It takes around an hour and a half to drive from Kirkland to Maple Valley during rush hour on a Friday.
I know this because I make that drive every week in the Spring. Blackie, who I’ve been sitting with in Section 26 for over a decade now, is also on my comically awful rec-hoops team down in the MV and we usually are stuck in the same box for that dreadful 90 minute drive each week.
It gives you an awfully long uninterrupted period to bitch about WSU Football.
One particular evening, after laughing about Sarkisian’s fifteenth consecutive seven-win season, the discussion turned somber quickly once we realized how badly we wish we could have seven wins and be upset about it.
"Do you think we could ever get to a point where we could get to any bowl game on a consistent basis?" I asked.
We defined the parameters as
- Bowl games (.500 record) six times every decade
- Major bowl game (Holiday or higher) once per decade
I mean, we’ve got Leach now. I’m not entirely convinced Leach himself can win consistently, but it’s more about what he symbolizes: It means we’re committing to winning football games. If Leach can’t win, we’ll pay someone else a truckload of money to try. So if keep our clear eyes and full hearts straight, surely the wins will eventually start coming, right?
Well, we figured, for WSU to raise their average win total, somebody’s going to have to fall. Probably a couple somebodies. UW and Cal have brand new stadiums, Oregon State has the dean of P12 coaches, Oregon has enough cash to buy college football and Stanford has enough brain power to invent a new football division comprised solely of robots. It’s obvious they’re all as "committed" to winning as WSU; we could probably make a similar list of programs "commitment" in the South division, too, but I’ll spare you the gore.
Can we consistently beat OSU? Can we consistently beat Cal? Is there ever going to be a year where we embrace Colorado being left off the schedule in lieu of USC? Why are are there horseshoes? Are there horse socks? Am I asking too many questions that have no answer?
So after weighing the odds of WSU climbing any sort of totem pole with our newfound sense of commitment, we fell silent for three minutes or so (as two grown men are wont to do when Call Me Maybe comes on the radio).
"Shit, we’re gonna lose ten games again this year, aren’t we?"
In Nusser’s weekly Cougcenter publishing schedule, he has
Tuesday Wednesday marked as "Sherwood’s cantankerous column." I laughed at that description, because I do seem to be decidedly negative in regards to this team’s outlook and you can only hear about how this is the closest the team has ever been and Summer workouts really showed how much we've improved so many years in a row before you begin to roll your eyes. But I don’t want my pieces to be viewed as that. I really don’t know what I want this space to be yet; I’ve only written 463 words so far. Don’t get me wrong: if and when we get blasted by Auburn and USC, I will be registering my disgust onto the internet with furious abandon, but let’s wait for that to happen first. What I’m hoping this space becomes is the journey we all take from being the jaded, cantankerous souls we are to completely buying into the system and reveling in the expectation of being great, and then dealing with others’ reveling when Mike Leach takes the Penn State job in 2016. Whether it takes 14 weeks or a few years, I want to believe again, and hopefully spitting out a thousand words each week will help me get there.
Or maybe I give up and start my gambling column back up again by Yom Kippur. Either way I’m getting drunk.
I’ve been heading to the bar a lot this summer. We’re having our first kid in a month, and my wife thinks it’s a good idea for me to get "being out in public" out of my system while I can. It’s either some sort of fantastic adult version of Rumspringa or she’s just trying to get me out of the house so she can watch her ABC Family dramas without my harsh and swift judgment. The bar I frequent doesn’t have a jukebox; they run all the music through an iPod shuffle that’s hooked up to Pandora and the ongoing battle among the bartenders over what station they end up with can be a wonderful process to watch. More often than not, they’ll decide on some sort of late-90’s contemporary rock station which will feed your drunk ass more Vertical Horizon and Wallflowers songs than you’re ready for (and not the Toto you need to survive).
One particular ska song I’ve heard more times than I care to admit came on (don’t judge me; 1998 was rough on all of us.) as we watched the Mariners fall behind by their billionth run of the summer; the first line is just so perfect:
Everybody’s better than I am, I think. Everybody’s better than me.
"Sounds like the theme song for the Mariners," says the guy next to me.
Settle down, Old Man. I’m stealing this one for my team.
Now bear with me for a minute; I promise not to do some hacky bit where I shoehorn song lyrics and movie quotes into flawed premises. But the point of the song is when you are stuck in a typhoon, the biggest bitch might not be the typhoon itself but the part where you’re trying to row yourself back to shore. I think the program has weathered the storm. Now we have to find out if our paddles work. OR IF SOMEONE ON BOARD IS A CANNIBAL.
No matter what, it beats the song that used to describe Cougar Football:
So let’s start the season. Let’s find out if this ship is seaworthy. Let’s go into this thing praying for the improbable and bracing for the inevitable. Another round of Cougar Football is about to hit you in the face. Make sure you brought your drinking pants.
Go Cougs (take Auburn and give the points).