The Joe Cougfan Report, <br> No. 20

AS IN EVERY man's life, there comes a time when he is called to duty. Much like many WSU students do every year, I am leaving Pullman for Seattle, and while my calling came in the form of a job offer, there is no doubt in my mind that there is a higher purpose for which I am destined. I will always cherish my years in Pullman, but I am, to borrow a phrase, excited by the opportunities ahead.

So, I will go west. Across the mountains and into the belly of the purple beast, where I intend to become another Crimson voice in the concrete wilderness, spreading the Cougar gospel to the mongrel hordes. No longer shall I simply preach to the choir, I will reach out to those poor, wretched infidels whose minds have been polluted and warped by all things Montlake. In true heroic style, I shall steer the mighty S.S. Cougfan toward the stricken and sinking S.S. Dog, scooping up all those rats that can still be saved, cleaning them off, and teaching them the words to the Cougar fight song. Those who refuse to be saved can drown, for all I care.

I make this journey because I know that Cougar Athletics, and WSU in general, are better off than when I arrived in Pullman in 1996 (well, that and a nice paycheck). Anyway, the football team is now on the national radar, Men's and Women's basketball are showing signs of life, Track and Volleyball are every bit as strong as ever, and I have confidence Baseball--currently off to the best start, at 5-2, since 1999 thanks to some strong pitching and timely bats--will soon return to its former glory.

I want to take a minute to talk about Cougar hoops. Dick Bennett is reviving the men's basketball program, and while consistency has not yet been achieved, the program has certainly shown more life this year than it has in some time. I love Dick Bennett's style, the fired-up guy on the stool is leading us out of the darkness, and this defense thing is incredible. I'd forgotten what it was like to see movement on offense and stingy defense. It's great; I love it. One other thing: if Tony Bennett's coaching debut against Arizona is any indication, Cougar basketball will be in good hands for a long time. Let's do everything we can to keep these guys around.

As a side note, I just wanted to say how much I love the stool on the sidelines. I know Bennett uses it because it's easier on his legs than a chair, but wouldn't it be cool if just once, during a timeout, he'd bust out a guitar and play "Blowin' in the Wind"? I think so, but that's just me.

As for women's hoops, Sherri Murrell is doing, in my opinion, a very good job at what is, in everyone's opinion, a very tough job. She cares, and has stayed positive throughout her time here. I'm rooting for Sherri and, it seems, the entire Cougar Nation is rooting for Sherri. I think she'll make it.

How cool was it that she was willing to donate a grand of her own money to get butts in the seats? 1,360 Cougfans showed up last Saturday, the largest crowd to see a women's basketball game in Pullman in 11 years. Better still, thanks to coach Murrell, the Breast Cancer Support Group of the Palouse, also known as the Bosom Buddies, is $1,000 richer.

And how cool would it be for Murrell and her squad if similar attendance numbers were reached for their final two home games of the season on Thursday and Saturday? They deserve it.

FINALLY, I've put together a short list of the little things I'm going to miss about Pullman, things that you don't normally think of, but have made Pullman a great place for me to live. Here goes:

The meatball sub at Heroes ‘n' Sports. Meat, cheese, bread, and sauce in a wonderfully messy—yet delicious—combination.

Section 23 at Cougar Basketball games. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should really check it out sometime.

The two-minute commute, and being able to walk home from anywhere in town.

The weeks in August just before school starts. This is when Pullman comes back to life. Great weather, great times.

‘Turning the Hat' at the Sports Page after a football win. Sing the fight song and spin the lid. Simple, yet exhilarating every time.

Seeing coaches and players around town, being a part of the community.

The Chipman trail. Through the years, I've lost about seventy pounds between Moscow and Pullman, only to find them again between October and May.

The Mexican Flag. Never had one (thank God), but it was always entertaining to see some poor sap on his or her birthday slurp one down.

So here's to Pullman, that great little town on the Palouse, where many of us have spent some of the best times of our lives. I'll miss it, but it's now time to move on. I'm looking forward to meeting all you Seattle-area Cougs, and carrying the Crimson banner and Cougar Pride through the streets of Seattle. Happy trails, and Go Cougs!

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