The Cougar Lounge - Short Story Long

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"What a great moment for Eileen. Three goals in a match are difficult at any level. She worked hard and was rewarded."
- Wazzu head soccer coach Matt Potter, after true freshman Eileen "Bunny" Maes recorded a hat trick in Wazzu's 4-0 skunking of Gonzaga.
"We're going to have to do a better job on the defensive end."
- Wazzu head men's hoop coach Ken Bone, looking ahead to goals for the Cougars' 2010-11 season.
"We are to the point right now where we feel like we have depth at several positions."
- Wazzu head women's hoop coach June Daugherty talking about the prospects for her team in 2010-11.
"All he has to do is apologize to us and we'll hire him back."
- Comedian Jon Stewart after CNN newsman Rick Sanchez was fired for calling Stewart a bigot and implying that Jews run the media business on a radio show.
The sound of nuns chanting prayers has filled the Palouse this week because Oregon is coming to town this week to face the Washington State Cougars in a football game in Martin Stadium in Pullman. The Ducks come into town as they continue their trek toward a shot at the national championship and are in the process of obliterating everything in their path. Oregon is top-ranked in the nation in scoring offense and total offense and is second - only to one-dimensional Air Force - in rushing offense. The Cougars will be attempting to lay down a spike strip against Oregon's offense because they are opposing them with the 116th-ranked scoring defense and the 118th-ranked total defense in the country. The nuns have assembled and the Lounge must be respectful and allow them to do their work, time to move on. Perhaps the Cougars can employ their own defensive superhero this week - we shall call him Super Duper Man - to stop the Oregon offense.
Meanwhile, the members of the soon-to-be Pac-12 conference are meeting this month to determine who gets money and how much of it they get along with how the conference will be aligned when Colorado and Utah join the party next year. But the real interesting decision will revolve around where the conference will chose to host their newly-minted football championship game that all conferences with more than 10 members get to host. Preliminary indications among coaches seem to point to neutral sites San Diego and Las Vegas as the main contenders with San Diego currently holding the edge due to the smaller size of Las Vegas' Sam Boyd Stadium [capacity 36,800]. The Lounge clientele is sitting on the fence with this decision as either location is a winner and the only unknown factor is whether or not Vegas can enlarge their stadium significantly in a short time to satisfy the conference's needs. Stadium officials say they can expand it to 40,000 but would probably need at least another 10,000 beyond that to have the conference seriously consider the city as a site for the game.
Meanwhile, the Pac-10 announced the television schedule for men's hoop games last week and Wazzu will be on the telly at least six times in the 2010-11 season with a possibility of a couple more if they are selected for wild card games. Toss in the televised Pac-10 conference tournament games and it is entirely possible that the Cougars could have television appearances numbering in double digits. If they improve enough to garner a post-season playing bid with either the NCAA or NIT, it will almost certainly be in double digits.
In non-collegiate football or basketball news, the battle to secure USA Olympic television rights is about to commence and if you are an American, you desperately want ESPN to win this battle against NBC, whose lame coverage of the last four Olympics has severely damaged the prestige of the Games while ESPN's coverage of this summer's World Cup has proven that they are the genuine worldwide leader in sports television. NBC's contract is up after the 2012 Games in London and the IOC [International Olympic Committee] - who derives their largest source of revenue from assigning U.S. television rights [to the tune for $2.2 billion from NBC the last time around] - will begin negotiating for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. Although CBS and Fox may also be interested in negotiating, it is generally shaping up as a battle between ESPN and NBC and if you, as an American, like live sports coverage, then ESPN is your choice
Meanwhile, the crack Lounge research department has conducted a survey and discovered that people who love to play fantasy sports most often reside in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region. In fact, fantasy sports nuts are mostly congealed in a large oily mass in the Midwest with Midwestern cities taking up six of the top 10 spots in the survey.
