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Cameron Ward is still highly touted, and WSU’s Pac-12 title odds are in

PULLMAN, WA - MARCH 24: Washington State Cougars football program takes to Rogers Field for spring practice Jack Ellis/CougCenter

Good morning Coug fans. The calendar has turned to June, but you wouldn’t know it by looking out the window in my ‘hood. It seems more like early April, but forecasters are telling us to wait a week before seeing any June weather.

June also means the college sports landscape is a bit dry (unlike the weather), unless your school is in the College World Series, baseball or softball versions. WSU’s, alas, is not, which is the case across most of the country. That means the college sports media turns to what it does best to keep the paychecks coming this time of year: Preseason watch lists, championship odds, and more lists.

First up is ESPN ranking all 131 quarterback situations at each school heading into the 2022 season. David M. Hale broke the list into tiers, and I’d forgotten how loaded this year’s top crop of QBs really is. C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), Caleb Williams (USC) and Bryce Young (Alabama) are in Hale’s top tier, the “Heisman or bust” category. That’s quite a trio.

Down in tier five—the “So hot right now”—category (shoutout to Zoolander), you’ll find WSU’s Cameron Ward. That’s a pretty good spot for an FCS transfer. and puts him at no. 21 on Hale’s list. Here’s what Hale had to say about Ward:

Ward will be a fascinating case. Last year at FCS Incarnate Word, he threw for 47 touchdowns and nearly 4,700 yards. Could he be 2022’s Bailey Zappe after transferring to Washington State? The level of competition will be far tougher (OK, fine, insert your Pac-12 joke here), and the Cougars didn’t exactly look as if they were still running a Leach offense a year ago, so there are questions. But the upside is high.

The last line is crucial: Ward has been a highly touted transfer so seeing him this high on the list isn’t a surprise. That second-to-last line? It’s called the Run and Shoot, but new offensive coordinator Eric Morris is an Air Raid guy, so Hale will see the Mike Leach(ish) offense return, which is what Ward ran at UIW.

For those keeping score, Jayden de Laura is in tier 18, the “Technically, they’re Power 5 QBs” category.

In other summertime content, we have Athlon releasing its preseason All-Pac-12 teams. Ten Cougs made the list, with Ron Stone and Dean Janikowski earning first-team honors. De’Zhaun Stribling, Brennan Jackson, Dayian Henley and Armani Marsh earned second-team honors. And because content is king this time of year, Athlon even has a third team, with graybeard Renard Bell and Nick Haberer making an appearance.

Moving on....wait, Athlon has a fourth team? My goodness. OK, that’s where we find Cameron Ward and Jarrett Kingston. Let’s check back at the end of the season to see how Athlon did.

Next, we have CBS listing all the new head coaches in the Power 5 and writing about 75-100 words on what they’re dealing with. I swear seven other outlets have done this already, but here’s the blurb on Jake Dickert:

Binding his voice: Dickert earned the full-time job at Washington State after navigating the Cougars through the bizarre firing of Nick Rolovich to finish 7-6. That said, Dickert had never held a Power Five assistant coaching job before 2020. He only became an FBS coordinator for the first time in 2019. Dickert has plenty to learn, but Washington State is the perfect place for him to do that. If his staffing decisions are any indication, Dickert has the right idea. Hiring former UIW coach Eric Morris as offensive coordinator was a shrewd, unorthodox move that will pay big dividends.

That list also reminded me of a new head coach I’d forgotten: Sonny Dykes is at TCU?

Lastly, Caesars Sportsbook has Pac-12 title odds, and your Washington State Cougars are are +4000. The last bet I made won me a batch of cookies back in high school, which is to say, I’m not much of a gambler, so I defer to the experts on whether that’s a “value” bet or whatever the gambling jargon is. CBS seems to think UW’s +1800 is the value pick and UCLA’s +750 is the best bet. OK!

So there’s your first batch of summer content that we get to scrutinize. Expect plenty more as the weeks roll on, and please, would someone send some summer heat my way?


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