Welcome to Sunday (not so) fun day here in Cougar Athletics land.
We’ll start with a little on-field news, where believe it or not, the 2023 Cougars are actually taking shape! Given the off-field news of the week, it’s easy to overlook that. The Cougs held their fourth training camp practice on Saturday, and the defense seemed to improve its performance. Beat reporter Greg Woods went so far as to say that this was the Cougar defense’s best practice of camp.
Woods concentrates on the line, where a pretty glaring dichotomy exists. The ends seem to be the strongest and deepest part of the defense, as stalwarts like Brannan Jackson and Ron Stone man the starting spots, and backups Quinn Roff and Andrew Edson can spell them without losing much effectiveness. Now there’s another cog for the ends, as freshman Taariq Al-Uqdah is turning heads.
The interior, meanwhile, is still a work in progress. And that group will almost certainly tell part of the tale when it comes to WSU’s success in 2023. Some folks really need to step forward, because there’s almost no chance to win if you can’t stop anyone between the tackles. David Gusta and Nusi Malani appear to be a capable starting duo, but the Cougar defense will need at least two more depth guys to reliably man to tackle rotation, because the demands of that position do not allow for two guys to play every down. So keep an eye on how that position group develops, becuase when Braelon Allen and Wisconsin come to town, WSU absolutely has to be strong up the middle.
Ok, now for the inescapable topic, and yours truly’s thoughts that absolutely will not make you feel any better.
Life in the military often involves moving around, leaving friends and coworkers, and having to start over again in a new location, around different people, in a different home etc., like a handful of other professions, I believe. One particular instance occurred probably 10 years ago, when a friend I’d known for a while was leaving the FL Panhandle for an assignment in North Carolina. We gathered for a going away dinner/party and had a good time. Out in the parking lot, as many were saying their goodbyes, my friend’s wife said something that I’d never heard, felt was simple yet profound, and has stuck with me ever since:
It is always easier to leave than to be left.
Those words echoed as we departed friends in Tampa for our move to Germany, and again as we left our German friends to move back the the U.S. And as I relentlessly refreshed social media feeds during the latter half of last week, those 10 words left an indelible mark on my sports fan brain. The tumult that ultimately led to the implosion of the Pac-12 would have been much easier to endure had it been WSU doing the departing, and not being left behind.
So here we are, and while I’ve got nothing profound for anyone today (“tell us something we didn’t know, moron!”), words don’t really matter at this point anyway. What matters is how WSU’s leadership assesses the admittedly dire situation and reacts. As it stands, there is seemingly nothing but a series of unknowns, and we humans do not do well in that space, because a lack of concrete information leads the mind to wander to some pretty ugly places. See: QAnon
One example in this case is the fanciful thought that maybe the Big 12 will invite WSU onto its Island of Misfit Toys. Folks, that ain’t happening. So the sooner the heretofore feckless people in charge are able to cobble a plan together and move toward execution, the better we’ll all feel. Until then, it’ll largely be speculation and wishcasting, because right now, there’s nothing else to which we can cling.
A couple other random notes on this weekend of sorrow (I’ve had a lot more, I’m sure, but these are the ones I wrote down).
- I wonder what Mike Leach would have said about all this, especially when it comes to WSU being set adrift.
- Missouri’s coach wasn’t shy about his view, and he’s on the nose.
- All those people on social media who are like “I totally hate what happened to the Pac-12” in one tweet, and then making memes of WSU and OSU getting clowned in the next, or others who say disingenuous stuff like, “This is totally unfair and I feel terribly for WSU and Oregon State BUT WHATEVER CAN’T WAIT FOR THE NEW RIVALRIES IN THE BIG TEN / BIG 12” can all go fuck themselves. They’re not fooling anyone.
Case in point, this bag of ass:
I hate what’s happening with college athletics but selfishly I am thrilled that the @Big12Conference, a league I’ve been associated with at @espn for nearly 20 years, becomes a basketball juggernaut. Great coaches, players & storylines make for great TV. My storytelling &…— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) August 4, 2023
Seriously, how sad will the Pac 12 Basketball Tournament be next year? It will be like sitting shiva.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) August 5, 2023
One more time - Fran, go fuck yourself.
- Washington, and probably Oregon too, just agreed to never seriously compete for a college football national championship ever again. Both schools agreed to a 50% share (between $30-35M) for the next six years. Oh, but they’re free to borrow against future payouts. While Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and USC are getting upward of $60M, the two newbies will be getting half. That should work out well! So instead of taking about $25M to be the 1A and 1B football programs out west, Washington and Oregon agreed that $5-10M more (much of which will melt away into the travel budget) were a solid trade for running in the middle of the pack. Forever. But don’t worry, Husky fans. As far as you’re concerned, it’s still 1991, as always. Good luck with that.
- Pat Chun, I know you’re a good guy and an upstanding human. But if you have any shred of dignity, you will never play the University of Washington in anything if/until WSU and Washington share a conference again. Play Oregon State twice.
- If you’re one of those clowns who was bitching about NIL and free transfers ruining college sports, well, you too can do what I suggested for Fran. There were people LOBBYING CONGRESS for regulation to put a stop to the NIL scourge because...
...some of these kids are being induced to transfer! For actual money! In the United States of America! THE HORROR
Then, those same people left Washington D.C., took calls from the Big 12 / Big Ten and were like, “Yep, we will gladly take your financial inducement to transfer conferences!”
Now, I think the free transfer rule should be abolished. You want to transfer and take the cash? Fine. You have to sit out a year. But the train has left that station. Either way, some college kids wanting a piece of the multi-billion dollar enterprise is not what is tearing at the fabric of the sport we love. Baby Boomer executives who care about maximizing revenue - at the expense of what makes the sport great - and clueless university presidents who have consistently enabled incompetent management are the root cause of all this conference-hopping garbage, not the players who want a little more freedom and compensation.
Arizona may bolt for the B12? The B10 is scouting UO and UW to join UCLA and USC? SDSU may bolt the MWC? FSU openly talking about leaving the ACC? Yet, we still entertain coaches, ADs and legislators complain about the transfer portal ruining college sports? Seriously?— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) August 4, 2023
- Mrs. Kendall and I took the kiddos out to Destin, FL this weekend for some shopping before school begins this week. We wandered by one of the sports apparel stores where we saw this in the window.
For real, this is unadulterated, and it gave me a smile.
That’s right, among the display of Georgia, Florida and Alabama helmets was little ol’ WSU. So regardless of what you may be hearing, SOURCES TELL ME THAT WSU TO THE SEC IS CONFIRMED THERE IS NO OTHER EXPLANATION FOR THIS CAN’T WAIT TO SEE EVERYONE IN TUSCALOOSA.
- Now that that Pac-12 is toast, there’s only one thing for every Cougar team to do in terms of the conference.
- Finally, let’s depart of a light, heart-warming note. This isn’t WSU-related, but it should give you a smile, and remind everyone what college sports is supposed to be all about.
Zack Conti has played four years of football at Eastern Michigan as a walk-on.— Front Office Sports (@FOS) August 3, 2023
At one point, he was selling his plasma to help pay bills.
Today — ahead of his final season — team captain Brian Dooley gave up his scholarship for Conti.pic.twitter.com/etgMoomLXH
That is so goddamn awesome. Never lose sight of what really matters. Go EMU, and Go Cougs.
Afghan Warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum: Interview With the Accused War Criminal – Rolling Stone
Abdul Rashid Dostum, Afghan warlord and accused war criminal is interviewed from exile.