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July 3, 2009I can't remember the last time this much good news came out of Cougardom. Last month, Jeshua Anderson won himself another national championship in the 400-meter hurdles and was selected as the CougZone Athlete of the Year. I'm not able to a recall a more dominate athlete in any sport to put on a crimson and gray uniform. Then, at the USA Track & Field Championships last week, former Cougar track star Diana Pickler brought home a national title of her own in arguably the most grueling event for women's athletes, the heptathlon. Current roundballers DeAngelo Casto and Klay Thompson are making names for themselves at the FIBA U19 World Championships and future Cougar Brock Motum is doing his part for the Aussies. Everything is looking roses for the Cougars.
Too bad none of those athletes will be doing anything for the school until at least November (except Pickler, who will be competing at the World Track & Field Championships in Berlin next month). What about Anderson you say, after all, he's on the football team? Well, that's kind of where I'm going.
You see, the steady march towards school until August means that Cougar football is coming ever closer. And every day, I'm a little more discouraged about the team that's going to be marched out onto the turf at Martin Stadium. In Anderson's case, it has nothing to do with his athleticism; it has to do with the lack of a good quarterback to throw him the football. Whether it's Marshall Lobbestael, who is coming off a knee injury or Kevin Lopina who couldn't find the end zone through the air last year, I have little to no confidence in their ability to get him the football whatsoever.
I'm not the only person who is in such a pessimistic mood about the Cougars. Phil Steele writes his yearly book about the probable rundown of college football and his is the most accurate book in the land when it comes to predicting college football (so CougZone has been impressive in defeating Steele in our Pac-10 predictions for the last few years). As I was flipping through the 2009 version of Steele's book, his outlook was no better than mine. In Steele's yearly outlook, he says the Cougars greatest strength is at running back but he qualifies it by saying "it's all relative" to the Cougars overall skill level.
Are there positive things to say about the Cougars this upcoming year? Sure but it mostly encompasses the saying of "it can't get any worse." And there are plenty of reasons to believe it shouldn't. The team will have a full spring and fall camp of the Paul Wulff no-huddle offense under their belts. The defense really can't get any worse than it was last year when it was down right terrible.
But that's about where all the positives stop. There are question marks at nearly every position except for the tailbacks. Many significant contributing seniors have departed and the remaining starters have little playing time between them. The quarterback position is arguably the most crucial on the field and that is as unstable as most. Lobbestael's health will be a question all spring and Lopina's ability to put it in a receiver's hands wearing a crimson jersey will be crucial as well.
This is all compounded by the fact that your rival across the state seems to be doing nothing but improving and all their alumni and fans are drinking the new coaches' Kool Aid and looking up to him as if he's some kind of cult leader. They even have a cute, affectionate nickname for him. And while everything seems to be right in Husky land on and off the field, the problems are becoming more frequent in Pullman.
Most recently, former defensive backs Kevin Frank and Romeo Pellum and current cornerback Tyrone Justin were charged with attempted burglary. Luckily, only Justin remains on the team and it shames me that I have to say "luckily". Then in May, Tyree Toomer and LeAndre Daniels were arrested for suspicion of stealing bicycles. Police say they even stole a saw from a construction site to get through the bike locks. And surprise surprise, for the umpteenth time, Xavier Hicks found himself in trouble with the law.
The worst part might be head coach Wulff making an appearance on a television station in Seattle and making excuses for his players, saying they were just young men in Pullman. No excuses needed for these boys, I can tell exactly what's going on here. See, the common thread is that all of these suspended players are in the secondary so I have a solution: cut them all and hold open try-outs. I can dust off the old cleats and see if I can cover James Rogers.
Even the Daily Evergreen editorial board wrote a opinion piece that looked more like a Mad Lib because they were sick of writing articles about players being in trouble. I realize this all sounds like one big rant and really it is, but it leads me too a point: to justify this terrible behavior, there better be one hell of an improvement on the field. And I'm talking 4 wins or more over last season. The only way to justify these actions by these players is to translate it into victories.
Otherwise, I'm proposing that every subsequent player that gets arrested takes a few thousand dollars out of Wulff's paycheck to pay the bail money. Either that or you put in a special "Jailhouse Fee" on all tickets.
Who Cares Pick of the Week: Honduras defeats Haiti 2-0 in a CONCACAF Gold Cup Match Saturday at Qwest Field.
Dunderhead of the Week: Whoever let a swarm of honey bees into Petco Park in San Diego on Thursday afternoon, delaying the Astros vs. Padres game by 52 minutes. I couldn't bee-leave-it. There was quite a buzz all over the ballpark about this. The baseball players weren't the only ones stinging line drives. I could go on all day.
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