A GRIP ON SPORTS
Angst. It is a real thing, not just some made up word that sounds really cool. And it goes really well when paired with another word, like, say, "bowl." Read on.
• Yes, once again, Washington State football fans are suffering from their yearly malady, Bowl Angst. Though this year's strain is a bit different. Usually by late November the Cougar faithful's sickness has to do with another year passing by without a bowl invite. It's been that way pretty much each season since 2003. But this year the bowl angst is coming from another source. It's actually a close relative of another Cougar sickness, the Lack-of-Respect Flu. Melded together it's almost pandemic. These are the symptoms: WSU is one win away from the prerequisite six wins to be invited to a bowl game. If the Cougars either defeat Utah this Saturday in Pullman or Washington a week from Friday in the Apple Cup, then Washington State will get to six wins. But, like in 2006 when WSU went 6-6 and was not invited, there is a chance, according to the hypochondriacs among the Cougar fans, the team will be left at home this season. After all, the Pac-12 has just seven bowl tie-ins, has eight teams already with at least six wins and could have as many as 10. Put it all together and the less-than-confident WSU fan, who has seen his or her team get hosed in the past, is shivering under the effects of No-Bowl Fever. To that I say, take a chill pill and call me in a month. If Mike Leach and his team find a way to win that sixth game, then they will go bowling. Guaranteed. Dennis Patchin and I talked about this a bit during the post-game call-in show last Saturday and I will repeat what I said there. If the Cougars have enough wins, athletic director Bill Moos will get them in a bowl. He won't let this opportunity pass. Whether it is spending a couple million dollars guaranteeing ticket sales – then shaming the Cougar faithful into picking up the tab – or it's calling in some old favors, Moos will do what it takes to make sure Washington State goes bowling. Why? Well, besides the most basic reason – it would be a good thing for the football team, what with the extra practices and another game – there are a few less tangible rewards. A bowl bid in just Leach's second season would justify once and for all the coaching change. Remember, Moos has always said it would take Leach at least three years to get things turned around. With a bowl in hand he can say it took just two. A bowl bid, coupled with the new operations building, would help keep the turnaround on the fast track, especially with a key off-season recruiting effort needed (and one that is slipping a bit). And the extra excitement generated by a trip to Detroit or Dallas or El Paso (yes, those places generate excitement in the Bizarro World – pictured – that is college football) would help keep full the premium seating on Martin Stadium's south side. Don't forget, Moos loves the grand gesture (remember the Joey Harrington/Times Square billboard?) and a bowl bid in Leach's second year qualifies. So don't worry – about getting shut out with a 6-6 record. Worry about the Cougars getting their sixth win, sure, because Utah and UW will not be pushovers. But don't get the night sweats over missing out on the postseason. If the record is good enough, a bowl will happen.
• WSU: Hey, it's Wednesday, which means Jacob Thorpe not only has his Pac-12 power rankings, he also has a Pac-12 notebook. And he will hold a live chat at 11 a.m. Pretty cool, huh? Jacob also has blog posts on Tuesday's practice, the bowl situation and this morning's links. ... Utah has to win its next two games (the Utes finish with Colorado) to get to 6-6 and bowl eligibility and it will have to do it while dealing with a quarterback problem. ... We always like to pass along Pac-12 notebooks.
• Gonzaga: It's Local Rivalry Week in the Kennel, to rip-off ESPN's way of naming everything. Tonight, the GU women will host Eastern Washington at 6. Tomorrow night, the Bulldog men will host Washington State. Jim Meehan has a Gonzaga notebook heading into the matchup. ... BYU has been without star guard Tyler Haws the last couple games, but he's expected back tonight when the Cougars host No. 21 Iowa State tonight.
• EWU: The Eagles rebounded from their defeat at Washington with an 82-44 rout of Walla Walla. Jim Allen was at Reece Court and has the game story. Jesse Tinsley has a couple of photographs from the contest... Jim also has a football notebook heading into Senior Day on Saturday when Portland State comes to town and a morning post with links. ... Southern Utah was routed by California in hoops action last night.
• Whitworth: After 19 years and 100 wins, John Tully is out as head football coach. Whether he was forced out or resigned on his own is still being debated but he won't be back. Thomas Clouse broke the story on the blog yesterday and has this piece on the change. ... Six Pirates earned all-NWC football honors.
• Preps: Basketball is getting underway and Greg Lee kicks off the winter season with this advance of girls hoop action in North Idaho. ... ESPN released its list of the top 300 juniors in high school football and Brett Rypien was on it.
• Sounders: Each MLS team is allowed just three designated players, guys they can sign to multi-year contracts and pay a bit more. Yesterday, the Sounders decided to use one of those spots on four-time team MVP Osvaldo Alonso. With that decision, they had to strip Mauro Rosales of the same status (the other two are Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins). ... If the team is to keep Eddie Johnson, he'll probably need a long-term deal, which means Martins would have to go. Don’t expect both on the team next season.
• Sonics: As Chris Hansen continues his quest to find an NBA team to move to Seattle, the local opposition questions the particulars of the deal with the city.
• Our work here is done. I hope you are thoroughly inoculated against Bowl Angst. If not, we'll be back. Until then ...