Eighteen years ago famed music producer Rick Rubin staged an elaborate funeral service for the word "def". With Reverand Al Sharpton presiding over the ceremony and stars such as Tom Petty in attendance, "def" was laid to rest in a Hollywood cemetary. As I was remembering this strange event it occured to me that we Coug fans could use a similar vocabularical purge.
Friends, loved ones, curious passers-by; today we lay to rest one of the most tired tropes in all of Cougar fandom... the idea that some fans are "afraid of winning". Rest in peace you silly, rediculous bit of total nonsense.
Fans show their concern that the Cougs might stage a comeback and ruin everything.
Let's be clear; Nobody is "afraid of winning". You will not find a Coug fan who would rather be 5-7 than 12-0. They don't exist. This trope is trotted out to bully fans who express concerns about the cost to the instiution that some methods to achieve wins come with. It seems the "win at any cost" camp isn't interested in those concerns, so to cover for their shameless disinterest in fairness, integrity, loyalty and just about anything else that scholastic athletics are supposed to promote, they create the ultimate straw man; an imaginary legion of (old, weak, sad, pathetic, etc.) fans who form a fifth column dedicated to keeping their own team down. Suddenly a 30 year multi-sport season ticket holder and CAF member who has dedicated a good portion of their lives and income to supporting the Cougs is "afraid of winning" since they don't agree with you that coach X should be fired. Nevermind that when the Cougs won conference championships, this fan didn't exactly burn all their gear. Rather they booked their flight to Pasadena before the clock hit 0.00 on the last game of the season.
Right now there is a tension between fans who are demanding success now and those who can somehow make it through an entire basketball game without throwing the remote through a window. I live in both camps at different times and sometimes I inhabit both during the course of a single game. But lets just drop this false premise that only the angry, fed up fans "want to win". We all want the Cougs to win every single game they play. We disagree with how they can, or should accomplish that, but that's it.
Just because "def" was dead and buried doesn't mean that zombie "def" doesn't continue to stock the earth, and I don't expect "afraid of winnning" to stay 6 feet deep in the Palouse clay either. But at least now we can acknowledge that all its good for is lurching about snacking on the brains of the living.
RIP, "afraid of winning". You will mos def not be missed.
I think this is a constant tension at most schools, and the main determinant is what the program expectations are. Schools like USC will have expectations of regularly appearing in BCS Bowls, and at schools like Idaho it's a success to go to a bowl game at all. Recently, the general philosophy is to just keep firing coaches until someone meets the Win/Loss expectations of the fan base. In time past, it was more common to give a coach time to see if they could figure it out; now, coaches are usually given about 4 years to meet the expectations of the fan base before they are axed.
Not sure which philosophy is better, since there are ample anecdotal examples for the success or failure of each. But the question for a school inevitably becomes, at what standard do we hold the success of the program? Kentucky fans would be glad to finish 6-7 in football, but anything less than a top-10 basketball ranking will have fans questioning the coach's job security.
WSU is a particularly tough school to gauge, because we have had decades of futility, but have also had significant periods of success in baseball, basketball, and football. Some people most vividly recall the peaks of the success with Tony Bennett and Mike Price, and some vividly recall sitting through pointless season after pointless season. Thus, some expect us to be making NCAA Tourney and bowl games every other year, while others are happy with running a clean program and every now and then finding a bit of success. I think most fans are somewhere in the middle of these two extremes...though this difference is what gives rise to the fans impatiently expecting the next great season, while there are others who have seen enough ups and downs to have the patience to sit through 4 or 5 pointless seasons to break out into success.
But since this post is likely regarding the basketball team...my $.02 is that Ken Bone deserves *one* more year to give us some hope that he's the guy to take us back to the NCAA tourney. At this point we can't accept off-court issues or non-qualifying recruits as excuses.
This is a most interesting article. Before I start , I have to point out that "cemetary" and "rediculous" are misspelled. I've been a Cougar fan since 1965 and have had season tickets since 1980, and have been a financial supporter. It's not so much that Cougar fans are "afraid of winning," it's that many, many fans are used to losing, are conditioned to it, expect it and accept it. Many longtime fans are happy with 3-9 or 4-8 seasons and the occasional Apple Cup win. I'm in the camp of being a long-time fan and am angry about the losing. The excuses are "lack of talent, more injuries than any other team, inexperience, the officials hate us, the league hates us, our facilities are inadequate, good players won't come to Pullman, bad luck, " , on and on. We have had administrations, and ADs, who have not been committed to winning in athletics. I also think that when we get a good game attendance, some of thes fans are people who have given up, then they come back for another try. . WSU HAS to win these kinds of games if they want fans to be back for good.
