The Joe Cougfan Report, No. 13

IS THIS GREAT or what? Even though the Cougars sleep-walked through their game in the Serta Posture-Pedic of college football venues on Saturday, they returned home perfect in conference play and still No. 6 in national rankings. I'm loving the run these guys are on, but for me, the most exciting moment of the weekend came late Friday night in Bohler Gym, where six magical words were uttered.

"I'm glad to be a Coug."

When this escaped the mouth of Dick Bennett, the crowd in Bohler Gym erupted, and now, for the first time in a long time, there is excitement about Cougar Basketball. Not just the passing kind that comes with a good play or a long-awaited win, but the kind of excitement that comes when everyone knows that things have changed for the better. Bennett and Sherri Murrell brought their respective basketball teams out for display for the first time this year, and it was evident that the attitude in the hoops program has changed remarkably.

I am the son of an old-school basketball coach, and what little Bennett has to say is right up my alley. He speaks the gospel of novel concepts like rebounding, defense, and the elimination of turnovers. Murrell, his counterpart on the women's side, has also changed things around the program, bringing positivity where her predecessor brought intimidation and apathy. Both coaches made it clear that their journey will not be a short one, but it seems like we finally have a couple of very competent navigators.

As for football, rumors thatDr. Frank Jobe was in Palo Alto after Saturday's game, handing out business cards to the officials, were unconfirmed at press time. One guy did claim to see the head linesman icing his elbow after the game, though that also is unconfirmed. The sixteen flags they threw against the Cougars continued an ugly trend, not to mention sustained a couple of Cardinal drives. It's bad enough watching that on TV or in person, but when Bob Robertson finishes up calling a great play only to reveal that a flag has been thrown, it's a little rough on my sanity. Needless to say, by the fourth quarter I was in need of a Limbaugh-sized sedative.

Matt Kegel put his well-known immaturity on display, once again displaying that kindergartener-like trait of sharing. He got a plethora (nine, to be exact) of receivers involved in the passing game, none of whom played for Stanford. For those of you who still need to gripe about something after Kegel shook off a couple of shoulder injuries and a sad effort by the running game, I understand he doesn't repeat after rinsing. Don't ask me where I heard that.

What are the odds that when you put 44 football players (two teams' worth of starters) on the field, only one will have a good game? Well, the improbable happened Saturday night in a slapfight-turned-blowout at Reser Stadium, when Washington's Charles Frederick turned in a record performance and everyone else played like frozen vegetables. In the battle of much-lauded (read: overrated) quarterbacks, Cody Pickett threw ducks all over the Beavers, and Derek Anderson was locked in on the OSU turf when he wasn't hitting the guys in white between the numbers. I watched the second half only because I wanted to make sure that Anderson didn't get hurt. At one point, the TBS camera settled on an older OSU fan, whose expression seemed to say, "I've seen worse." I guess misery is relative after all.

So the Beavers will send their debate team (they talk better than they tackle) to Pullman this week for Dad's weekend. Anderson and Steven Jackson lead the wrecking crew's offense, while all-mouth team captain and future pie-hole hall-of-famer Richard Seigler leads the defense. The yapping should be at an all-time high, and the thought of all the yellow flags is enough to give me a headache. However, our guys have a lot on the line, and I expect that they'll act as such and take the high road, at least enough to smack the Beavers around for an afternoon. See you there!

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