Archive for November, 2005

The day Qwest Field arrived

November 30, 2005
REALLY good, quick read on how BANANAS it was at Qwest on Sunday:

I spoke to a friend of mine in the office who is about my age. He and his family have been Seahawks and UW fans since he was a baby, and he’s been going to games his whole life. He told me on Monday morning with almost no voice left that it was the loudest stadium EVER. He said that you could feel the energy in the stadium, that literally his chair was vibrating. He said he and his girlfriend had to literally scream at each other because they couldn’t hear what each other was saying! He said you could feel your bones rattle from the noise. You just could not hear. Simply amazing and he even said at one point, after yet another false-start where the noise sounded like thunder, it actually brought a tear to his eye!

And that, my friends, is the biggest reason why every NFC team is nervous today about what happens with the Hawks the last five games of the year. Forget about just winning the division title or whatever, but in that environment, in that noise, can you imagine having to come in there in January in the playoffs!?!? That game was just a glimpse of what is going to happen if the Hawks can wrap up home field advantage. When Holmgren dedicates the game ball to the 12th man!?!? That’s saying something.

I know it’s always more about home field advantage. Remember the Vikings who went 15-1 with Randall Co and Randy Moss? In that crazy loud Metrodome? They lost to the dirty bird Falcons, at home in the NFC title game, despite the noise, so in the end it’s all about who is better. But this is mid-80’s, the NFL needs to make a rule type noise that as Locke wrote above, literally changes the way the opposition plays offense. Get their best deep threat back at WR in Jackson for the last 4 games, things will open up offensively, the D is bend-but-don’t-break at it’s finest as they are #2 in the NFL in red zone scoring percentage, etc. All the while, they are sitting here at 9-2 with a ton of injuries, yet they are figuring things out. That’s New England Patriots-style winning. It’s all coming together in a suddenly crazy year.

Not much from our Cougs these days. They say a decision from Hill is coming soon, and right now nobody knows for sure which way he is leaning. I think the overall consensus on the premium board, from “in the know” so to speak guys, was that he was a slight lean to leave, but also, his Mom is a sharp lady and REALLY wants him to get his education. He has so much to gain by coming back, he can clean up his weaknesses in route running and drops, he can get stronger, he can have a gigantic, All-American season on a team that could take a big step next year. Then again, the book on his is wide ranging. I’ve seen late 2nd round, I’ve seen 2nd-day drafted, so who the hell knows. The early read has it that it will be a down year at WR in the draft, so if he tests well he has a chance. Maybe that quad injury is going to force his hand to leave and not risk a more severe injury next year? He’s also had a lot to deal with in his personal life, so if he does bail with the knowledge he will go fairly high, I can’t really blame him. Personally, my gut says he’ll leave, but that’s just my gut.

There are some good reads on Cougfan about the offense, and they are free for all. More stories about the D and the 06 schedule are coming. Check ’em out.

Juicy Stuff

November 23, 2005

First of all, THANK GOD I can back out of the driveway for another year without seeing my wife’s f’ing Husky colors on the mailbox. There were other rewards from this years bet, but this is a family blog. Let’s just say that the Husky was well trained and did what it was told.

I watched the game with a guy “in the know” with the team. Hawk you probably know who I’m talking about. I got a lot of interesting info out of him but the following is what I remember.

1) He hung out with the team at their hotel on Friday night before the game. He said Harrison was jacked up and had discussed that he might tell the media after the game how disappointed he was that Swogger didn’t start this year. It was probably a good move that he didn’t do that.

2) Rosy is in the running for the WWU job which would be good if he got it because the players hate him. Apparently the relationship between Rosy and Levy wasn’t nearly as bad as the relationship between Rosy and the team.

3) If I wasn’t so late at getting this post out I would have been the one breaking the news that Swoggs is heading elsewhere. As a matter of fact, “in the know” guy had Swoggs cell number and left him a voice mail after the game while we were sitting around.

4) Christian Bass and Odell Howard are useless. Apparently in the USC game Howard was told he was going in on the next series. Howard told them that he didn’t want to and didn’t go in. Also Don Turner has a long ways to go to being a reliable guy next year. Scott Selby is not going to be the next Scott Lunde. Shelton Danzy is a good kid, was good for recruiting but will probably never see much time on the field. There were a few other names that I can’t remember now.

