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Christmas Eve Cougar Musings

What’s next for Cougar Athletics?

NCAA Football: Colorado at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings, and Merry Christmas Eve! You’ve probably inferred that there isn’t a lot out there, Cougar new-wise, but we’re still here to bloviate about a few things related to Planet Coug. But before we get to that, we noticed that Kevin shared his favorite Christmas song on Saturday, so we thought we’d share a couple of our favorites, with a comedy bent. First up is a song dedicated to Mr. Do-Nothing himself, George Kliavkoff, with special mention of the Pac-12 presidents and the buffoons at TurnkeyZRG, who were paid God only knows how big a consulting fee, only to recommend ol’ George and speed off with the cash.

So here’s to all of those folks, along with the dollar-chasing schools who ruined a once-great conference. This one’s for you.

On to the Cougs. There were a couple articles this week that touched on what may be next for WSU and Oregon State, given the recent news of the settlement with the 10 cutters & runners, along with the scheduling agreements. Kyle Bonagura and Adam Rittenberg did a medium dive into the future recruiting outlook for the two schools, given the tumult of the offseason’s onset. Thankfully, WSU hasn’t had to also deal with a coaching transition and - as of today FINGERS CROSSED - a mass exodus of transfers, as OSU has.

Dickert is taking the smart angle regarding keeping players in place and recruiting others to Pullman. As we’ve said before, WSU’s path to the New Year’s Six bowls and the CFP is a lot less perilous now than it ever has been.

A two-team Pac-12 isn’t expected to meet the criteria for its champion — if one is even crowned — to qualify for playoff purposes, but both programs feel they will be uniquely placed to contend for playoff appearances as at-large teams.

“We showed our team Washington’s schedule and Oregon’s schedule and USC’s schedule and the theme is they probably have to be 11-1 to make the playoffs,” Dickert said. “Well, we’ve got an opportunity to go out here and play a couple Power 4 teams and these nonconference deals, and you rip off a bunch of wins, you got an opportunity to make the top 12.”

I AGREE!

Dickert is also candid about how losing power conference affiliation will impact WSU’s approach.

“I think perceptually, you feel like you lose that power chip of, ‘Hey, a Group of 5 transfer knows that you’re going to play against elite competition or a high school kid knows we’re different than some of those other schools that we’re playing,” Dickert said. “I think we understand the challenge of what that means and we’re just selling ourselves a little bit more than selling the league.”

As we saw after the first signing day came and went, WSU’s class ranked anywhere from lower 50s to mid-60s nationally. In other words, pretty much where it has on the whole over the past two decades. If WSU can keep that up and get its NIL house in order at least a little bit, I have no doubt the program can thrive in its current form, as the college football landscape continues to roller skate atop the San Andreas Fault (cough, looming ACC tire fire, cough).

The entire article is well worth your time.

Jon Wilner also opened his virtual mailbag this week, fielding some questions about your Cougs and their future, among others. Wilner is very complimentary of how WSU and OSU have played a really tough hand thus far.

Does the deal between Washington State, Oregon State and the West Coast Conference (for Olympics sports and basketball) hinder the next steps for rebuilding the Pac-12 and, specifically, the idea that they would merge with the Mountain West? – @pfnnewmedia

I saw a few reports suggesting the Mountain West wanted a long-term commitment that the ‘Pac-2’ schools wouldn’t agree to, hence the temporary move with the WCC. Any insight on that? – @c_rog6

We don’t see a hindrance on any front.

With their two major agreements – the football scheduling partnership with the Mountain West and the deal to become affiliate members of the WCC in basketball and other sports – the Cougars and Beavers have shrewdly avoided making any commitments beyond the 2025-26 sports season.

For both, the deck is clear starting in the spring of 2026, and that’s by design: It coincides with the expiration of the Mountain West’s contract with Fox and CBS.

Strategically, WSU and OSU have played everything just right.

And yes, there has been much speculation about the Mountain West pressuring the ‘Pac-2’ schools into lengthy partnerships.

The Hotline will take a hard pass on that topic until we confirm the details in a manner that meets our standards for publication.

But as mentioned above, WSU and OSU wisely valued flexibility above all else, including revenue.

WSU and OSU leadership, in the forms of the presidents and athletic directors, have done an outstanding job thus far navigating a nightmarish situation, filled with more ambiguity than anyone could have anticipated back in June. Here’s hoping the new year brings more fidelity and prosperity to our Cougar athletes.

This Week in Parenting

The teenager had his second ever wrestling match last weekend, and then a few ore to boot, all on one Saturday. Since I’m brand new at this wrestling parent thing, I did not know what was in store for a person who supports a kid in wrestling. First, he had to be there at 7 a.m. to help out with a youth tournament that was still going strong when we showed up around noon, when his team was slated to begin matches. But the rub there is that even though the team has started, one has no idea when a particular match will begin, so you’re just sitting and waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

So basically you’re just sitting there hoping that every match ends in a pin within a few seconds, in order to move the schedule along.

Aside: I mentioned the youth tournament. If you want to see a bunch of 40-pound eight year-olds cry, watch a youth wrestling tournament. Little league strikeouts have nothing on that situation.

The 12 year-old came along for a while, and watched the proceedings until his eyes were ready to fall out. Before he cried ‘Uncle’, he asked me multiple times how these moves and slams were legal. I don’t know, kid, they just are.

Team Kendall loaded up the (rented) family truckster this week and headed to Indiana to spend Christmas with Mrs. Kendall’s parents. We were able to take our time because school break is like 2.5 weeks long (!!!). Another couple years and it will basically be as long as a college break. Ridiculous.

In order to keep the kids from diving into their screens for what amounts to about 12 hours in the car, we like to listen to intriguing podcasts that will keep everyone’s attention. This trip featured Hot Money: The New Narcos and The Wedding Scammer. Both worth a listen!

Non-Sports

The Year That Cryptocurrency Somehow Didn’t Die - The Ringer
Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty; the government preened; and yet crypto markets … surged?

We’ll leave you with one more Christmas song that makes me howl with laughter. If you are a sensitive type, go ahead and sit this one out.