebacker, the loss of Trent and all those tackles will hurt. But moving Andy Mattingly back there gives the defense an entirely different personality. He is their big, experienced playmaker who gave the defense some extra energy when he first started getting regular PT over the last half of 2007. And it will be great to see Louis Bland take the field after his initial learning season is now out of the way. Instead of trying to survive, now we can see him attack and lead a little bit more?

Most of all, both units are going to need the other to up their game in '09. The defensive line is going to have to do a better job of putting pressure on the opponent's passing game by applying a consistent rush, and of course, plug up holes and occupy some space up front. But that's just half the battle. The linebackers are going to have to play fast and physical, and take advantage of what the defensive line can give them, which is an opportunity to make plays.

So, will it work? Is the front seven in better shape in '09 vs. last year? Can they not just survive, but thrive? What do YOU think?

That's it for now. Enjoy your morning, and as always, GO COUGS!

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Harry Potter and the Curse of the Forbidden Scribe



Hello Followers. I hope that you all had a fun, fanciful, and spiritual weekend.

Speaking of which, have you all seen the newest and latest Harry Potter movie?

Well, if you’re like the thousands of other followers in that Pu ram of mine, the plot twists of the current film have created much anticipation for what happens in subsequent episodes of what I call the "Hogwart Follies."

So, in order to appease the faithful (and your many secular and unbridled needs to know what happens next in the series), I conducted a bit of me own research. And here is what I found:



According to the London Tea and Crumpet Dispatch, the final episode of the Potter series is thrilling, shocking and disturbing--all at the same time.

Apparently, following the death of Albus “Troy” Percival Dumbledore, Potter and his cosmic knaves become spiritually lost during their hunt for Voldemort's sinister seven relics.

Amidst their loss of faith and direction, the evil Lord Voldemort tricks the group into submission, captures a drunken Potter, and then encases him alongside his well-known Slytherin nemesis, Draco Malfoy.

According to the LTCD, the evil dark lord then casts his penultimate spell on both Potter and Malfoy in a manner that combines the two young lads into one singular supervillain WARLORD that eventually rules the free and spirit worlds alike.

The visage and result of that creation:



Bob Condotta.

From being widely known and heralded as the greatest to ever come out of WSU (e.g. the journalistic “chosen one” of Washington State University), Mr. Condotta of the Seattle Times has recently shown once again that he is continuing to fall deeper and deeper into the dark side of the dreaded infidel-Defeateds.

Need evidence? Before the season even begins for the dreaded Defeateds, B.C. has shown his Voldemortean zeal in predicting that the LINE of the Apple Cup will be UW plus 11—six weeks before the season even begins.

Brother Bob, the line isn’t going to be eleven. And, while I truly love and admire you and your work in so many ways, I cannot believe how much you’ve turned (You think the UW will win by more than eleven???????). For that, only one Carma Chameleon for you, my fellow summer wanderer.

May this year find new hope and a renewed sense of Cougar Carma for you, BC.

And to the rest of the true and unbridled faithful, I bid a hearty “Coug-De-L’Amor.”

-Osho Rojo
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ride Fatboy, Ride! (Pt. 1)


I first met Mike Utley in the summer of 1988. It was one of those meetings between a "celebrity" and a fan, where the celebrity is completely oblivious - but the fan remembers it for the rest of their life. It's not that he was rude to me or anything like that - we were just in completely different places in life at that time. I was an incoming freshman, attending WSU new student orientation and Mike was a senior All-American offensive lineman.

Mike's sister Theresa, was my student counselor that week and she invited him to have lunch with us one day. Seeing him dashed any lingering thoughts I had about walking on to the football team. Simply put - he was the largest human I had ever seen. I became an instant fan.

I followed Mike's NFL career with great interest and was shocked and horrified when I found out he'd been paralyzed in a game during the 1991 season. It wasn't long after his accident that my cousin suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed as well. Utley's story served as inspiration then and we helped the cause by purchasing his original "Thumb's Up" t-shirts.

Since his injury, Mike has dedicated his life to helping people live with spinal cord injuries and ultimately, to help find a cure for paralysis. His story is truly inspiring. Just a year after his injury, The Mike Utley Foundation was established to provide financial support for select research, rehabilitation and education for those living with spinal cord injuries (SCI.) Mike’s philosophy concerning SCI is that although everyone does not have the same level of injury, financial, social or career opportunities, he believes in the positive influence of setting, moving towards and reaching individual goals that provide solid foundations for building self esteem.

