Seen & Heard on Planet Coug

SATURDAY'S GAME at Martin Stadium will mark the final home contest for 19 Cougar seniors. Or is it 18? One member of the group of 19 that is set to be introduced before the kickoff with Utah is hoping he gets to go through the ceremony all over again next year. The paperwork has been filed with the NCAA appealing for another year of eligibility for first-year Cougar receiver Vince Mayle.

With the decision not likely to come for months, he couldn't be left out of Saturday's farewell because his appeal to the NCAA is not a given.

But rest assured, CougFans, his presence among the 19 doesn't in any way mean his appeal has been denied.

Concern among the crimson faithful is understandable. In this, just his second season of football since his senior campaign at Sacramento's Inderkum High in the fall 2008, Mayle has caught 31 passes for 423 yards and five TDs. He's accounted for five of the Cougars' 20 longest pass plays this season.

The grounds for his appeal to the NCAA look to be solid.

Mayle graduated from high school in 2009 and then started the clock running on his collegiate eligibility when he enrolled that fall at Shasta Community College, where he played basketball.

Here's where the basis for his appeal to the NCAA stems from: Mayle didn't participate in sports the following year, 2010-11, in order to help his mom through a health battle. He then enrolled at Serra College a year later – last year – and turned out for football. He proceeded to collect a head-grabbing 61 pass receptions for nearly 1,000 yards, turning himself from just a guy on a JC roster to a coveted FBS prospect. On the NCAA eligibility clock, that was his junior season.

Mike Leach told reporters earlier this season he believes the extenuating circumstances of Mayle's case warrant a fifth year of eligibility.

In addition to Mayle, the other Cougar seniors who will be introduced before kickoff on Saturday are, in alphabetical order:

DL Matthew Bock, C Elliott Bosch, K/P Mike Bowlin, OL Zach Brevick RB Leon Brooks, S Deone Bucannon, LB Jared Byers, DB Anthony Carpenter, OL Rico Forbes, OL John Fullington, K Andrew Furney, DT Ioane Gauta, OL Matt Goetz, CB Damante Horton, S Casey Locker, LB Eric Oertel, LB Justin Sagote and CB Nolan Washington.

If the program keeps the trajectory heading north, every one of those guys can take pride in having helped rebuild the foundation of Cougar football.

One name not included among the 19 seniors bidding farewell to Martin, even though he is listed on the team roster as a senior, is safety Bennett Bontemps. The one-time walk-on was injured in August camp and only recently returned to practices as a limited participant. But because he played as a true freshman in 2010 and has never redshirted, he has a year of eligibility remaining. The fact he's not listed among the 19 to be introduced Saturday suggests he'll be back for 2014.

OF THE SENIORS BIDDING ADIEU,offensive lineman John Fullington holds two unique distinctions. First, he comes into the Utah contest having started 40 straight games, dating back to his true freshman season of 2010 when he started the final six. Second, that string of starts includes a notable feat of versatility: Fullington has started at every position for the Cougars except center, checking in at left tackle seven times, left guard 22 times, right guard five times and right tackle six.

SPEAKING OF GAMES STARTED, THIS may offer a clue to why the Cougars are on the verge of bowl eligibility for the first time since 2006: 14 every-down position players have started all 10 games for the Cougs this season. On offense, it's Fullington, Joe Dahl, Gunnar Eklund, Elliott Bosch, Gabe Mark and Connor Halliday. On defense, it's Toni Pole, Xavier Cooper, Cyrus Coen, Darryl Monroe, Justin Sagote, Damante Horton, Deone Bucannon and Taylor Taliulu. In addition, nose tackle Ioane Guata has started all but one game, last week's tilt against Arizona in which Mike Breske deployed a stratagem by starting two Buck LBs (Kache Palacio and Destiny Vaeao).

THE COUGS' 5-5 RECORD looks stronger when viewed from the prism of Jeff Sagarin's rankings. His strength of schedule rankings place the Cougars with the third toughest slate in the nation through Week 10.

And check this out: Pac-12 teams are first, second and third, with Utah and Stanford coming in at Nos. 1 and 2. Plus, an astounding six Pac-12 teams are listed among Sagarin's top 10 strongest schedules, (No. 6 ASU, No. 8 Cal, No. 10 Colorado.)

The two projected BCS finalists, Alabama and Florida State, are ranked 41st and 58th in schedule strength by Sagarin. Other notables: Baylor is 85th, Ohio State is 42nd, Wisconsin is 52nd, Missouri is 40th, Clemson is 45th, Oklahoma State is 51st, Texas A&M is 47th and Oklahoma is 62nd.

HATS OFF TO MESSAGE BOARD contributor Bobo6. He won two club seats to Saturday's game as the winner of CF.C's subscriber essay contest asking who is the greatest non-quarterback Cougar football player of all time. The nominations were numerous and compelling, but Bobo6's ode to Hall of Famer Rueben Mayes took top honors.

Here's how Bobo 6 began his entry: "The player I nominate is humble and classy. He knows the words to both the Fight Song and the Alma Mater. It is not rare to still see him on the sidelines or on the scoreboard Jumbotron taking one to the house …"


WHAT HAS TO BE ONE OF THE best photos of the year in Cougar football is this one to the right of junior receiver Isiah Myers. It was taken Saturday moments after he scored the winning touchdown at Arizona with 2:15 left on the clock. Look at the pure joy on his face. This is truly evidence why they say a picture paints a thousand words.

We cropped him out here in order to offer the best look at Myers' face, but the guy on the receiving end of Myers' smile is fellow wideout Rickey Galvin. Each of them had three catches in the victory.

Speaking of the Arizona game, that fourth quarter offered proof positive why it's so much fun to be on Twitter on game day. You could feel the excitement and tension with every tweet those in the Cougar Nation were offering up. It would be truly nerve racking to follow a game solely through Twitter, as we had the sense a number of people were tweeting away on Saturday.

For perspective, imagine yourself with no radio or TV, forced to rely on tweets from @COUGFANcom. With typos cleaned up, here's the time-stamped blow-by-blow of how CF.C transmitted the action over the final two minutes of the game:

1:59 PM: TOUCHDOWN MYERS!!!! Cougs lead, Cougs lead 24-17
2:01 PM: Time to finish off a good defensive performance with a game-winning stop
2:02 PM: That was a clock eating 80-yard drive by Cougs. 2:15 left
2:03 PM: The X man, Cooper, on nifty stop
2:04 PM: Palm sweating time. Zona on Coug 28 with 1:15 left
2:05 PM: Monroe on the stop!! Now third and 10. 1:01 left
2:07 PM: Carpenter on tackle. 4th and 7 for Zona at 27
2:08 PM: Denkers scrambles for first at 19
2:09 PM: Clock running
2:09 PM: COUGS WIN!!!!!!!!!!

Here's to social media adding to the game-day experience.

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