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Why we’re fans of WSU ... and CougCenter

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Celebrating our fresh coat of paint by exploring why we enjoy hanging around here so darned much.

Partial CougCenter family picture at the 2017 Crimson and Gray game.

Welcome to the refreshed CougCenter! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card (official rules). We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Step into our Slack chat room ... and Come Fan With Us!


jeffnusser

OK, so here's the direction I'd like to go with this. SB Nation asked us to write these, so I started to write one about my own history of how I became a fan of WSU. I was going to just crib heavily from the one I wrote five years ago and call it a day.

As I was writing, I decided I wanted to incorporate something about why, for the past nearly nine years, I have chosen to invest so much time into CougCenter — why writing here and hanging out with everyone is how I choose to "fan." And then I decided this would be much more interesting if we went at that idea, roundtable style.

I'd love it if we could talk about that here — our general fan experience (how we got to WSU, why we love it, etc.) should definitely be talked about and be a part of it, but I think it would be cool to talk about why we do this, despite the extra time it takes out of our lives to make it happen.

I started the site with Grady Clapp in August 2008. Back then, the logo looked like this:

Every single one of you joined us sometime after that. Why/how did CougCenter become part of your routine of being a fan of WSU?

sherwood

I suppose this should go chronologically, but I have a meeting in ten minutes, so I'll get mine started. I started my own blogspot talking about Cougar basketball back in 2008 only to find out Jeff, Grady and Craig had already started a better one. Jeff reached out to me in the comment section of my blog and I came over to talk. Mostly to argue with the world about whether D'Angelo Casto was a 4 or a 5.

Damn that was eight years ago. I'm old.

jeffnusser

There was a lot of arguing back then

craigpowers

I got a job out of it

jeffnusser

@craigpowers you were the first non-Jeff/Grady contributor!

craigpowers

It's true. Been here so long people think I was a founder

brianfloyd

@sherwood [ONLY CLICK HERE IF YOU ARE OK WITH COPIOUS GRATUITOUS PROFANITY DIRECTED AT OUR FORMER BASKETBALL COACH]

jeffnusser

That post is as amazing today as the day I read it. It wasn’t bad enough that the Paul Wulff era coincided with our site’s launch — Tony had to leave us within the first eight months.

@brianfloyd you were second, right? then @marksandritter?

brianfloyd

yeah, i think that was the order. then … floodgates

jeffnusser

I was actually pretty amazed at how it all took off. My original WSU site was dedicated to basketball — I had decided a narrower focus was best, given the best sites I knew didn’t try to cover everything — and I was wary of broadening too much. Turns out, people like talking about football!

Sasquatch laughs at Wulff

EVEN WHEN PAUL WULFF IS THE COACH

(especially when Paul Wulff is the coach? I dunno)

aaronpolevoi

For me growing up in Bellingham and on the west side, there really wasn't much WSU coverage until the Pac-12 Network came along. I was half-heartedly invested in UW just because they got all the attention in the Seattle media, obviously. But once I started following WSU and considering it as a legitimate college option, I somehow found the site and would use it to get my WSU news when it was hard to find elsewhere

jeffnusser

It's always super fun for me when new people join the conversation, especially younger fans. Most of us who joined early are turning into grumpy old men.

pjkendall

Speaking of @marksandritter isn't it about time for his semiannual "Proof of Life" comment?

sherwood

i've been a grumpy old man since high school

brian_anderson

I'd watch games with @brianfloyd and he'd be streamin and threadin and it was hilarious. That was twitter before twitter.

jeffnusser

I'm half convinced @marksandritter programmed a bot to write his Monday posts before disappearing like DB Cooper

@sherwood I was going to make a comment along the lines of "well some of us have always been grumpy"

craigpowers

@marksandritter found the site through one of our epic College Baseball Regionals threads. Those were fun days.

jeffnusser

Remember when he was Yaaardsma? I’m still partial to Craig “Dancing Football” Powers, personally.

cassino

If I remember right, a CougCenter article came across my Facebook feed, I clicked on it, read it, and joined up. Being on the wrong side of the country made it tough to really keep up with anything WSU related, especially since we weren't particularly good at much of anything at the time (2013-ish). So a WSU-centered site was good for me.

craigpowers

I think I found CougCenter through a now-defunct Coug site that posted daily links.

That would have been in fall of 2008.

pjkendall

I'd never heard of any of the WSU fan blogs outside of Cougfan, so needless to say, I never visited any WSU fan blogs. Toward the end of the 2011 football season, a buddy of mine mentioned CougCenter as part of a larger discussion centered around the question "how do sites like that make any money?" So I looked up the site to see what kind of content was on there. I think my first comments came during the 2011 Pointsettia Bowl, because Louisiana Tech's D-Coordinator was rumored to be headed to Pullman afterward.