The Mike Utley Foundation financially supports innovative research, rehabilitation, education, patient equipment and housing for those living with SCI. Recent accomplishments are: in 2007 the Foundation awarded $110,000.00 to Craig Hospital in Englewood, CO. for the Mike Utley Terrain Park. This unique outdoor training park will help hundreds of patients each year who are learning how to walk or control a wheelchair in a variety of outdoor terrains. In 2008 the Foundation awarded $68,761.20 in grants for a Terrain Park at the Shepherd Center, SCI research at Washington State University, equipment and therapeutic recreation at Craig Hospital and rehabilitation scholarships at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan.



Last August, my Mom was diagnosed with brain cancer. Looking for ways to keep her spirits up after surgery to remove the tumor from her brain, I contacted the foundation to see if Mike would be willing to call or write with some words of encouragement. Mike's wife Dani got right back to me and said that he would be happy to help. At 9AM on the Monday morning after my Mom returned home from the hospital, she received a phone call from Mike. She was so excited to hear from him and even more surprised when an autographed picture of Mike, in his Detroit Lions uniform, arrived in the mail a couple days later. Her recovery from surgery was not easy but Mom had a goal to make it to Pullman for the Apple Cup. At the game, she finally got to meet Mike and Dani to thank them in-person. True to form, the Utleys invited her to sit with them for the game.

Needless to say, Mike Utley is one of my heroes. I'm very excited to be able to give something back to the Utleys with my participation in the 2009 Dam2Dam "Thumb's Up" Bike Tour. This is the premiere fundraiser for the foundation, drawing over 1000 riders of all abilities from around the country.

I have known about the ride for a couple years and considered participating but frankly, I'd been too lazy. After my personal experience with Mike and Dani last fall, I decided it was time to get off my butt and do it.

I was probably in the worst shape of my life in the winter of 2007 but was shedding pounds through the summer of 2008 with better eating habits and lots of yardwork. When we got news of my Mom's situation in August, everything went to hell and my weight ballooned up to about 290 lbs. I was miserable.

In November, I started going to the gym 3-5 times a week and set another goal for myself to participate in Spokane's Bloomsday. I didn't run the whole way, but I beat my goal - and shortly thereafter, started training for the Thumb's Up Bike Tour. From the end of May through the end of June, I rode a total of 124 miles. After taking most of the first part of July off for work and vacation, my goal is to ride 150 miles over the last 10 days of the month. (With my in-laws set to arrive for a week tomorrow, that shouldn't be a problem.)

The 2009 bike tour will be held on September 26th. The bike tour consists of a 25, 50 or 100-mile ride along the Columbia River route near Wenatchee. The tour is ideal for the recreational rider as well as the professional cyclist. Accommodations are also available for disabled riders. The 2008 ride attracted 32 disabled hand-cyclists from throughout the US.

Support vehicles, EMS, County Sheriffs and SAG wagons are provided for the convenience and safety of the riders. Rest stations providing drinks, snacks, fruit and water are located intermittently along the route. All registered riders receive a DAM2DAM “Thumbs Up!” TYVEK jacket, goodie bag, refreshments at the rest stops and a bikers BBQ at the end of the ride. Prizes are awarded to participants collecting the top donations in their cycling category and may qualify for a special award for top overall contributor.

I'll be riding at least 50 miles this year with 100 still a possibility if I can train hard enough. If you'd like to participate this year, you can register here.

If you can't participate in the ride, please consider supporting my effort with a tax-deductible donation to Mike's foundation. My goal is to raise a minimum of $2500 and every little bit helps! Donations can be made here. Thanks for your support.

Thumb's Up and Go Cougs!

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Hey, it's Colin with Sham-Wow?


