Archive for April, 2009

Soft Schedule = Hope for ’09?

April 30, 2009


Wolverine opens this weekend. Early reviews? Eh. Sounds as though it’s just OK. Maybe the lone Wolverine angle can’t quite carry an entire movie? But a little something for the ladies, I’m sure there are plenty of shots of HUUUUUUUGGGEEE Jackman without his shirt on. And the X-men geeks can, well, get their GEEK on. So enjoy, as the summer blockbuster season is now officially upon us!

Meanwhile, looking at the WSU football schedule for this year, one thing hit me like a 2×4 across the face. Is it me, or does it NOT look all that difficult? Now the PAC-10 slate is it’s usual toughness, in the round-robin approach that is now the norm. In-conference road games at USC, Oregon and Cal won’t be a walk in the park. And for what it’s worth, the great Ted Miller weighed in on the craziness of the round-robin scheduling of the PAC-10.

But getting back to the schedule for a second. I know in recent seasons, we’ve had what was regarded as a difficult schedule, at least according to Phil Steele. Last year, not so bad, but still rated as the 28th most difficult schedule of 2008 (*out of 120 teams). But 2007 was entirely more difficult, coming in as the 3rd toughest in the country. So, I thought I would see what old Phil had to say about the 2009 schedules, etc. And guess what? He’s already got something up on ’09, including a breakdown of toughest to weakest schedules for the upcoming season.

And the hunch was absolutely correct – WSU is rated as having the 96th most “difficult” schedule based on win percentages from last year! Replacing Okie State with 1-11 SMU might have something to do with it….but still, when you are coming off 2-11 yourself, having a strength of schedule rating in the 90’s doesn’t sound too bad.

Side note – the school that hates us right now with the hotness of a thousand suns (UW)? They were rated as having the most difficult schedule in the country in both 2007 and 2008. But 2009? 84th most difficult. What’s weird is that includes having LSU to open their season. But they also added Idaho, so, there you go. But whatever.

In that same rivalry mode, Jerry Brewer of the Times tries to pour gasoline on the hate-fest. But it didn’t really go anywhere.

“I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s no animosity between me and Jim,” Woodward said Wednesday, adding that the two will probably have fun with this controversy during the Pac-10 Conference meetings in Phoenix next week. “I think the world of Jim.”

And our own favorite, Jim Moore, tried the same approach, to try and instigate things. This time, both sides were a little more blunt, with Woodward sticking to his “they should have told their alums to zip it” view, while Sterk saying it was just insane for an AD to criticize a school President:

“It was so unbelievable, the statement,” Sterk said. “It’s one thing to say something about a coach or an AD, but to make a statement about a president really crosses the line.

“In the higher-education world, the president is held in high esteem. Us ADs, no one gives a rip about us … I’m joking, but (ripping a) president is in a completely different category. You don’t do that.”

Maybe they can stick them both in a jar, shake it up a little bit, see if they will fight!


But you know what? It makes for good copy, but I’m over it already. Just move on. But one can imagine their handshake when they see each other next week, that Jim Sterk just might give the grip a little extra squeeze?

That’s about it for a slow Thursday. Still hoping for some news on the Martin Stadium fundraiser in the next day or so. ENJOY YOUR THURSDAY, and GO COUGS!

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Sterk Stays Above it All, Plus Other Stuff

April 29, 2009


So we all saw the comments from Scott Woodward, UW AD, over their failure in Olympia to secure taxpayer dollars towards their $300 million dollar renovation. For a refresher, Woodward said he held out “remote hope” that something could be done, but knew they were up against it.

“How do you lay off teachers and cut back on programs and then build a stadium?” Woodward said Monday in commenting publicly on the bill’s failure for the first time. “That was the psychological disconnect that a lot of people had a hard time getting around and I understand that wholeheartedly.”

Fair enough. The guy understood that times are tight, and politically this was going to be an extremely hard sell. But he didn’t stop there. When asked about the loud, mouthy WSU alums who had the audacity to actually speak out against UW’s request of using taxpayer funds towards their massive renovation? “It was just an irritant, that’s the best way to put it.”

I’m sure it was irritating. Irritating, as would any individual or group when they complain to the legislature that they oh, I don’t know, might want to second-guess handing over dollars for what would become a single-purpose facility, hosting six or seven events a year? But it’s understandable that Woodward would be irritated. I was irritated, and I’m a WSU guy!

But then, something happened. Instead of taking the high road and ending it there, Woodward lashed out at Jim Sterk and Elson Floyd. “The most disappointing thing about it is that [WSU president] Elson Floyd and [WSU athletic director] Jim Sterk didn’t do anything to try to contain that little group of Cougars that were out there doing that. It was a shame that they didn’t show leadership or courage to curtail something like that.”

