Obviously, I'm thankful for family and friends and health and all that other stuff that we always say we're thankful for, but I want to supplant the traditional Thanksgiving earth tones with a little Cougar Crimson and Gray.
First, I'm thankful for Bill Doba and a group of assistant coaches who care about this program and want to be here. They're not using Pullman as a stop on the coaching tour; they're in it for the long haul, and while some of them may eventually move on (Idaho ain't for you, coach Akey!), they care about this program and its future.
I'm thankful for a group of seniors that has poured its heart and soul into Cougar football. Matt Kegel sat for four years and waited his chance, and has shown strength and maturity in dealing with the injury that has robbed him of much of his time in the spotlight. Erik Coleman and Jeremey Williams stayed close to home and their good judgment paid off with three bowl trips. Mike Shelford and Scott Lunde paid much of their way through school to play for the Cougs. And another former walk-on who will leave here the most prolific kicker in school history: Drew Dunning. All the seniors have contributed to this program, and it is stronger for them having been here.
I'm thankful for the tasty rich goodness that is Cougar Gold cheese.
I'm thankful that I don't have to wear a sissy color like purple to a football game. Or cheer for a "not that there's anything wrong with that" mascot. (That's right, Tommy Trojan, I'm talking about you.)
I'm thankful that I'm an optimist; that I don't have to sit at a game and gripe about every minute thing that goes wrong. I don't know how anyone can enjoy a game with an attitude like that.
I'm thankful for young players like Mkristo Bruce, Odell Howard, Scott Davis, Cody Boyd, Josh Swogger and Chris Jordan, who have had the benefit of playing with these seniors and will carry on their legacy. The talent remaining in the program has me counting the days to opening kickoff 2004.
I'm thankful for Jimmy Buffett. I know, he's not really a Coug, but he should be. Wait a minute, maybe he is. He does the ‘Fins' thing, and we do the ‘Jaws' thing; that can't be a coincidence, can it?
I'm thankful that a school that could damn near be called "Linebacker U," has their first real shot at a Butkus award winner in Will Derting.
I'm thankful that I can look at next year's roster and say that there are a lot of positions where guys are going to have to compete for playing time. There will be some inexperience, but there will also be depth. Young guys will be pushing the older guys, and everyone will benefit from that.
I'm thankful that no one in our athletic department has signed a pact with some horrible creature from the netherworld, which is obviously the reason UW continues to win these Apple Cups.
I'm thankful the world can see WSU has the best fans in college football just by tuning into ESPN Gameday and watching Ol' Crimson wave.
I'm thankful for the commitments that continue to file in. This is shaping up to be our best class ever, and guys who would have turned up their noses at Pullman in the past are now looking our way. Big-name players are lining up to wear Crimson and Gray, but we're also still keeping our ear to the ground on the lower-profile kids. I love it. We have a great thing going here. So much so that we're having to ask some kids to wait on our offer. I'm also thankful for the patience of those waiting kids. We'll need some of them.
I'm thankful for fruit baskets and the NCAA basketball tournament and internal memos and private jets. These are a few of my favorite things.
Finally, I'm thankful for all of you. I've enjoyed running into my readers (I get a kick out of just saying "my" readers) over the last couple of months, and have gotten to meet some great people and great Cougs. Here's wishing all of you a safe and happy Thanksgiving, and remember, bowl season is only a few weeks away!