Good morning! Today is Sunday, July 2, 2023, or approximately 42,069 days since Kirk Schulz first said that a Pac-12 media deal was “imminent.”
Anyhoo, we aren’t here to discuss this equally nonsensical and rather important topic, because doing so is, and always has been, pointless.
Instead, let’s talk a little 2023 football! The folks over at CBS Sports are taking a look at each Power Five conference team’s strength of schedule, and this week was the Pac-12’s turn. According to these folks, the Washington State Cougars have a relatively easy schedule by comparison - clocking in at 10th-toughest out of the 12 conference teams - even though they face a tough non-conference opponent in the Wisconsin Badgers.
Washington State misses USC and Utah and gets the three bottom feeders (Arizona State, Colorado and Stanford). While the conference slate features challenging road games against Oregon and Washington, the absence of the Utes and Trojans is enough to land this schedule firmly on the “easy” side relative to some others in the league.
That Utah miss seems especially relieving, seeing as how the Utes have had WSU’s number of late, despite the fact that WSU could have won the last three matchups, and definitely should have won the 2020 and 2022 contests. And while things in Colorado appear to be trending upward, it will likely take at least a season or two before Deion Sanders can get his players all headed in the right direction.
Over at ESPN, Bill Connelly has been applying his often accurate, yet at times baffling algorithms to the teams that used to occupy the Pac-12 North, in an attempt to predict the 2023 outcomes. Since it’s a pay link, I won’t copy and paste the entire thing. I will say that Connelly has WSU at #58 in his SP+ rankings, and projects the Cougs to win four Pac-12 games, with a likely finish of 6-6. Seems about right to me!
Connelly summed up WSU’s 2022 season perfectly in just two sentences:
Defense was a relative strength, but the Cougars allowed 34 points per game and 7.0 yards per play against those top-20 teams. The offense had its moments but averaged just 12.5 points per game against top-40 defenses.
12.5 points-per-game against good teams. Twelve Point Five. Needless to say, another repeat of that and WSU will be lucky to win five games. The guess here is that we’ll see a noticeable improvement in offensive production (with the offensive line improving enough to be simply below average, inshallah), but a similar regression on defense given the attrition, especially at linebacker. All that adds up to something close to 6-6, which is fine. But fellas, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if you, ya know, actually won a bowl game for once. No, really.
In the meantime, now that it’s July, we can officially say that Pac-12 Media Day is this month! We can also say that training camp starts next month! Woooooooooooo!
WSU’s run of verbal commitments continued late in the week, with an offensive lineman (GRADE A BEEF STEAK EATER HOSS!!!) and safety joining the mix.
I’m thrilled that these two guys are headed to WSU. I have no idea if it’ll work out.
It was a big week on the baseball front, as WSU officially announced the hiring of new coach Nathan Choate.
After the grip-and-grin, Choate took questions from the assembled media.
Choate moved quickly in announcing his assistant staff as well, retaining recruiting coordinator Jake Valentine and bringing aboard Joe Perez and Eric Hutting.
Best of luck to the new baseball skipper!
This Week in Parenting
Yours truly was on the road again, more on that down the way, but it was another pretty busy week for the kiddos. After returning from Boy Scout summer camp on Saturday, the teenager got all of one day to recover before he had to report for Junior ROTC summer leadership school at 0545 Monday morning. Mrs. Kendall took video of the proceedings, which comprised mainly of Marine and Air Force personnel yelling at the young cadets to get their acts together. Brought back some old and not so fond memories! But I found myself mostly laughing.
We picked him up on Friday at the graduation ceremony, and saw all of the cool stuff they got to do, including a tour of a mighty AC-130 Gunship, a flight in the back of the less-stellar MC-130 Combat Talon, and a simulated pilot rescue mission. The one thing I’m most curious about was whether the amount of pushups he did outpaced the number of mosquito bites on his legs. Both figures are well into the hundreds, I think. But despite the fact that the cadets were up at 0500 every day, and also that they (GASP) didn’t have access to their phones (!!!), a great time was had by all. As any good parent would do, I took him out to celebrate...at a local craft beer place, where he got to watch me tip a couple back. #bestdadever
The 11 year-old spent much of the week trying to see if his bangs now reach his upper lip. Not far to go now! Many weeks prior to that, since summer vacation is where the previous school year’s learning goes to die, I’d given him a task. He was to provide a book report, after reading the book of his choice, to me by June 20. The only constraint was that it had to be between 700-800 words. He initially picked a book we’d bought at Barnes and Noble. It soon became evident that he thought he could consume the contents of the book by playing XBox for a few hours a day. Seems like faulty logic!
About 10 days before the report was due, I noticed that he was reading a different book. When I asked why he’d switched, he said that he liked the new book better, and it became clear that his logic for the switch was, “If I pick a different book, I shall be given a later due date!” lolol no. So June 20 came and went, and my intent was to cut off all XBox and phone privileges, until Mrs. Kendall noted that the ban would go into effect right as I left town, leaving her to endure the litany of whining and complaining. So I softened, restricting him to 60 minutes of XBox and 30 minutes of phone time.
The report has now been declared ready for dad’s perusal, after he needed to edit the thing down under 800 words, which turned into yet another negotiation. “You said 700-800 words, so more than 800 words should be better, right?!” He was then given a brief lecture on the word “editing.”
Tales From the Road
Your intrepid codger was in the fine city of Chicago for work last week, which presented an opportunity to meet CougCenter’s Grand Poobah, Emma Weightman, for a couple cold beverages. Ms. Weightman didn’t let the moment pass without strong-arming the old man to try a shot of Malort. Let’s go to the tape.
Not really describable, but I’ll try. It was one of those things where at first you’re like, “this isn’t too bad” and then about 10 seconds later, you’re like, “Did I just drink a mixture of original flavor Listerine and hydrogen peroxide?”
Despite that, it was quite enjoyable to sit and shoot the breeze with Emma and her pals at her neighborhood watering hole, and if I weren’t such an old man, I probably would have hung out and enjoyed the company for a while longer. Alas.
This article spoke to me like no other. If you’re a person of a certain age, it will be the best thing you’ve read in a long time.
Life before cellphones: The barely believable after-work activities of young people in 2002 Before cellphones and the internet, our after-work lives were so rich and productive that you'd barely believe it.