Whoa.

Think Jim Sterk took this lying down? He didn’t. Per Grippi yesterday evening, Sterk responded to the call-out:

“It was so inappropriate that I laughed, basically,” Sterk said Tuesday. “I could not believe those comments were coming from him. One, to me as athletic director but then, two, to the president of the university.”

Does it even need to be said?? IT IS SO ON! But there was more, much more.

Washington State made a decision to not get involved in light of the financial stresses on a state legislature dealing with a $9-billion deficit.

“WSU felt it was not appropriate for the institution, for us to ask for any stadium support during this legislative session,” Sterk said. “The legislature and the governor, they were already facing all the significant challenges of the economic crisis. So that’s why we didn’t take a position.

“When the economy improves and if the legislature and the governor change their minds on stadium funding, as long as it’s fair to both institutions, WSU would join UW in the discussions.”

There’s more in the article, so we highly encourage you all to check it out.

Obviously this is a WSU blog. So can you guess what our reaction would be to all this?? But even taking the view from 10,000 feet, it’s clear. Sterk was right all along, and he’s right again here. It was always in WSU’s best interests to stay out of the way on this one. The university was right in the idea of watching how this whole thing plays out, and then, act accordingly. If UW gets access to the treasure trove of tax dollars, well, you can bet Elson Floyd and Jim Sterk will be running up the steps in Olympia, plans in hand, ready to ask for help. Until then, things will proceed as normal, with private donations as the backbone of our renovation.

Sterk’s comments were direct, to the point, and most importantly, STILL ABOVE THE FRAY. He clearly had a chance to return some nasty fire over the Cascades, yet chose to do what he’s done all along. He responded, yet still refused to get in the mud. And you know what happens when you mud wrestle with a pig? You both get dirty, and the pig is happy. It just isn’t worth it. BRAVO JIM STERK!

Moving on, hey, remember the photo contest? Well, we’re down to the LAST COUPLE OF DAYS OF VOTING. We’re up to around 300 votes right now, and it’s pretty tight…

“Mama Sledge”, the mother of rising Coug linebacker Mike Ledgerwood, has a slight lead over “Devard Daaaughling”. But “Bone the Dawgs” is lurking, just a few votes back. Polls close at 11:59 PM tomorrow, April 30th. Check out the link for the finalists, and keep voting. Good luck!

Lost in all the fray over stadiums, dollars, etc, was Grippi’s STRONG spring wrap-up for WSU football. Grippi looks at each position, and weighs in with his “Player to Watch”, “Unanswered Question”, “Time to Step Up”, and “What the coordinator said”. It’s a really good wrap on a spring that, let’s face it, didn’t go according to plan. Not when there were so many freakin’ injuries. I guess the good news is that it doesn’t appear that any of the nicks and cuts suffered by so many players weren’t of the season-ending variety. At least in April, it looks like most of the guys who were out will be ready to go by August. But we’ll see about that.

The most encouraging thing is that, according to Chris Ball in Grippi’s article, the culture is starting to take. Proof of that could be the big change in so many players’ weights, showing that the hard work in the weight room and at the training table was starting to mesh:

“We’ve instilled our culture,” defensive co-coordinator and associate head coach Chris Ball said. “With instilling our culture, the kids understand what to expect out of practice. When we come out here and coach, we’re coaching ball, not coaching how to run on-and-off the field. They’re doing that stuff.”

Sounds like light-years from last year, where they were so far behind they were teaching players how to get into a proper three-point stance?? And as Grippi has said on a few occasions while freezing his behind off for many practices….the team is, in fact, more physical, something we never heard last season. Physical in football is VERY, VERY GOOD! But they still have a full fall camp to survive. August is going to be hot and intense. Let’s hope they save some in the tank for Stanford in early September, and beyond??

Finally, we are hopeful the fund-raising idea can get finalized in the next couple of days. We will have an update for you, of some kind, probably on Friday. Until then, enjoy your Wednesday, and GO COUGS!

Announcement: Calling Cougar Nation

April 28, 2009

Greetings Cougar Nation. Hope you all are having a great week.

So, as the mighty header above indicates, today we are calling on you.

Yes, YOU!!!!

Why are we calling?

Because its high time that we, the WSU sports website community, step up to the plate.


What plate you ask?

THE MONEY RAISING PLATE.

And so, I announce to you all today, that sometime in the next few weeks, we will have a big, fat link at the upper right hand corner of this here blog. And that link is where you, me, and the rest of Cougar Nation will be able to donate our hard earned chump change for one huge goal of the football program you love – to help complete the construction of Phase III of Martin Stadium.

Not only will this next phase go a long way towards securing our membership in the coveted PAC-10 conference. But at the same time, you can feel really good about your standing in, and contribution to, the WSU football program. And oh yeah, when it’s all said and done, one heck of a beautiful game-day setting, right in the heart of campus! A setting that you, Cougar football fan, can always be proud of.

