Happy Selection Sunday everyone. For college basketball fans everywhere, today is the day that will answer many of the questions we've been asking the last few weeks. Which bubble teams will get in? Whose bubble will burst? Who will garner the fourth number one seed? Which team will beat Gonzaga in the second round? It's an evening of watching "experts" break down the bracket (while Dick Vitale decries some poor team's "kids" being left out), and trying to figure out which teams I'll pick to for my Final Four.
Selection Sunday is a bittersweet day for us Coug fans however, since the name "Washington State" is rarely seen when the bracket is revealed. That will be the case again this year, as the Cougars finished with a 10-21 record. As Bone Watch 2014 enters its fourth day, Cougar fans await what we think will be Bill Moos' decision to move forward with a new basketball coach. Let's just hope the situation doesn't become another Panda Watch.
So as we deal with the present state of WSU Basketball, let's take a look back at a year when times were far better in the program. As an aside, I can't believe it's been 20 years now, which means I'm getting old. The 1994 edition of WSU Basketball would be the first team in over a decade to make the NCAA tournament. Kelvin Sampson had rebuilt the Cougars from scratch, as they'd finished with a 1-17 Pac-10 record just four years prior. The Cougs had narrowly missed the tournament in 1993, settling for an NIT bid, but they returned a strong core of experienced players, and welcomed some talented newcomers like Ike Fontaine and Donminic Ellison.
My one vivid memory of that regular season came after the Cougs defeated a very good Cal team, led by Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray, to close out the season. My memory doesn't stem from anything that happened during the game. Following the game, the fans stormed the floor (understandable since they'd just beat a pretty good team). Once order was restored, the team...cut down the nets! A WSU team that wasn't a lock for the tournament, and could even be considered a bubble team, cut down the nets in celebration. If that doesn't symbolize the paucity of WSU basketball success, I don't know what does.
After the bracket was revealed, matching the eighth-seeded Cougars with the ninth-seeded Boston College Eagles, we waited for game time to be announced. Since it's WSU and there always seems to be bad with good, the Cougs were scheduled to tip off on Friday, just after noon, during school. Of course. The Coug fans among us were not going to let that stand. Knowing what a huge fan I was, my mom didn't hesitate to write a note excusing me from school. We left school around lunch time to watch the game at a classmate's house.
The game started off well, and the Cougs took a 10-point lead to halftime. It was around this time that word of what we were up to got to the Vice Principal. He was so mad that he called my classmate's house and demanded that we return to school. Mr. Thielman (whose house we were at), a dyed-in-the-wool Cougar fan and one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, answered the phone. He told the Vice Principal that there was no way he was going to make us go back to school, because this was a special occasion and he didn't want us to miss it. Bless you, Mr. Thielman (who also took me to my first Cougar football game in Pullman in 1986, the opener against UNLV, and told me he'd heard good things about a freshman named Broussard) for sticking it to the man.
Unfortunately, things didn't go so well in the second half. Boston College rallied to tie the game, and it went back and forth until the end. I still have nightmares about Bill Curley getting putback after putback, and stopping any momentum WSU could muster. He absolutely killed us. The Cougs would lose 67-64, and BC would go on to beat #1 seed North Carolina, advancing all the way to the Elite Eight. As usual, we were left to ponder what might have been.
The future looked bright, however, with talented players like Mark Hendrickson, Fontaine, Ellison, and Nate Erdmann returning. As we all know, it wasn't meant to be. Coach Sampson left for Oklahoma, WSU hired Kevin Eastman, and a gradual decline of WSU Basketball began. Despite that, I'll never forget the first time I saw the name "Washington State" revealed on the bracket, and I'll never forget Mr. Thielman putting the Vice Principal in his place. So what if we got detention? It was worth it.
Washington State Cougars - Men's Basketball - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
With the characters in places all that was yet to be determined was the story line itself, especially the finale. An obstacle in front of WSU and its hopes of a Cinderella finish to its season was the fact they hadn't been to the tournament since the 1982-83 season.
Nothing to link today, but a reminder. While we don't expect the Cougar Women to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament, they will likely break a postseason drought when the WNIT field is revealed Monday night.
Cougars Rally Past Wildcats in the Ninth - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Behind a clutch two out hit from P.J. Jones (no relation), the Cougars rallied from a 5-4 deficit in the ninth inning, and closed out a 6-5 win. The rubber match is today at noon if you're able to tune in, or if you're driving around Tucson.
Scout.com: 2014 - Pre-Preseason Rankings No. 51-60
Mike Leach is ahead of schedule in Pullman, guiding the Cougars back to the postseason last year. The coach's trademark high-powered passing attack welcomes back starting QB Connor Halliday and just about every wide receive who caught a pass last season.
Our View: Paying Leach his bonus money would be classy gesture for Tech | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
They're still talking about our football coach in Lubbock, more than four years and two coaches later. My guess is Coach Leach wholeheartedly endorses the editorial board's viewpoint.
Chris Fowler replaces Brent Musburger on Saturday Night Football - College Football - Richard Deitsch - SI.com
Like many of you, I've become accustomed to Brent Musberger calling the Saturday Night national telecast. Who doesn't love it when Brent makes veiled references to the gambling line, or when he drools over some attractive young female in the crowd? Well, Chris Fowler is moving into that seat next year. Fowler is the consummate pro, and I doubt there will be any drop off in quality.
I read Richard Deitsch's Media Circus column every week, and it always contains some compelling pieces of journalism. This week was no different. This story left me shaking my head, and wondering how things like this can happen in modern-day America.
For decades, dozens of men with intellectual disabilities lived in an old schoolhouse and worked in a turkey plant. No one knew just what they endured.