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Friday Night Notes

Cheer up, Jim. Of all the sad developments in the 2007-08 WSU football season, Jim Moore's semi-clinical Cougar depression is one of the most surprising. Here's an example:

I wish I could say I've had enough, but I can't. I'll be in Tampa this weekend for the Seahawks game, and I'll look for a sports bar that has the USC-WSU telecast. I'll watch another blowout and shake my head and hope for the future of this team to get here soon.

Well, maybe it's not surprising. This is one of the worst teams in WSU history, and there's no denying it. It's been hard on all of us, especially those of us who really care about the direction of the program. However, we're big fans of the Go 2 Guy (since he gave Nuss' WSU Hoops blog some well-deserved press), so I thought I'd give him two words to cheer him up:

Basketball season.

It's coming, Jim. Why let football season get you down when Aron Baynes is coming back motivated and trimmed down for the fall? Why let the blowouts weigh on you when we get one more year of Taylor Rochestie? Why worry about the future of football recruiting when the future of the basketball program has already arrived?

It is bad. We know what you're going through, Jim. It's been hard to right about the Cougs this year while digging up stats on how historically awful the team is. Even a talk with Coach Paul Wulff himself couldn't cheer Moore up.

Although, it is possible Wulff isn't get excited about football right now either. As a former player, Coug fan and current coach, I doubt Wulff is happy with his team's performance, even if it is partly his fault. The good news is there's always next year, and a few games left this year to try and pull out an upset. And if not, we're still guaranteed to have at least one competitive athletic team in Pullman this year. (Two if you count women's rowing)

More on the absurd situation in Arizona. ESPN's Andy Katz is reporting that assistant Russ Pennell will be hired as interim coach. This is surprising considering that associate head coach Mike Dunlap was the odds-on favorite to take over the team this year. Word has it Dunlap turned down an offer to replace Olson because it didn't have the longevity he was looking for. Even stranger: Dunlap will likely remain on the staff at Arizona while Pennell coaches the team.

Now, of course, the speculation begins. And it's at this point some national mediahead with no knowledge of the situation will throw out Tony Bennett's name, and the fear meter will begin rising for Cougar fans. However, it is unlikely that Tony goes after the job at Arizona, or vice versa. For starters, the one consistent point Bennett made during last year's coaching carousel was that he does not believe in transferring within the conference. Second, he's already turned down a "premier" college coaching job in Indiana. In some ways, the situation in Tempe is just as messy as that for the Hoosiers, with struggles on the court and weird things going on off it (e.g. the Brandon Jennings situation). Finally, does Arizona really want a coach with only two years' experience and a slow-tempo offense?

More realistic, and scary for Gonzaga fans, is the idea of Mark Few leaving Spokane to take over the Wildcats. Although, I hesitate to throw Few's name at the job, because he turned down Indiana too, the first time around (before Sampson). He loves Spokane, and he's got a good thing going there. He also knows what happened to his former superior, Dan Monson, who left Gonzaga and was subsequently fired by Minnesota.

With Few, Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon, or any other coach named, it will likely be a decision made at the end of the year. That is, assuming they are even interested in Arizona. I have a hard time seeing any coach leaving their team right now at the beginning of the season, especially with Few coaching a loaded GU squad.

What this may be, and let's hope it is for the sake of the inland Northwest's sanity, is Arizona buying time before they reach an agreement with Mike Dunlap on a long-term basis. But if the Wildcats really want to stir things up, how about Bobby Knight on an interim basis? ESPN would absolutely lose it. They might even stop talking about Brett Favre for five minutes.

Plus, I've always wanted to see Bob Knight in person at Friel Court.

Seattle University has had a re-birth of their basketball program, with interesting implications for WSU and the other schools in Washington. If you listen to Seattle's athletic department speak, it's obvious they have some delusions of grandeur.

"The Sonics are a big aspect to this. We didn't pray the Sonics out of town, but this certainly opens up opportunities for us," [Seattle U. President Stephen Sundborg] said, smiling. "We're looking to make Seattle a real college basketball town."

Whoa. I can't begin to tell you how many crazy things there are in that comment. First, "we didn't pray the Sonics out of town?" I believe this is a joke, but it seems like one of those "I'm not serious, but I am being kind of serious" statements. Then, making Seattle a "real college basketball town"? Is this a slight on the Huskies, or do they really feel that they can replace the Sonics? I think it may be a little of both.

Also, check out this quote in a Seattle Times editorial, also from President Father Sundborg:

"I'm told I'm the only college president in history to take the same athletic program from the NCAA's Division III to Division II, then on to Division I, or D-I, the highest level."

Translation: I'm awesome. The anti-Clay Bennett. Seattle U. coach Joe Callero also said, "Now, we are the big time".

However, if you are the "big time", shouldn't you at least be the best college basketball team in your city? Or higher than the fourth or fifth best program in the state? Last I checked, Washington isn't dead, Gonzaga has a stranglehold on the WCC, and WSU has the nation's best coach (my opinion). EWU has also had some success recently.

The good news is that if Seattle U. somehow achieves elite status in college basketball, advantage goes to WSU. Why? Competition with UW. Lorenzo Romar already has to fight off Kansas, UCLA, Gonzaga, Oregon, WSU, etc. for the wealth of talent on the west side. If he has to compete with Seattle U., that's one more win for us.

It's unlikely, because Seattle U. first has to gain access to the WCC, and then they'd have to unseat Gonzaga from its perennial throne. And "Elgin Baylor played here" is unlikely to resonate with high school recruits that want to compete for a national championship right now. But I guess it's fun to dream - and Seattle U. is doing just that.