Now, this is different than what you currently see at WSUCougars.com. That link is for a donation to the WSU Athletic Foundation. But this new link will be specifically for the renovation of Martin Stadium.

With that in mind, here are a few choice FAQs of what the heck we’re actually talking about:

1) WHERE WILL THE PROCEEDS FROM THE DONATIONS GO?

Obviously, all proceeds will go to the WSU Athletic Foundation (who will also manage the account as noted below). This is all on the up-and-up. But as we already stated, each donation will be directed specifically for Martin Stadium Renovation, and nothing else.

The reason for earmarking these funds specifically toward football and the stadium is to not only support the next phase of the renovation. But because football generates the majority of revenues for the Athletic Department. And it is that sport – football – that is the primary focal point for the majority of the indicators needed to retain our standing in the Pacific-10 conference.

This message has been clear, right from the PAC-10 – upgrade Martin Stadium, or face a very unpleasant vote by the conference members.

2) WHO WILL MANAGE THE SITE?

In the coming days, I will be speaking with person(s) from the WSU Athletic Department to finalize these details. But in a nutshell, the link will send you directly to a Pay-Pal account managed by the WSU Athletic Foundation. The title of the account will be something like “Martin Stadium Online Contributions”, or “WSU Football Stadium Contributions to Excellence”, something of that nature. This will enable everyone from the online WSU community to see the fruits of their labor. And as far as keeping tabs on this money, we would like to get at least a quarterly report from the foundation on how it is going. Details like this will be ironed out shortly.

3) WHICH WEBSITES WILL PARTICIPATE?

This hasn’t been finalized. But, our hope is that the link and advertisement for the account would be provided by ALL of the WSU fansites in the online universe. This includes Cougfan.com, Cougzone.com, Cougcenter.com, WitchesofEastman.blogspot.com, and the like.

The idea is to provide a quick and easy portal from which all readers and fans of WSU Football can donate what they can, when they are so inclined. This will benefit WSU, which should be the ultimate goal of all the fansites on the Internet. We are not doing this for any self-serving reason. We just want to help, and this is the way we want to go.

4) WHY IS THIS PARTICULAR SITE NEEDED?

Well, for several reasons.

First, our athletic department is in serious trouble (duh). From budget cuts handed down by the state, to the cancellation of the Qwest Field Apple Cup series, to the horrific economic times gripping this country, the fact that our beloved Cougar football program is running low on funds for an essential stadium renovation shouldn’t come as a surprise. Don’t you read the news?!? It is tough all over, and the WSU athletic department is feeling it too.

Second, in kind of a weird rule, the WSU Athletic Foundation is unable to solicit donations directly to the WSU family without prior consent. In other words, if you are a Coug fan, but haven’t donated before, or haven’t purchased season tickets? WSU’s Call-A-Coug can’t call you asking for help. You must go directly to them, showing your interest. But guess what? WE CAN SURE COME TO YOU. And so, here we are…

Third, solicitations for donations always seem to come at “inopportune” times, don’t they? But in turn, these inopportune times can limit the level of giving. It is just the way it goes. But having a link to a quick donation site will simply streamline the process. It will make it fast and easy to give to something you care about.

Finally, embarrassment. Sounds funny to even say that, but it can be tough to tell the voice on the other end of the line that you can’t give anything right now. In reality, maybe you can give something, just not much more than a few bucks. We believe this method of an online, viral campaign will be the way for you to donate what you can, whenever you can, without fear of embarrassment if you don’t have much to give.

And, “how can $5 help” you may ask? It is such a small amount of money. Well, for exhibit 1A of how little things can add up fast, think of our last Presidential election. All the experts will tell you that one thing that really made the difference for our new President was that their campaign reached out to the little guy. They made it simple to donate $5 here, $5 there, all with the ease of a massive online campaign. And guess what? As insignificant as the donations might have seemed at the time, the whole thing worked!

5) WHAT IS THE DESIRED DONATION/CONTRIBUTION?

1,000,000,000,000.000

OK, not really. How about whatever you can give? Does that work?

Right now, in my situation, the budget is tight in the “BH” household. But, I know that I can at the very least sacrifice something insignificant, like a BH burger, each month to contribute to the cause. So, I’m going to donate 5-10 dollars a month until things change my way. I highly encourage you all to do the same.

6) Wait a minute. DOES WSU EVEN KNOW ABOUT THIS??

Yep. In fact, WSU likes the idea. We approached them late last year about something like this, and they reciprocated the interest. Unfortunately, circumstances prevented anything further. OK, we basically dropped the ball. You know, stuff came up! But our desire to help has never wavered. We are now focused on what needs to be done, and it is time to get rolling.

