The Cougar Lounge - The Mysterious Handshake

"I am really excited for the players and what they were able to accomplish this weekend. Congratulations to them."
- Wazzu head volleyball coach Andrew Palileo, after his Cougars swept their three opponents - including 17th-ranked Utah - on their way to an unblemished 6-0 start to the 2009 season.
"That's probably one of the best teams we've played in the last three or four years."
- Colorado College head soccer coach Geoff Bennett, after his Tigers upset the Cougars, 2-1, last week in Colorado.
"We owe that team an ass-whuppin'."
- Words uttered by former Oregon running back, LeGarrete Blount a month before their rematch with Boise State, that ultimately, became one of the causes of his highly public meltdown and demise in Boise last week. Lesson Number One to kids and all athletes; stop the smack talk and listen to the immortal words of Wazzu broadcasting legend Bob Robertson and "always be a good sport, be a good sport all ways." [Same goes for you , Byron Hout].
"I've never seen so many useless 20-year-olds in my life."
- Hotel guest, Mark Friedman, who just happened to stumble across the National Cougar Convention in a Palo Alto hotel [complete irony that Stanford was playing Wazzu in the same week] and nearly tripped over all the 20-year-olds seemingly intent on attracting the attention of "cougars" [the older female definition].
The pungent aroma of burning meat on barbecue grills reminds us that autumn is near and football season is already here. Yes, the 2009 football season finally arrived last week and what an arrival it was! There was supposed to be a nice friendly handshake to open and close all the games in the first week of play - a sort of symbolic acknowledgement that it is just a game, after all, just like the touch football Nerf variety played at picnics everywhere across the country - until, of course, it comes time to knock the other guy's block off and play for a coach's financial security, a school's pocketbook or a bronzed pig or something. All well and good of course, but how does the old saying go - you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink? Well, that is exactly what happened in Boise on the first nationally-televised collegiate football game of the year between Oregon and Boise State where Oregon's running back LeGarrette Blount not only did not exchange pleasantries with the Boise State team - he went out of his way to not exchange them with its fans nor its stadium security personnel. As if it was not bad enough that ESPN was forcing the American public to watch a game on the notoriously hideous blue turf of Boise, in the one-man post-game melee, the punch-drunk Blount even got uppity with his own teammates, fer cryin' in the mud! Blount's problem may be one originating from a distinct lack of brain cells which apparently caused him to interpret post-game handshake as post-game fisticuffs. But that will be a problem for his parole agent to handle a few years from now since he was officially kicked off as a playing member of the team.
Meanwhile, Tennessee took the more traditional start to the collegiate football season - the overhype method. This time-tested method entails hyping an individual for Heisman Trophy consideration before the individual has even played one game of football for the year. Tennessee's candidate in this arena is Eric Berry, who, naturally, has a fancy website touting his Heisman-ness. Well, "fancy" is an interpretation in much the same manner as LeGarrette Blount's interpretation of handshake. It has the usual array of boring highlights presented in similarly boring manner with effusive outbursts of praise from those beacons of objectivity and non-hyperbole - television commentators. Plus, if you act now, you get the free Eric Berry calendar which has a word for every week of the collegiate football season. Judging from the website and the calendar, these words likely represent the pinnacle of a Tennessee degree. Where else besides Tennessee would words like "bam", "clobber", "kapow", "boom", and "powzer" even get you in the door, much less an interview with a prestigious firm? If none of those words work, there is always the Tennessee version of cursing, which, in the second week of October - a bye week, no less - is identified as "aeai*!ao#y!!e*s#i". This is the word most Tennessee hillbillies will be uttering when they are buried in NCAA violations and on probation under the leadership of former USC assistant coach Lane Kiffin.
With school back in session or about to be back in session, it is important to know what makes the kids "happy", so they gave them a test involving popular consumer brands. LeGarrette Blount took this test last spring but instead of using his #2 pencil to distinguish between the choices of strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree and strongly disagree - he just punched the test and then he went after the person administering the test. But for the rest of the mostly chemically-balanced students who took the test, they identified brands such as Dove, McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Sony as ones that made them feel happy. This is news? No, the real news was that Clinique apparently made some people happy - Clinique has never - to the Lounge's knowledge - made us feel happy. So, rather obviously, we looked to The Real College Guide to set us straight with their advice about what to do with obnoxious, unauthorized boyfriends invading your dorm room [get them drunk, then dump them down the garbage chute…oh, sorry, that was our suggestion] and all that free time. Free time!? That still exists? The junior future cog in the machine from Virginia recommends trying the mob mentality by joining clubs and frats and sororities [everybody else is doing it!] for future schmoozing bennies during party entrance requirements. We expect that this distinctly non-cavalier approach from this Wahoo is in direct response to Tony Bennett becoming head men's hoop coach earlier this year. How do we know? Well, simple 2+2=4. It is like this - we live close to Washington D.C. - the national epicenter of schmoozing - and our football team blows gigantic chunks of noxious vomit, having lost their season opener at home to William & Mary. Bill & Mary, in case you may have lost your Who's Who Guide to College Football, is a Division I-AA [now FCS] team. So it is easy to see that with the pre-schmoozing attitude professed by supposed upperclassmen and the football team's greatness [can Wazzu get a home and home with UVA, Sterk?] Bennett will have his Wahoo worshippers lined up and kneeling next month - waiting anxiously for the next miracle to occur.
