MenckeBaum and other message board fodder

SHEER TERROR. THAT was the immediate response when my inbox showed an email from an old fraternity brother. Dang it. I thought I'd taken care of all those incriminating pictures ... and besides, it was college -- all about experimenting and experiencing new things, right?

YOUR COUGAR HOME IN SEATTLE

Where Crimson Rules
Great $5 food
& drink specials on Coug game days.

New Management & Outstanding Service.

Fabulous Food
& New Menu

28 Flat Screen TVs.

3221 W. McGraw St.
206.285.9756

Fortunately, on the surface it was a relatively simple request: As the co-founder of Cougfan.com, and with the site's 10th anniversary looming, he wanted to see if I'd be interested in writing up a first-person reflections story about the first decade's worth of message boarding. How have things changed? Memorable posters? The biggest controversies?

My initial thoughts weren't of Saxon-Coug, Catman Coug and other old posters. Nope. I had a flashback to 10 years ago when Cougfan was but a month old. It was a similar inquiry -- to provide CFC readers an on-the-scene report about residing in Boise while the Cougs were taking on the mighty Donkeys at BJC Smurf Turf Field. Toss in a few barbs at Dirk, visit the myopia of the freshly-minted D-1 Bronco boosters, uncover the mystery of the missing Tod Belcastro …

And, of course, I did what any self-respecting Coug would do when faced with a deadline: I drank.

Instead of focusing on the task at hand, the next 72 hours were spent reveling in the pain and displeasure of Donkey Fan as Dee Moronkola found the missing Belcastro while sprinting by him enroute to an 88 yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

So I find myself with a shot at making amends with CFC's founder. Redemption at my age ain't all bad. I mean, if Dick Baird can turn his drivel into a regular feature over on that other site, then …


Trying to encapsulate 10 years of message boards is like trying to surf to the end of the Internet. Fortunately, I'm Comcastic and slightly obsessive-compulsive (see also 15,000 posts on Cougfan plus another 350,000 under my alter egos of WeAreAFillInTheBlankSchool handles) so I'll give it a shot.

Shortly after Harvey Road invented the Internet, he also begat the concept of message boards. Singlehandedly he decimated the U.S. economy as work-hour productivity plummeted. And, proudly, Cougfan was at the forefront of said slacking.

The timing of Cougfan.com and its message boards couldn't have been better. The dot.com era was just starting to hit stride and WSU was coming off its first Rose Bowl in 67 years ... a true convergence of technology and collective Cougar pride. And with this marvelous innovation came the first controversy of Cougfan's young life: MenckeBaum.

Long-time Cougar fans are well-versed in quarterback controversies. Many of us cut our teeth on Clete Casper v. Ricky Turner, Turner v. Rypien, Aaron Garcia v. the Moscow Police Department, Chad Davis v. well, pretty much everyone in the known universe. But MenckeBaum was different. Finally, a medium that allowed free expression of the inner rage and passion associated with ‘our guy.' It should be noted that there are no truer Cougs than Paul Mencke and Steve Birnbaum, but they endured more than their fair share of message board assaults. Cougfan was there for every Monday morning quarterback session.


PAUL MENCKE (left) AND STEVE BIRNBAUM

This was pre-Crimson Gavel days, mind you. The inmates ran the asylum. And they did a relatively good job of it at most things. Like teenagers at play, the early message board posters maintained a relative innocence that occasionally crossed the line into inappropriate conduct. Guys like LarryCoug, RabidCat, Ozell and Naïve Randyman did battle on the boards.

And it's a good thing they did because the on-field product wasn't doing much battling, suffering through a post-Rose Bowl hangover that lasted three years. Those same fans who danced in Husky Stadium with Coach Price in '97 were now calling for his head under their screen aliases. Just as MenckeBaum chewed up bandwidth, the "FIRE MIKE PRICE" header showed up with greater frequency, which was really unfair because who doesn't like to see the draw on third and 22?

Fortunately, even Rick Dickson was smart enough (barely) NOT to run an athletic department on the whim of message board posters and stuck with Saint Mike until a young Hawaiian could right the ship, and in the process give rise to the Golden Age of Cougfan message boards.

Guys like LanceUppercut/Rock Strongo, LACoug, CadTramp, Sellas and others peppered the board with banter. The Friday Caption Contest (FCC! FCC!) became a staple and Britney/Beyonce threads were ample. Life was grand as the beloved Cougs raced to the Sun Bowl and followed that up with ANOTHER trip to the Rose Bowl.