7) WHEN WILL THIS GET STARTED AGAIN?

In the coming weeks. In the next day or two I will be back in touch with the WSU Athletic Department to help formalize the concept and begin working on logistics. Given the severity of our current situation, my guess is that it will not take long to get something in place.

In the meantime, I hope you will begin considering who it is that you can solicit to give a buck or ten (million?) to the cause. And unlike half the regular stuff on this site, no, this isn’t a joke. It is urgent for all of us to step up and give whatever we can.

There are no more excuses. We are going to do everything we can to help. And we know, dear reader, that we can count on you to do the same. And don’t think that for one second that a small amount of money doesn’t matter. It does matter, and it will help. So let’s show the rest of the conference that we care. And let’s cement our standing in a great BCS conference like the PAC-10! The time for talking and excuse-machine-cranking is over. IT IS TIME FOR ACTION!


Does NFL Draft Talent Matter?

April 27, 2009


First off, without a doubt, CONGRATS TO BRANDON GIBSON! Heading to Philly in the 6th round of yesterday’s NFL draft, it could be a nice landing spot. He was actually “mocked” to head to Philly by one service, which is cool. And maybe his WSU experiences in our passing game will help him in a west-coast offense? Anyway, whatever happens, whether he makes the team or likely lands on the practice squad, CONGRATS!

That’s now 15 straight years WSU has had a player drafted in the NFL, beginning in 1995 (no players drafted in 1994). And, for good measure, the second year in a row that WSU has had the only player drafted from the state BCS schools (UW was shut out for the second year in a row).

Here’s a question for you. Looking at the breakdown of NFL draftees by school, does it actually matter whether or not your school sends players to the NFL? In the PAC-10, it sure looks that way.

USC = 11 players drafted
Oregon State = 7 players drafted
Oregon = 6 players drafted
CAL = 3
Arizona, ASU = 2 players drafted
WSU = 1 player drafted
UW, UCLA, Stanford = 0 players drafted

Sounds about right. USC has been an NFL factory forever, and this year is no exception.

And the Oregon schools have been sending a lot of talent to play on Sundays in the Y2K decade. But looking at that list, then looking at the PAC-10 standings last year?

1) USC
2)Oregon (tie w/ Oregon St)
3)Oregon State (tie w/ Oregon)
4)CAL
5)Arizona
6)Stanford
7)ASU
8)UCLA
9)WSU
10)UW

Amazing. The top five slots in players drafted basically mirrored the top five in the standings. And from 6th place Stanford to 10th place UW, only THREE total players picked. That’s half the conference producing only three NFL draft choices. Seems like a real have-have not scenario?

Here’s the weird thing, at least for this year. One would think, looking at the way it all broke down, that the best teams sent the most players to the NFL, while the worst teams do not. That’s SORT of true, but this year? In a weird twist, the BCS Championship game only had a combined EIGHT players drafted over the weekend. Oklahoma had five players picked. And your national champs, Florida? JUST THREE players picked! That’s only one more than the Arizona schools, and just two more than WSU. For a national champ to send only three players? Very, very odd. In fact, the combined number of draft picks from a BCS title game is the lowest ever.

I guess some of it could be attributed to the youth, of both Oklahoma and Florida. Both QB’s came back to school, and many believe Sam Bradford will be near the top of next year’s draft. And Tim Tebow, no matter his position, will be an NFL football player.

Or, maybe it’s the offensive systems that makes it difficult to project at the NFL level? Both Okie and Florida run spread-type schemes, with Florida much more of a running scheme while Okie loves to spread it and throw it forever. And remember Graham Harrell, Texas Tech record-setting QB, and Chase Daniel, who ripped up Big 12 defenses at Missouri? BOTH QB’s weren’t even picked by a single NFL team, both undrafted free agents. Again, the schemes themselves make it difficult to project on the next level. Anyway, the BCS title teams, just a weird anomaly to this year’s draft.

Speaking of draft, I thought this list was interesting. It breaks down the entire number of draftees, ever, for each NCAA school. Notre Dame at the top with 462, USC right behind them at 461. And for what it’s worth? WSU is currently #42, which again, seems about right. Not UPPER class, but maybe more like upper-middle class?

Moving elsewhere, we were JACKED about Aaron Curry and the Seahawks!….until we also heard that the franchise tag has been lifted on Leroy Hill in the process? WHAT!?? So you ditch Julian Peterson, tag Leroy Hill, draft Aaron Curry…and then cut loose Leroy Hill? I know the quotes are that the team is hoping to now sign him to a long-term deal, but wow, what a weird situation. Does Hill feel slapped in the face, enough so that he’ll bolt to another team? Or does he want to stay badly enough, and that this move is just a procedural thing before signing him long-term? I don’t get it.

