Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.
When I was younger and home for the summer, my grandma would occasionally come to the house to babysit my sister and I. Those days were always filled with baseball in the yard (as much as she could play while running basepaths that were only four feet long), lunch trips to McDonald’s, and late afternoon bike rides.
She had only one requirement during the day: she watched her afternoon soap operas. She watched them with the commitment of nun with a vow of Monastic silence; the bunny ears lovingly adjusted by her grandson who was actually flexible enough to balance on the precariously narrow ledge of the table upon which the television rested.
I thought, and still do, think the programs were terribly contrived piles of worthlessly wasted video tape that would’ve been better served recording the preliminary Olympic qualifiers for the bobsled team from Indonesia. These past few weeks though, we got at least a small taste of whatever plot devices Susan Lucci and her costars on All My Children frequently “acted” their way through over the years.
Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys suddenly calls it quits. A former quarterback says Claeys and the new, co-DC were always bickering. The coach has to “squash” those rumors. Oh, and it all comes after a heartbreaking loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils, a drubbing at the hands of the Utah Utes and the third largest collapse in NCAA history while playing the worst team in the conference.
As The Cougs Turn, indeed.
This Saturday, in front of a sold out, inebriated, and likely soaking wet Homecoming crowd, the Cougs will be at home for the first time in nearly a month. One of the quirks of this year’s schedule is it will be their only October home game and they’ll go nearly another month without one. Granted, a bye was sandwiched between those visits to Salt Lake City and Tempe but it has been a while since the Cougs played in the friendly confines of a stadium where they had been practically unbeatable in recent years until ... well, we just won’t speak of it any longer.
So perhaps what this football team, be it the coaches or the players, really needs after what has been one hell of a two fortnight run is an evening in a stadium they know in front of people who will scream their heads off for them. Simply playing in Martin Stadium won’t make the run fits better on defense or improve the pass coverage, but at least in college football, it seems, there really can be something to being the more excited team to play, as Mike Leach preaches as one of his three most important tenants.
As they come home, they’ll be facing a team that might as well be a carbon copy of them. Offensively, the Colorado Buffaloes are nearly as good as Washington State according to SP+ and on defense, they are arguably worse. They lost a close heartbreaker to the Air Force Falcons, jumped up and beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers at home, and suffered a shellacking a the hands of a far superior Oregon Ducks team. Their defense has made stops and has been absolutely torched; their offense has cruised down the field and gone three and out at inexplicable times.
Sounds familiar, no?
For both teams, this game is of fairly large import when it comes to qualifying for the postseason. Colorado has one, maybe two winnable games after this one while the Cougs realistically only have a shot in their remaining home games. Both know they need to win to have a chance at a 13th game in 2019. Both know that their defenses are incredibly vulnerable and that their offenses can move bomb it down field virtually at will.
The home field might be just what the Cougs need to make sure they come out on top in what has turned into a fairly tense midseason match-up. A familiar routine, a familiar locker room, a familiar stadium, and familiar people who can help them forget about the last month and just play football is hopefully just what they need to right the ship.
There’s no place like home.
The home field, the most important person against Colorado.
Safe drive to Pullman, everyone. And welcome home.