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Summer is coming, along with Cougar Football predictions

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Not great so far!

Eastern Washington v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Good morning, and Happy Flag Day! This time next week, we will officially greet the onset of summer, likely by gathering for backyard barbecues, crowding into bars and cramming together by the thousands for the beginning of a summer concert series. Hang on, I’m being told that absolutely none of that is likely to happen. Welp. I mean it’s already light until after 10 p.m. here so it’s like summer showed up days ago.

As I’ve said (probably too many times) in the past, this time of year brings college football previews. One of my longtime favorites has been College Football News, who has been covering the game 24/7 since long before many other websites. That’s not to say it’s the gold standard, but I still enjoy the breadth of their reach. This week, they published their WSU preview. Here are a couple nuggets I thought were useful:

  • Only one of the top five players they list as the best on offense is a senior, Guard Josh Watson.
  • They didn’t even mention the guy who could be the best receiver on the team, Calvin Jackson Jr.
  • Contrast that with the defense, which has seniors at all five spots. Also, it doesn’t seem like a great thing that they list the punter as the second best player on defense. Maybe that’s just me.
  • In 2019, WSU gave up just 63 points in the first quarter. WSU also gave up 132 points in the fourth quarter. Not good, Bob!

I also think this observation regarding WSU’s most important game is accurate.

There’s a shot this can turn into an interesting rivalry over the next few years. There was a rift between Nick Rolovich and Oregon State when the then-Rainbow Warrior coach accused the Beaver coaching staff of trying to recruit Hawaii players...It’s the Pac-12 opener for both teams, and this is a much better Oregon State team than last year – and it’s in Corvallis.

Wazzu has won six straight in the series and last lost on the road in 2012. For both teams, getting this win might be a must to go bowling.

This is also contingent on WSU getting out of the non-conference portion of the schedule unscathed. If the Cougars want to go bowling for a sixth straight season, it will almost certainly require a 3-0 start.

Over at Athlon, we’re seeing an early Pac-12 standings prediction. It’s both good and bad. First, the bad. Athlon thinks that the Washington State Cougars will finish last in the Pac-12 North, for much the same reason they have the Oregon State Beavers just a spot ahead, namely a lack of a proven quarterback and a very suspect defense.

The good news? Despite the poorly-predicted finish in the standings, Athlon also predicts that every team in the North will attain bowl eligibility. They must be confident that WSU will be able to perform on the road, as those dates present their best chances at chalking up a few wins.

Swing games against UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford take place away from Pullman.

Athlon also took a stab at ranking the conference’s head coaches, and given the fact that he’s never coached a game in the Pac-12, Nick Rolovich garnered a decent ranking at number eight, beating the likes of Kevin Sumlin and Jonathan Smith. I also think he’s a better coach than Clay Helton.

One thing that struck me as I looked through the rankings was the attrition the conference has suffered. When the 2020 version of David Shaw is considered the conference’s second best coach, things are not looking great.

All in all, it will almost certainly be another CFP-less season for the conference, regardless of which coach sits atop the rankings.

Football

Pac-12 Football 2020 Predictions
New coach Nick Rolovich is one of the offseason's top hires, and running back Max Borghi is underrated nationally.

Ranking the Pac-12's College Football Coaches for 2020
Rolovich won with limited resources at Hawaii and that should benefit him well at Washington State.

This Week in Parenting

Team Kendall took a day trip to the lovely little village of Cochem, Germany - lauded by The Points Guy! - last weekend. Now, we don’t have the highest standards of appearance when we venture out, but Mrs. Kendall and I do require that the kids look like something north of “urchin.” One mandate is pants without holes. This chronically results in the eight year-old wailing and moaning about how he “doesn’t have any pants!!!” At last, he came downstairs with pair of black warmups that appeared to be sans holes, and off we went.

Shortly after we arrived, and as we were walking up to the castle, I noticed that his pants did indeed have a hole in them, on the back side behind the bend in his knee. I then noticed that said pants were on backward. At first, I castigated him for not knowing the back side of his pants from the front. Then it hit me. This little bastard put on a pair of pants that he knew had a hole in them, but instead of going with a pair that met the standard, he just ran an end-around, assuming (correctly) that by the time were on to his scheme it would be too late. When I alerted him that I was on to him, he of course denied it. It’s funny how we parents think kids will never catch on to what we’re up to, while kids never grasp the fact that anything they try, we’ve already done. And so it goes.

Later on, it was time for a bathroom stop before we left the castle to grab some lunch. The eight year-old walked into the bathroom with his mask on while I waited outside. A short time later, here’s what I heard, “Dad, I think I dropped my mask into the toilet.” Oh, you think you dropped it into the toilet, eh? I went into the stall and, sure enough, there was the mask, sitting in the toilet. Turns out that while he went, he decided to just tuck the mask under his chin since he was the only person in the bathroom. You won’t believe it, but he lost his concentration, lifted his chin, and down went the mask.

I asked what I felt to be the most important question, “Did it fall in before or after you flushed?” His reply was, of course, ambiguous, but evidence pointed to “after.” So in I went, grabbing the mask and wringing it out. Part of me wanted to make him put it back on, to send a message about responsibility (a small part of me, but still). Now, you might think this is disgusting, and you might be right. But anyone who has kids knows that this is probably the 75th-grossest thing any parent has had to do. After a thorough trip through the washing machine, the kiddo is wearing it once again. I’m already preparing for the day when he somehow drops the thing into a volcano and asks me to go in after it.

Die-Hard Dortmund Fan

Man, Dortmund’s game against Fortuna Düsseldorf on Saturday was something else. The team in black and yellow really needed a win in order to tighten its grip on second place, while Düsseldorf was desperate to avoid relegation. Dortmund played like crap nearly the entire game, and got incredibly lucky when two Düsseldorf shots hit the post. Everything seemed to be pointing toward a tie. And then...

With less than a minute left in extra time, my man Haaland came through with an amazing header for the win. I’m not smart enough to get around the restrictions on embedding the content, so I’ll just encourage you to CLICK HERE!!! and fast forward to the 4:00 mark. I’m still in disbelief.

Book Club

Still mucking my way through The Great Influenza, and things are about to go from “I think we’re ok” to “Oh my god we’re so effed.” Sound familiar? Here was a passage at the end of Chapter 13 that really resonated.

Man might be defined as “modern” largely to the extent that he attempts to control, as opposed to adjust himself to, nature. In this relationship with nature, modern humanity has generally been the aggressor, and a daring one at that, altering the flow of rivers, building upon geological faults, and, today, even engineering the genes of existing species. Nature has generally been languid in its response, although contentious once aroused and occasionally displaying a flair for violence.

By 1918 humankind was fully modern, and fully scientific, but too busy fighting itself to aggress against nature. Nature, however, chooses its own moments. It chose this moment to aggress against man, and it did not do so prodding languidly. For the First time, modern humanity, a humanity practicing the modern scientific method, would confront nature in its fullest rage.

You could replace 1918 with 2019 and that would almost all read the same.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: I’ve unwittingly discovered Zagovor Brewery, which is located in Moscow, Russia. One of their selections is Against Pale Milk, and man is it good. If I ever feel like getting tailed as I walk from place to place, I’ll visit Moscow and make a stop at Zagovor for some delicious selections straight from the tap.

How dangerous will that first Belgian beer be? - POLITICO
Next phase of lockdown easing begins, but there is concern about a new spike in cases.

Non-Sports

The Resilience of Marga Griesbach
Marga Griesbach was sent to Stutthof concentration camp in 1944. In February, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic began, she left Washington State to take a cruise around the world.