"Well, that was some improvement, wasn't it?" says Otto T. Ott after the Cougars' loss to UCLA in football.
Yes, that was better, Otto. A 14-point loss on the road is better than a 48-point loss on the road [see Oklahoma State] but any enthusiasm for staying within 14 points of a Division I team must be tempered by reality. Wazzu made some good, positive strides in this game - particularly with their passing offense as Jeff Tuel, Jared Karstetter and Marquess Wilson continue to improve - against what is generally considered to be a good UCLA defense. That much is undeniable. Additionally, Wazzu's special teams unit - especially their kickoff coverage units - are vastly improved. Also undeniable. However, the improvement comes to a screeching halt there. The rush offense is not improving - at least not at a rate required to be competitive in the Pac-10 - and the offensive line is still giving up sacks at a rate that will put them in the 40s by the end of the year. That is not improvement. Defensively, there is no question that the Cougars are not improved as they rank near last in the country in every major statistical category and are allowing whopping amounts of points and rushing yardage that is equivalent to a small European country in every game so far in 2010. The offense only averages a mediocre 21 points per game and that is not near the amount needed to keep the Cougars within two touchdowns of a Division I team. Since defeating the winless Washington Huskies in the Apple Cup in the final game of the 2008 season, the Cougars have lost 13 consecutive times by double digit margins to Division I teams. With Oregon, Arizona, Stanford, Arizona State, California and Oregon State all lying ahead - and with no bye week between any of them - the double digit losses and blowouts will continue unless some kind of improvement is made in the rush offense [to take time off the clock] or the defense.
"I am excited about the basketball team. I think they can get to the post-season this year," asks Muddy Whitecaps, about Wazzu's men's hoop team.
That is an optimistic but not unrealistic view, Muddy. Wazzu returns some definite offensive and defensive weapons in Klay Thompson, DeAngelo Casto Reggie Moore and Marcus Capers and has the appearance of promise with Brock Motum and Abe Lodwick. If the promise of Lodwick and Motum come to pass, then Wazzu will almost certainly be knocking on some post-season doors. If, in addition, junior college guard Faisal Aden adds some extra scoring punch as expected, then the Cougars will certainly be looking at no worse than a mid-division conference finish and that is territory that usually results in post-season bids. The three potential downsides for the Cougars this year are health, depth and the bigs. In order to succeed, the Cougars will need to stay healthy since they have no experienced depth and the bigs - Steven Bjornstad and Charlie Enquist - have not yet proven themselves in Pac-10 play. Motum may have to play big to help Casto in that department. But if they stay healthy, even with a lack of bigs, the Cougars can still win enough games to get them into post-season consideration circles. Practice begins next week and from there, we will see what happens.
Sometimes watching Cougar football over much of the last decade as seemed as though one was watching some sort of weird television show and with that in mind - and Oregon coming to town this weekend - the Lounge would like to give Cougar fans and well-wishers a similar experience without having to actually go through the painful parts - it is the opportunity of a tutorial on How To Write a Dukes of Hazzard Episode. As is mentioned, the plot of the episode is not essential as long as "Boss Hogg comes up with a crazy scheme to put the Dukes in jail or swindle honest folk, but in the end is foiled, in part, due to his own stupidity" and always remember is to make the General Lee appear in as many scenes as possible and if not, substitute Daisy Duke for primarily hormonal purposes.
Meanwhile, the Lounge Scientists have announced that they have finally located a statue of King Tut's grandfather - it helped that he has been dead for nearly seven centuries so they could root around for awhile - in Luxor.
"The statue is one of the best new finds in the area because of its expert craftmanship," says Lounge Scientist #1352, Zahi Hawass, an Egyptian scientist in charge of Egypt's Supreme Council on Antiquities who, reportedly, had a superhero figurine of King Tut that he got out of a cereal box of Egyptian Wheaties.
Vegas or San Diego? San Diego or Vegas? Sounds good either way.
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