1000s of horrible comments and dumb internet arguments later, (and the consistent pressure of my wife telling me I needed a hobby) I was writing for the site. I still have no idea why Jeff and Mark reached out in early 2014, and remain convinced that at least 300 other people turned them down first. Oh, and it didn't take long to figure out the answer to my buddy's original question.

Also, I've been watching 60 Minutes since high school, in case anyone was wondering how long I've been a codger.

bkransford

I was always good at English, but I didn't like writing papers. I always loved sports, but I liked to hear myself talk about them more than I liked writing about them. So about the time I was graduating from WSU, I decided to head up the Washington State Rivals.com website to do both of the things I didn't really like doing — but I really enjoyed it, actually! Mostly because I was getting paid to cover something I loved — WSU football. I was a one-man shop offering a subscription-based product priced the same as a competitor with dozens of contributors, so it was difficult, but Jeff and the CougCenter gang gave me support and a platform to stay somewhat relevant for over two years.

I would head over CougCenter and drop teasers in recruiting articles, which helped a lot, and most of the contributors at the time would shoot people my direction in the comments and on social media. It was a cool little partnership that had a lot of perks. Then I got a "real" job, and it was a bit too much to juggle both the website and a 9 to whatever time the Mariners game would get over, so I had the opportunity to join the CougCenter gang and provide content that should be free, anyway, and in turn takes clicks away from the Evil Empire. Win-win.

jeffnusser

Honestly, one of the things I'm most proud of is how pretty much all of our writers are former readers who have taken the leap into creating content for us. I always wanted to create a place where people want to stick around and talk — I was envious of places such as Lookout Landing and USS Mariner who had these thriving communities where people knew each other's personalities and would engage in really smart discussion about stuff without name calling or whatever. It's why I still do this, despite the time it takes.

bkransford

CougCenter is still the only place I dare to look at the comment section.

cassino

Yeah, I am always reminded how appreciative I am of the dialogue on CougCenter when I make the mistake of reading comments sections on other sites. Makes it much more worthwhile.

sherwood

Our community is really great. I need to comment more. I read everything, but our community usually says what I am going to say before I do.

jeffnusser

Our community *is* really great. And I've actually made real life friends out of it, which is sort of crazy. For me, I loved the idea of just being able to talk Cougs with other Cougs — being in Seattle, I don't always get to do that — and do it in a smart way that's thought provoking.

Honestly, a number of my best friends are writers here, and we weren’t friends before. It's because of the time I've spent talking to you guys about ... well, just about everything

Ultimately, being a fan is about shared experience, right?

pjkendall

My only goal when I signed on was to do a weekly gambling column during football season. I'm very thankful that the Skippers allow us to do pretty much anything and take our ideas wherever we want. Even though it takes way longer each week than I planned, the six people who read it is all the reward I need. The only drawback is getting legitimately pissed when I lose a game on which I wagered precisely zero actual dollars.

bkransford

And that's what's awesome about going to games in the fall. We all just end up tailgating together, every time.

pjkendall

I'm glad you brought that up, Jeff. Moving six times in 18 years isn't really conducive to creating lasting friendships. I consider the other writers friends of mine, and did so even before we met each other.

bkransford

BrainCenter night with @brian_anderson & @craigpowers after we became bowl-eligible was as fun of a college football weekend as I can remember -- err, you get it.

SIX!

[Editor’s note: “BrainCenter” was an impromptu podcast recorded at Valhalla following a number of beverages. It’s highly inappropriate and completely hilarious. Sorry that you will never hear it, because it’s glorious.]

pjkendall

My god, that was so damn great. I laugh every time I think about it.

Thankful that @craigpowers hit "record"

goldenthroat

BOWL ELIGIBLE MOTHER F**KERS

brian_anderson

Pretty sure I wrote articles for over a year before meeting any of you guys in person. Giant email chains before Slack was a thing. I had no idea what I was doing when I first started ... Floyd texted me out of the blue one day and asked if I'd write a thing, then said welcome with a post and bam. We'd spent every Saturday in college watching games and talking scheme and he just said "do more of that but write it, you'll be fine".

sherwood

I've learned a lot from reading what you and others write. I'm very grateful for it, because it allows me to stay in my lane, which is fart jokes.

pjkendall

They're solid fart jokes, though.

brian_anderson

Gravitron has legs

goldenthroat

I wrote some solidly mediocre sports opinions on a website I ran while I worked in Centralia because our sports director didn't let me do enough play-by-play despite the fact that UW was paying me money to be on TV at the time. I commented somewhat regularly on CougCenter and then Jeff emailed me about writing more which was a scary proposition. Then I got a microphone to talk and my HAWT TAEKS have been better ever since

pjkendall

It's just a shame the "what the hell is a..." placed a curse on Cougar Football to such an extent that 2015 was a disaster.

sherwood

We rode out on a Sun Bowl high note.

pjkendall

I'd never heard of Joey's before the 2014 USC game.

jeffnusser

@pjkendall It's so cool to me that you'll fly up here from Florida for the spring game, and to Colorado.

