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The most important person vs. Arizona: the students

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The dreaded first-Saturday-of-Thanksgiving-break-game is here. If they can, we urge the students to stick around to see what could be WSU’s 10th win.

Utah v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Leave something for someone but don’t leave someone for something.

Enid Blyton

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I understand the temptation to leave tomorrow afternoon, truly I do. I’ve been in your shoes before and I recognize what pulls you west or north or south or east. I also understand that, for years and years and years that this game has occurred, this drum has been beat so incessantly, generations have learned to ignore its steady rhythm.

But students: stick around and watch this team play the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday night.

Your steady presence inside the friendly confines of Martin Stadium has been much of the reason your Washington State Cougars are sporting a 12 game winning streak at home. Unlike previous seasons, 2018 has featured student sections in the second half so full it drew an audible “wow” from my vocal chords.

My memories of Cougar football only go back a decade and some change; the early ones are mostly agony alongside the few that were so breathtakingly hilarious, I still laugh about them. A remarkable second half comeback to beat a God-awful Southern Methodist Mustangs team perhaps most prominent; or the comeback against the Montana State Bobcats. Or Paul Wulff’s inability to leap high enough in celebration to clear a nickel.

These students, on the other hand, have some pretty good ones! The seniors in this class have yet to experience a season with less than eight wins. Coupled with some incredible comebacks, unlikely upsets, and just plain old good football, they’ve had it pretty good. I can understand then why these students have been more apt to keep their butts in their seats past the first 30 minutes of any given contest.

I say all of this ahead of the plea I’m about to make, the one I said I know every generation of student Coug fan has heard before: stay in town for this Saturday’s game.

I know Thanksgiving break starts whenever your last class ends on Friday. I know the temptation to go home and see family and high school friends is there. I know you may not have been home since before the school year started some three months ago. I know the Apple Cup is also slated for the day after Thanksgiving and you’re likely picking between which one to go to.

I know all of that. But please, to support your incredible football team, to give life to what has become an incredibly hard place to play again, stick around. Your family will still be there Sunday afternoon, as will those friends. The extra couple of nights you can use to celebrate a long semester that’s nearly at its end. The Apple Cup ... well, we know you’ll be there.

Not only would a win on Saturday night be WSU’s tenth, their first foray into two digits in the win column since 2003, I want to give you one more reason. It’s a bit of a risk, but it’s one I’m willing to take.

Remember those breathtakingly hilarious memories I spoke of earlier? The one that really does top the list happened way, way back in 2007. The Cougs had four wins to their credit with two games to go: an Apple Cup in Seattle the Saturday after Thanksgiving and a home game on this very same type of Saturday against a pretty good but beatable Oregon State Beavers team. I decided to stick around, to see if the Cougs could get to five wins with the chance to become bowl eligible against the Huskies.

In a driving rain storm unlike anything I may have experienced since, I watched Alex Brink throw six interceptions on the way to a 52-17 loss to OSU. Let the record show I made it to the middle of the third quarter, figuring my clothes couldn’t get any wetter than they already were, before the slog back to my apartment where I threw the aforementioned clothes into the dryer for three cycles just to get them back to damp. My feet are still wet from that game.

Why do I tell you this? Because now I laugh about it. Hell, then I laughed about it. But you’ll realize later on, once you graduate in all likelihood, that you only get so many weekends to be a Washington State University student. It doesn’t matter how wet I got, it doesn’t matter how miserable that game was, I would make the same choice again.

The opportunity to watch you team notch its 10th win comes along seldomly. Don’t make a choice you’ll regret when you’re my age and you have a mortgage.

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Oh won’t you stay with me? / Cause you’re all I need / This ain’t love, it’s clear to see / But darling, stay with me

Sam Smith

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The students, the most important “person” vs. Arizona