The Cougar Lounge - Freezer Burn

"It's starting to hit me where every game in the Pac-10 is my last time for something."
- Wazzu senior guard Taylor Rochestie, beginning to understand the gravity of his last weeks in a Cougar uniform.
"In fact, the NCAA has no role in determining the contenders in the FBS national championship game. That responsibility rests with the Presidents and Commissioners of the 11 FBS conferences and the University of Notre Dame who created and manage the BCS independently of the NCAA."

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- NCAA spokesman Bob Williams, clarifying the NCAA's role after media reporting President Obama's desire to see a playoff [along with the rest of the free world]. Gee, isn't that sort of the problem in a nutshell, Bob – that the NCAA has no control over its own member schools? Meanwhile, Bob goes on to say that the NCAA does "proudly administer" championships in the 88 other sports that the NCAA does control.
"It was an honor to be there. When you look around, you see people like Magic Johnson and Oprah Winfrey and Billy Ray Cyrus, you see all these big stars and they're standing there in awe of what's going on."
- Oregon State men's hoop head coach Craig Robinson – and brother of First Lady, Michelle Obama - reporting what it was like to be at last week's presidential inauguration – but the Lounge is calling a technical foul on Robinson for listing Cyrus as a "big star".
"We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, where brown can stick around, when yella' can be mella', when the red man can get ahead, man and when white will embrace what is right."
- The Reverend Joseph Lowery, at last week's presidential inauguration.
The unctuous manner of some salesmen attempting to sell the collegiate experience was on full display last week at the University of Washington. Normally, the Lounge cannot be bothered with what goes on in the seamy underbelly of college athletics in Seattle, but this was a special collector's edition of Snake Oil Brand snake oil that was being sold that everybody from the administrators to media to Husky fans and well-wishers were all too willing to lap up. The salesmen, in this case, were from the Husky football program now headed by former USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and – stop us when you have heard this joke before – they committed an NCAA violation. Stop? You mean you have heard of the Washington Husky football program committing NCAA violations before? No way! After only a couple weeks on the job, the coaches have already brought out their wares and laid them on the table in the form of a minor, "secondary" recruiting violation involving a fog machine and a siren simulating a game day environment for a recruit. Now, if one was expecting NCAA rules knowledge from the coaches involved, especially since they came from that bastion of exemplary NCAA rules-following behavior, USC – go stand in the corner and put the dunce cap on immediately. If one was expecting the athletic director to be firm in admonishing his new weeks-old hires from making such a stupendous blunder instead of bringing out a new version of snake oil to slather on top of the old version – then go get the executive dunce cap with the tassel on top. If one was expecting the various, generally brainless Husky minions to leap up in unison in shock and disgust at this breach in common sense, then one must get one's self fitted for a straitjacket. If one is expecting the NCAA to do anything, well, good luck - Bob has already admitted they do not even have enough control over the member schools to institute a playoff. Just wait, in two more weeks – on national letter-of-intent signing day – the University of Washington football program will be unveiling a brand spanking new version of new and improved snake oil and nobody will ever question their integrity ever again. Promise.
Meanwhile, for a genuinely authentic amateur collegiate experience, one needs go no further than the World Series of Beer Pong. How do we know this is a genuine collegiate experience? – well, aside from the beer – because they have a playoff system! It is a double-elimination playoff system, which, according to the Lounge consensus, is a little too democratic for beer pong, but there can be no denying that this is the true athletic collegiate experience. No fog machines or sirens required. Plus they have cool names for their teams – okay, well, inspired names anyway – like Chaffeuring The Fat Kid [2008 champs] Confederacy of Dunces, Risky Mormon and Finish Your Breakfast. But the clincher? Their championship is held in Las Vegas.
Unfortunately, raccoons are not invited to the World Series of Beer Pong, which is too bad, because some raccoons – particularly a feisty group near Tahoe – have proven their worth as bocce ball experts [the Lounge has first-hand proof of this]. But then again, perhaps that is because there is a raccoon shortage due to the fact that people in Missouri apparently like to eat them for lunch and dinner [and perhaps breakfast – thus, possibly being the origin for the beer Pong team name – finish you raccoon omelette breakfast, Lester!].
But why obsess about raccoon omelettes when there has been a royal marriage in the world of Onion? Clearly, this is a time for wild celebration when we must all jump up and down on the mattresses in our hotel rooms
But just in case there is an underlying fear that the Lounge has gone too far afield in highlighting beer pong and mattress-y nuptials, we bring you back to Earth with the really important thing in life - why the NCAA considers seventh graders as prospects. Well, is it not obvious? It is because seventh graders are much easier to control than USC or a playoff system.
"What the hell just happened!?" asks a flustered Teddy The Wonder Lizard after the Wazzu men's hoop team was swept at home by UCLA and USC.
