SAN DIEGO – It really was a silly question.
Asked why he had trekked to San Diego for his second Holiday Bowl in a row, Washington State football fan Bill Grantham took one look around Wednesday morning and lifted his head to the warm sun.
“What’s not to like?” said Grantham, a 1978 WSU graduate who also brought daughter Emily for the Cougars’ second straight appearance in the Holiday Bowl.
Grantham, of Spokane, joined hundreds of WSU and Michigan State fans for an hourlong Battle of the Bands on the San Diego waterfront.
Most were dressed in shorts and shirtsleeves as temperatures hit 70 – and it wasn’t even noon. Butch, the WSU mascot, stoked the fires by leading the Cougars in cheers.
With snow on the ground back in Spokane, that was just one more reason to fly south, even for just a few days.
Still, the WSU fans were slightly outnumbered by those from MSU. The Spartans are making their first Holiday Bowl appearance, and were fleeing temps in the single digits, so that was no surprise.
However, one gets the feeling that Grantham and other die-hards would play the Spartans at the North Pole.
Grantham said he’s missed just five or six home games since graduating in 1978, and is a bowl game regular. That includes two Rose Bowls, but also a tough loss in the New Mexico Bowl in 2013, a frigid Sun Bowl two years ago – and of course last year’s loss to Minnesota in the Holiday Bowl.
That was all the more reason to come back, figures Grantham, who said he’s proud of the program “and all the attention it gets for Washington State.”
This is WSU’s fourth bowl game in six seasons under coach Mike Leach, who will lead the Cougars against MSU on Thursday night. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.
Another Spokane couple, Scott Robertson and Karrie Garis, have attended WSU games since the 1980s. He’s not an alum, but his previous business connections with the school qualify Robertson as a “fake Coug.”
That probably is false modesty coming from Robertson, who recalls the 1992 “Snow Bowl” against Washington and other cold-weather classics.
“You can’t be a fair-weather fan,” Robertson said.
For Joel Loiacono, of Spokane, a 1984 grad, and his wife, Colette, this was all about supporting the Cougs, regardless of the weather.
“We even went to El Paso,” said Loiacono, recalling WSU’s 21-20 win over Miami two years ago during a freak snowstorm in El Paso.
“But isn’t this gorgeous?” Loiacono said.
Not everyone was fleeing the snow. Jordan and Kristi Bleasdale had arrived the day before from Hawaii. The trip was Kristi’s Christmas present to Jordan, a 2009 WSU grad who rarely gets a chance to see the Cougs in person.
“This is a great chance to watch the team,” Jordan said.
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