==Moos came in popping off about how "I will never accept losing as long as I am the AD at WSU." I follow things closely. He has never mentioned losing since then. Even when Wulff was let go, Moos never mentioned an 9-40 record as being completely unacceptable. He should have. WSU fans are unbelievably patient. No other FBS school would have tolerated Wullf's record after 3 years, let alone 4, not even bottom feeders like Kansas, Iowa State, Minnesota, Indiana, Duke, Kentucky, or Syracuse.
@bpcoug54 Darn. Yew beet mee too the cemetery misspelling!
@bpcoug54 Right after I published this Amieable said to me, "You have no idea how to spell ridiculous, do you?'
I agree that some fans are not as impatient with losing as others. They certainly don't "fear" winning. I also don't think that their patience is something to be ashamed of.Like I said, its what sustains the program when all the fair weather fans are nowhere to be found.
Complacency in the administration is a whole other deal, of course, and I think whatever complacency once existed is being done away with by the current regime.
I would definitely say that I'm not afraid of the Cougs winning; hell, I crave it. I'm in the same camp as wrichstrom in that I don't want to win at all costs. I think we've all seen how college football has become all about the money. I know it always has been, but it seems like things get a little less 'innocent' (a Wulffism) each year. I get turned off by the stories of SEC boosters throwing money around in the locker rooms after big games, and of folks like Cam Newton's dad trying to sell his son's services. If that stuff was found to be going on at WSU, I'd be seriously upset.
To get slightly off-track, I was a strong supporter of Paul Wulff. Good man, former Coug, devoted to the job. I probably would have been okay with him staying here for 25 years, with us making a bowl game every 2-3 years. Not because that's all I want from the Cougs, but to be honest, I've become somewhat conditioned to only expect that! Our success level during the Price years was basically that.
So, I think for a lot of folks, it's not about being afraid to win. I think our expectations aren't that high, based on our history. We had an incredible 3-year run a decade ago. But finishing in the top-10 for 3 straight years did not make us a top-10 program. Our last 10 seasons has shown just how hard it can be to win in Pullman, and the reasons why have been discussed a lot on here.
But I love what Moos has done, or at least is trying to do. Yes, there are economic and geographical reasons why we may never compete at the highest level with other schools' athletic programs. But Moos is trying to change the mentality (including mine) that those reasons will always keep us at a certain success level. When Wulff got fired, my first thought was that he seemed to be so close to winning, that he was on the cusp of doing so. So I was a little leery of the coaching change. But in bringing in Leach, Moos has raised the bar, and told all of us that our expectations have to change. I think that the response on donations and season ticket sales that were due to the Leach hire speaks volumes as to how badly Coug fans want to win.
So, I don't think WSU fans are afraid of winning. I just think we've become a little too accustomed to mediocrity (for want of a better word) in our sports teams.
@Evercoug There is definitely a split on expectations in the fan base and raising expectations isn't in and of itself a bad thing. However the program is largely sustained by the "realistic expectation" fans who support the Cougs no matter what the record is. The 16,000 in attendance, in the snow when all bowl hopes are gone. The 4,000 in attendance in Beasley when post season hopes are long dead. The 3,000 CAF supporters when the football team couldn't beat some Florida high schools and the basketball team had more showings on the police blotter than conference wins. The idea put forth by some that these fans are somehow holding the program back is insane. They are the ones who time and again have kept the program from sliding into the abyss when times were tough. They are the best and most important fans.
Are you completely unconscious right now after last night's win? We never beat UCLA and never do it at home!!
@ptowncoug3012 Weren't you and I at the 93 game together?So so sweet.
Memories: I think it was the year before when we had them beat and then one of the Obannon brothers had a brutal goal tend (uncalled) and on the ensuing scramble for the loose ball the refs called an intentional foul on Eddie Hill allowing UCLA to ice the game. Sportscenter opened the highlight with "Wanna see a bad call?" I threw my soda at the refs and hits a security guard in the shoulder. I have no regrets.
Thanks Longball for giving words to my impression from the "other forum" about being afraid of winning???? Yeah I am an old fart and very close to being the 30 year season ticket holder you describe above that has donated money since he graduated. Do I want "my school" to win at all costs, at the cost of lower graduate rates, reputation, etc.? No. But afraid of losing??
Do I want to throw Ken Bone sometimes, yes, but he does appear to have some good guys to help next year. We will see with Mike Leach whether he wins or not. Donnie Marbut I will always root for him.
But afraid of losing, nahhhhh!