November 24, 2013 in Sports

Don’t worry, 6-6 will be enough

A Grip On Sports
 
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Quarterback Alex Brink (10) and his Washington State Cougars posted a 6-6 record in 2006, but were not invited to a bowl game despite qualifying for one.
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Vince Grippi has an opinion about everything local, especially sports. Every Sunday we provide samples of his daily riffs. Read him daily at spokesman.com/sportslink.

Wednesday: 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.”

• 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: (Going into Saturday’s game against Utah) WSU is one win away from the prerequisite six wins to be invited to a bowl game.

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 9. 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.

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 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 offseason 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 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.

Monday: I stand corrected. Throughout my career I could always count on one thing: Football coaches would say their bye week “came at a good time.” Always. I never expected a coach to say any different. But it has happened.

And it was Pete Carroll who said the unexpected. Yep, Carroll would like to keep playing. Sure, the rest is nice, but his Hawks are rolling.  They rolled over Minnesota yesterday 41-20. The offensive line is  getting healthy. The key offseason acquisition, Percy Harvin, is finally able to play. The record is the  best it has ever been. And now the Seahawks take a week off.

So Carroll, always one to dance to the beat of his own drummer, tells the assembled media horde Sunday  he would rather keep playing.

What the heck? He tells the truth? That’s not right.

There are certain aspects of the coaching code you have to adhere to rigidly and saying the bye comes at a good time is one of them. Heck, the next thing you know Carroll might even say his team expects to win before they play a team like the Vikings. You know, admit his team is better and it would be an upset if it lost. Break Coaching Code Rule No. 17: The opponent is always the best team in the history of football. Or, even more blasphemous, Carroll might talk about a game two or three weeks down the schedule, breaking Coaching Code Rule No. 1: Take it one game at a time, recently amended to, take it one day at a time (the Chip Kelly codicil).


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