I'm glad the first tailgate is out of the way.
I appreciate my first trip to Pullman each year more than anything, just because I forget how much I miss driving over that last hill, but the counterbalance is the first tailgate is usually no better than a warmup. Some guys didn't show up because of sick kids, some didn't show up because of new kids, some of us were left in Washtucna when their RV tires exploded, some of us forgot to start cooking until we were eight beers deep and some of us forgot to head back to the lot at halftime for re-inebriation. We had fun, we kicked ass, but we were a little off our game and were grateful to be playing an FCS school. Sound familiar? Two different scenarios made me realize we were not in midseason form: the first was when my friend Scott, who does not drink, was carrying around this blue can of what we think was off brand cola, but at the time we were convinced was beer. A solid hour went by of us speaking in hushes "Does Scott drink now? Should we make him do a Fireball?" before we finally caught on. The other was catching myself thirty minutes into a discussion about mortgages, GET accounts and retirement plans before anybody bothered to ask about a UCLA score. We needed this game to sort out the kinks. We will be ready for Idaho; our tires will be patched, our children will be healthy and our discussions will be about beer, football, meat and meat bi-products.
So onto Idaho.
The media, coaches and players always seem to refer to our game with Idaho as a "friendly rivalry." Which is true, I suppose. I like the fact we play Idaho and want to play them every year if it means they stay an FBS school. It's fun when they pack the east end zone, even though they leave their inflatable mascot at home now. Seriously, current students should be upset these three things no longer exist in Pullman: 1.) Shakers, 2.) Senior Golf and 3.) Idaho's inflatable mascot.
But do you know why we actually think it's friendly? Because we always win. For the same reason Notre Dame LOVES playing Navy. Have you ever seen what this rivalry looks like when Idaho gets one? The second-angriest I've ever been at Cougar football was in 1999 when we lost to Idaho. The angriest I've ever been was in 2000 when they beat us again. We gave them a stadium; they gave us a losing streak. Thirteen years have passed and I'm still not over losing to Idaho twice. I'm over losing to Colorado last year, losing the 2002 Apple Cup, the 1997 Rose Bowl. But losing to Idaho twice? I will likely see my grave before I let this go. Mike Price should've been fired during his post-game press conference of that game. I still stand by that. And no, the 2002 season does not make up for it.
So on behalf of the fan base, I will apologize to Mike Leach in advance for putting him into this no-win position. We want to play Idaho every year. We won't really care if you beat Idaho, but will drag you under the keel (I MADE A PIRATE JOKE) if you dare lose or even make it close. Sound fair? Good luck!
Night games in Pullman during September are my favorite part of the season. It gives you plenty of time to enjoy a good tailgate without having to prepare breakfast. You can logistically leave Seattle for Pullman at a reasonable hour (9 or 10 AM) and still arrive with plenty of time to party. The sun is usually going down right when the game starts, but it's not prohibitively cold enough to have to wear pants. But as of Wednesday, I still haven't made up my mind whether or not I'm going. My wife is due to deliver our first kid sometime within the next 10 days or so, and I'm not entirely sure if mediocre-husband protocol allows me to be 300 miles away from a woman so close to being due. 50% of me is convinced the kid isn't coming until early October so I can go enjoy running the score up on the Vandals guilt-free; 49% of me is paranoid of the story that will be told to my child every fall about its father's failed priorities; then there's also this irrational 1% of me that understands if I miss the birth of my first born just to get drunk in a parking lot for an Idaho game, that gives me a trump card on literally every excuse any Joe Seattlegame tries to give when he won't go back to Pullman.
For those of you still upset with my lack of positivity post-Auburn, here's an update: I don't think this is a 3-win football team anymore. Right now, I think we're at 4-5 wins, and is still subject to change. I'm still pretty convinced our defense hasn't been tested yet and our offense looked good against Southern Utah, but that's like saying.....well, our offense looked good against Southern Utah. That's the best analogy. I'm sorry, back to back cupcake weeks leaves my prognostication skills rusty. I haven't even watched much football over the last week or so. We switched from DirecTV to Dish last week to get the Pac-12 Network, which meant the last week was spent watching all the crap on our DVR before we had to turn it in. There is no first world problem more first world than finishing your work day and realizing you have to knock out four episodes of Burn Notice before going to bed. But now we have a new DVR at 0%, which is one of the more liberating feelings I can describe. Everyone should do this every couple years. I have so much room to store football games I'll never watch again! It's really the best.
My hope this week is a similar outcome to Southern Utah. I'd like for Apodaca to play the entire 4th quarter, and the only starter on defense allowed to play all sixty minutes is Damante Horton, who should be allowed to jump every route to keep his pick-six streak going. I'd like to not worry about this football game and would rather spend four hours complaining about how we bought a new scoreboard and didn't bring back the Dancing Football, and asking every Idaho fan I see if they know anyone who has the power to bring back the inflatable mascot.
So let's descend back to the Palouse this weekend for our annual "friendly rivalry" with our brothers to the East. Just don't lose. Or else.
Go Cougs (take ‘em and give the points).