Grippi has some good stuff on the spring finale, including some quotes by Wulff who claims “Every person got better. Because every person had a good attitude”. At least the healthy ones got better? They were awfully thin by the end of spring. Anyway, check it all out here.

Finally, the UW/Key Arena bill appears to have morphed into just Key Arena. And while the regular session of the legislature wrapped last night, it does appear likely that they are headed for overtime. Does that mean anything for the sports fan? Who knows. Anything can happen in a special session, so there is no guarantee they will get to the amended bill, which now specifically states the use of funds as a “multipurpose sports arena” instead of “stadiums in King County”. But the late amendment to get specific in terms of the purpose of the tax money might be a signal that they will address this in a special session. We’ll see.

Enjoy your Monday, and GO COUGS!

Aaron Curry!

April 25, 2009

WE LOVE THIS! Welcome to Seattle Aaron Curry. And your Madden ratings look pretty good? Although I think the “zone coverage” rating can come up a bit.

Look at the video and let your eyes be the judge:

He’s a high-character kid as well, bringing along with him a leukemia survivor to the NFL draft events in NYC. To see his tears of joy when he hugged his Mom, wow, that’s a fantastic moment. There has been a ton of good press that Curry is one special guy.

On the field, with Julian Peterson out of the picture, you just couldn’t find a better fit for the Hawks. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay gave the choice a solid “A”, for all the right reasons. And SI.com already says this is the best pick of the first round, giving the Curry selection their highest grade so far. Even though GM Tim Ruskell has now said they gave serious consideration to Mark Sanchez at #4, in the end they made the right choice for a pick who will play from day one. And to think of Leroy Hill, Lofa Tatupu, and now this guy joins the mix? Welcome Aaron Curry!

Finally, the spring game was today. With so many front-line guys or projected starters out, including the likely top two QB prospects for next year, well, even the idea of a scrimmage didn’t really move the needle did it? The offense got ONE TD on the day, a 38-yd catch by TE Andrei Lintz. But Lintz’s 38 yards on that one catch actually led the team in receiving yards for the entire day. All in all, not the most exciting spring game ever. As Grippi said in his morning post, now that it’s all over, time to heal, get stronger, and develop some leadership over the next three months before things get real in August.

Grippi did point out a good read by John Blanchette in the SR. Blanchette rips senator Ed Murray for his petty jab at the WSU loudmouths. Check it out here.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and GO COUGS!

QWEST FIELD APPLE CUP DOA

April 24, 2009

PER wsucougars.com, there is your Apple Cup news…Maybe we can call Oregon? Oregon State perhaps? Maybe another NW school will want to play us in Seattle, but not UW!

Discussions of Apple Cup at Qwest Field End
                                                                           
PULLMAN, Wash. – Regarding the ongoing discussions about the possibility of moving future Apple Cups to Qwest Field, Washington State University Director of Athletics Jim Sterk released the following statement Friday:
 
"President Floyd and I have decided not to pursue further conversations about moving the Apple Cup to Qwest Field," said Sterk.  “I want to reiterate that at no time did we have a finalized agreement. It became evident an understanding on ways to maintain the neutral-site atmosphere in regards to ticket allotment could not be reached; therefore, our student-athletes and Cougar fans would not be best served without this key component. I was not going to continue following a path that was not in the best interest of WSU Athletics, the university and our fans.”
 
“What made this possible agreement attractive were the additional number of tickets available to our fans, the financial gain seen by the athletic department, and the tremendous exposure created by playing a game of this magnitude at one of the premier sporting venues in the country. However, the final details could not be ironed out.
 
“We appreciate the relationship we have with First & Goal and will work with them to maintain WSU football’s presence at Qwest Field.”
 
— wsucougars.com —
 

Will Gibson Get the Call Tomorrow?

April 24, 2009


Huge day for NFL hopefuls tomorrow. And the biggest name in the WSU universe is, rightfully so, Brandon Gibson.

We all know the story. The kid made a bit of a splash his first year, then exploded in years two and especially year three. Year four, 2008? Uh, yeah, like the rest of the program, we’ll just gloss over that. It was bad, bad, bad. OK, injuries, QB issues, offensive line issues, new system, etc. It all rolled into one big ball of UGLY for 2008, and young Brandon wasn’t spared.

But the good news is that tomorrow is a chance to turn it all around for Gibson. How does Gibby stack up with the mock drafts?

Well, if you believe in Mel Kiper, Gibson should be happy this weekend. Kiper’s mock has Gibson landing in Atlanta as a fourth-rounder. Note – the ESPN article is a premium insider article, so, instead I’ve linked to an article that mentions Gibson in Kiper’s mock draft. Atlanta could be a nice fit for Gibson. QB Matt Ryan is on the rise, it’s in a dome so the atmosphere is nice and comfortable for at least eight games a year, and they are in the NFC “nascar” division so the weather should be quite comfortable down there.

