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Who fights with the little guys?

Another Fan Face Friday: Pac-2 Championship edition

Ashley Davis

Hello, Coug fans!

Last week, as you know, your Washington State Cougars took on Oregon State in what many dubbed the “Pac-2 Championship” - and we won.

This game holds a certain significance beyond your average football matchup. We’ve always held an alliance with Oregon State, a kinship of like-minded academics in landlocked locations, on top of being historically written off as the lesser to our flashier in-state rival. We’ve seen examples of this online, while visiting each other’s campuses, and even out in the real world.

But something about last Saturday felt... different.

I’m referencing the now infamous Pac-12 Conference realignment, dissolution, or total train wreck of mishandled PR, whatever you best know it as. This shift changed things for a lot of fanbases- many were happy, many confused, and some rather upset.

Washington State and Oregon State are used to everyone thinking less of them. Pushing their programs to the side, despite only improvement in recent years from both schools.

Narratives like that could make anyone bitter. But instead of taking the disrespect and letting it eat them alive, both schools used it as an opportunity to develop a motivational chip on their shoulders. A point they got to prove. A wrong they’d happily right, every. Single. Time.

But what happens when the two teams fighting tooth and nail for the same respect go head to head?

Well- that’s the question I’d been asking myself all week.

I know I’ve always loved the Beavers. Growing up in Oregon, surrounded by Duck fans who never hid their negative opinions about the Cougs from me- in ways I’m sure were meant to be humorous, but usually stung if I thought too hard about it. But the Beaver fans? They were always right there with me.

Was this game going to make us... angry? Ugly? Would it bring out the worst sides of us? We’ve spent years rolling things off our shoulders, the little guy taking the high road again and again and again. Would that boil over? Would we take it out on each other? The answer, it turns out, was a predictable hell no. Of course we didn’t. We were in it together, just like always.

I had the opportunity to run around the tailgates and talk to both Cougs and Beavs alike about the energy they were witnessing, how they feel about the conference dissolution, and most importantly, how we feel about each other. And I wanted to bring you guys with me!

Underdogs, forever.

Ashley Davis

Trading a Jell-O shot for a Coors Lite, what’s more WSU vs OSU than that??

“You’re us, you know?” an Oregon State fan remarked when I asked him about why he was looking forward to this game in particular.

“You're the us of Washington. We love you guys. Coming up here was a no-brainer.”

Ashley Davis

“Everyone was really excited to come here. There’s a ton of people from Corvallis here. I feel like the cultures aren’t super different- you get the occasional asshole here, but for the most part people are cut from the same cloth, just in different fonts. My best friend goes here and I was so excited to come visit her!” Another Oregon State fan said. We got to trade friendship bracelets with the sweet friends, and they each got an appropriately crafted ‘Cougs <3 Beavs’ made by yours truly. Pictured above!

Ashley Davis

Another shirt I saw was one centered around HC Jake Dickert’s slogan for the season- all we got, all we need. When I asked what that sentiment meant to the creator of the shirt, and why she chose to put that slogan on her Pac-2 shirt, she said “It resonates because it’s true- I love that he was almost teary when he said it. I wanted to include the Beavs because it really is just us. But we’re the Cougs, at the end of the day we’ve always got each other.”

Ashley Davis

While I didn't get to talk to the two guys above, I feel like the picture deserves a moment. It reminds me of something another OSU fan said: “This just feels more special. Hopefully we end up in the same conference so we can still play each other. It’s a rivalry, but it’s not.”

Another Coug talked about how worth it it is to come up here, saying that she’s willing to be tired “Monday through Thursday- I do this for the people.”

Another Beav remarked that “the culture is very similar. I went to Oregon State but I love Wazzu.”

“This is the real Pac- gotta back this Pac.” Said another Coug.

“There’s so many amazing people, and amazing opportunities when you connect like this.” An Oregon State fan said when asked about the culture of Pullman and Corvallis.

When I asked a WSU fan to compare this game atmosphere to other games, they said “if we were playing the Ducks, I don’t think you’d see this many up here. There’s more on the line, the stakes are higher, we’re the last of us.”

So- who fights with the little guys? Who stands behind the people this conference dissolution is really challenging? Who will always have their backs?


And one thing that was made abundantly clear to me during all these enlightening conversations, that many of us were having after an adult beverage or two, is win or lose- the underdogs will always have each others backs.

Please enjoy the photos you saw above, and more, in a fantastic gallery by my friend and photographer extraordinaire, Ashley Davis!

Go Cougs. And Go Beavs!