Good morning to you all, great Coug Nation. Hope the week is winding down on a positive note for you? At least it is now very positive for LeAndre Daniels and Tyree Toomer. We remember the story with Daniels and Toomer, where they were spotted walking off with a couple of bikes that didn't exactly belong to them? Something else with a hacksaw may or may not have been involved? Well, turns out that NO CHARGES are to be filed! Once again, the liberal, left-wing media makes something out of nothing....but all in all, great news. Especially if they are innocent, as some have suggested that this thing could have been a misunderstanding from the beginning. Seems like there is always more to the story than what initially makes headlines, and that's clearly the case here. Wulff hinted that this might be the outcome. Remember this interview Wulff gave in June, after the uniform unveiling (fade to black....)?

Q. I have to address the Tyree Toomer and LeAndre Daniels situation. They've been suspended from team activities. What else, if anything, can you tell us about their situation?

A. First of all, it's a mistake, and a poor choice by a couple young guys that have never been in trouble prior to Washington State or in their first year. Both have been done very well academically as well. I think when it's all said and done, there's a question mark on whether the charges will even be filed. There are some issues there behind the scenes that look favorable for the players.

Q. Have you spoken with them, and if so, what was your message?

A. Oh, yeah. I had a message. But we don't need to talk about that one here. But, bottom line is they're very remorseful and we'll deal with that, and the bottom line is they need to make sure they learn from those mistakes.

Q. Do you expect them to rejoin the team, and if so, when?

A. Yes we do, and hopefully soon.


I'm sure Chris Ball and Jody Sears are happy to hear two of the members of the secondary are now free and clear, and ready to hit the field next month!

Moving on, so have you seen the new SportsNation show on ESPN?



ESPN Radio's own Colin Cowherd, a former northwest native and complete UW lover has teamed with the super-cutie-pie Michelle Beadle to bring a new show format to the worldwide leader in sports.


Note - while I have been sweet on Michelle, as she seems ultra-cool, funny, and quite a little ball of fire, well, with the Erin Andrews stuff lately, I just don't feel it. The Times' Jerry Brewer has kind of brought me down a bit, and most of you might feel the same way....but wait, there's more...



Michelle is good at what she does, she looks good doing it, and that's all I have to say about that....anyway, I have caught the show a few times over the last couple of weeks, and I have to admit it's a pretty good take on all things sports/pop culture. Very fast moving and hip, filled with polls, twitter comments and reactions, youtube videos and such, all while debating the hottest topics of right now. You know, sort of like a blog, only on TV? What's funny is that Colin Cowherd HATES BLOGS with a passion and doesn't hide any of those feelings on his four-hour radio show. Yet, here we are. Anyway, the show is TAYLOR-FRIGGIN-MADE for short attention span America! Yes, I include myself in that.


But one thing has struck me about seeing Colin out from behind the ESPN mike and in front of the camera. Is it me, or.....



Just saying.

So in honor of Colin's new hit show, and to honor the passing of Billy Mays and Michael Jackson in a very roundabout, serious-reach-type way, we present the biggest hit going right now...yes, it's "Jam Wow"!



I guess it's a tribute to Billy Mays because, well, even in death, at least he's STILL NOT VINCE with Sham-Wow. And an honor to Michael Jackson, brought to you by the biggest MJ-lover/1985 imitator, Alfonso Ribeiro! Although I'm not sure Alfonso, or is it Carlton from Fresh Prince, can move like that anymore?



Enjoy your Thursday, GO COUGS and all that other stuff.


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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

History of ME

Hello Followers. I hope that you are having a very, very pleasant week.

Well, at the behest of you, the faithful, I thought it timely to give you all a brief synopsis of the Sutra-Biography.

Contrary to common reports that you might find on the various "internets," not to mention other cosmic channels, my claim to cosmo-spiritual fame did not start in India. Instead, it ORIGINATED from my direct, non-vicarious experience as an international exchange student at Washington State University in the early 1980’s.

While my time in Pullman was quite fruitful in many ways, it also ended painfully for me in 1981 when I made my first fateful prediction on campus radio that the Cougars would lose the 1981 Apple Cup to the impure and untrue infidels at the University of Washington.

As a result of my fateful, distasteful, but nonetheless true prediction, I was subsequently banished from WSU and my beloved Phi Delta Theta fraternity to the State of Oregon for the next five years of my life.

(Trust me followers, you have no idea the pain of having to build your Puram in Oregon--oh the shame!).

