Hi there. My name's Grady, and I'm a Coug.
I'm currently a Pharmacist, a part-time sportswriter and WSU Alumnus two times over (Pharmacy, Science). I lived in Pullman for seven years, meaning I'm well versed in losing and the occasional glorious victory (Taylor's shot, the bubble screen to Harvey, Brink-to-Gibson etc.). I'm a native of Veradale, Washington and a graduate of Central Valley High School. I like long walks on the beach and curling up with a good book. And by "good book", I mean watching TV.
How did I get into the semi-pro-sportswriter thing? It started as a way to channel my pseudo-obsession with Cougar Athletics and procrastinate from doing Pharmacy homework. If you're one of my professors, I'm only kidding about that last part. What I really meant was "improve my communication skills".
When Jeff Nusser approached me about joining him in starting up a Coug blog for SB Nation, I jumped at the chance. It was a wonderful opportunity and the SBN network has a lot of great features I'm sure you'll enjoy. We've joined forces with a few other great writers along the way, and have since been overwhelmed by how much our humble little site has grown. The goal is to make this place your favorite place for Cougar sports news, analysis and discussion. We also want to make things interactive. So go ahead and add your thoughts to the comments. Don't be shy. We'll try to be nice to you if you're new, just don't hate on our players too much (they are college kids, after all). Just try to keep things clever, intelligent, and have fun with the site.
[Author's note: this is where it gets lengthy]
What am I doing here? Well, I'm here for the same reason you are.
We're Coug fans. And you don't just become one by accident. There's something about Pullman - I don't know if it's something in the water, or the perceived notion that there's "nothing else to do here" (completely false, I might add) - but something about Cougar athletics draws you in. We're different than other fans. Something makes us more passionate than your average fan. The highs are higher, the lows are lower, and we go to greater lengths for our teams than most people are willing.
There's a reason thousands of fans drive 300 miles across the state to fill a stadium that's just about the size of the city it sits in. A reason we stand outside in below-freezing weather for hours just to get good seats for a basketball game against UCLA. Or bundle up in that same weather for a football game. A reason we still wear 'WSU' sweatshirts and indoctrinate our kids to become Cougars long after we've left campus. Or buy three times as many school license plates as a certain university on the other side of the state. Or beat out that same school in a Katrina relief fundraiser where the winner got its colors on the Space Needle. Or go out of our way to dominate internet polls where our school is involved.
Maybe it's the underdog mentality. In the past fifteen years we've seen the best football team since 1931 and the best basketball team since 1941 (both 67 years apart, to be exact). Neither one won a national championship. Our expectations are different - we don't necessarily "expect" Rose Bowls or National Championships. Instead we demand that our teams work harder than any other school in the conference, maybe even in the nation. When the talent is there, that mentality leads to conference championships. And even when the talent isn't there, it leads to upsets and performances that hardly anyone else outside of the state sees coming. One of the reasons Dick Bennett loved it here so much is that we reward teams that compete. Yes, winning or losing matters, but at the end of the day we're all Cougs. We'll always throw our support behind the team, and we'll always be back next season.
I've often wondered what it would be like to win that elusive national championship. Will we turn into Red Sox fans and go from lovable losers to arrogant winners? Will be burn couches in the middle of Colorado Street and break the windows of Pullman's small businesses? Or will we set the example for the rest of the country - support our team with humility, dignity and even some grace. I'd like to think it's the latter, although more realistically it would be a little of both. Either way, I'd like to find out. Maybe it's an impossible dream. After all, the Huskies have a gazillion dollars, a 72,000 seat stadium, 368 Tuiasosopo kids, and only half of a national championship to show for it*.
It's a fun dream though, and we shouldn't lose it. Keep saying "Go Cougs" to that guy at the Dallas Airport you don't know with a WSU shirt on. Keep putting down $80 on Cougar merch at Crimson and Gray (or, in the interest of fairness, the Bookie). Take pictures of the Coug barn off of Highway 26. Do everything in your power to summit the giant bronze Cougar outside of Martin Stadium. Eat, drink and sing the fight song for no reason with a bunch of people you don't know. Jump off that 30-foot cliff into the Snake River. Wear crimson stuff. Keep showing up at home football and basketball games.
Enjoy being a Cougar, because there's nothing else like it.
*- unless you're a member of the Helms Foundation, in which case it is one and a half.