5) In case you haven’t figured it out, and we really haven’t talked about him much, Brackenridge was a huge loss to the team this year. Especially on Special Teams.

6) “In the know” guy loves Cory Evans and Trent. Expect big things out of those guys.

7) It was like you talked about Hawk, watching films and reviewing decisions made by both Brink and Swoggs is what got Brink the job. Swogger just made more mistakes/bad decisions than Brink.

Sorry I don’t remember more but it was an interesting day talking to that guy. He had lots of great stories! If I remember more, I’ll get it posted.

Paradigm Shift

November 23, 2005

We saw the beginning of the change in philosophy against Texas in the Holiday Bowl. We lost it a bit last year, and this year, well, we were inbetween.

The bottom line in this season is that we FINALLY made the transition from wide open Price ball to a much more conservative ground oriented attack with all the wide-open, high flying capabilities of the one back. When you think about it, we really represented a poor man’s Miami Hurricanes this year. A high octane running game coupled with the constant threat of the deep ball.

So, what went wrong?

Obviously the D was the primary culprit. Another factor: we lost the pivotal swing game that we talked about in preseason. If you visit Hawk’s post from the end of last season, you will see that he already had pegged the Oregon State game as a swing game. If you venture back to my posts earlier this year, I said the same. Of course, we lost and the rest is history..

To add to matters, the depth and experience we gained with Rapoti last year was lost this year. And, Derting’s loss cost us at least two wins. I think when you look at things realistically, we should have won two of the five “couldas” with the “shouldas” being UCLA and CAL.

This should have been a very frustrating 6-5 team.

But the bright spot in this season also mirrored its darkest spot: Alex Brink. Brink showed skill and moxy in quarters 1-3 and was unable to put together key drives when it mattered. He also showed a painful lack of armstrength to the outside and a horrible inability to throw the ball to the TE and in the middle and thus aid our need to play better ball control (and to meld with our new offensive philosophy. Doubt this? As yourself if Harrison would have seen 1500-let alone 1900-with Price as the coach–I sure as hell don’t think so)

With that in mind, the final drive of the year shows what could and should be next year. Whether its Woolridge by himself or a platoon with Diedrich, Tardy, and DW, we will run the football next year. Brink, if he learns as he should, will use the possession game much more effectively. And that, my friends, will bring results. We won’t be as pretty as this year or in year’s past, but we’ll be effective. We’ll play smash mouth, hit you with possession passing plays, and then bite deep with minimal three and outs.. And, we will be competitive with everyone.

Of course, there are concerns about the MLB spot and the DBs. Hill’s departure is another concern, but somehow I think that the new kids will step up. The system is too well designed for the WRs.

The BIGGEST question mark is how we recover from Milhauser. And that, my friends, is the question that will be answered early in 2006. It is how we respond to the captain of the BEST offensive line we’ve had at WSU in some, some, some time that will tell our fate for next year. With good play at the center and line, I bet that Brink will have a breakout year and will end his WSU career as a Gesser-like great “college quarterback.”

But, if we struggle at the O-line spot, well, the program will be in real jeapardy, cuz Brink is too limited to shine without a running game and pass protecting line. He’s simply not tall or fast enough…

In as many words, 2006 IS THE DEFINING YEAR in the Cougar program. We make it back to respectability and we stay competitive in the years to come. Miss a bowl, and you can kiss our fortunes goodbye as we will once again turn into an also ran program.

With that in mind, here is my pre-2006 prediction without the knowledge of recruiting, spring ball, etc.:

September 2
@ Auburn LOSS
September 9
September 16
September 23
@ Stanford WIN (THIS IS SWING GAME #2)
September 30
October 7
@ Oregon State WIN (THIS IS SWING GAME #3)
October 14
October 21
October 28
November 4
November 11
@ Arizona State LOSS
November 18

That’s 9-3 and a Sun Bowl in my book, but that’s giving us each swing game. This year we lost all five (OSU, STAN, UCLA, CAL, ASU). The key games are Baylor, Stanford, and OSU. Win the first two of those games and I think we are on our way. Stanford should struggle without Edwards. I also have us beating an OSU team that will not be good, a UCLA team that will be hurting with their offensive losses, and an Oregon team that will be really, really, really, really good.