(L-R) Craig Powers, Brian Anderson, P.J. Kendall and Jeff Nusser in Boulder, Colorado.

I mean, I couldn't even be mad about losing to Colorado because we were having so much fun.

pjkendall

You sure looked mad when Colorado scored their last TD. And let's be honest, I don't fly up for the spring game.

jeffnusser

It was a fleeting anger. And that is true -- you fly up to drink Craig’s beer! (This is also why I drive to Spokane.)

sherwood

Tailgating got me through some very dark times in my fandom. When the team was getting pounded by eight touchdowns each week, the game became background noise for the weekend. It's weird having expectations again.

We could win the Natty this year and it would still be behind watching Nusser getting dressed down for throwing fish on the grill — one of the greatest things I've seen on gameday.

jeffnusser

Let's get the story straight: I put my homemade smoked salmon in Woolybugger's cooler.

And it was damn good smoked salmon.

I make no apologies. Just remember to hide your coolers when I come around.

pjkendall

Hide ya coolers!

bkransford

WAIT! I think my first time going to CougCenter, actually was after that Colorado HC game in 2012 when some buddies and I wrote "Fire Leach" on an Ice House window and @brianfloyd posted it on the site. We felt anonymously famous.

lol

jeffnusser

Has the statute of limitations expired on that?

bkransford

Um.

pjkendall

That game was fun. I watched WSU choke, then drove 100 miles to eastern goddamn New Mexico convinced that Cougar Football would suck for the rest of my life. Also, I remember that "fire Leach" post pretty well.

bkransford

Our buddies lived in the house and it was in one of those paint pens so print it!

nicknordi

For me I started out as a huge UW fan. Season tickets and travelled to away games. Got to Pullman and fell in love with everything WSU and UW ceased to exist. I started on radio and thought it wasn't for me and joined AllCougdUp and eventually became editor. That became too much for me with school and stepped away. I was on CougCenter all the time while I was writing and even more when I wasn't. A year later I realized how much I missed it and emailed Jeff to try and get back in on all the fun. Still haven't met most of you, but hopefully that changes this season haha.

jeffnusser

Samesies on the UW thing — I was not prepared for how Pullman captured me.

Back to @sherwood's comment about "getting us through" ... that's also a big part of what amazes me about this -- that we've done this all while our teams have been somewhere between "historically bad" and "mediocre" for 7 of CougCenter's 9 football seasons of existence. The first four were Paul Wulff! Most websites die in those circumstances, but we didn’t because you all kept finding things to write about. @craigpowers was especially good at getting weird when talking about actual sports wasn't very fun.

Honestly, I think it sort of became group therapy for those of us who couldn't rip ourselves away from the train wreck. I mean, no matter how bad the teams get, we love our school. To any Jack Husky who tries to dig on WSU, I can always come back with, "It's my school, and I will always love my school." Shockingly, they really have no response to that.

pjkendall

That's not entirely fair. They'll always be able to dig out their Western hat from the back of the closet for homecoming. (worn with a UW sweatshirt of course)

zane_rm

I grew up as a bandwagon UW fan being in the Seattle area so the only real WSU memories I had before getting out to Pullman were Ryan Leaf in the Rose Bowl and listening to Keith Jackson call games on ABC during the back-to back-to back 10 win seasons. I thought we would always be pretty good and was severely unprepared for what 2004-2014 would bring as a football fan. I stumbled upon CougCenter in like 2010 or 2011 pretty tired of half a decade of posts from the other sites I would go to about all the diamonds in the rough we had and how we were about to turn the corner as a program, even though some of our opponents had corner backs that looked about as big as our starting o-linemen.

The CougCenter community was a crazy breath of fresh air. Every post and most comments were thoughtful, made sense and realistically funny about our predicament as fans loving this team that was absolutely cratering. I started commenting and the community and the authors were so cool I started looking for ways to contribute to the discussion anyway I could. I did a couple fan posts on stat stuff and Jeff reached out. Only met a couple of you in person, but all y'all are some of the most thoughtful and insightful sports fans, but also people I get to interact with on a regular basis.

craigpowers

I've met Zane in real life

jeffnusser

I'm still trying to cross that off my to-do list. First, though ... gotta figure out if @marksandritter is still alive.


Ready to tell us your story? Head on over to the FanPosts section, start with a headline that says “Why I’m a fan of WSU” and tell us why you’re a fan of the Cougs and/or why you choose to “fan” with us here at CougCenter.

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NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. SB Nation Why Are You a Fan Contributor Sweepstakes starts on only to authorized SB Nation contributors who are legal residents of the United States, 18 years or older. Click here for Official Rules and complete details, including entry instructions, odds of winning, alternative method of entry, prize details and restrictions, etc. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsor: Vox Media, Inc.