Thin WSU 'orchestra' puts intrigue into Cup

ONE THING YOU learn in this line of work: Don't state the obvious. Don't say, for example, that the Cougar defense sucked Saturday. Everybody knows the porous results. Say the Cougars could have tripped up more ball carriers with 11 strategically placed alums. That might illustrate how tough it is for the Cougs to come up with a game plan this week for their Apple Cup date with U-Dub.

At least Bill Doba got started today. The Cougar coach wrote out his entire depth chart on the back of his Social Security card. His depleted defense gave up 47 points Saturday to a coach named Koetter, who might not be welcomed back.


Late in the game, Dirk Koetter, ASU coach, sent in a freshman quarterback whose only meaningful action this season has been on Playstation2. The kid looked pretty green. And eager. By then the Cougs were trying to play old-time hockey and just get out of the building.

But Koetter, well known for being classless, was having none of that. He ran up the score. Not nice, Dirk. Your disregard for your follow coach, not to mention your fellow man, makes me wonder if you've been fired and we just don't know it yet.

Arizona State 47, Washington State 14. The Sun Devils were unstoppable but Jim Walden on vocals broke through the monotony. Walden, the old Cougar coach, is the distinctive analyst on Cougar radio. Talking about a botched runback, Walden opined that an ASU return man was a "victim of his own tackle-a-zation." That alone made three hours of miserable football worth it.

As the gap widened I was beginning to look forward to the hearing aid commercials and then Jim sprang another beauty. "The naked did not fool the defensive end!" Walden blurted. Talk about your visual pictures. Jim was saying something nice (I think) about the defense. See, the ASU quarterback was hiding the ball on his hip -- bootlegging -- when he . . . forget it. I can't improve on "The naked did not fool the defensive end.

Arizona State, fully clothed you have to assume, roughed WSU up with two enforcers named Miller. Brent Miller and Zach Miller. The Sun Devils didn't need either one. The Cougs couldn't stop Roger Miller. If you're wondering where that came from, Roger wrote Dang Me, Dang Me, Oughta Take A Rope And Hang Me. I think it peaked at No.10, where the Huskies typically sit in conference standings.

Washington State is favored by 9 even though the Seahawks had more starters for their replacement games, and the Seahawks were on strike that year.

The Cougars could go to a bowl game but who would they take? At least they have a month to heal. For now it's enough that this is Apple Cup Week and if the Huskies are the Pac-10's resistible force, the Cougs are the movable object.

It ought to be a fair fight. When it comes to scoring, the Huskies are football's 40-year-old virgin. When it comes to defense, the Cougars are, well, let's see who shows up.

We live in a wonderful world. Where there's tape and Novacaine there is hope. Right now Doba is trying to conduct a symphony with a ukulele and a tambourine. Even a lyrical genius like Roger Miller couldn't make that work.

There are slivers of optimism, though. It might snow this week, which is good. Just don't expect the stars to come out. They'll be in the training room. We can only hope that the healthy ones don't get fooled by the naked.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Weaver has been following and/or covering the Cougars for the better part of 30 years. For the second straight season, the former Spokesman-Review columnist is bringing his unique insights to readers every week.

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