The fall semester of 2009 was part one of my senior year. And it also meant it was my final season of Cougar football as a student. Since I was a sophomore, I'd been the public address announcer for women's soccer and baseball and enjoyed doing it. It was fun belting my baritone voice out for all to hear (well, at least those at the Lower Soccer Field and Bailey-Brayton Field). It was beyond fun thinking of new ways to say players' names with my roommates or getting to scream "Go Cougs!" after any game, be it a win or loss. Don't tell the athletic department but I probably would've done the job for free.In late September after women's soccer had just beaten Weber State, I was walking to my car when my boss caught up to me. He told me Glenn Johnson was going to be out of town for the weekend of November 14th, Dad's Weekend featuring a football game versus UCLA. Now, the speakers at Martin Stadium couldn't just lay silent. He asked if I would do it. I stood there, dumbstruck. Me? Replace Glenn? I think I muttered a nervous "uh huh" and my boss responded with a big pat on the back and a reassuring "You'll do fine." Before he got back in the car though, "Oh, almost forgot, he'll miss the basketball game against Mississippi Valley the day before so I need you for that too." It's a miracle my pants stayed dry. No big deal, just the regular season opener with the largest crowd of the season (eventually surpassed only by the UW game).
After a near nervous breakdown at the basketball game, the football game was here. I'd prepared meticulously, read over both rosters at least a dozen times, only further destroying my nerves. At 8:00 AM, my roommate came in and woke me up with a scream of "Go Cougs" and a shot of Admiral Nelson's. I said I had to PA the game. He said I was too nervous the day before. I took the shot. He left the room and I stepped into the attached bathroom to take a shower. He came back in with an open can of Busch Light. I was only a stolen Holiday Inn towel away from being as naked as a jay bird. Get out I scream. My eyes are closed he said. Dude, I can't have another drink I said. Man up he said, you're still too nervous. A shower beer it was for me. I came out to the living room and there was my dad, having his morning coffee. Need a sip he asked. I said sure. I almost choked and asked what was in here. Whiskey he said. My father, the Husky, was getting in the Cougar spirit.
I stopped with the hooch after that. Our usual fall morning of college football on two televisions (that right, a plasma stacked on top of an old big screen. Picture ON Picture) was relaxing. Then it was off to the game. My roommates, encouraged by further inebriation, saw fit to tell everyone on the bus that I was filling in for Glenn Johnson. This prompted many "say Here Come the Cooooooooooooougs!" When I informed the bus I wouldn't be copying Glenn's style, including refraining from "NOOOOO GAAAAIIINNNNNN" the disappointment was culpable. No matter, I have more respect for him than that.
I stepped into the press box and there was the microphone. Why I got here 2 hours early I have no idea. My nerves were tying my stomach in knots. I talked to the UCLA sports information guy about pronunciations. I grabbed some food. I took a good ribbing from some media guys and from the WSU Sports Info people.
I was then informed I'd be introducing Jack Thompson who was receiving some sort of award that day. Oh great, a Cougar legend. Fantastic. Oh by the by my boss said, forgot to tell you. They're naming the radio booth after Bob Robertson so you're going to introduce him too. Now, Bob Rob isn't just the legend to me. He has the job I want more than any other. My career goal then and still is now going play-by-play for college football and basketball for a major network but if WSU ever comes calling, I'd drop everything in a second. Now I wished I had a little bit of bottled liquid courage.
But I got through it. Not so bad I thought. Then I remembered I hadn't thought of a way to introduce the team after the band. I panicked. I can't do it like Glenn. I would later be described as looking "as if I was at the altar and I didn't know whether to say ‘I do' or not." And by the time they were creeping out of the tunnel, I still hadn't thought of it. So I belted out "HEEEEEEEREEEEEE COOOOOMEEEEEE THE COOOOOOOUUUUUGGGGGAAAAARRRRRSSSS!!!!!" I turned the mic off. I took a sip of water and was barely able to keep my lunch down I was still nervous. Luckily my only other mistake was to mispronounce Chane Moline's name twice (for those of you wondering, it's SHANE MOLE-EEN. Thanks overly-pompous UCLA beat writer from some paper down that way!).
The rest of the game when just fine. Hell, by the time the clock ran out, there was barely a soul in the stadium. I went home, upbeat, had some drinks with my dad and went to see Jeff Dunham, then went to Valhalla. Once again, my roommates felt compelled to tell our friends and a few strangers about my day. Drinks were bought for me, the night wore on. And as we stumbled back to the bus, including my unusually composed father, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I'm proud of you said my dad. Thanks dad I said. I know you already knew that he said, I try and tell you as often as I can (he does, one thing I've never had a problem with were encouraging parents). I know dad, I said, but I'm glad your proud of me for announcing. No, not for that he said, I always knew you'd do that, I'm just proud you didn't throw up when you did it; I mean, 25,000 people, a national television audience, replacing a legend, I mean wow.
As if on cue, it all hit me. I found the nearest garbage can and let loose. Oh well, my dad said, you almost did it. I'm still proud of you he said, adding the best line of the night that left my roommates almost in tears of laughter: Mostly because you found the can; that's my boy!
I blame the 151 topped AMF's at Valhalla.