I suppose there are people who care about Big Sky Conference football.
In fact, I’m almost sure of it. Seems as if I’ve met some of them.
It’s just that in Spokane their fandom tends to get drowned out by the noise about Gonzaga basketball, WSU football and whatever.
Which is fine. We Big Sky fans take a sort of pride in the absence of hype.
Well, I do anyway.
Four years ago, on the eve of highly ranked Eastern Washington University’s football game against my alma mater, Northern Arizona, I donned my NAU T-shirt and strolled around the leafy EWU campus in Cheney with photographer Dan Pelle. The only flak I got was entirely good-natured.
This, I thought, was that rare thing – sanity in the realm of college sports.
Then, the next day, NAU came from behind in the last seconds to win that televised game. A few of the subsequent emails I received challenged my theory that Big Sky fans kept sports in perspective. They were, uh, a bit testy.
Well, it’s time again for EWU to travel to Flagstaff for a game against Northern Arizona. And I think it’s my duty to create some pregame buzz, Big Sky-style.
So if you’ve been looking for some trash-talk to borrow before Saturday’s clash of titans, you’ve come to the right place.
I will, of course, provide fodder for both sides.
An EWU fan could say: “I know people down in Arizona made a big deal about NAU beating Texas-El Paso last Saturday because UTEP plays in the big boys division. But I ask you. Has UTEP ever won a game – AGAINST ANYBODY – in this century?”
An NAU fan could say: “Yes, I saw that Eastern rolled up some impressive statistics in its win Saturday. But where do they get off scheduling a game against a high school team?”
An EWU fan could say: “NAU never should have been in the postseason playoffs last year, as their embarrassing first-round exit quickly demonstrated.”
An NAU fan could say: “How did Eastern do in the postseason last year? Oh, that’s right. They were invited to stay home.”
An EWU fan could say: “Flagstaff’s elevation is an unfair advantage for the home team. You even need special instructions to bake a cake there.”
An NAU fan could say: “At least our artificial grass is the color God intended.”
An EWU fan could say: “I can’t think of any successful graduates of NAU.”
An NAU fan could say: “Well, who has Eastern produced? The sports editor of The Spokesman Review? I rest my case.”
An EWU fan could say: “We have a well-regarded creative writing program.”
An NAU fan could say: “Well, la-dee-frickin’-da.”
An EWU fan could say: “Does the ‘Lumberjacks’ nickname come from that ‘Monty Python’ skit?”
An NAU fan could say: “ ‘Eagles’ is such a unique nickname. I think only about 40 other schools use that.”
An EWU fan could say: “I read somewhere that Pluto was discovered at an observatory near the Flagstaff campus. Too bad it’s no longer a planet. Is NAU still considered a college?”
An NAU fan could say: “Well, that’s like just your opinion, man.”
An EWU fan could say: “We were national champions.”
An NAU fan could say: “We were, too.”
An EWU fan could say: “Cross country doesn’t count.”
An NAU fan could say: “I’m always confusing Eastern with the state hospital you have up there.”
An EWU fan could say: “So does NAU recruit exclusively in California?”
An NAU fan could say: “Is it true your team has a criminal defense attorney on retainer?”
An EWU fan could say: “Didn’t your quarterback get tossed for targeting last year?”
An NAU fan could say: “That was against Montana.”
An EWU fan could say: “Oh, yeah. I withdraw my rebuke. Carry on.”
An NAU fan could say: “What conference was EWU in before it joined the Big Sky, the Greater Spokane League?”
An EWU fan could say: “Is Flagstaff rattlesnake country or what?”
An NAU fan could say: “We’re not far from the Grand Canyon.”
An EWU fan could say: “Too bad you don’t play your games outdoors.”
An NAU fan could say: “Our dome is made of wood.”
An EWU fan could say: “Maybe you ought to be in the Big Ceiling Conference.”
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