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Peter Roberts and the awesomeness of open try-outs

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I saw something shocking on ESPN's "College Football Live" yesterday. A sight I haven't seen in weeks on the Worldwide Leader in Sports. Something truly astonishing.

They actually talked about Washington State.

Why? Because the injury situation with Rogers (broken vertebrae) and Lopina (broken vertebrae with better prognosis) have forced the Cougars to hold open try-outs to find a new scout team quarterback.

I don't think this was a PR move. I really believe Wulff was forced to go out an find a walk-on QB to lead the scout team. And when your current backup quarterback happens to also be your backup punter, well, you know your depth is questionable. And, since building for the future is key, I'd rather put a jersey on and get mauled on the field than see J.T. Levenseller burn his redshirt. So getting a new scout team QB on board was necessary.

But if it was a PR move, it was absolutely brilliant. Instant comparisons to Vince Papale in the movie "Invincible". Shades of Rudy working hard enough in practice to piss off a then-younger Vince Vaughn and earn a starting spot on Notre Dame's football squad. We love walk-ons. We love the come from nowhere, seemingly overnight success story.

Peter Roberts probably won't start a game for the Cougs. He did play in high school, and was second-team all-Kingco for Woodinville High last year. He's an architecture major - which, as an architecture drop-out myself, I can tell you means he has much more stringent academic responsibilities than a lot of players already on the football team.

So why do we care? Well, for starters he beat out a large number of competitors for the job, which means he's probably better at quarterback than you and I are. And, more importantly, it's fun to dream. He could fade away into obscurity, but he could also improbably rise above the odds and lead the Cougs to the 2011 Rose Bowl. You never know. It's the idea that anyone can do anything that keeps us striving for things that other people say are impossible.

Wulff should remain open to these kinds of try-outs as he leads the program in the future. One of Nebraska's strengths when it was a powerhouse was the walk-on program. Texas A&M used to use walk-ons for special teams, a way to directly integrate the student body with the team. These things bring good press for the University; today ESPN focused on the try-outs and the injuries to Cougar QBs. Not a word about how awful we are, or how the offense is struggling even under a very promising young QB in Lobbestael.

We need stories like this, especially in a season so bleak. So here's to Peter Roberts, and the hope that he can beat the 1 in 100 odds and become the next Ryan Leaf. Well... the college version of Ryan Leaf, anyway.