With success, other schools took notice and a relatively new phenomenon unfolded -- the flamer from afar. Who can forget those Jethros from Ohio State taking smack to a new level? The Cougfan posters held firm and defended their turf, at the very least earning the respect of the Buckeye faithful in cyberspace if not on the field.

Okay, it wasn't all lollipops and lemon drops. There was that one little incident where Gordon Riese reinvented the rule book, Dasani rained from the stands of Martin Stadium and Babs feared for her life. Looking back, the outrage/justification of post-game behavior threads rivaled anything the quarterback controversies could muster. The "They deserved it because Reggie flexed" proponents took on "Show some class for once in your life" points of view.

Of course, hated rivals like bigballaj, saxmanuw, whiskeydawg, even the reasonable 007dawg chimed in with their own righteous indignation.

And, speaking of our hated rivals, what reflection on the history of Cougfan message boards would be complete without a commentary on the collective genius that is auburndawg and royotis?

Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Chronologically, the next quantum leap in Cougfan message board history was about to unfold. I'll simply call it "The tracking Bear Bryant Jr.'s private jet, should he coach in the Rose Bowl, it's rollin' baby, he wasn't like that in Pullman" phase. The Cougfan posters withstood the onslaught of Crimson Tide faithful and formed a tentative alliance with the folks from Auburn (the school, not the trailer park where the aforementioned GRCC Gator resides).

The Boards'
BIGGEST DAYS
There are plenty of occurences during the year when the count exceeds 500, but as for the top three:

The most: 1,206. The day in December 2002 when Mike Price confirmed ‘Bama.

Runner-up:
812. The day in January 2005 when Olympia's Jonathon Stewart went on KING-5 to announce his recruiting decision between Oregon and Washington State

First runner-up:
732. Letter of Intent Siging Day 2004, fueled by the surprise announcement of Michael Bumpus and the glory of a bunch of other signees who would never pan out. You still out there Randy Estes and J.T. Diederichs?

In my humble opinion (IMHO, for the message board regulars, thanks to the invention of acronym-happy Mr. Road), the zenith of Cougfan message board-dom was late 2003/early 2004.


MIKE AND BEAR BROUGHT CHART-TOPPING VOLUME TO THE FOOTBALL MESSAGE BOARD.

Any and every Coug with a high-speed connection was trolling the Cougfan football message board. That became apparent when people started referring to me in public by my handle rather than my given name. That isn't so bad, except for the constant fear of the Spokane Irish-Catholic-Mafia making me an offer I can't refuse. Ultimately, countless posts blaspheming the best team money can buy – the Gonzaga Prep Bullpups – will come back to haunt me but my defending State 4A Football Champion and No. 12- ranked high school athletic program in the country Lewis & Clark roots simply can't resist. Editor's note: Normally, we'd delete any reference to the tired, old, nonsensical allegation that beloved G-Prep recruits players. But in the spirit of freedom of speech, and shock that KJ actually submitted this story, we're letting the sacrilege stand just this once.

But I digress. During that era (and in message board time warp, three months is considered an "era") the bandwagon fans (yes, you know you're out there) came out in full force and the Cougs ripped off another 10-win season capped off by a Holiday Bowl victory. Life was grand and a full year went by with nary a mention of any controversy at quarterback. I really missed the bottle caps on my Dasani at home games but it was a time to enjoy life both online and off. Mere days after the wounds of yet another Apple Cup loss, I met the greatest woman in the world -- my future wife, who frequently asks, "You do love me more than your Internet friends, don't you?"

To which I respond, "Absolutely…unless it's during a basketball game chat session."

The last four seasons have been trying ones for Cougfan posters. Brink/Swogger, Brink/Rogers, Brink/anybody-who-can-tie-their-shoelaces threads dominated the conversations. We've seen old posters go and new ones appear in their place on the basketball board (a veritable ghost town during the three 10-win football seasons).

We've seen the emergence of the CrimsonGavel throwing down the gauntlet and some long-time posters stalking off into the virtual sunset. And while we could incite a lively discussion on freedom of speech versus moderation in the interest of decorum it's best to celebrate the unified train of thought all Cougfan regulars have enjoyed for the past ten 10 years:

"Who cares … the huskies still suck!"


Cougfan Top Stories