Another mock draft has Gibson as a fifth-rounder, to Philly. Cold, sure, but Philly has the look of a major force next year. And having McNabb throw you the ball could be a very, very good thing.

Finally, one more mock has the Cowboys taking Gibson in the fifth round. Hmm, nice situation there with Romo. And a new stadium too, which is always cool.

So there you have it. There are a lot more mock drafts out there, but three is enough isn’t it? Anyway, as a second day pick, Gibson will at least get a look by someone to play on Sunday. But even if he follows the Bumpus route and goes practice squad for his first year, that’s still not a bad gig if you can get it.

One thing that would be pretty cool is to think of the starting trio of WR’s on the WSU roster in 2006 – Jason Hill, Michael Bumpus, and Brandon Gibson. If Gibson makes a team next season, and Bumpus can stick with the Seahawks, that’s all THREE starting WR’s from the 2006 team on an NFL roster. Could that ’06 version of the WSU WR’s be the best in school history?

Moving on, it’s gotten really ugly with the senate bill SB6116. Ugly in that WSU is squarely taking a lot of the blame, if you read some of the comments at SonicsCentral.com (be warned, it’s not pretty!). And so ugly that senator Ed Murray, one of the sponsors of the bill, has actually amended his bill to fight the use of funds for athletic department purposes. In other words, Murray is so frustrated by the loud WSU fans fighting this thing that he went out of his way to amend his own bill to try and hurt WSU.


But after all the noise we’ve made about this, including a banner flying over Oly saying fight the bill? Again, we’re the easy targets. Even if YOU didn’t fight this thing or are basically “whatever dude”, because of the colors you wear and/or where you went to school, you will get blamed.

Finally, there could be some news coming on the Apple Cup. That’s all we’re saying. Stay tuned.

ENJOY YOUR FRIDAY, and GO COUGS!

Are Coug Fans Sinking Sonics 2.0?

April 23, 2009

So late yesterday, there was some news on the controversial bill, SB6116. One of the bill’s sponsors, senator Ed Murray, declared to the Seattle Times that “the bill is dead”. The bill is a wide-reaching piece of legislation designed to allow King County to allocate some existing tax money when it becomes available in the near future, for a renovation of Key Arena, affordable low-income housing, the arts…..and POSSIBLY Husky Stadium. We say possibly, because, well, the bill doesn’t actually say “and Husky Stadium”. Instead the bill talks about maintenance for other sports “stadiums” in the county. Obviously Husky Stadium would fall into that category, but so does Safeco Field and Qwest Field, two venues that are terrific today, but will also need some work in the years ahead.

But to break it all down, the bill gives King County the ability to decide for themselves if they should funnel some of the tax money to Husky Stadium. If anyone remembers the pain of the M’s and Seahawks stadium issues, and how the King County council nearly blew both of those situations, you have to wonder if UW would ever see the money. Or at the very least, it’s possible that the County, in total and complete COVER YOUR BEHIND mode, would simply push it to a public vote (much as we saw with the M’s and Seahawks). They don’t want the ill will from the anti-everything crowd by authorizing tax money for a college stadium in an economy like this.

Anyway, all that out of the way, the bottom line is that the bill looked promising, but now has hit a road block. Why? According to Brian Robinson at Save Our Sonics, they are lining up to blame YOU, Coug fans. Check it out:

This thing passed rules because they had the votes. It got put to the floor waiting for a vote that had already happened behind closed doors like they always do. The straw count had shown that it would pass so they allowed it to be put to vote.

Suddenly we had the worst case scenario. A split caused when eastern district republicans started to feel some pushback from WSU alumni. It wasn’t really that much, but enough to start getting questions asked. When questions got asked people started to wonder “is this worth it?” The momentum that had built stalled.

Then Ed Murray sent his message that it was dead to (Jim) Brunner. To put it really simply he was willing to carry the weight, but he didn’t want to carry it uphill. He said to Brunner clearly “it is dead.”

Let me be clear on one thing – I love the work of Brian Robinson. Nobody has done more for the cause to return the NBA to Seattle than this guy. He’s the one who has taken the whole effort on his back, rallied the fans, and tried to do everything he can to point out what a fraud the OKC owners were at the time they were playing their get out of town game. But to then shift gears and try to put the proper pressure on the state to get this thing done is very admirable. And I don’t believe he hates the WSU fan. But it sure seems like some of the blame game is starting. And when Cougfan goes out of their way to fight this thing, well, we are the easy targets. Don’t say you weren’t warned IF this thing doesn’t come to fruition.