ASU will be too much to handle–I can’t see this team next year going 10-2….

That said, once again, the biggest key will be injuries. We said this year that we couldn’t afford to get hurt and BAM we lose our starting DT and Derting. Two years in a row and we are mashed up the middle.

Finally, we also will rely on Brink–not only that he will improve remarkably–but that he won’t get knocked out. With Swoggs leaving, the cupboard will be bare.

Thank goodness we beat the Puppies!

Onward Crimson soldiers

4-7 sure feels good right now

November 20, 2005

First of all, the winning TD? That was the exact – and I mean the EXACT – same play we lost the 2002 AC! If you remember, the play was a bubble-screen to the slot man, Jerome Riley. Kegel took 3 steps and waited a count too long to throw the ball. When he finally did, Kai Ellis leaped and knocked the ball down, whistles blew incomplete, and then we know what happened after that. I was too drunk to remember for sure, and I couldn’t see how the play was developing from my angle, but after the game many said that play would have gone for a score, if not first-and-goal. Why? Based on UW having their strong safety moving into the box and shaded to the left to cover for a linebacker blitz off the weak side, and the free safety was sliding over to cover the middle of the field. So you had man on the outside WR and the slot. Basically all it would have taken was a complete pass to the slot sprinting to the outside, the WR making his block, and that game could have ended right then in a very different way. Ah well.

Here’s a link to video of the bubble screen:

And a link to an animated GIF of the play (can’t get it to post for some reason):*


Let them whine and cry about us dancing on the W. I remember very well UW dancing on our logo in 2002, among a lot of very ugly things, and they did the same thing the week before at Oregon. Karma has a way of evening things out.

I heard the Oregon-OSU broadcasters say WSU is the greatest 1-7 team in Pac-10 history, and easily should be going bowling. They talked about the UCLA, Cal and ASU games as ones they should have won, and that WSU is a 7-4 team all the way. Like that matters…..but still, nice to hear it on another broadcast, where they don’t have to say anything. We aren’t the only ones who know how close this team really was to breaking out.

Meanwhile, congrats to UW on a fine season, doubling their win total from 2004. That 2-9 season will set up a lot of momentum towards recruiting and stadium renovation fund-raising.

Finally, LOVE the grey pants and grey helmets on the road! Our last 3 AC wins have been with grey pants, so let’s keep it going. Lose the fire-engine pajama bottoms from the road, keep the crimson helmets at home as well, and let’s go more old-school. Not that it matters, but man, looking at those garbage, trendy uni’s on teams like Oregon State, Oregon and Miami tonight??? YUCK.

Oh yeah, and little Alex Brink? He now has as many AC wins as Gesser, Leaf and Bledsoe – combined. He also broke the sophomore WSU QB record for most yards in a season. Worst 2800-yd, 24-TD sophomore QB ever!??!

The saddest part of this year? We had over 500 yards of total offense in this game. Here’s a did you know – if we would have gained 554 yards today? This offense would have actually broken the team record of total offense set by the 1997 Leaf team! Can you believe that? That great, high-flying offense led by a Heisman candidate QB and all those receivers, and the ’05 version damn near beat them in total offense? I about fell out of my chair when I read that today.

Michael brought up a very good point last week. Since the 2nd half of the ASU game, something has changed with the defense. It’s like they finally just woke up, got pissed off, and started attacking! Sure, the Ducks scored 34 on them, but they didn’t track-meet us all that much. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the 2004 loss at least. And today, when they absolutely had to get stops, they were able to. Not that UW is an offensive juggernaut (9 TD passes for Stanbeck on the year?? YIKES!), but James Sims did run for 200 yards last week vs. AZ.

I think very good things are yet to come with this team. ON paper, right now, we’ve got 15 starters back from this team coming back next year. On D, we only lose Braidwood from the entire d-line rotation, so we’ll be strong up front (which is VITAL). Other than Derting, the LB’s will be back. Both corners, Dada and Teems will be gone, but we’ll probably see Don Turner take over at one spot, and Tyrone Brackenridge at the other (he’ll be a senior next year and was really missed from this team). The D will be just fine. Not a dominating D, but they’ll certainly be in the middle of the pack.

