The Tailgater's Guide to Cougar Football is a weekly series, published every Thursday, designed to prepare you for the upcoming week's matchup - both on and off the field.
Washington St. Cougars (1-9, 0-7 Pac-10) at Oregon State Beavers (4-4, 3-2 Pac-10)
Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR. 1 p.m. Pacific
Television - FSN
Radio - Cougar Sports ISP Radio Network
OSU 42, WSU 10 (2009)
Oregon State (-23)
Why It Matters
I think we've exhausted every possible Cougar storyline in 2010. So let's talk about something else. Something we're all talking about anyway.
Dave Niehaus died Wednesday. My first reaction was "That's really sad". My second reaction was "it's such a shame the Mariners never brought him the championship season he deserved to call". In fact, the Mariners didn't even get as close as a World Series appearance (the fanless Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays have 3 combined - ugh), and their best sources of nostalgia are 2 incredible regular seasons (1995, 2001) and an incredible ALDS. Everything else is mediocrity at best. Any self-respecting, proud, win-at-all-costs organization would have canned Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln years ago. I'm fairly certain the Mariners ownership are baking cookies for both men at this very moment, and contemplating a raise in their salaries for 2011.
The Mariners are a terrible franchise. From 1977 to 1990 they failed to finish a single season with more wins than losses. It took them eighteen years to make the playoffs. Their best player in franchise history left the city in his prime, and then ended his career with the team by suddenly driving cross-country and notifying the organization from Montana or something. The other best player in team history is currently a New York Yankee - and he's a "True Yankee" - meaning, of course, he won a championship and is a complete tool. Randy Johnson was great - he left. Ichiro is great - he's under-appreciated. Felix Hernandez is great - he may not win a Cy Young because he was backed by (arguably) the worst offense of all time. 2001 was a flameout starting in August. 1995 fell apart in Cleveland (the only city with a legitimate claim to being a more tortured sports city than Seattle). 2000 was a fun run until - who else - the Yankees ruined it.
Dave loved this franchise. He was there from the start. He was there from the bad times, to the marginally less bad times, and the times that were good for a while and then ended badly. He showed up every day with a childlike enthusiasm for the game and a relentlessly optimistic attitude. Granted, he wasn't 100% sunshine and rainbows and Scooter the talking Baseball - you could feel the disgust in his voice when Jose Lopez did something stupid, or when the Mariners made a boneheaded baserunning mistake. He always phrased things in a polite manner, but his feelings came through the radio. And when things were actually wonderful, you could feel the joy too. He had a wonderful career, and his love for that career, his hometown and his home team were always palpable through the radio. He had a way of getting all your senses involved in a game even though all you could realistically do was hear it. His hall of fame induction speech was something I'll never forget. I've gone from feeling happy when I hear one of his famous calls to wondering what the future of Mariner baseball will be like without him.
There is a point to this that's actually Cougar related. Cougar football is awful right now. Horrible. This game in particular is impossible to get really amped about: on the road, playing a much better team, with the Apple Cup being the only real thing worth playing for in 2010. Paul Wulff - the coach we all want to succeed - may or may not get justifiably fired in a couple weeks. Even with an improved Cougar team on the field it's hard to pencil this game in as being competitive.
I was irked by those commercials earlier in the summer where Dave asked us Mariner fans to "Believe Big". Mainly because of my disgust at the organization. Looking back now, though, I really think Dave believed what he was saying. Even when the season got hopeless, he really bought into that crap. The idea that just being at the park was the real joy of the game - even if Felix was going to lose 1-0 or Ryan Rowland-Smith was going to implode again. The beauty was just showing up. Just watching a baseball game under the blue sky. The smell of the food. The crack of the bat. The feel of the wind. You don't have to hate baseball because you hate how your team is playing. And professing your love for a game doesn't imply that you love everything the team you root for is doing. Supporting the Mariners didn't mean you had to give away your life savings on season tickets for a hundred loss team. You just had to turn on your radio.
The Cougars are a disaster sometimes. Watching your favorite team fail is rough. We all have bad days at work sometimes, bad days at home, bad days in school. Bad things happen. But maybe the real value in life is just showing up. Just getting to the stadium to watch the Cougs play. Just trying to do something challenging. Just spending time with your family. Just waking up to another day of doing the same things you do every other day.
Maybe that's the real beauty in life.
Now let's watch some football.
Key Matchup - Ryan Katz versus the WSU Secondary. Don't get me wrong, I think Quizz Rodgers will get his. Whether or not this game is a total blowout, however, depends fully on whether the middle-of-the-road Beaver passing offense can vault pass the not-totally-horrible Cougar pass defense. If Katz turns the ball over a couple times, the Cougs will have an easier time staying in this.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State
Jeff Tuel, WSU
Yes, I phoned in my research. Thank you for noticing.
Recommended Local Activity - OMSI. We're pretty much calling this as a Portland trip, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry has never failed to amaze me in all the times I've been. Although, when I was a kid, a reproductive exhibit there actually got me pondering what death was like. Thinking about that for the first time as a kid is a really sobering, slash terrifying experience. It really makes you think about things beyond your years. I'm not selling you on this, am I?
Go to the website instead.
Recommended Food - Burgerville. When I went to the location in Chehalis (Centralia maybe? They're pretty much the same city) I found that they list the nutrition facts on the food. Which is how I found out my chocolate shake had more grams of fat than the burger I was eating. That is JACKED UP.
I ate it all anyway.
Gametime Snack of the Week - Soft pretzels. A delicious, throw-able snack.
Gametime Beer of the Week - Dos Equis. The beer I order whenever I get Mexican food. What can I say? I'm a sucker for brilliant advertising.
Prediction - Oregon State 38, WSU 13
Remember, the only guarantee is that Reid Forrest is a better punter than your punter.
Enjoy the game, and as always, Go Cougs.