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Merry Christmas from CougCenter

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Take the time to read about your Cougs before, after or even during the opening of the presents.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Good Morning. If you wanted to be around family and/or friends this today, hopefully you are. If you just want to be left alone and watch some TV, hopefully you have the remote and couch all to yourself. Me? I currently have nine people in my house. There will be no further elaboration.

I have two lasting memories of Christmas Day college sports. The first involves the Kelly Tire Blue-Gray Football Classic. It was a college all-star game contested in Montgomery, Alabama (Blue vs. Gray! Get it?!) that involved all the players from teams that didn't make a bowl game. So on nearly every Christmas morning of my childhood, I'd finish unwrapping presents and turn on ABC in hopes of seeing a Coug or two.

That all changed in 1988, when I woke up to some Aloha Bowl gear, opened presents, then watched the Cougs play in a bowl game for the first time in my memory. Turns out that getting a bunch of presents AND watching the Cougs win a bowl game is pretty much the greatest Christmas a kid could have.

On a different note (Debbie Downer alert) - A very good friend of mine, whom I met at WSU, had a child just over two weeks ago. Eight days later, the baby was diagnosed with leukemia. So my friend, along with his wife and children are spending Christmas in the hospital as their baby begins treatment. It's tough to imagine the cruelty of it all during what should be the most joyous time of the year.

As for me, I'll borrow a couple lines from O.A.R. - Food on the table, running car and tuck my kids in at night. The American dream in real life.

Hopefully this day greets you with the same fortune, whatever form that may take. Merry Christmas.

Football

CFB Rank: The Pac-12's top 25 players for 2016 - Pac-12 Blog- ESPN
There was a time, very recently, when WSU wouldn't have placed one guy on this list. This year, they got four. Two might even be back next year.

Washington State Cougars 2016 season review
However, the Cougars also left a lot of meat on the bone. Their losses to Eastern Washington and Boise State both are games they should want back, and if they had won those games, they would have spent several weeks in the College Football Playoff discussion.

Cougars and Gophers tour USS America | The Spokesman-Review
Washington State coach Mike Leach and Minnesota coach Tracy Claeys each addressed the teams assembled aboard the USS America (LHA-6), before the players and coaches broke into groups to tour the aircraft carrier, which is currently based at Naval Base San Diego.

Blanchette: Washington State’s bowl games, ranked from best to worst | The Spokesman-Review
Not since the pre-odds days of the 1931 Rose Bowl have the Cougars been bigger underdogs in a bowl game – nine points. WSU took control with a 19-0 third quarter that started with a 54-yard touchdown pass from Matt Kegel to Sammy Moore and ended with Jason David’s score off a Texas fumble.

Blanchette: Cougars’ bowl history has bloomed enough to erase memories of 50-year drought | The Spokesman-Review
As the source of the story was the late Carl “Tuffy” Ellingsen, there’s no possible way it could be apocryphal, so we’re taking it on an open-field run.

Blanchette: WSU’s top 10 bowl performances | The Spokesman-Review
Moore was hell on Texas – TD receptions of 12 and 54 yards, a 51-yard punt return to set up another and 193 yards of all-purpose yardage.

Isaac Dotson is making up for lost time | The Spokesman-Review
For many reasons, none of them relating to talent or desire, Isaac Dotson did not make a significant impact on the field for Washington State until his junior season. The Cougars found out what they were missing once they lost him again.

Beer

Best beer I had this week - Several candidates, as drinking season is in full swing. The title this week goes to a cold brew coffee red ale from Cigar City. I don't think they named it, but it was still incredible.

Not quite the Keurig of beer, PicoBrew brings craft beer brewing home
With more than 5,000 breweries making beer in the U.S., you might ask why someone would even want to make their own at home. Because you can. And if there's anything bigger than the "Eat Local" and "Drink Local" trends, it is the DIY movement.

Non-Sports

Orphaned by America's opioid epidemic | The Washington Post
Zaine Pulliam, 17, hugs his sisters Arianna, 13, and Zoie, 10. They live with their grandmother in South Charleston, W.Va., in the house where their parents died of heroin overdoses in April 2015. "It’s on me to make sure nothing goes bad for them," Zaine said of his sisters.