If somebody really wants to adequately prepare for college, what they should do is join a mariachi band. Not just any mariachi band, but a record-breaking mariachi band! Look, if that does not appeal to you [and we cannot fathom how it cannot] there is always the record-breaking "Thriller" group dance, group kiss and you can have a chunk of the largest cheesecake afterward. What better way to prepare for college?
New Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott has had a busy week. First, there was the travesty of signing away the Pac-10's prestige and home field and time zone advantage to the snake oil Alamo Bowl salesmen for a mere $600k or so. Then, there was the travesty with Blount in Boise and finally there was his announcement that he will pursue more opportunities in the Pacific Rim for the conference's so-called Olympic sports programs. The Lounge consensus grades out Larry at a "C" so far. The Alamo Bowl test was a big, fat "F" for Larry, the Pacifc Rim idea is an "A" in concept and the Boise buffoonery was a "B" - since there was not much option on what he could do but it was ultimately handled appropriately from his office. After two months on the job, there is much room for improvement from Larry.
"I thought it was mostly a good game," says Teddy, The Wonder Lizard, in assessing the Cougars' first football game of the year against Stanford.
Yes, Teddy, the Lounge consensus agrees - mixed results from the 39-13 loss to the Trees. Despite the width of the final score, there were numerous good elements to be taken from the Cougars' first football game of 2009. In the first assessment, it was a 32-point improvement on last year's 58-0 loss to Stanford and there were actual times - three of them to be specific [down 8-0, down 22-10 and down 29-13] when the Cougars were in the game and could have, with some consistency and favorable bounces of the ball, made the game tighter than it eventually was. Offense appeared to be a big improvement over last year, particularly with the addition of running back James Montgomery. Kevin Lopina finally threw his first touchdown pass of his career and receiver Jared Karstetter established himself as a go-to receiver. Consistency seems to be the most glaring issue on that side of the ball. Defensively, there were definite sparks of life - linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis' near pick, the goal line stand in the second quarter, Eric Block's big hit on major thorn in the paw Chris Owusu and Louis Bland's big hit on Stanford super back Toby Gerhart. But the good defensive plays were too few and far between to have a major overall effect on the game. By the end of the year and barring injuries, the Lounge expects the defense to be a better unit. The special teams - specifically kick coverage - was a major problem in this game and will need to improve significantly in order to keep the defense from having to constantly defend short fields in the future. With all that said, the Lounge consensus fully expects Wazzu to bring home wins against Hawai'i and SMU in the next two weeks.
"Seriously, can they really go to the NCAA tourney?" asks Al Fresco about the chances of Wazzu's undefeated volleyball team.
Well, at this point, Al, there is no reason to doubt that possibility. The Cougars have just come off an impressive road trip where they not only swept every opponent but also swept a ranked team in that team's home state. We fully expect Wazzu to be receiving some points in the national poll when it is released this week and with the remainder of their non-conference schedule looking winnable, the Cougars could enter Pac-10 play still undefeated. If they do that, the Lounge will like their chances of making the tourney - at least they will be better than 50-50 at that point. We base that prognostication on the fact that the Pac-10 is the strongest conference in the land in women's volleyball and all the Cougars will have to do is finish sixth - or possibly seventh - and they should be included in the tournament field. Seven or more conference wins will likely be necessary for NCAA consideration and that total is doable for the team based on early results.
With the 2009 football season now underway, the Lounge is proud to present gourmet burger tailgate menu candidates from The Cheese & Burger Society. Wisconsin Cheese is the old cheese money behind the society but we feel they would be happy to see Cougar Gold in their neighborhood. For some reason, the Lounge finds ourselves strangely attracted to the Sheboygan, but we would sleep with some of the others too - just not Aunt Millie.
The Lounge Scientists have some good news and bad news for the Cougar football team. The next time they play a team with a high profile athlete like Gerhart, they can be rest assured that their eyeballs will see it coming. Unfortunately, their brains may not respond in time. That was the result of recent study conducted by the scientists that determined, possibly in correlation with an evolutional need to escape a predator, a human's eyeballs may determine a danger approaching before the brain cells kick in and identify the threat as a legitimate danger.
"It's an alarm system that's as close to the front end of the organism as possible. If you left it to the brain to respond, it might be too late," says Lounge Scientist #10, Botund Roska, a biomedical researcher at the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Switzerland, who reputedly saw this type of research coming from several miles [or kilometers] away.
Now the scientists will work on determining if they can see a replacement for the BCS Taliban coming from miles away or if, symbolically speaking, we are eternally stuck with the BCS Taliban overlords and its LeGarrette Blount-like responses to its authority.
+++++++sponsored by Greg Davis Sports Photography+++++++++
Summer is almost over…and you know what that means…It's time for a whole new season of Cougar Athletics! Football, soccer, volleyball, men's & women's basketball, baseball, track & field and tennis, just to name a few, are coming up right around the corner. If you need "game action" photographs for your newspaper, magazine, web site, blog, etc., then Greg Davis Sports Photography should be your choice for all things "Cougar" and "Pac-10 Conference"! Coverage for specific athletes or upcoming events is also available. Check out the images from games, practices and events from last season, and be sure to come back often for uploads from all of this season's action.