ON O, obviously Brink will be back. Like it or not, you have to think he’ll be a lot better in terms of just being more consistent next year. He was just so damn streaky this year, and while I don’t have all the games on tape, I can recall many moments where not only was he in complete control, but he threw some balls with some heat where you kind of what “hmmm, he threw that one in there with authority”. But, I can also recall many moments where he’d just flutter up an ugly duck, or throw a lousy interception, or miss someone WIDE open, or take a sack when he absolutely shouldn’t. That’s part of learning that position, and starting with today, I believe he took a step forward. Like Michael said, he FINALLY was able to drive this team to a win. He finally made plays when we needed it. He was able to get away from his security blanket in Hill and beat them with guys like Boyd and Harvey.

Other skill guys that will be back are Hill, at least he should be. Bumpus, who we missed today. Jordan, bad knee and all, could still be a solid possession guy. Brandon Gibson who was banged up but coaches are extremely high on and he’ll have a huge role next year. Boyd, who dropped his share this year, yet was huge on that last drive today. And, while we lose the best running back in school history (and outside Leaf’s 1997 year, maybe the best single season of any WSU player, ever), there is a lot to like about Demaundry. There will be others in the mix, like McCall, plus a JC RB will be found (JC all-American JT Diederichs, a WSU signee out of high school and running hard at Dixie in Utah, still favors the Cougs), as well as the RB putting up sick #’s in Phoenix right now, Marcus Richmond, who sounds every bit the real deal.

Finally, on today – You can say “yeah, but it was just UW” but you know what? UW was jacked up for us. UW wanted that game so bad they could taste it. They wanted to build momentum towards their offseason and future while breaking our hearts in the process, and be able to say “see, no matter how bad it gets, we’ll always beat the Cougs.” Witness the skirmishes at the end, and there is no doubt UW gave a damn about this game. And to see Brink drive the team from our own 14 down the field and into the end zone, on the road, in that house of horrors, and FINALLY close the deal feels just amazing!

Hard, tough, gut-wrenching lessons were learned this year. 5 of our losses were by 4 points or less (UCLA by 3, Cal by 4, Stanford by 3, ASU by 3, Oregon by 3), and in 3 of those 5 losses, WSU possessed 10+ point leads in the second half, it makes you realize how fine that line is between winning and losing, and most of all, how hard it is for a young team to put another team away. It’s a process they must learn. I choose to believe that this year will pay off big in the coming seasons, and as much as it sucked to lose like this? Recent history shows that things WILL turn around in ’06.

Media bias, continued – plus pick

November 18, 2005

I probably overreacted yesterday, but when you remove yourself personally and just look at it, it’s natural to see coverage slanted towards the cash cow on Montlake. I mean you think about it, who is their audience? It’s only natural to think that, even subconsciously, they are going to slant their coverage towards their subscription base, and that is Seattle/UW all the way.

But, I guess my point should have been this – to go out of their way to pick and choose parts of an article that omits something positive towards WSU? When it’s becoming a known fact that UW top-tier donors and alums are quite uncomfortable with the idea of WSU creating an intimate, 44,000 seat football experience vs. their stadium issue that is going to be a long, tough sell to renovate or rebuild, and not until 2010, at best, if not later? They are worried, there is no doubt, and like I was told the other day, the last thing they need or WANT in their rebuilding efforts is to see us rise up with a first-class facility in a great college town, and get it done before they ever start. Positive pub on our stadium plans is bad news for them, and they know it.

I know we get the Go2Guy as the mouthpiece, but he’s not taken seriously. 99% of all UW fans skip his column, and even 50% of all Cougs probably don’t even read him. It’s the notebooks, the feature columns leading up to the rivalry game, that’s when most fans will read what’s going on. And to purposely omit that stuff, THIS WEEK, is a HUGE, biased move!

I’ll never forget Thiel and Lizard Face after the ’94 game. But, that was 10+ years ago. Lizard Face did color commentary on our broadcasts back then, but now? UW is the flagship of KJR and has been the last 4+ years. Meanwhile, Thiel loves to kick sick puppies when they are down. Pointing out who sucks and why, and bursting balloons and boosting the negative feeling in dreary Seattle is his favorite past-time.

