And suddenly the weather broke.
I've always been a fan of great writing, and now before me was not only the depth and detail I'd long been seeking on all things crimson, but also glorious writing. Indeed, I spent hours culling the CF.C archives and discovered several pieces I would -- any day of the week and twice on Saturday afternoons -- match up against anything produced by the authors at Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and other great sportswriters on the newspaper beat.
One question naturally begged; Who the hell are Greg and John Witter, and what took me so long to find them?
Making CF.C a part of my daily routine, I spied a typo from time to time -- a failing the site has worked hard to correct, but not always successfully. Not wanting such missteps to blemish otherwise well-crafted pieces, I faithfully emailed CF.C a heads up on a few. John responded with thanks, and a friendship was born.
MATTINGLY & LESUMA: TWO OF THE ALL-TIME GREAT INTERVIEWS
Funny you should ask, John.
I'VE PUBLISHED over 1,000 articles under the CF.C masthead since then. I've answered a mailbag, cranked out untold quantities of game stories and columns. I've written opinion pieces I knew would create waves that could otherwise have been avoided, because differing views were worthy of discussion.
I've edited countless spring ball, fall camp and practice-week articles from our correspondents on the ground. And I treasure the first times I called Jack Thompson and Jim Walden, not for an article, but just to talk a little Cougar football -- equally as much as I treasure the last time I spoke to both, about three and five days ago, respectively.
BACK IN 2004, I turned a passion into a life-changing obsession: Covering the WSU recruiting trail with the launch of full-time, CF.C-originated recruiting coverage. Recruiting gets in your blood, and so does writing about it. I still find it as compelling a subject as I did when an underclassman on the Palouse. But speaking with recruits at the beginning, now that was an eye-opener.
I went through long distance minutes to prep and JC coaches, and their players, like Pez those first months. And I've been racking up ever-bigger phone bills ever since. Most prospects are polite, thoughtful and humble. A'i Ahmu, Vaughn Lesuma, Andy Mattingly and Chima Nwachukwu are among those who typified the gold standard. But two stories that stood out most from that first year defy such categorization.
One prospect answered his phone at a most inopportune time.
After exchanging greetings, I asked the young man if he'd had any recent in-home visits by coaches.
"Having one right now, dog," he told me.
I then heard a college coach, presumably talking to the parents, whose voice sounded awfully familiar. Aghast, I said I'd call back but the recruit insisted it was fine, he was just kickin' it and what else did I want to know? I begged off and said I'd call back later that evening.
Another player, who also signed elsewhere, told me the position coach recruiting him from one Pac-10 school was "a phony." He verballed to that same coach six weeks later. Now, running towards the twilight of his collegiate career, he's still searching for his stride, on and off the field. I hope he finds it.
WE HAVE BROKEN THE news on the vast majority of WSU verbal commitments over the years and we've done it the right way, developing relationships of trust with prospects and their coaches. It's also a team effort. We've received leads from subscribers and readers that have in some cases proven invaluable. In some cases, it's the prospects themselves who give us hot leads to pursue on other prospects.
Our leap into producing more of our own, original recruiting coverage has been a big catalyst for growth since '04. And I'm proud to say that the increased revenue has been invested back into the product, in the form of writers and photographers.
I'm especially proud of how we've increased our Cougar basketball and recruiting coverage since Dick and Tony Bennett arrived. I'm also a fan of "great art", as they say in the sports biz, and this past hoops season, particularly on the photo front, was really something to see.
FOR ME, THERE certainly have been contributions, some substantial, from English professors, prep instructors and real-world experiences along the way. But in the end, it was Greg and John who really helped show me how to make the written word sing. I thought I was a good writer back when I started on CF.C. But comparing past and present prose reveals a decided contrast, like blackened clouds framed against a mid-morning sun. (See?)
And I still look in awe and wonder at Greg's freakish ability to effortlessly unleash a stream of pithy consciousness, one that when copied down verbatim into article form, flows like melted butter. One such time came in 2002, when Greg, on the Martin Stadium field, with cell phone in hand and in the midst of a near-Apple Cup riot, ducked water bottle projectiles to dictate a thing of beauty over a few scant minutes. Here's the link to that story: Rotten Apple Cup to the core
So it's been only fair to try and return the favor over the years in other arenas, adding some photo editing and technical know-how into the mix, along with some long hours.
SO THERE YOU have it. As we shove off into the next decade, it seems fitting to imagine what new avenues may show up on the horizon -- some just vague ideas at the moment, others yet still unimaginable. And for me, whatever roads CF.C will travel, great writing of past, present and future -- along with unique depth and detail on all things Cougars -- endures.
* KEY COUG PLAYERS HELPED SHAPE OUR DECADE: THE ROLL-CALL OF AWARDS
* BIRTH OF CF.C TEN YEARS AGO WAS IN THE GENES
* PICTURES PAINT A THOUSAND WORDS: COUGAR FOOTBALL THROUGH THE LENS