The Joe Cougfan Report

WELL, COUG FANS, after a couple of weeks off, I'm rested up and ready for the bowl season and the Texas Longhorns. I let my mind off the leash to wander just a little and get some exercise, but as always, it could only stagger a few weak steps before winding up back in Pullman and finding something to ramble about.

First off: After yet another slap in the face, it's time for the Pac-10 to walk out of the BCS party. Two out of the last three years, we've sent one of the prettiest girls to the dance, only to have her elbowed aside by Midwestern universities that amount to the overexposed, under talented equivalent of a Hilton sister: big money and a famous name, but ultimately short on substance. If you want to count UW in 2000 (I really don't, but hey, it's out there), it's three of the last four years, though then it was a Florida tramp that pushed her way to the front of the line.

And it's not that I'm cheering for USC, not by any stretch of the imagination. The Trojans are the anti-Cougars in virtually every conceivable sense, and I grew up loathing their big-city, big-money attitude. I've also grown tired of their pompous ‘Return to Glory' routine just as much as anyone else, but the fact that they're getting screwed by the BCS is just plain obvious, as is the fact that the Pac-10 is not being treated as an equal member of the BCS train wreck. Two Big XII also-rans have now been chosen to play for the title, while in recent years conference champs UW, Oregon, and USC have been sent elsewhere.

At least Pete Carroll managed to take the high road, unlike hall-of-fame whiner Mike Bellotti, who likened the BCS to cancer in 2001. Fortunately for Bellotti, the Duck secondary has provided chemotherapy of sorts for the last couple of years, ensuring that Mike and crew won't have to worry about that pesky BCS for a while.

And while we're on the subject of USC and Oregon, the next time Dan Fouts calls Norm Chow a genius my head is going to explode. We get it, Dan. He's good at his job. You'd think a guy who played for Don Coryell would have a little more perspective when discussing offensive-minded coaches.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE this December is from last year. Today I anxiously await a Holiday Bowl showdown with the No. 5 ranked Texas Longhorns, pleasantly buzzed with the post season accolades bestowed upon various Cougs, including Bill Doba earning Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors. Much more palatable than last year at this time, when we were tracking that damn private jet all over the country, trying to figure out what the heck Mike Price was doing in Alabama, and what the heck our coaching staff was going to look like in Pasadena. (It could've been worse, though. We could've been 6-6 and staying home for the holidays while our only reason for living announced he was entering the draft.) How I long for those more innocent times, when Destiny was a good thing, and vacations in Florida were fun for the whole family.

So now here we are, left with only the bowl season to fulfill our college football needs for the next few months. This will be the second consecutive bowl game where WSU's opponent will bring livestock to the game. If you count the Purdue cheerleaders, it makes three in a row.

On paper, we certainly have our work cut out for us. Texas boasts some of the most talented players in the country, including linebacker Derrick Johnson, receiver Roy Williams, running back Cedric Benson, and fabulous freshman quarterback Vince Young. Of course, on paper, Mack Brown's Longhorn squads should have won a couple of national titles by now, so paper can't really be trusted to determine the best teams, at least not any more than computers. We already have one thing going for us, in our uniform colors. The Longhorns have not fared well against teams wearing variations on red-and-white this year, getting stomped by Oklahoma and run over by Arkansas. Recent performances against Nebraska and Texas A&M suggest a reversal, but I choose to ignore that.

Sidenote: Mack Brown and Roscoe P. Coltrane: separated at birth? If he had a fat guy in a white suit hanging around with him, he'd be a dead ringer.

Sadly, I'll be attending the Holiday Bowl in spirit only, relegated to a bowl-season spot on my cousin's couch for the first time in the last three years. While I can't be there to scream my support for the Cougs, I know that my legions of readers—and I know there are literally dozens of you out there—will pick up the slack for me by yelling a little louder and consuming just a little more grain alcohol.

To paraphrase John McRae from In Flanders Field, in an incomprehensibly inappropriate manner, I issue a plea to those who will be in San Diego: Take up my quarrel with the foe; to you from failing hands I throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.

I know you can do it. Good luck and Godspeed, Cougar fans!

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