And I’ll tell you, KJR is all but unlistenable at this point. It’s HORRIBLE. I listen maybe 5-10 minutes a week, at most, at very random times when I just want an update, but the whole thing is pure garbage/UW propaganda. It’s amazing what happens when you become a flagship station and how slanted coverage can get. Back in the days of the sportsbabe and all that, before they were the flagship, they used to take shots at UW all the time. Now it’s like 90% of their content is huge advertising for all things UW. I’m not joking, but to listen during football season is a complete joke.

Typical week.
Monday: Talk about how the game went wrong and if UW would have made a couple more plays, they would have “been in it.” I listened on my lunch break after they were embarrassed 56-17 against Cal, and to hear them try and spin it that they were in that game, and if they could have tackled better, played more sound football, etc, they could have won. What a JOKE!

Tuesday: Lament how Neuheisel destroyed the program with poor recruiting, lack of quality lineman, how things would have been had Don James stayed and there wouldn’t have been probation, and how they need to get “tougher” kids.

Wednesday: Start to generally focus on the next opponent and talk of where the season is headed, and how they are still bowl-eligible.

Thursday: Point out the weaknesses of the next opponent and what they need to do to get a victory. At this time, there is a momentum building, and you start to hear a few quotes like “I think they have a real chance to surprise some people” .

Friday: 75% of the hosts are CONVINCED UW will pull the upset, and 3 out of 4 will flat-out pick them in a close, shocking upset.Saturday post-game: After getting drilled, again, down-in-the-dumps hosts and callers lament the state of the program and “how the hell has this program fallen so far, so fast?” and “this NEVER would have happened under Don James”.

Vicious cycle starts all over again the following Monday. It’s a joke.

Cougs will win this game, 37-31. While we’ll miss Bumpus and Bienemann, they still won’t be able to stop Jerome, hell, nobody has, why will they? Brink will become the first WSU QB – EVER – to beat UW in back-to-back seasons. That mark won’t mean anything, though, I mean UW hasn’t been this bad back-to-back in, well, maybe ever. Hill will have a big game in what could be the last game of his WSU career. The D isn’t stellar, but there are actually some positive signs of late. In fact, the last two games, actually the 2nd half vs. ASU and the Oregon game, they started to get takeaways. That’s something they have lacked all year, but they’ve had some timely picks and fumble recoveries the last two weeks, and that’s a good sign.

Media UW influence trying to squash WSU stadium talk?

November 17, 2005

Ok, this is kind of weird.

As you probably have figured out, not only is the media coverage pro-UW around here, it’s particularly bad in the local rags. I keep the News Tribune out of this, it’s an excellent sports page that’s very fair, but the Times and especially the P-I is nothing but cheerleading. It’s flat-out blatant this week, and I’ll tell you why.

On Sunday, my bro-in-law and I talked about a lot of things at the Hawks game, including stadium expansion. He said their campaign is just a mess and they keep asking the same people for money, time and again, but to make it worse, they don’t have a plan. They can’t dig down and put seats closer to the field, because all that would do is make the upper deck another 30-40 yards further away from the field, and they are WAY far away as it is. The only answer appears to be a complete tear-down and build a brand new facility, and they would do what the Hawks did only in reverse and play at Qwest field for two seasons.

Anyway, what struck me as odd is how much he knew a lot about our scheme, and made it appear that we have been the topic of some of their discussions. He also made it sound as though even though we are down in the revenue world, there is a bit of a fear as to what we could become. In other words, “the Ducks and Beavs have done it right, the last thing we need is the Cougs to rise from the ashes!”

So, this caught my eye the other day. As you know, the P-I outside the go-to-guy doesn’t cover WSU. They reprint Glenn’s stuff from the Spokesman Review. Earlier this week there was a WSU notebook, where they took Glenn’s article about Doba and the stadium expansion and printed it as their own. The BIG difference?? The P-I conveniently chose to LEAVE OUT THE HUGE PART DETAILING THE STADIUM EXPANSION!

Here’s the one big thing I learned from working the media room from back in 2000 – the media in sports IS biased, folks. I worked with writers, producers, reporters and camera men from Kiro, King, Komo and Fox, and to a man, they not only told me the reporting in Seattle is heavily biased, towards UW in particular, but they even told me tricks of the trade to make their favorties look better! Everything from the writing style to even camera angles, favorable for any subject UW including great lighting and angles, and, sadly, if they didn’t like their subject? They would go out of their way to make the subject look bad, from weak lighting to the ABSOLUTE worst camera angles that could make Angelina Jolie look like a DOG.