Well, the Pac-10 happened, Ted. There are no easy games in this conference. None, nada, zilch. Every game brings a tough opponent and when a team, like Wazzu, plays the style of ball where every possession is golden, then almost every game is going to be a nail-biter. It just so happens that the Cougars got both of their nails bitten off last week by the Bruins and Trojans in absorbing a pair of two-point losses. These are the exact same kind of losses the Cougars used to have in Dick Bennett's final year as head coach when young, impressionable and mistake-prone guys named Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver and Robbie Cowgill were roaming the court. In that year [which ended up 11-17], the Cougars lost five conference games by two point margins to the likes of UCLA [ranked #11 at the time, sound familiar?], Oregon, California [twice] and Stanford. Plus, they lost another pair of games by five points each to USC and Arizona. So, the moral of the story is – patience, young grasshoppers. This year's Cougar team is not yet NCAA-worthy but they are slowly – sometimes, yes, excruciatingly slowly – progressing toward that goal. Most likely, they will be an NIT-worthy team by the end of the season if the progress continues at the current pace. So far, all eight of their losses remain only to teams that are likely to see post-season play, Wazzu has yet to lose to a team that is not expected to see post-season play. Of course, that bodes ill for the future since the Cougars' remaining schedule consists only of Pac-10 teams and virtually every Pac-10 team - sans the Oregons – will have good shots at the post-season party. The Cougars will need four more wins – at least - to make themselves NIT-worthy, and with the types of efforts they are giving early on, it seems plausible that they can achieve that provided they can get an extra scoring punch [a la Caleb Forrest's outburst against UCLA] on a more consistent basis.
"Will we have anything to cheer about this spring?" asks Fester G. Willikers in that ominous tone of voice.
Look Fester, we know 2008 was not the best of years for the American economy or government, but don't let it cloud 2009 already. Of course there are reasons to cheer this spring for Cougar fans and well-wishers. Swimming is already underway and undefeated and breaking school records left and right. Now, the swim team is, admittedly, not the highest profile program at Wazzu but they are pulling down some impressive results that are reminiscent of Wazzu men's hoop team's first Big Dance foray from a couple years ago. They have an Olympian in sophomore Rugile Mileisyte and head coach Erica Quam feels they have a realistic shot at getting four people into the NCAA championships this year and have a relay team entry for the first time in school history. Tennis has already begun and were seemingly on their way to a repeat NCAA appearance until sophomore Ekaterina Kamendova suffered a collapsed lung. Kamendova was Wazzu's #1 athlete and had already racked up a 9-2 record in 2009. But the unexpected loss of Kamendova will mean the Cougars will now be hard-pressed to make a return trip to the NCAA. Track and field – the indoor version – has already begun. The outdoor version will begin in March and we do not believe we need to mention the name Jeshua Anderson but we will anyway and even though Mooberry Track will be temporarily unusable due to Martin Stadium's renovation, it will be entertaining to track Anderson's progression in his signature event of the 400-meter hurdles to see if he can both lower his personal-best into the 47's, snag the Pac-10 record and, oh, by the way, repeat as NCAA champ. Baseball begins next month with a killer schedule but if they can emerge from their schedule with enough wins to give them some confidence, there is a chance they can get to their first NCAA tournament in 19 years.
Valentine's Day is still three weeks away but the Lounge is already feeling the love because one will be hard-pressed to find a better site in 2009 than the illustrious Fanboy - especially if one, like the Lounge, need at least a weekly popular culture fix – a good one, not those kind you get from the major networks. To illustrate, on Fanboy you have a treatise on why Ricardo Montalban saved Star Trek with his Wrath of Khan, the beauty of Crazy Eddie, no more "Danger Will Robinson!", the absurdity of social media and their "expert" groupies, the comics of Elio and animated television opening title sequences – and that is just one 10-day period!
Meanwhile, the Lounge Scientists may have discovered the problem with the Washington Husky football coaches, their administrators, their USC overlords, the NCAA and the BCS Taliban all in one fell swoop – the mathematical disorder known as dyscalculia, which prevents an individual from literally putting two and two together, they have problems seeing a connection between a set of objects – such as a fog machine, a siren and an NCAA rule violation. Or a new house and a star running back. Or a bunch of good teams and a playoff – and its numerical representative. Most humans have a sense of "exact number" concept, but those afflicted with dyscalculia, may not.
"You're born with a sense of exact number and you map the counting words onto pre-existing concepts of exact numbers," says Lounge Scientist #5walnuts, Brian Butterworth, a researcher at University College in London, who recently conducted tests on dyscalculia concepts and reportedly has everybody's number, but is not telling anybody what it is.
Or a new coaching staff and the amount of money they will get from snake oil alumni.
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