A GRIP ON SPORTS
Welcome to Crimson Saturday. It's not it's official name, but after the largest comeback in Apple Cup history resulted in Washington State's 31-28 overtime win over Washington yesterday, today is dedicated to the Cougar fans. At least it is here. Read on.
• Like most Washington State fans, those with the stomach for it anyway, I've watched a lot of bad Cougar games the past few years. Many that would be considered the lowest of the low. Routs, blown leads, disappointing efforts. And that's just this season. So it's little wonder when the Cougars rallied for 18 fourth-quarter points, then won in overtime Friday evening, the stands would empty and the Martin Stadium turf would be trampled by celebrating students and fans. It seemed almost like a dam had burst. A dam built by the flotsam and jetsam of the past four years, the water rising since, oh, the Apple Cup in 2008. So when Andrew Furney's 27-yard field goal split the uprights – no exaggeration there – the keystone was pulled and the whole pile of crud came tumbling down. And the Cougars celebrated, as only Cougars can. After all, when moments like this come so intermittently – one caller on the post-game radio show last night kept harkening back to 1982, which just happens to be 30 years ago – the celebrations are a bit like a shaken champagne bottle. Even the university president, Elson Floyd, joined in, addressing the crowd at midfield and mentioning kicking the Huskies either out of the place or – in what would have made much better copy if only it were true – in some part of the lower anatomy. It was just five years ago, the week after coach Bill Doba was fired, that then-WSU quarterback Alex Brink lashed out at Floyd, saying the president didn’t even come into the locker room after the recent Apple Cup win in Seattle, so what does he know about the football program. Floyd, to his credit, learned his lesson. There he was, partying with the rest of the Cougar faithful Friday night in Martin. Of course, he – and athletic director Bill Moos – have a lot more invested in coach Mike Leach, more money, more cache, more everything. And that investment, which had the look of Wall Street circa the last few years coming in, finally paid off. There was Moos during the game, doing his best to help fire up the crowd, bringing in Drew Bledsoe and Phillip Bobo to raise the flag. And there was Floyd afterward, smiling, cheering, celebrating a win that's will take its place with Bledsoe and Bobo's Snow Bowl, the '82 upset and, yes, the equally cathartic 2008 overtime win, another Apple Cup that ended with the WSU crowd storming the field. There was a lot said that day in '08 about the win kicking off a new era in Cougar football, but if it did, it wasn't all that noticeable the next season. The same pronouncements followed yesterday's comeback but only the future will tell if it has more of an effect. Though, for one day – Crimson Saturday – at least, anything seems possible.
• Washington State: Christian Caple and the rest of the S-R crew blew out the coverage in today's paper and on the blog, so we'll try to link everything. But we'll leave it to Christian and his morning post to give you links to the West Side coverage. Anyhow, we start with Christian's game story and follow that with this notebook, the keys to the game, the scoring and the statistics. John Blanchette has his usual interesting column and Jim Allen, who took a day away from the Eastern Eagles' march to a FCS title, adding a couple of sidebars. ... On the web, Christian has videos of the celebrating WSU fans, Leach, Jeff Tuel, Logan Mayes, Dominique Williams, Andrew Furney and Carl Winston. He also has a transcript of most of Leach's comments, a tale of the tape and his live chat from before the game. ... You want pictures? We have pictures. ... Jerome Harrison opened up Thursday, talking to CBS about his battle with a brain tumor. ... There is one more link I didn't see in the morning post but thought I should pass along. It's from Art Thiel in Seattle.
• Gonzaga: Potential can be a pretty heavy necktie to wear, but so far this season the 5-0 Bulldogs – ticketed by some national observers for a Final Four appearance –seemed to be handling it well. The latest piece of evidence came last night in the semifinals of the Old Spice Classic. And it came in the form of a 72-47 beatdown of Oklahoma. Jim Meehan is in Central Florida and filed this game story. He also had a day-after blog post yesterday, focusing on the first-round win over Clemson. ... More on the Zags' win from Oklahoma. ... Awaiting the Bulldogs in the finals are the Davidson Wildcats. You might recall the teams have a bit of history. It wasn't that long ago (2008 to be precise) the Wildcats rallied in the second half to upset GU 82-76 behind Seth Curry's 40 points, knocking Gonzaga from the NCAA tournament. ... St. Mary's fell for the first time this season, losing to Pacific, who will join the WCC next season, in Anaheim. ... BYU will try to ensure its future when top recruit Jabari Parker visits this weekend.
• EWU: The Eagles became victim No. 5 of Santa Clara on Friday night, falling 89-74 despite Collin Chiverton's 19 points. Not a bad loss for EWU, as it looks like the Broncos will finish at least third in the WCC, just behind Gonzaga and St. Mary's. ... Weber travels to Utah State tonight.
• Idaho: It's tough to win at New Mexico for just about anyone and the Vandals couldn't get it done, losing to the Lobos 73-58 before 14,741 – or about seven or eight home games for UI. ... The Vandal football team will end the 2012 season with one of its toughest challenges, facing Utah State in Logan. Josh Wright has an advance of today's game. ... The Aggies have a lot on the line today. So do San Jose State and Louisiana Tech.
• Whitworth: The Pirates got back on the winning track, defeating Mary Hardin-Baylor at the Fieldhouse. Steve Christilaw has the coverage.
• I want to add one thing. I spent five long years in Pullman covering the WSU football program, working hard to build a foundation of coverage in the paper and, almost as important these days, on this blog. When I decided to retire, I was hoping the S-R would be able to attract someone who would – and could – keep that coverage going – and growing. That's why I recommended Christian for the position, having gotten to know him while he worked in Moscow for a short time. Reading today's report, especially the game story and the blog posts, I know for certain my hopes have been realized. It really doesn't matter to me who wins or loses the games, what matters is the paper I spent a career trying to make as relevant as possible, gives you folks the best coverage it can. And that tradition continues. ... OK, enough maudlin stuff. We'll be back here tomorrow with a more critical eye. Promise. Until then ...