Three simple letters have adorned the back of Washington State's helmets this year: ESF. No matter the jersey combos, no matter the stadium, no matter the game, those letters have been on the back of every helmet a WSU student-athlete wears onto the football field. The man represented by those three simple letters has been on the back of every player's mind for 11 games now. Throughout the year, every athletic team has carried that simple reminder of him. Somewhere on their uniform, a memory through his initials of what he meant to this institution and the people who love it and him.
Who he was, hell, who he is, embodied everything Washington State University is and can be: tenacious, vibrant, strong willed, steadfast, determined, caring, loving, friendly ... a Coug.
Our family lost an incredible educator, person, and friend this summer. He didn't know a ton about sports. But he knew how important this game is to us. He knew what it meant when Washington State wins the Apple Cup.
So, when the players run out of the tunnel at Husky Stadium tomorrow, I don't want them to win that game for alums, fans, or anyone else.
I want them to win it for President Dr. Elson S. Floyd. For EFlo.
Do it for him because of what he meant to one of your teammates. Do it for him because he kept his arms open to educating young adults in this state when your opponent's institution refused. Do it because he cared so deeply for each and every one of your classmates. Do it for him because, as he was quite literally dying, he wanted to ensure Washington State University ended a century-old monopoly on medical schools in this state. Do it for him because he loved this school more than anyone could have ever possibly expected him to. Do it because everyone, EVERYONE, got a handshake and congratulations when they graduated.
You've already propelled yourselves higher than just about anyone expected you to this year, gentlemen. You've been resilient in the face of adversity. You've been determined against opponents who seemed to have you outmanned and overmatched. You've won when people told you it would be impossible. You've gotten to the edge of the precipice. Now it's time to fly.
One more time. With feeling. For him. Go Cougs.
Photo: Washington State University