The Cougar Lounge - The Salami Scandal

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"I think the parrot that predicted Holland is going to win and the octopus is going on the barebecue."
- Dutch soccer fan Joek Dingsdag, regarding the prognosticating skills of Mani the Singapore parrot over Paul the Octopus.
"It starts with a few words, then it's a push, then it's a swing, then the front tire comes off."
- American cyclist and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong explaining the bike fight between Carlos Barredo and Rui Costa at the end of Stage Six in this year's race.
"One thing was my mark and not having a coach there that knew my style and knew how much I need to move back because my head just wasn't in it."
- Canadian junior high jumper Alyx Treasure explaining one reason why she finished second in the high jump to Wazzu sophomore-to-be Holly Parent [who had her Wazzu coach, Matt McGee with her] at last week's Canadian Junior Track & Field Championships.
"I'd rather get engaged to Lindsay Lohan than have anything to do with him."
- Anonymous movie studio executive after actor/director Mel Gibson went on yet another hate-filled rant - this time directed toward his ex-wife - and was subsequently dropped by his agency.
The Lounge takes a panoramic view of the sporting landscape this week. First, of course, after a month of 63 live matches being aired by ESPN, there is the final match of the World Cup between the Netherlands and Spain. Paul the Octopus has already weighed in on the outcome of that match [see below] but at this point it does not matter to the Lounge because whoever wins that match, nothing will ever be as entertaining in the 2010 FIFA World Cup as following the drama that enveloped the French team during the mere 30 days it was in South Africa. But that is the bad side, the good side is that South Africa clearly was not only capable of hosting the world's most important sporting event but did it without any major glitches. Sure, people complained about the noise of the vuvuzelas, there was a labor strike from some of the workers and some of the less knowledgeable African crowd booed Uruguay's Luis Suarez for his volleyball block of a potential match-winning goal from Ghana in the quarterfinals, but all these were mostly trivial and overall, the country did a magnificent job of presenting the event and ESPN did a magnificent job of televising the event. If all sporting event telecasts went this smoothly and were televised this well, there would be no need for excessive hyperbole.
This is the dilemma that the Tour de France usually finds itself in and it can be no coincidence that the team which made the most melodramatic departure from the World Cup comes from the same country that hosts probably the most melodramatic international sporting event - at least the one watched by the most people, anyway. This year, USA's Lance Armstrong is out of the race after having crashed himself out in the eighth stage - but not before more drug accusations were hurled at him and more sensationalist stories were written to try and do, well what? Certainly not to keep him from winning, as he took care of that himself and he was not expected to win anyway. The Lounge has said this before and we will say it again - the best thing about the Tour de France is Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen - the broadcasting dynamic duo who cover the event for Versus. Listening to Liggett and Sherwen describe each stage of the race as well as the travelogue commentary accompanying each stage is really all anybody would need - the television images are just a bonus.
Here in America, college football season is just around the corner and what does that mean? Yes, hype. Usually in the form of some good old-fashioned self-promotion such as a postcard of Washington quarterback Jake Locker declaring him to be the one person in the world who can turn Islamic religious fanatics into non-violent, quiet, peaceful people who get along with everybody, no matter what their views. Well, not that exactly, but former USC head coach Pete Carroll called him a "ridiculous talent" and by any stretch of the imagination, one would certainly have to have ridiculous talents to deal with Islamic religious fanatics. But if there is anybody out there who recognizes some of the different examples of the word "ridiculous" as it pertains to college athletics, it is Pete Carroll.
The good thing about college football beginning is that it means there will be better overall sports coverage for the Pac-10 conference. Well, not this year, but maybe in a few years when Utah and Colorado join and ESPN or Comcast sign up to take over the conference's potential network. Unlike the current way the conference's sports programming is being handled, this might just translate into live coverage of sporting events other than football and basketball - complete conference sport coverage and on a timely basis. Yes, we know, in 2010, this seems like an alien concept, but ESPN just got done televising 64 soccer matches live from South Africa, so we know they [or Comcast] can televise a live Wazzu soccer match against Portland or a volleyball match against UC-Irvine. We now know it is possible without the myriad of excuses as to why it is not.
Of course, on the other hand, something which is clearly not possible is to unseat Oscar The Grouch in the official CougZone World Cup Standings. Even Paul the Octopus has shied away from Oscar.
Meanwhile, the Lounge's crack research department has decided to make the best use of their time and find out who, in America, likes to go bowling. We know what you are thinking - you are thinking, surely, this will be somewhere in the Midwest, possibly Wisconsin. Well, you might be partially right. The top bowling city in the USA is Detroit, followed, inexplicably, by Salt Lake City. Now that the Pac-10 is getting into the Utah market, perhaps bowling would be a good sport to add in the future?
"Who is going to win the Pac-10 in football this year?" asks Stan Ford, slyly.
Well, it could be your team, Stan, but we are not tipping our octopus tentacle just yet. The official, annual CougZone Predictaganza will be coming out shortly and we are at liberty to divulge that the Pac-10 conference predictions have been made and are complete and…we are not going to tell you what they are just yet. We have to have plenty of quiet time before all the screaming hype begins. However, we will say, if Utah and Colorado had been in the league this year, it would have been very interesting.
"What about soccer and volleyball, any predictions?" asks Lounge newcomer Bud Light, feeling around for tips.
Well, Bud, no straight predictions just yet, but we can tell you that we have no compunctions about making the statement that we feel confident that both teams will have good chances to make appearances again in the NCAA tournament [third consecutive for soccer, second consecutive for volleyball]. Both squads have proven good coaches and proven talent - the only thing standing in their way might be injuries or some other unforeseen circumstances.
The mystical prognosticating skills of Paul the Octopus have been well documented over the last week and we are sure - especially if he gets the last one correct - that Paul will be branching out and taking a Las Vegas casino sports book tour shortly. For the moment at hand though - Paul Picks Spain.
Meanwhile, the Lounge Scientists were all giddy with joy after a treasure hunter named Dave Crisp discovered 52,500 Roman coins buried in the English countryside - coins that came from around the year 200-300 when Marcus Aurelius Carausius was in charge of conjugating verbs in the Roman Empire. The stash - found in a large jar - is possibly worth $5 million - which has made archaeologists both jumpy and happy at the same time.
"Because Mr. Crisp resisted the temptations to dig up the coins, it has allowed archaeologists from Somerset County Council to carefully excavate the pot and its contents, ensuring important evidence about the circumstances of its burial was preserved," says Lounge Scientist #52500, Anna Booth, a local official in Somerset in England, who, reportedly, wants the pot for a potluck.
French officials say the coins were meant to be buried in France and have begun to get surly about the discovery while ESPN has offered to televise Crisp's next treasure hunt, live.
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