THAT SAID, even after yesterday, it’s really, truly NOT DEAD YET. As Tim Ceis of Seattle said last night, it is still alive, and won’t be dead until the entire legislative session shuts down. And even then, it’s not truly dead. The settlement with Clay Bennett says that in order for Seattle to receive another $30 million, the city must have approval for funding by 12/31/2009. I’m no expert (CLEARLY), but it is always possible something could happen, like a special session or something, before the end of the year?

Moving on, WSU Nation is still dealing with our own shocker yesterday in that less-than-uplifting chat with Jim Sterk. If you didn’t see it, please do yourself a favor and check it out here. Lots of things to be concerned about, but basically a sledgehammer reminder about where we are in the PAC, where we need to go, and most of all, why we are moving the Apple Cup to Qwest. It’s the money honey, pure and simple. We don’t have much, and we need more if we want to even attempt to level the playing field.

The issue of getting booted from the PAC-10 has many layers. But as one person told me late last night, the thing the conference is looking at with our situation is the gate, season ticket sales, and donations. It’s no secret that we are behind the rest of the PAC, but, to see it stated by Jim Sterk himself that we are $14 million in budget…behind the NUMBER NINE team in the conference? That’s a lot of ground to make up. And in no uncertain terms, Jim Sterk and the rest at WSU were told several years ago to get going on that stadium expansion to keep their standing in the conference. And if it didn’t come together? Well, there COULD be another vote.

It’s not like teams get booted from BCS conferences all the time. If anything, the conferences have gone the other way, where they have grown or expanded (BIG 10, BIG 12, SEC, ACC all in the last 10 or so years have changed). But it’s not like teams NEVER get kicked out of said BCS conferences. Some quick searching last night found one recent team booted from a BCS conference, in Temple from the Big East.


The reasons for their ouster were many, according to ESPN:

“The Owls were kicked out of the Big East after 13 years for failing to meet minimum requirements for membership, most notably in attendance, facilities and fielding a competitive team.

The Owls were overmatched in the Big East and haven’t had a winning record since going 7-4 under Jerry Berndt in 1990. They went 2-9 last season and are 19-60 in seven seasons under coach Bobby Wallace.

Big East teams decided in 2001 that it was no longer worth the automatic win to keep Temple around. The conference gave the Owls a shove out of the nest and told them to look elsewhere.

Even when the Big East was fighting high-profile defections, they never gave Temple another look.”

GULP.

Suddenly the Qwest Field Apple Cup for six years doesn’t sound so awful, does it? What I hope here is that Sterk is giving us the full picture. I HOPE this isn’t an empty threat to spur donations. When you are trying to recruit high-quality student athletes to your university, and you have your AD going on a chat to say that we are on shaky ground to even stay in the conference? Doesn’t exactly help the cause, does it? But for him to go public with this, when everyone is paying attention? It’s probably a very real possibility that unless we get our act together, the PAC-10 will give it a serious look.

That’s about it for a downer of a Thursday. ENJOY IT, and as always, GO COUGS.

Sterk Alerts WSU Nation

April 22, 2009

Jim Sterk ran a chat today at wsucougars.com, and as one might expect, the majority of the time he was on the defensive in regards to moving the Apple Cup to Qwest.

Give it a read here:
http://wsucougars.cstv.com/chat/042009aaa.html

But there was a nugget here that might open some eyes. When asked about the PAC-10 and where we are right now, Sterk laid it on the line:

"I’d like to point out that in the 1960’s WSU membership in the conference was at stake and only a close vote saved the school from being ousted from the conference. The Pac-10 is one of the most prestigous conferences in the country and allows the WSU athletics program and the university’s academic programs to be on the same field and classrooms as Stanford, UC-Berkeley, USC, etc. The athletic program at WSU is the only way this membership is achieved. Our annual budget is currently $14 million BELOW the next lowest member in the conference. If we do not take action to create revenue and level this playing field, we may be at some point in the future be facing ANOTHER VOTE. I will do everything that I can on my watch to prevent such an action. This is why I am pushing Phase III of the renovation and a considering the Apple Cup move."

Scare tactics…..or something else entirely? When you are in the basement, and are so far down there that 9th place is another $14 million away? Not to over-react, but Jim, when you put it that way?? Sign the damn deal already and move the AC to Qwest!

Can Western WA Transfers Help?

April 22, 2009


I know that for many, the news that Western Washington was dropping football was met with tremendous disappointment. It’s not a great story, in fact some in the know claim they were misled by the administration and are simply taking the quick-n-easy way out of this. Former QB Jason Stiles, a frequent color guy on FSN broadcasts, has helped spearhead a Save Western WA Football movement, including a website that is regularly updated on their cause, and giving people a chance to donate funds in an attempt to save the program. As of today, they have about $1 MILLION dollars pledged by alums and fans of the school, so clearly there is passion – and money – out there for Western.

