It all started so beautifully.
My tailgating group discussed the changes in parking tiers where we found our usual spot had dropped down a level this season. With the added competition, an agreement was formed where we really had no other rational choice but to get to Pullman an hour earlier than planned. And on a day with perfect weather, near-perfect attendance and our first chance to drink together in nine months, getting an additional hour to partake in the greatest tradition on the planet made for an impeccable afternoon.
Leave it to Cougar Football to wreck shop on everything wonderful about Cougar Football Saturday.
I’ve spent the last few days really trying to focus on how much fun I had before kickoff. Walking through the parking lot toward the bathroom, I passed a car pulling into an open spot. The passenger door opened and BLARING out of the stereo was Ace of Base’s "The Sign." The guy getting out of the car realizes his music can be heard from outside his vehicle and declares "I swear it’s not my music!" This three-second exchange was literally all I wanted to write about today. Like, I was praying WSU would win 48-9 so I could just discuss their back catalog. Dude, I’ve been there. My wife listens to the Sirius Top 20 in the car and I’ve heard every Ariana Grande song enough times for me to believe I wrote them myself. And wouldn’t you know it, in the second half as the Cougs are down ten points to flipping Eastern Washington, I see Ace of Base guy walking by in the club section. I yell out "AND IT OPENED UP MY EYES, I SAW THE SIGN." Dude looked like he was going to kill me. And he could have. Thank you for not doing the killing, sir.
What could have been the funniest exchange with a stranger in my sordid life was ruined because nobody felt like covering Cooper Kupp.
I’m not gonna lie: Saturday night took a toll on me. For as much as I preach that the point of Cougar Football is to lose games in more and more inexplicable fashion, there’s always that one night a year where I just get mad. And I really shouldn’t. I’m 38 years old with two kids and a mortgage. I have no business getting upset over terrible football anymore. Yet, just that one reminder every year of the team I follow is still the same old team I follow is enough to take me back to being 20 years old and witnessing this team drop their second straight game to Idaho. Ace of Base was even awful then! I namechecked coaches on twitter and argued with people to the point where I was daring people to unfollow me (surprise! They did!) So, no I don’t want anyone fired and I’m sure everyone’s mother is of unimpeachable character. Let’s all be friends again. Please? I need this. If I was a jerk to you last Saturday, let me know. I'll favorite all your tweets for a month. Even the Trump ones.
To remind myself of this one night every year where Cougar Football just makes me lose it, I’ve decided the only way to cope is to write out what to I've learned to expect from Cougar Football. So when it happens, you can just shrug your shoulders and understand that Cougar football destiny has been pre-written decades in advance and we are just reliving the same catastrophe in different packaging. (Look, I realize I have like four readers who have seen Battlestar Galactica but this is literally my one shot to drop an "All of this this has happened before and will happen again." Deal with it) Consider this my Cougar Football resolution, if you will. Of course, when WSU loses to Idaho in a couple weeks, I’m allowed to throw this all out the window, but I can at least say I tried. Here goes:
1.) Cougar football will always lose their first game.
Along with Jeff’s fun post about Mike Leach’s inability to start or finish a season with anything but ineptitude, we should take time to remember that this is not a problem limited to our current coaching staff. Since 2005, a period spanning three coaches, the Cougs have gone 1-10 in their opening games. And that lone win cost Jeff Tuel his collarbone! Next year, when Cougcenter puts together its season preview, if you see anyone picking WSU to beat Montana State to open 2017, you need to call them out. You just can’t fight fate anymore. 0-1 is what this team is until the end of time. If the governor starts taking citizen petitions, perhaps we should start asking to move the Apple Cup to Labor Day so we knock both losses out at once.
2.) Pick the one game on the schedule that you would say "WSU needs to just fire everyone if they lose this game." WSU will respond by losing that game.
Do you remember being Colorado’s lone win in 2012? Did you ever think the Cougs would have a losing streak to Idaho? Or to FCS teams? Two years ago, Cougar Football did a number on an enjoyable weekend in Reno when some over-the-moon Wolfpack fans followed the entire WSU fan contingent out to the street screaming "GET THE F*CK OUT OF OUR STADIUM." We had no comeback for it. Remember that '06 Apple Cup when UW was coming off a loss to a Stanford team that (prior to 2008) would have been considered among the worst in Pac-12 history? WSU controlled both sides of the ball the entire game and somehow lost the game after five mind-numbing mistakes allowed for five touchdowns and a loss. If you need to bust your slump, please hope WSU is up next on your schedule.
3.) WSU is (probably) not done losing dumb games this year.
If the Leach 0-5 in openers stat doesn’t open your eyes a little bit, you should probably also take into consideration that the first loss usually doesn’t sink in and another dumb loss is inbound. See the Cougs losing at home to a really bad Colorado team in 2012, the aforementioned jaunt to Reno in 2014 and who could forget that hair-pulling fake punt returned for a TD in Berkeley last year? There is not a point spread high enough this weekend for me to think I could get paid for the Coug performance in Boise. WSU is going to lose this game on a halfback pass to the wrong team's quarterback who is inexplicably playing Safety and you know it.
4.) WSU is not done winning this year, either
You still with me? I know I just wrote like eight paragraphs of some really depressing shit (despite dropping a mint Battlestar line), so let’s finish this one up here with some positivity to carry forward. You know why (most of) the rest of the Pac-12 isn’t making fun of WSU losing to Eastern? Because they know they’re probably still going to lose to WSU in the coming months! You know what was worse than losing to Portland State last year? Losing to the team who lost to Portland State last year. And that group claimed nine members!
I don’t really think there are nine wins left on the schedule again, but maybe this year a referee calls a Christian McCaffrey fumble and QB1 is allowed to play all thirteen games (yes, I said thirteen.). This season has (again) started off with infuriating results, but still holds promise to remind you why you fell in love with Cougar Football in the first place. Even if its just to have an excuse to play Ace of Base in your car.