Anyway, here’s the article from the Spokesman, which includes the stadium details. It’s funny that the article is almost half about the stadium, yet the UW slurpers at the P-I left it on the cutting room floor?? Don’t believe me, compare the P-I’s copy vs. the Spokesman’s:

Glenn Kasses
Staff writer
November 16, 2005
PULLMAN – Sitting up in his box at Martin Stadium during a game or standing nearby while coach Bill Doba talks to the media afterward, there’s not much Jim Sterk can do.But as Washington State University’s athletic director, the 3-7 disappointment – some would say disaster – that is this football season hits him as hard as anyone. As with Doba, Sterk is charged with helping to put the pieces back together.”There’s a lot of factors that led to this season being one of those – I was thinking about it, I think we’re Best Supporting Actor,” Sterk said Tuesday morning, just days away from an Apple Cup pitting two teams that have combined for five wins. “We’re made-for-TV because our games, they know they’re going to be down to the wire. It’s exciting. I’d like a different ending, though.”

For the first time in Doba’s three-year tenure as head coach after 14 years as a defensive assistant, serious questions about his fitness for the job are being asked. Fans have openly booed some decisions during games and second-guessed them on the six days in between. Losing all seven Pacific-10 Conference games hasn’t helped.Sterk sees things differently. His support for the coaching staff that works just down the hall from his office has publicly been clear.”I get a few e-mails here and there.

But people understand, and if they really look at it the coaching staff didn’t become dumb overnight,” he said. “We didn’t get the wins, but I think those people over there are the type of the people that will get it done. They’re still a great coaching staff. Everyone said it’s the best coaching staff we’ve had here at Washington Sate University. They’re the same guys.”Realistically, even if Sterk felt the same as fans calling for massive changes, such a move might be difficult. A buyout of the head coach’s contract alone would cost more than $2 million. (The deal goes through the 2009 season and all of the assistant coaches have one year left on their contracts.)Minutes after expressing confidence in Doba’s performance, Sterk talked about the weighty burden of $1.3 million in scholarship expenses that has fallen on the department because of cutbacks in state funding. So the likelihood of making such a huge splash to bring in an unknown entity would seem at best a long shot.

Furthermore, Sterk said the department hasn’t done its share to assist the football program. The renovation and expansion of Martin Stadium has become the top priority of the department, and one that Sterk suggested is necessary to ensure a competitive team and department in the long run.

The planning stages for the expansion still have a long way to go, although conceptually Sterk and his staff seem to have agreed upon a general outline. Eschewing the major upgrade to the south (press box) side of the stadium because costs would have spiraled into nine figures, the Cougars are hoping to put luxury suites on the north end of the stadium, widen the north concourse, and improve restroom and concession facilities on the north, east and south sides. A more significant addition to the east end zone near Stadium Way (a second deck, a multipurpose club area) remains a possibility.

Sterk said keeping costs less than $60 million is a near necessity, but WSU hasn’t figured out how much of that it can raise through bond issues and how much must be from private donors. Nor is it certain that WSU has the donors to provide the needed cash.The athletic director insisted that the losing seasons in 2004 and 2005 won’t dramatically affect the short-term ability to raise money for a construction project he still hopes to begin in 2007.”You know, I think that the people – our steering committee and those folks – are people that are, they’re not fly-by-night fans. They’re invested in the program,” he said. “Yeah, it’s fun and nice to win. But (losing) gives us even more resolve why we need to get this stadium completed and renovated.”Still, he said it would be about a year before the school reached outside its primary fund-raising circle for donations – possibly a sign that WSU is hoping a better season in 2006 would help bring in more dollars.

Circling back to the issue of his football coaches, Sterk emphasized how the commitment to winning has to be a two-way street.Asked if WSU would be a school that could sustain football success, as opposed to the current peaks-and-valleys trend, the athletic director paused for nearly 15 seconds before choosing his words.

“They need all the … I want to say weapons in the arsenal, but I’m kind of sensitive over that. But that’s the analogy, I guess,” Sterk reasoned. “Sixteen years ago, Bill Doba was told the stadium was going to be renovated in two years. And that hasn’t happened.”