I certainly hope they make it back. Having another team in-state is a good thing, D-II or whatever else, and to rip it away from Bellingham absolutely stinks. But it is what it is, in these trying economic times. Those in power at Western decided that football is gone, and it’s not coming back, at least under their watch. To them, it was either drop football and save the other programs, or, save football and drop everything else.

But in the fallout of the program shutting down, some players have moved on to other schools. And with that, it looks like little ol’ WSU could benefit from an all-effort Western defensive end in Casey Hamlett. In the last couple of days, there have been a few articles about Hamlett and his chance to make an impact at the PAC-10 level this season. This one in the Everett Herald, and the Evergreen had this today, about Hamlett and another Western transfer, center Michael Spears. Hamlett is a bit undersized for a D-1 defensive end, listed at 6-2, 239. But the WSU coaches are just fine with that:

“He’s been going with the ones and twos (first and second-team units),” co-defensive coordinator Jody Sears said, “and has been doing a really, really good job.”

Defensive line coach Malik Roberson echoed Sears’ assessment. “He’s got some toughness and he’s extremely intelligent,” Roberson said of the sophomore defensive end, who was on the GNAC All-Academic team last fall. “He’s a little undersized, but those other two qualities can make up for that.”

Maybe the best part? In the Herald article, Hamlett praised the winter workout program at WSU, calling it “lot more structured and more intense” than what he was used to. And the hard work and intensity of said workouts have paid off. “I feel more explosive, more powerful, more comfortable,” he said. “My maxes (in lifting) have all gone up.”

Sound familiar? Remember the Cougfan article that praised the bulking up of the players based on all the proper nutrition and hard work in weight room? Where “an eye-popping 33 players have packed on 10 pounds or more. And in some cases, considerably more”? It had been said all of last fall, heck, since last SPRING, that the team had to get bigger, stronger, tougher. How can we not like the news that players are actually taking to the weight programs, eating properly, and putting on the right kind of weight? Anyone that went to a game last year, especially against the likes of Okie State, Cal, Oregon, USC, you saw WITH YOUR OWN EYES that our kids just didn’t pass the eye test.
Especially up front, on both sides of the ball, they were simply manhandled. Step one in trying to compete with guys who are bigger and stronger is to, well, get bigger and stronger yourself. Go back and look at the ’08 schedule and results, and remember where this thing was last year. Fail to get bigger and stronger, you get 69-0, 58-0, 66-13, 66-3…..we don’t need to relive ’08 anymore do we? Pretty scary.

A few other things out there today. Cougfan is firing up the masses, one more time, against the UW tax grab. Turns out the senate bill that made it out of committee, SB 6116? The one with Key arena renovation included? Well, UW’s effort has piggybacked onto this bill. Just read the article yourself, we can’t do it justice in terms of the arguments against a $150 million dollar gift from the taxpayers.

Oh, and die-hard Sonics fans? They HATE WSU’s anti-stance on this thing. HATE IT. Some of the comments from frustrated UW’ers are pretty funny though. Give it a read if you want.


I am split – completely – on this. Part of me dreams of a major renovation at Seattle Center, which right now looks worse than Riverfront Park in Spokane. I would love a city center we can be proud of in the northwest, to see the Key expand, and bring back Sonics Reloaded with Steve Ballmer’s billions (and he would be the richest owner in all of pro sports btw). But is it worth it if the Huskies get $150 million dollars of King County tax money to create a $300 million dollar fortress on the lake, the most expensive NCAA renovation ever?

The thing I hate about it is this isn’t Oregon State or Washington State we’re talking about. This is the big, bad, rich, better-than-you Huskies. You know, the ones that constantly go out of their way to remind us of who they are? The ones with all their riches, all their excess, and they are the ones asking for a huge handout? I just hate that. Can’t they just figure it out on their own? Oregon did it, Oregon State did it, we are trying to do it. Why piggy-back onto the Seattle Center renovation? They want to blame WSU fans if this fails? Fine. We will blame UW, all the same, for getting into this mess in the first place.

Next, uniforms. Where and when will we see our new Nike versions of WSU? After all, UW has done a redesign themselves, and they will unveil them this Saturday at their spring game. It would be cool if we got a surprise at our spring game, but it sounds like it might be a little later before we see them (early May perhaps?).

Finally, don’t look for an Apple Cup announcement just yet. Both sides have gone into quiet mode as things get finalized. I would look to next week, at least, before an announcement is made. After all, the state legislature wraps things up this weekend. The budget cuts will be done by then, so the reasons for doing this will be crystal clear by the time the dust has settled.

That’s it for today. ENJOY YOUR HUMPDAY, and GO COUGS!