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Where should WSU go next?

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Colorado
Feb 11, 2016; Boulder, CO, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Ernie Kent reacts to a non foul call in the second half against the Colorado Buffaloes at the Coors Events Center. The Buffaloes defeated the Cougars 88-81 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Hello! As you read this (and thanks!) there are just two (!!!) more empty Saturdays between us and Cougar Football. Who’s excited!? I kind of am, simply because it will take some of the attention away from the disastrous August that WSU and its semi-former conference have endured. So, what’s with that photo? All I can say is it’s an oldie but a goodie, and possibly the CougCenter staff’s favorite all-time cover pic. Related: I still can’t believe Ernie Kent was our basketball coach. Or maybe I just don’t want to believe it.

Before we get to some more realignment musings, we’ll touch on actual Washington State Cougars foorball for a sec. The Cougs took to Gesa Field on Saturday for their first preseason scrimmage and, keeping in form with spring, saw the bulk of the reps go to newbies and reserves. From the Spokesman Review:

The Cougars’ starters only played so many snaps during the scrimmage, the team’s ninth day of fall camp. Nakia Watson, Washington State’s starter at running back, sat out to preserve his health. Quarterback Cameron Ward came out after several series. Edge rushers Brennan Jackson and Ron Stone Jr. did the same.

The highlights belonged to the Cougars’ young guys, the players who promise to deliver in the future. There was Pulalasi, who earned “Juice Men” honors after the scrimmage; backup edge Raam Stevenson, who had two sacks (without hitting the quarterback); Kapena Gushiken, who snared a tipped interception; and backup kicker Cole Theaker, who hit a field goal from about 57 yards.

Not sure what “several” series means, but I’d guess it was no more than three or so. I had to look up Pulalasi on the roster because...nevermind. Leo is from right here in the state, having attended Lakes HS in Tacoma, and has pretty good size for a running back, especially a freshman (6’1” / 219). For reference, both of those numbers are higher than Nakia Watson and DJ Schlenbaker.

Nearly as notable as those who were available to play Saturday is the list of those who apparently were not. Among them were linemen Christian Hilborn and Fa’alili Fa’amoe, receivers Tsion Nunnally and Orion Peters, safety Sam Lockett (broken hand away from practice doesn’t sound fishy at all), and defensive back Adrian Wilson.

Here’s a photo gallery of the proceedings, and you can also check out some post-scrimmage interviews below.

The Coug footballers return to the practice field Monday, and sit just 20 days from their 2023 debut in Fort Collins. It’s approaching fast!

Symphony of Pac-12 Destruction

Can the Pac-12 be saved? The answer to that, as with nearly everything in life is, it depends. Depends on whether Stanford and Cal have to remain out west, and not pursue the nonsensical course of action that ends up with them in the ACC. Word circulated this week that Notre Dame is pushing hard for Bay Area school inclusion, while four schools: Clemson, Florida State, N.C. State and North Carolina are against expanding west. Way, way west.

Couple things: First, why the hell does Notre Dame get voting member privileges on a football-centric issue when it isn’t even a football member? Related - It definitely wasn’t someone from Notre Dame who leaded the names of the four schools to the media so don’t even bother asking! If even one of those schools has a change of heart, assuming all the others are on board (WHY WOULD THEY BE ON BOARD THIS IS SO STUPID!) we could see Cal and Stanford depart, which would all but guarantee WSU’s admission into the Mountain West.

Yahoo’s Ross Dellenger delved into the topic late last week, and did a rather fine job of laying out the potential and pratfalls the remaining four PAC schools face. The schools have been communicating throughout the past week, but it looks like Neville George Chamberlain Kliavkoff wasn’t included? I guess his invite got lost in the mail or something.

If (Stanford) is in, restructuring the Pac-12 begins in earnest. Time is precious. The four schools have scheduled six games next football season: three non-conference games and three against themselves.

Reforming the Pac-12, while difficult, is not impossible.

“It’s premature to say the conference is dead,” says one person with firsthand knowledge of the situation.

The NCAA requires eight members to be recognized as an FBS conference, though there is a grace period of two years. According to NCAA bylaw, a conference shall continue to be considered an FBS league for two years after it drops below the eight-team threshold.

The quickest and maybe easiest route in reforming is to acquire the most western schools in the American Athletic Conference, such as SMU, UTSA, North Texas, Rice, Tulane and potentially the Sun Belt’s Texas State. To leave, these schools would owe an exit fee as they are well past the 27-month notice that the AAC requires.

While the exit fee is negotiable with conference leaders, schools have previously left for $10-17 million. But the cost could be significantly higher since schools would be giving notice inside of a year.

The Mountain West’s exit fee ($34 million) is what is preventing the four Pac-12 teams from prying its members from the league — at least in time for 2024. Adding any MWC school for the 2025 season costs $17 million.

Rebuilding the Pac-12 is fraught with problems, most notably is the attractiveness of joining four schools that:

• do not have a television rights deal.

• have a commissioner who is unlikely to continue in the long term.

• are saddled with legal and other challenges, including the National Labor Relations Board employment claim; lawsuits from the Holiday Bowl and two former employees; more than $50 million owed to Comcast for an accounting error.

• will almost certainly lose two designations, one from the NCAA and one from the CFP: (1) the Autonomous Five governance status that grants them more authoritative powers in rule-making; and (2) the Power Five status with the CFP that grants those leagues more revenue in the playoff distribution model.

“If you add four schools, you would have an argument to keep the CFP A5,” says one Pac-12 source, “but it would be an uphill battle.”

