It started when Larry Scott took over. It continued when the Pac-12 presidents replaced one doofus with another in George Kliavkoff. It accelerated when nearly every other school in what was the Pac-12 jumped ship. The bleeding was staunched for a brief period in the form of four straight, season-opening wins and a largely meaningless court victory. But it turned out that the bleeding had to be stopped with a tourniquet, and if you know anything about how tourniquets work, you know the limb eventually dies.
The limb, in this case, is Cougar Football. After the bleeding stopped, October arrived, and the Cougar football team as we have known it over the years - for better or (mostly) worse - is dead. How do I know? Well, the team that used to be the worst in the conference came to Pullman Saturday night, having surrendered 40+ points to its previous four opponents. It gave up 30 to Sacramento State. WSU scored seven. And even when WSU had Stanford back at its own 23 with five plus minutes and three timeouts, needing a stop to get the ball back, Stanford, which averaged 3.1 yards per play, bled to clock to zero. Game over. Season over. It’s all over.
Now, WSU might stun everyone and win one of its next two games. Hell, in the world of 22 young men playing a college sport at once, WSU might even win its next two games. But ever since WSU was left stranded on an island with Oregon State (WSU is absolutely the worse of the two programs, and it isn’t particularly close at the moment), it felt like a matter of time before what happened over the last month was coming.
I think that’s part of a big reason why I made it a point to be there for the Wisconsin game. It felt like I needed to get back together with some fellow CougCenter writers, snag a few friendship bracelets from some talented craftspeople, grab dinner with an old friend, and then get iced by Craig Powers at The Coug. That sense of obligation was driven by an overwhelming feeling of finality, and as much fun as it was to get back together and relive the fun times, there was no getting around the gathering storm.
But then WSU won, and WSU kept winning, and WSU was poised to turn this 2023 requiem for the Pac-12 on its head. Maybe the good times would continue?! Then came UCLA, and once again, the storm clouds gathered. Finally, on Saturday, the grim reaper knocked, and left with another victim in its wake.
So here’s to Cougar Football. It was a hell of a ride, even if much of that ride took us all straight downhill toward a liquor bottle. Raise your shots of Fireball and remember the good times, because they’re gone, and they aren’t coming back.
Like I told the other writers in the Slack chat - I’m not even mad. I’m just bummed.
This Week in Parenting
You may be aware that Halloween, and the associated event of kids begging for free candy, took place this past week. I was out of town, so Mrs. Kendall was in charge. The boys had some friends over, and I think the older ones just kind of hung out at the house. The next day, I asked the 12 year-old how things went. “We were only out there for about 20 minutes, then we went home because it was too cold and windy.” Umm, what. A quick check of the temperature from the previous day showed that it was about 60 degrees. SIXTY DEGREES! HOW SOFT ARE THESE KIDS??!! I guess I’m upset mostly because their premature capitulation meant that the dad candy tax took a serious blow.
Fall sports are also winding down, as the 12 year-old finished flag football this week, and I write this as I’m sitting at yet another travel baseball tournament. The last one! Hallelujah! The 5-Stars made it to the championship flag football game, but succumed in the final seconds to the Cheetos, whose coach wears cleats to the game and often presents a hard copy of the rules to an official if there’s a call he doesn’t like. The 12 year-old has taken to calling him “Coach Cleats” and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop him. And speaking of the refs, there were four of them at the title game. There are 10 kids on the field at any one time. Yep, a 2.5-1 ration of kids to refs makes for a fun time.
As far as baseball, the kiddo’s coach is a bit of a traditionalist, but agreed to let the kids have walkup music for the season’s last tournament. Apparently there is more than one set of parents asleep at the switch, as Soulja Boy’s Superman is among the tracks. Good job, everyone. Anyhoo, the 12 year-old went old school, selecting Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears. I don’t recall a moment when I’ve ever been more proud.
The teenager and the mighty Dolphins, unfortunately, lost the final JV game of the football season in a 21-19 gut wrencher. So now it’s on to...wrestling???????? That’s right, the kiddo wants to try his hand on the mat, all 6 foot 3, 140 pounds of him. So now, for the first time in my life, it’s time to shop for wrestling shoes and one of those things that hopefully prevents cauliflower ear. One would think that wrestling is a rather inexpensive sport, as all you need is shoes, the ear thing and a singlet. But Mrs. Kendall went to the preseason parent meeting and learned that no, there’s a whole bunch of other shit we get to pay for! What a scam these sports have turned out to be.
But before he takes to the grappling mat, he made sure to send me a list of demands, in the form of candy, that I was tasked with finding during my two weeks in the UK.
Oh, that’s all?
Tales from the Road
My two weeks in the UK were mostly enjoyable. Well, aside from standing on the Stansted Airport for three hours Thursday night amid sideways torrents of rain, which had me questions a lot of life decisions I’d made. One thing I re-learned, London is still pretty expensive! And Cambridge students sure like Halloween! I’d never been to Hyde Park before, so a walk around its expanse was rather enjoyable. What was definitely not enjoyable was the famous Changing of the Guard. I mean, I guess it’s enjoyable if your idea of a good time is packing yourself in like a sardine among thousands of other Americans to get a brief glimpse of some dudes wearing bearskin hats. Otherwise, it’s vastly overrated. For my money, the one they do in Athens, Greece is exponentially cooler. And less crowded!
The real fun, and by fun, I mean more evidence that people are the worst, occurred on the flights home. And I won’t even mention the lost suitcase which contained my soaked shoes. When I got to my connection airport, I had a spare 15-20 minutes, so I stood in line at the elevator that led to an airport lounge. There were four folks in front of me, and we crowded in to the lift. Two other women rushed toward, and we held the elevator open for them as well. So when we got to the next floor to enter the lounge, they of course stepped aside and let those of us who’d already been in line go ahead, right? Lolol nope. The two ladies went right off the elevator and to the front of the line. Like someone once said, some people are alive only because it’s illegal to kill them.
But the real fireworks took place on the flight home. More specifically, the wait in my seat for the flight home. We were on a regional jet, and the gate agent told those of us with wheeled bags that we had to valet check them, and they’d be available in the jetway when we landed. Standard stuff. Well, standard stuff for the civilized among us, but not so for the asshole in 21A, who decided to call the flight attendant a liar who made up rules, and to claim that the gate agent hadn’t told us to check our roller bags, which he’d definitely done! So after like 20 minutes, here came the bag, carried by like the third guy who had to negotiate with this prick. Another 10 minutes later, the same manager-type told the guy to go to the front of the plane for a chat for the pilot. And just like that, mister tough guy with all the tattoos and smedium shirt became a groveling sissy, apologizing to everyone in sight, and pleading to the pilot, “I’m a former US Marine, sir. I worked in aviation, sir. Please let me stay on the plane.” Yeah, dickbag, as if being a “former Marine and combat vet” (his words) entitles you to treat others like crap with no repercussions. GTFO.
Narrator: He did not stay on the plane.
In a case of, “sometimes the assholes lose”, the pilot booted his ass off. Apparently Private Pyle forgot about a couple things that are core tenets of being a Marine. You follow orders from those in a position of authority, and you don’t put your personal/selfish needs in front of the rest of the group (in this case, the passengers). So the Marine-turned-groveler and his traveling partner had to sit at the airport for a while longer, while the rest of us went on our merry ways, luggage or not.
I want to feel sorry for the rubes at the heart of this story, but I just don’t. Worship a con man, and you get what you deserve.
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