I know there are many of you out there like me. Cougs who live in the farthest reaches of the country (or the world), who go months, maybe years without seeing someone else donning the Crimson and Gray. You have to pay for the extra channels on your cable just to catch the Cougar events that are "nationally televised" by FSN (thanks, Tom). Your WSU apparel is growing ratty and worn, because you haven't been to the Bookie in as long as you can remember, and buying gear online isn't the same.
Living east of the Mississippi means chances to see WSU without a long plane ride are few and far between. A football game in the South once every five years, the rare tournament in New York. These are your only opportunities to yell and scream for your alma mater without having the neighbors come to check and see if everything is alright.
These situations tend to bring out a bit of desperation, and that is where I find myself now.
After graduating I moved to Seattle. The four and a half hour drive to Pullman was not one I made often then (combination of not owning my own car and working shitty jobs that had the one-two punch of not paying enough and requiring work on weekends). I made it back for a few basketball games and football games, always thinking that the time would come again soon when I could be surrounded by fellow Cougs.
Then suddenly (okay not suddenly, there was about a six-month warning) I was in Tennessee. The only trips back to Washington during those two years were for a weekend to be in my best friend's wedding and a week over Christmas when the basketball team was in Hawai'i. Now I've moved even farther away, choosing to attend grad school at the University of Vermont.
Even as the football team was getting obliterated week after week, I pined for the chance to root them on in person. I only got to see Klay Thompson play as a freshman, and the junior version would have been a real treat to watch.
There was one time when a reader of the site who lived in the Nashville area sent me an e-mail. We got together to watch WSU basketball take on Oregon State over some hot wings. We spent 2 hours talking about our favorite Cougar sports moments and the 20-year age gap between us didn't matter at all. We were both Cougs. We shared a bond and that was all we needed.
And that is why I am so looking forward to tomorrow. To getting up at 6am (I may not sleep tonight). To driving ten hours through the entire width of New York State and into Western Pennsylvania. At the end, there will be a meetup with other alums at a bar, followed by my first live WSU sporting event since Rochestie's senior night. I can't wait to talk about my excitement for Mike Leach with someone who will fully understand. To be around others who truly appreciate the goofy awesomeness of Brock Motum. To participate in an impromptu fight song.
So even if tomorrow may be just for the right to call ourselves #101, I am as excited for this game as I've ever been for any.