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October 22, 2008

The Pres' Palouse Park Bench - An Open Letter



TO: The students of Washington State University who were at Martin Stadium for last weekend's game against USC.


To whom it may concern,

I am just as disappointed as you are with the performance of the school's football team this fall. They are on pace for becoming the worst team in the history of the Pacific 10 Conference. There is a culture of laziness and a lack of caring that has been in place for a number of years. It has finally all come to a head this year as this year's upperclassmen don't seem to care if they win or lose and bad recruiting has finally caught up with them. Their struggles will continue through the year and likely into the next but the coaches and new freshman are building a great foundation for years to come.


But I have to get something off my chest. You see, I find myself to be very angry at someone. Is it Paul Wulff? No, I happen to think Wulff is a fine coach. Is it USC and Pete Carroll? No, the score, believe it or not, stayed low and the fact is the Trojans only threw the ball once in the second half (albeit putting Gable in for the last touchdown was a little bush) and the goal for the aforementioned Wulff was to get out of the game as quickly as possible and not hurt his quarterback further. I'm not mad at any one with the athletic department.


So who exactly am I angry at? I'm angry at approximately 20,000 people. I'm angry with the students of Washington State University who were at this game last weekend. So why have these citizens of higher education drawn my ire? Quite a few reasons for a matter of fact.


Let's take the most recent example: the complete lack of students at the USC game and the subsequent booing at the end. For claiming to be the most faithful fans in the NCAA, the fact that less than half the student section is full is shameful. Only 3,500 students attended the game, which tells me your faith is very hollow. Less than 1,000 of you were there after halftime telling me you had something better to do than attend a free football game. And the mere fact that you booed the Cougar football team at the end of the game show me a complete lack of understanding. The quarterback, Kevin Lopina, was playing hurt. The passing game suffered as a result and the coaches didn't want to expose the already injured quarterback to further injury. Booing the coaching staff because they wouldn't throw on the last drive of the game to conserve a scoring record shows your ignorance. It's not like we had a streak going for conference victories. If the Cougars hadn't thrown all game, what makes you think they were going to do it then and risk substantial injury to even more players? Besides, the Cougars have no more quarterbacks to lose without burning a redshirt, something that shouldn't be done in this season.



As for Carroll and USC, there was nothing wrong with the way they played. The Trojans passing attack showed that Carroll was taking the Cougars seriously and wanted to put as much space between him and the Cougars as possible. Going for it on fourth down in the first half says to the Cougar coaches "I'm not taking you lightly, come out and stop me." And does anyone forget the following two facts: 1] USC threw ONE pass in the second half and 2] The Trojans could've easily scored before the half but choose not too. Even if Carroll didn't believe any of that, he certainly portrayed it and I see nothing wrong with the way he called his plays.


Need another example of your fickleness? Let's talk basketball.


Seems to me this team has made two straight NCAA tournaments. It would also seem that for the previous two years, Beasley Coliseum had over 3,500 seats for students. Those seats were never completely filled and it was a miracle if they got even half full for some games. So the logical response the school has made is to reduce the size of the student section because even after two years of success, the students still don't come to games. I'm not asking you to camp out with me, I'm asking you to show up about 15 minutes before and just take 2 hours to sit and watch. That's all. But obviously, it's too much of an inconvenience to you to walk over to the centrally located Beasley or take a bus. Because of this, the students have had seats taken away from them and rightfully so.


Are all the students this fickle? No, no at all. There really are some Cougar faithful who go to football games and sit through all four quarters. They also go to every basketball game and scream their heads off. But it seems to be a small portion of the students at this school.


But those are small outliers who when they voice their concerns to me, I listen. The problem is, your right to whine and moan about this is much like voting. If you don't vote, don't whine about politics so if you don't go to Cougar athletics, no matter how bad, you don't get an opinion.


You know what, some of you fans really are fickle on a level I know of in only one other place. Some of you students (and I mean everyone from fraternity brothers to architecture majors) are as fickle as, dare I say it, Husky fans.


Now you don't want to be likened to Husky fans, do you? Leaving when your team loses and only caring when they win. Because right now, I'm ashamed to say it, you are sure acting like it.


Where is that unabashed Cougar spirit I heard so much about before coming here? Where's the faith? Where's the excitement? Think of it as being the parent of a troublemaking teenager. Right now, it's a real pain in the butt, but eventually, if your patient and you show them you care, they will reward you.


But no, right now you're as good as a bunch of purple and gold wearing bandwagoners. And I'm ashamed of you all.


When this football team finds its way to its third straight Rose Bowl in 2026 behind the arm of Drew Bledsoe's son and Mkristo Bruce Jr.'s pass rush, I will celebrate the win. You, however, will tell your kids that you remember what it was like to be a Cougar fan. The problem is what you remember is being a fan who abandoned their team in a time of need, when they could use your encouragement the most.


Because it starts with you. The players' reason, if the fans don't care why should I? And they are right, if they are playing for people who don't care, why should they?


Start caring Cougar fans, because if you don't, this team will continue to struggle and you'll have no bandwagon to jump on.



Respectfully Yours,

The Pres' Palouse Park Bench


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