Cougars win needle spaceWSU fans donated more than $30,000 more than Husky fans to the Space Needle’s Hurricane Katrina relief effort, and as a result the Seattle landmark will be painted crimson and gray for Apple Cup weekend with the message: “Go Cougars!”In less than two weeks $97,947 came in from Cougars supporters while Washington backers raised $66,346. The contributions, which came from 32 states and three countries, will go to Habitat for Humanity.NotesFuneral services for Janice Walden, wife of former WSU coach Jim Walden, will be held 11 a.m. Friday at Manito Presbyterian Church at 401 E. 30th Street, with a reception afterward at the downtown Doubletree. The Walden family asks for donations in lieu of flowers to the Mark Rypien Foundation. … X-rays revealed a small fracture in wide receiver Jason Hill’s left index finger, but he will play with a splint. Hill was also named one of 15 finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top wideout. … Fellow wide receiver Brandon Gibson (hip) is questionable but did participate in practice. Jerome Harrison took the day off, as did Mkristo Bruce after tweaking his sore knee near the beginning of the session.

The link to the P-I (I won’t re-paste it, but see if you can tell where the cutting began):

non-Coug stuff on Shaun Alexander

November 17, 2005

I read this on – makes you realize that they really, REALLY need to re-sign him.

With his three scores on Sunday, Alexander became the first player — not just running back, but player — in the history of the sport to score 15 touchdowns in a season for five straight seasons. Think about that — that includes people like Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, Cris Carter, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Paul Hornung, Emmitt Smith. In just five-plus NFL seasons, Alexander currently ranks 15th on the all-time touchdown list. Think about that.

Obviously the o-line has a huge part to play when a running back is so great. You look back at Emmitt, he had a GREAT o-line blowing up defenses for many years. Emmitt wasn’t the biggest or the fastest, but he got in the end zone and got his yards. Payton was an exception, maybe the most unreal overall back ever, considering he was the whole frickin’ team for several years in Chicago! But, to think that Shaun has already scored TD’s the last 5 years like no other player – ever – in the NFL has done?? In this era of free agency and parity, where players come and go, roaming the earth as nomad’s looking for every last dollar? That’s just amazing. I guess the question is going to be what is he worth? What do they pay him? Reports here and there have said that his agent and the team have traded numbers, and that Alexander himself has been telling anyone who will listen the last 3 weeks that the way it’s going, he fully expects to be back here. It’s an interesting question.

What’s weird though is that both Alexander and Edgerrin James were on the market last year, yet nobody wanted them. It must be a deal where many NFL head coaches and GM’s believe that a running back is interchangable, and that maybe, just maybe, any back could be doing what Shaun is doing now. That said, the left side of the line, with Big Walt and Hutch, is the best in the NFL. Jones is THE BEST tackle in the NFL, end of discussion, and he’s destined for the yellow blazer and bronze bust in Canton. But, it has to be said, Shaun has become one of the best backs in the NFL and is putting up numbers that will place him among the best of the modern era!

Good thoughts

November 16, 2005

First, good stuff on keeping this thing going. I agree, let’s keep it rolling. I’ve tailed off on new posts, probably because this season turned into one huge bad joke. Plus I’ve been busy with this thing called WORK.

Anyway, all I can say? I never dreamed, walking out of the Grambling game, when we were 3-0, that I’d be sitting here AC week hoping like crazy that we can still go 4-7! What happened we know all too well, and to re-hash it is too difficult. There will be plenty of time to think about what went wrong and what will (hopefully) go right next year.

Here’s an interesting Coug website I found, sort of a blog, really. Some pretty good stuff:

It’s also nice to see we won the Space Needle contest, right in their own back yard. That’s got to be humiliating to them?

By the way, anyone notice the new drug rule that came down yesterday in MLB? 1st offense 50 games?? 3 strikes and you are out, for life?? That’s huge. But, the bigger part? The testing for amphetemines. I heard interviews with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, and they both said greenies were popped in their day like tic-tacs. Even Mickey Mantle and guys from that era, they always had greenies around. I also heard on KJR early this AM that during the M’s 2001 season, one team trainer no longer with the team said there were two sets of coffee pots in the locker room. One was your normal caffeine coffee, one was “special” coffee that would have you ready to jump out of your skin. It was thought that special coffee was loaded with speed, but never actually said. So that could have a huge effect on numbers next year!

