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College Football preview season is here

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NCAA Football: California at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. Today is Sunday, May 21. That means we’re damn near done with May. While that signals the impending end of school, it also means that we’re rapidly closing in on the point where college football season is visible on the horizon. When I was a kid, the first Friday in June was a magical day, as that was the day I would find my way to a grocery store to pick up the Athlon and Lindy’s Pac-10 Football preview magazines.

Nowadays, it seems like previews come out earlier than ever, especially with guys like Bill Connelly previewing every team in FBS, which began less than a week after the Super Bowl ended. The guys over at College Football News, headed by longtime writer Pete Fiutak have also been rolling out previews for a good bit. This week, it was Washington State’s turn.

Unlike last year, when the website thought the Cougs would take a pretty big step back, Mr. Fiutak is bullish on Mike Leach’s team in 2017. Why do I say that? Well, here is the first sentence:

If this isn’t Mike Leach’s best team yet, it’s going to be very, very close to it.

The next few paragraphs read as if they were written by someone who has followed this team as closely as all of us have over the past couple seasons:

Washington State was good enough to destroy a strong Stanford team last season, but it lost to Eastern Washington.

It was terrific enough to beat Oregon on the road in 2015 and finish with nine wins, but it lost to Portland State to start the regular season and got destroyed by Washington to end it.

It was resilient enough to win eight straight games last season after a rocky start, but just when it needed to come up with a win to jump into the Pac-12 title chase with both feet, it got dropped like third period French by Colorado and Washington by a combined score of 83-41.

And then – as if to prove a point – the operation got shut down cold, as Minnesota and soon-to-be-fired head coach Tracy Claeys put on a clinic in a 17-12 Holiday Bowl win.

Not exactly a recipe for a fan’s sanity, is it? I won’t pull any more quotes, because the article pretty well sums up what and where many WSU fans believe the program could and should be as Mike Leach begins his sixth season.

But here’s the rub: as the article also points out, only once in Leach’s 15 seasons as a head coach has his team lost fewer than four games. That kind of track record doesn’t really reflect the resume of someone whose teams legitimately compete for conference titles, especially given Leach’s propensity to schedule subpar non-conference opponents.

The main article, as well as the “What you need to know” one that accompanies it are worth your time, and provide a good teaser as the first of what will be several 2017 football previews.

Football

Preview 2017: Is Washington State Mike Leach’s Best Team? | College Football News
The whole Leach experience is certainly a whole lot of fun, with lots of offense, wild games, and plenty of crazy strategical decisions that have a funky way of either working out huge, or exploding in spectacular fashion.

Preview 2017: Washington State Cougars | College Football News
The Cougar offense loses two of its three best receivers. There. That’s the issue. That’s the only concern for an attack that finished third in the nation in passing and cranked out over 38 points per game.

Commentary: I stopped in PHX on my way to Spokane for the spring game. We landed east-to-west, which meant we flew right by ASU’s stadium. It looked really cool.

Pac-12 football weekend reading
Here’s the second installment of the Hotline’s new Friday feature, with links to published articles worth a few minutes of your time this weekend.

Baseball

Cougars Fall 5-0 To No. 1 Oregon State - WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
Washington State dropped a 5-0 decision to No. 1 Oregon State at Goss Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: Had another Funky Buddha Mexican Coffee last Sunday, but since I already bowed at that altar, I’ll try and change it up. I cracked open a bottle of Cigar City’s Marshall Zhukov Penultimate Push while watching “The Americans” the other night. Seemed like the thing to do, and it was really good.

Commentary: The next article makes several good points about the increasingly troubling trend of craft breweries selling their control to InBev and other large beer conglomerates. The most valid point the author makes, in my opinion, is that AB InBev does everything in its power to snuff out the, for lack of a better term, little guy in the industry.

Several of their practices are, at the very least unfair and unethical. This is especially true when it comes to their lobbying MO. But here’s the thing - people like this article’s author always want to pontificate about how these breweries are “selling out.” But not one of them has ever been in the position that the founders of Wicked Weed and many others have found themselves. That is, the chance to remove finances from their list of concerns for at least a generation.

It’s always easy for those of us on the outside to say “It should be about the beer and the community more than the money.” But most of the people who say that have never built something to the point that they can set themselves up for life with a signature or two. Until you are there, you really can’t have a reliable perspective.

The tone of this article, and many others like it, remind me of music hipster guy. Any time music hipster guy sees a band he likes hit the mainstream, the first thing he says is, “What happened to the time when it was about the music, man? How could those dudes sell out like that?” Music hipster guy probably had a band of his own that never got noticed and thus, will always say “it’s about the music” since he wasn’t good enough to get offered any real money.

Ok, I’ll climb down from the soapbox.

The BS Arguments of Craft Beer Sell-Outs: How Brewery Buyouts Hurt Craft Beer :: Drink :: Features :: craft beer buyouts :: Paste
Craft beer sellouts have no shortage of rationalization for why buyouts don't hurt the beer industry. Here's why they're all full of BS.

Non-Sports

Osama bin Laden’s family on the run: ‘I never stopped praying our lives might return to normal’ | World news | The Guardian
In the days after 9/11, the world’s most wanted man retreated to Afghanistan. What happened to his wives and children?