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Is everybody really out to get the Cougs?

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Alamo Bowl - Iowa State v Washington State Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning. Let’s have a talk. In my attempt to recover from jet lag early Saturday morning, I saw a very abbreviated discussion among the fellow CougCenter authors regarding an list of college football’s top 100 players. This led to a brief Twitter exchange with a fellow Cougar fan, and it also got me to thinking about whether his opinion reflects that of a larger portion of the fan base.

I’ve deleted my portion of the exchange because I wanted to address it here without calling him out personally, and I am only using our back-and-forth as a starting point toward a more broad discussion. This is not meant to cast aspersions on him or anyone else.

This discussion originated when he suggested that there were no Cougars on the list because the New York-centric staff intentionally omitted them. I voiced my skepticism of that opinion, and the fellow Coug fan rebutted by saying that it was a “slap in the face” that neither Abraham Lucas nor Liam Ryan - whom he dubbed future first or second round draft picks - were included. He went on to say that “whether or not it’s intentional, Cougs are always getting disrespected and omitted from things just because it’s Wazzu.”

First, let’s address the players he named. Does Lucas merit a spot among the top 100 players in all of college football? There’s no doubt that he’s a rising star, and he has the potential to reach Andre Dillard’s level. But top 100? Right now? Maybe? As for Liam Ryan, I mean, he’s a good player, but top 100 in the nation good? A quick look at the list reveals just one guard - Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood - and he’s moving to tackle this season. In his first year as a starter, Ryan didn’t garner even Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 in 2018. Was it really a “slap in the face” that Ryan’s name is missing?

Despite the conference’s poor image of late, there are 17 Pac-12 players on the list, third-most among Power Five leagues, trailing only the SEC and Big Ten. Additionally, SI included guys from Oregon State, Utah State, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Cal, North Texas, Minnesota, Arizona, Houston, Boise State, Maryland, Baylor and Georgia Southern. So the staff at SI was fine with ranking players from those schools, but came together in a unified stance to keep out WSU players because...reasons?

I use this example to raise a larger question (or set of questions). Is this a prevailing opinion among Cougar fans? Do many fellow Wazzu followers really believe there’s some sort of cabal out there whose goal is to keep WSU and its players from getting deserved recognition? I know it has long been a common theme that WSU often gets overlooked and “disrespected” by, well, everyone if you listen to some fans. And of course there’s that faction of every fan base that thinks all reporters and columnists hate their favorite team. This especially common among the #12s and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

I won’t tell anyone what to think, but I find this incredibly dubious. Of all the schools out there, why would so many people who write and/or talk about college football for a living, and who ostensibly have no built-in animus toward WSU, have a conscious (or even subconscious) reason to stifle WSU’s success? What do they gain? I’m honestly curious as to why this is a thing.

I know this whole “Cougs vs. Everybody” slogan is popular among WSU fans (and podcasters!), and maybe I’m naive, but I don’t buy it. And let’s be honest, aside from this recent sustained run of success and the three straight 10-win seasons in the early 2000s, it’s not like WSU Football has done a lot to silence the critics with stellar play on the field.

An anti-Pac-12 bias? That’s certainly plausible, due largely to the conference’s failure to produce an elite team over the past few years. East Coast bias? There’s overwhelming evidence that it’s a thing, but it definitely is not aimed solely at WSU, and it affects every team and star player west of the Big 12/not at USC. See: Christian McCaffrey. A big part of the East Coast bias, in my opinion, has to do with those Trojans. If they aren’t elite, which they rarely have been over the past decade, the conference suffers.

I understand that WSU hasn’t garnered (and probably never will garner) blue blood status on the college football landscape. This makes it more difficult for them, and programs with similar histories to gain the benefit of the doubt. There could very well be a tendency among those who write and talk about the sport for a living to lean toward more established programs and players when making a list like this, or when ranking teams before and during the season. That said, you will almost certainly never get me to subscribe to this theory that there are forces out there whose goal it is to make sure little ol’ WSU doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

CAN YOU TELL THAT IT’S JULY??!! Anyway, I’ve said my piece, and the aforementioned Chicken Fest is on the afternoon agenda. Maybe I’m alone in my opinion. What say you?

UPDATE: We went to Chicken Fest. They were out of chicken. I feel like if you’re gonna put on an event, you shouldn’t run out of whatever product is in the name of said event. Maybe that’s just me.


Is there specific anti-WSU sentiment among college football’s writers, talking heads and fans?

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