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The Gravitron Diaries 1.3

Making sense of an unlikely victory, getting fired up for Pullman, and paying respects.

Stephen Dunn

If you were following me on twitter during the game last Saturday, I apologize for repeating the same nonsensical phrase over and over. I apologize even further if other people you follow started repeating it.

It started sometime late Saturday morning while doing yardwork (sidenote to our younger readers who think a September night game on TV means a day of "sitting around eating Taco flavored Doritos and drinking Kirkland Rum all day while watching whatever dreck the Big-12 is feeding you" once you hit your thirties, I'm laughing in your general direction and remain a little wistful at your optimism. I don't even have kids yet and I miss free time.) The plus side of doing yardwork in lieu of college football is that leaf blowers are really really awesome. I mean even if you're living in a dorm room with three other people and no outside duties to speak of, go down to Mac's Hardware and Sandwiches and get yourself a leaf blower. While turning up the juice for a particularly tricky set of wet leaves, the engine on my back makes a three note progression that sounded exactly like one of the best comedy bits of all time.

My leaf blower said "Daaaaaad. Iiiiiis. Great!" And for the rest of the afternoon well into the evening, it remained stuck in my head. So on USC's first possession where the defense forced a stop, I blurted out "Daaaad Iiiiiis Great!" A buddy of mine gave the appropriate "Gave us the chocolate cake" response and then asked why the hell we're doing that.

"Don't ask, it worked."

"Fair enough."

What I (and it seems the rest of you) was not prepared for, was having to repeat that line several times over because the Cougar defense played out of their minds for sixty minutes. Connor Halliday and the offense crossed the fifty yard line on two possessions last Saturday. And somehow we won that game. I'm not going to take all the credit by repeating the "GAVE US THE CHOCOLATE CAKE" line ad nauseum to propel our defense to making stop after stop; just most of the credit.

While I still have some concerns about this football team, raising them after the third time WSU has won in the Coliseum in history and on the verge of two straight weeks of cupcakes, now doesn't seem to be the appropriate time. It was one of the ugliest games I've ever watched start to finish, but damn if the ending wasn't pretty.



And all apologies to Nick Marshall: you were not the 12th best quarterback we face this season.

The synthesizer, marimba and drums of Toto's Africa can only mean one thing: tailgating season is upon us! I love the home opener more than any other day of the year. The weather is nice, everybody brings their A-game to their grilling selections, everybody shows off their new barbecuing toys, the Cougs are usually playing somebody we don't have to worry about, etc. I think part of it is just driving over that last hill into Pullman for the first time every year that gets me fired up. Taking a left and heading over to Dissmore's and remaining flabbergasted the beer cooler just keeps getting bigger and you remain puzzled how you weren't drinking warm beer all through college when the cooler was much smaller (maybe you were!) This is my Christmas and I couldn't be more excited to crush 15 chicken sliders and a thousand Miller Lites before heading into the stadium. Playing "Africa" over and over is sort of a happy accident from our group. The playlist we have for tailgating is roughly six hours long, but one day it played Toto a few times within 90 minutes or so. One guy motioned towards the iPod to skip to the next song, but the rest of us yelled to let it play. Now our tailgate is programmed to play it at least once per hour and we judge our tailgating efforts based on how many times we heard the song. Here's to all of you in your respective lots having an 8-Toto weekend.

You'll read a lot of words about the anniversary of 9/11 today, as you do every year. These are less important than all of them, but I figured I'd throw my two cents in since I'm only at 700 words. In September of 2001, I was finishing my last semester at WSU and living in the old-people's corner of my fraternity. On the morning of the 11th, I woke up hung over and ready to go to class like most students are wont to do and one of the freshman, fresh out of high school told me the twin towers were on fire. I was 23 at the time and like most 23 year olds, did not understand anything an 18 year old said. I swear there's a bigger language barrier between 18 and 23 than there is between 23 and 73. I figured he was reciting lyrics to a song I wasn't cool enough to know. I headed downstairs and there were over twenty people in the TV room, when there usually weren't more than two or three at that time of the morning. The Cougs had a monster game against Colorado in Pullman coming up a few days later and I figured everyone was in there watching SportsCenter giving some sort of preview: a thought I still legitimately can't forgive myself for having to this day. After finally putting the pieces together and figuring out what happened, I dropped my backpack and watched for what seemed like hours. Eventually, I shrugged off class altogether and a few of us just headed to the liquor store to get a bottle of whatever and I remember the line stretching outside. At 11 AM on a Tuesday. It felt so weird to live in the most isolated campus in the middle of nowhere and still feeling like that could've been the end. The hours I spent on my couch ignoring everything but CNN became days. I don't know anybody who went to class that week.

I know it feels cliché and almost trite to say that sports healed us after 9/11, but I think for the 15,000 kids in Pullman, that 2001 Cougar Football team got us through a lot. For four hours per week, we were able to put aside how monumentally life had flipped us over and we were able to watch our school be better than other schools at something as awesome as Football. That 2001 team got me and a lot of WSU students and fans back to an even keel and I can't thank them enough for that. Dave Minnich, you will always be my favorite player. No matter how many Rose Bowls we eventually win this decade.

Anyway, lets all head back to God's Country this weekend, eat way too much red meat, listen to way too many songs that came out when we were 19, and watch the Cougs hang ninety on Southern Utah. Give us the chocolate cake.

Go Cougs (Take Toto +8 and the over)