In spite of my painful removal from the University and state that I love, I did not go quietly into the Cougar wilderness. Instead, through rigorous meditation and dancing techniques (You can check my moves out here), as well as some very creative salmonella poisoning techniques, I was able to get the Apple Cup for the following year moved from Spokane to Pullman for the first time in over a decade. And as we all know, the “Revenge in Red” game was the first step for me en route to a life of stardom, fame, fortune, and prosperity.

Here is a picture of me in my commune (we call it "the Pu ram") after we ran out the clock on those pitiful Infidels in a 24-20 thriller in 82.


In the following months, I used my soothsayer, sports meditation abilities to successfully predict the outcomes of major sporting events throughout the world. This incredible five year winning streak included winning an additional 14 million dollars by correctly predicting another Cougar upset of the infidels in the 1983 Apple Cup. As a result of this Zen-prognosticalicaliphobic genius, I purchased cars, enjoyed the spoils and pleasantries of many women, and co-produced a made for TV movie biography of my own life that starred none other than my good friend Cheech Marin in the title role of me. Can you believe the likeness?

Once I became an international superstar and hero, I found it necessary in the subsequent years to retreat into relative obscurity by faking my own death. But before I doth feigned my own demise, I changed and then patented my own name and identity to “Osho.”

In case you don't know, there are a variety of different definitions for “Osho.” One of them refers to Oceanic Purity. The other refers to Zen Mastery. But for me, the name has always been linked to Cougar Crimson.

And within, the official name on the still disputed United States patent is NOT “Osho” as widely reported. Instead, the name that I filed to be patented with the Federal Government of the United States of America and Bermuda is none other than: OSHO ROJO....

Have you all seen Mr. Nick “Don’t Call Me Tom” Daschel’s recent top 30 Pac-10 coaches of All-Time list? Sure seems to me that Tricky Nicky has spent way too much time away from the Pu ram. Among the questionable decisions made by Daschel was the decision to rate Mike Price number 17 on the list behind the likes of good, but hardly legendary, coaches like Dick Tomey, the late Bruce Snyder, John Cooper, and Jim Owens.

At the crux of Daschel’s decision to leave Price out of the top 10 was his overall record. But, I ask you, looking back at the “glory” days: How can you keep a guy who won TWO Pac-10 championships at a school that hadn’t been to a Rose Bowl since the 1930’s; who guided his team directly to two consecutive top 10 finishes and was indirectly responsible for a third; and whose program has gone DIRECTLY into the tank since his departure out of the Top 10? Moreover, how does Belotti’s ONE conference title and a slew of “7-1 starts to 7-6 finishes" qualify him for top 10 greatness over Price? And how about Erickson at number 9 with ONE good season with the Cougs (only the Aloha Bowl, remember) and a coat-tail job of Riley’s recruits in 2000 merit his inclusion in the Top 10 of ALL TIME?

If it’s up to Osho Rojo, slide Mike Riley up to the 7th spot, Price to numero OCHO, and move the rest of the fake pedal pushers back where they belong. Nick Daschel, I love your work, brother, but for your Top 30, I give you one measly (but nonetheless powerful) Carma Chameleon.....



How about our good friend, southpaw, and fellow-old-feathery-fart Jamie Moyer?

For those of you who missed it, Moyer threw a one hitter last week at the ripe old age of 146. The key to Moyer’s success?: a dazzling repertoire of 68mph change ups, 70mph curveballs, and that killer 81mph heater of his. (Did someone say, four Carma Chameleons for Moyer? I do.)



For the OR, Moyer epitomizes everything that is great about sports, and more importantly, everything that is great about being a Cougar. As Moyer shows, at all level of sports, you can be under-talented, under-sized, and underwhelming, but still be skilled and savvy enough to be successful on any given day and any given season. Hopefully, our Cougars will show more talent, moxie, and scheme this year than in years past.

More to the point: As you all know, the hallmark of all great Cougar teams is the ability to consistently overachieve (see Bennett ball teams for exhibit C-C). That said, I encourage you all to join me in a heartfelt Gayatri Mantra that we will soon stop our troubling tendency to overachieve on the injury front at the start of training camp each year.

With that in mind, may we all have peace in body and spirit as this important fortnight cometh for the Crimson Company. Until next time, I bid you all a pleasant “Coug-De-L’Amor.”

-Osho

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