Seem like a lot of negatives? It is.

So, other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel also pitched a couple scenarios via whatever Twitter is called now.

Yes, the AAC has a better TV deal, with a couple HUGE caveats. For one, the AAC is locked into its TV contract until 2031. The Mountain West payout, while a fair bit smaller, is up for renewal in 2026.

That said, I’m here for the Cougs in New Orleans every 2-3 years WHO’S WITH ME?! I still don’t get the Rice part. Yes, Rice is in Houston. No, that does not matter one damn bit. And again, if you bring up academics I will turn this car around! Obviously a lot has to happen, and in a short amount of time. I suspect that whatever the solution is, the presidents will have to be dragged along like they always have, which is a big reason why we are where we are.

In the event that the Pac-whatever pulls a Rasputin, my dream sheet would probably be SDSU, SMU, Boise State, Fresno, UTSA and Tulane (for the aforementioned selfish purposes). If we want to get to 12, throw in Memphis and either Nevada-Reno or UNLV. It won’t command a huge TV deal, but we’ve almost certainly crossed into a beggars/choosers situation here anyway.

Finally, a conference like this one is highly likely to produce a champion that receives a bid to the future College Football Playoff, whatever form that takes after 2024. The chance to supplement the comparatively media income with a large chunk of CFP money is something the presidents should absolutely scrutinize in the event they go about forming a new conference. Instead, they’ll probably spend most of their time talking about Rice’s medical school or something. Same as it ever was.

This Week in Parenting

Those three words that make kids (mostly boys) everywhere cringe reared their ugly heads for Team Kendall this week: Back. To. School. In advance of school’s return, the now-6th grader and sophomore went school shopping last week at the good ol’ outlet malls about 90 minutes from here. Between the raging thunderstorms and their inaugural meal at Five Guys (pretty good and also breathtakingly expensive!) we managed to get them some new shoes and a first day wardrobe. Turns out first day wardrobes aren’t were what they used to be, as the 11 year-old chose an Under Armour shirt and Under Armour shorts. I’m too old and weak to fight about it anymore.

The funny part about taking the kids ‘back to school’ shopping was that yours truly ended up getting most of the stuff for himself! New pair of sneakers? Check. Three Brooks Brothers dress shirts at 40% off? Check! New hat? Check! New pair of brown dress shoes? Another check! Thank Christ the hotel room was free.

Next was orientation for the 11 year-old, where we walked around to all of his classes stood in line to meet his teachers who have no idea what’s in store for them. Oh, and I also got to watch him pretend to not see his frenemy Harper as they passed each other in the school office. I even mentioned her name, rather loudly, to him as she walked past, and watched his cheeks turn cherry red as he feigned ignorance at her presence. In case you weren’t aware, dads were put on this planet to publicly embarrass their kids as much as possible.

Judgment Day arrived Thursday, when the 6th-grader had to catch his bus at 0636. You read that correctly. He has to be at the bus stop before most sane people have to be out of bed. Hooray. He was up and ready to go, though I’m sure that enthusiasm will wane by week two.

Later on, I drove the sophomore to school at about 0715, since he likes to arrive rather early so he can pontificate to his JROTC pals about god knows what. I usually have a podcast going on our ride, but that day we had the old man’s music playlist on the stereo. As I pulled in to drop him off, Simple Minds’ Don’t You Forget About Me came on, and I couldn’t help but recall how that banger is the capstone to one the the greatest high school movies of all time. Life is funny.

The first day was rather perfunctory, as usual. The 11 year-old told me about how his World History teacher laid out the class rules, one of which is “mind your own business.” This is one of my favorite rules in the history of ever, but my nosy kid may have trouble following this one!

That night, neither of the kids had homework, but I sure as shit had some! Between the syllabi, photo releases, rules pledges etc., I wrote down my signature more for these kids’ school rules than I ever have when I closed on a home purchase. I guess I don’t know whether my parents had to sign papers until their hands gave out, but if they did, I sure don’t remember it. Far as I can recall, the rule for every class from kindergarten to 12th grade was the same: Show up, shut up, and turn your goddamn homework in. The times they are a changin’.


You know, the word “hero” gets thrown around way too often. But in my mind, Sebastian Davis should be in the White House next week to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Oh, and I 100% agree with this theory:

In May 2020—at the beginning of the pandemic, as people were fiercely debating what they owed to their fellow citizens—an image of a 4chan post titled “The Shopping Cart Theory” went viral. The post explains in clinical, unwavering terms the massive stakes of this simple task: “The shopping cart is the ultimate litmus test for whether a person is capable of self-governing,” it reads. “A person who is unable to [return the cart] is no better than an animal.”

If you don’t return a shopping cart properly, you’re a shitty person. Full stop.

The Shopping Cart Theory of Assholery, As Explained by the Cart Narc - The Ringer
Along for the ride with Sebastian Davis, who’s built an empire of weaponized righteousness on YouTube based on a simple idea: Putting your shopping cart back is a test of your character.

Also this week, some idiots in Virginia don’t want to compensate a teacher WHO WAS SHOT AT SCHOOL because they argue it’s a “hazard of the job.” You read that correctly. School shootings are so prevalent that some attorneys think they shouldn’t be considered extraordinary.


Attorneys argue 1st-grade teacher shot in school is ‘workplace injury’
The Newport News Education Association President condemned the premise of the school division’s motion to dismiss Abigail Zwerner’s pending $40 million lawsuit.