Can you imagine playing baseball from February through September with all that travel, the wear and tear, the flat-out mental and physical drain it must be to play 162 games?? Think how exhausted you’d be? The game is going to take a drastic turn starting next year, and I really think we’re going to see not only a lot more injuries, I mean when you are tired you get hurt, but performances will take big dips, not just because of steroids, but because so many other things are now forbidden.

Anyway, on the Cougs – I still believe we will win this game. And like Brinkhater said, we’ll win in a shootout. We’ve proved we can score points with anyone, sans USC, and UW quite frankly can’t score with us over 4 quarters. I don’t even think it’ll be a case of whoever has the ball last wins, because save for one shining moment last week in the sun against an AZ team with nothing to play for against them, UW has been an offensive disaster this year. Meanwhile we’ve put up points on the best of the conference. 31 against Oregon, 24 vs. ASU, 38 vs. Cal, 33 vs. OSU, 41 vs. UCLA.

Keep in mind how many yards Brink threw for vs. the OSU D. Well, you should also know that UW failed to score a TD against OSU until the last minute of a game they had no chance to win, with Durocher at QB! Add it up, it should be an easy win. But it’s the AC, and as we know too well, it almost never goes exactly the way you think. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them run the ball like crazy against us, mix in a few play-action passes and wild Stanback scrambles, and we might be in for a serious fight.

Next week, I am going to post an in-depth look ahead to 2006. Much more pleasant to look forward vs. look back at this ongoing nightmare.

Should we just shut it down?

November 15, 2005

I know it’s been kind of fun with the blog this year, it really has, but I’m thinking maybe it’s time to give it a rest. My membership to Cougfan just expired, and I’m sitting here thinking “do I really want to pay $89.99 for access to “premium” articles? I mean it’s nice and all to read breaking news and/or recruiting news, and especially during signing week when the news just flows, but I don’t know. $90?? Yikes. Besides, I was warned on two occasions not to post premium content, even though I paid for it. That said, I’ve got a connection that might be able to give us the really good insider dirt from that site if I ask him, so at least if something huge happens we’ll be able to see it.

Maybe it’s because this season has turned into something unlike any other I’ve seen. Not the 3-8 record, god knows we’ve seen that before, but the fashion of the losses combined with the expectations of a minor bowl? I hate to be a front-runner but I’ve lost some steam. I never once felt my pulse quicken on Saturday night, because 1) I knew we would lose based on pretty much every loss this year, it was the same way (now the 5th loss when having a double-digit lead, 4th of which was a 2nd-half double-digit lead? And, leading in every game at some point except for USC? Yikes). And, 2) it JUST DOESN’T MATTER per brother Bluto.

Any thoughts?

Carolina @ Seattle, NFC Championship

November 14, 2005

Better clear off your calendar on Sundays deep into January…..and maybe even the first Sunday in February. I witnessed a franchise turning a major corner yesterday in so many ways, I won’t even over-analyze it. There’s plenty of columns out there today, from Thiel to Kelley, that do it justice.

If you saw that game, you know, you KNOW how good the Hawks really are, and what we are in store for the rest of the way. They are the real deal, the absolute real deal, and 12-4, first-round bye, home-field advantage all the way through is looking pretty damn likely. The house was ROCKING yesterday, don’t know if it translated to TV but on 3rd downs, I couldn’t hear my bro-in-law next to me. 90% of the crowd would rise to it’s feet and the thunder just rained down, we’re talking mid-80’s Kingdome LOUD. Ok, so nothing is THAT loud, I mean they invented a rule because John Elway couldn’t hear himself think, but god damn it, it’s FUN to witness a team you love since childhood taking a major step forward! I’m not afraid of saying Super Bowl anymore either, I’m going to enjoy this ride all the way until it’s over, one way or another. I mean why not enjoy it!??

I’m in the Brinkhater camp. Had a good chat with Clint yesterday who filled me in on what a mess UW is. The biggest thing is their O line, but particularly their D-line really sucks, and with our O-line and Jerome? Clint thinks he’ll hit 250 yards. Maybe the best thing for this game is we are coming in 0-7 and VERY desperate/angry, while UW got their losing streak put to bed last week (14 straight crap-10 losses? Last win 2003 AC?? WOW is that bad!). UW celebrated and pranced on local news like they just won the conference! I’m down with 37-27, something in that neighborhood.