September 4, 2011

The Cougar Lounge - The Fickle Finger Of Fate Strikes Again

"Well, the most encouraging thing is the shutout."

- Wazzu head soccer coach Matt Potter after easily disposing of Wyoming, 3-0, in their second home match at Cougarland Field.




"When a young team does that, a lot of unforced errors occur."

- Wazzu head volleyball coach Jen Greeny, explaining how the Cougars started to impatiently press after losing the first set to Texas A&M, causing them to lose the remaining two sets - and the match - to the Aggies, at the University of Portland Invitational.




"The Pac-12 has five of the top women's teams in the country in Stanford, Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Arizona - it's the best women's cross country conference in America. We're a couple years away from those teams but this year, we might find ourselves in the Top 25 as well and possibly getting an NCAA berth."

- Wazzu head cross country coach Pete Julian about the prospects for the women's cross country team in 2011.




"What we have to remember is that "Ghostbusters" is bigger than any one component - although Billy was absolutely a lead and contributive to it in a massive way - as was the director [Ivan Reitman], Harold [Ramis], myself and Sigourney [Weaver]."

- Actor/comedian/musician Dan Aykroyd, explaining how fellow actor/comedian Bill Murray is being a prima donna and holding up the filming of Ghostbusters 3. Yes, yes, Dan, but what about Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Rick Moranis and the Stay-Puft marshmallow man?









Offered for your consideration - the Wazzu football game against Idaho State - the result of the usual college football hoi polloi or the handiwork of spiteful college football gods? Just when it appears that the Washington State University football team might catch an inkling of a sliver of a break and open up a college football season with a positive story with absolutely no remotely possible way of a negative slant - and what could be a more perfect scenario for this than scheduling one of the worst Division I-AA football teams in the country? - something happens [whether it is the usual routine, random fate, spiteful gods - whatever - it happened] to put a negative spin on what otherwise was a fairly nondescript and routine expected thrashing of a lowly opponent. So now, instead of a week of Wazzu fans and well-wishers gushing about the Cougars' prowess as a team and the complete and utter dominance they exhibited in the 64-21 blasting of the hapless Bengals coupled with the expected denial of reality that this game was anything other than, essentially, the Harlem Globetrotters versus the Washington Generals - we now have the injury of quarterback Jeff Tuel to banter around the negative spin bin for another month at least and most likely more, since head coach Paul Wulff's decision to play him against the Generals, er, Bengals is brought into question and analyzed by the Internet-O-Meter 3000.


Here is the problem with this game - from the outset, it was a lose-lose affair - Wazzu was expected to win so easily that there was bound to be disagreement on how easily the Cougars should be winning over not only one of the worst teams in Division I-AA [now called FCS] but one of the worst teams in college football's two highest divisions. Idaho State came into this game ranked 207 out of 246 combined Division I and Division I-AA teams by noted college football ratings guru Jeff Sagarin and that made them the 84th-ranked team out of all the Division I-AA teams out there [Wazzu was rated 94th - which would have made the Cougars a Top 10 team in Division I-AA]. So it sets the expectations bar high - how badly should the Cougars be beating such a team? By 50, 60 or 70 points [those were the three most popular options]? Should the team be shutting out this opponent even though the returning defense was a question mark? What sort of offensive numbers should be expected to be generated against this Bengal juggernaut of a defense? All topics for endlessly scintillating debate no doubt peppered with the usual canned emotional outbursts. Then, if expectations are not met and the blowout does not achieve adequate levels, there is the other "lose" option of injuries - and there can be no doubt that this option was certainly met in the game with not only Tuel's injury but the injuries of several other players. So, the conclusion? Wazzu gets their first 1-0 record in six years and, as per the apparent contract made with the gods - the exchange was an injury to the best player on the team. It is enough to cause Wazzu fans and well-wishers to hope for a haboob of massive proportions to fall upon the remainder of the Cougars' opponents in the 2011 season.

While that request is being considered by the gods, the Lounge does not want to be a fun sponge and decided to bring out their banjo and serenade the despondent Wazzu fans and well-wishers. Well, upon second thought, that might make it worse. So instead, we will bring out John Elwood and his trained canjo - John can actually play the instrument and there is the extra added bonus of the instrument actually being played is a can of Cougar Gold cheese!

Probably the best news to be collected out of the weekend so far is that all Wazzu teams have won or are winning so far in the 2011 season. Soccer is the most successful at this point with a 3-1 record that is expected to be 4-1 after today, volleyball has been off to a surprisingly good start and has racked up five wins in their first seven matches, cross country had wins both team-wise and individual-wise in their first meet and, of course, there was the football victory. The interesting theme there is that in all of those sports besides football, the wins and winning are seen as good things - volleyball has already surpassed expectations for the season and soccer is averaging over 1000 fans in their first two soccer matches at Cougarland Field - but neither of them have spiteful gods to deal with this week.

"I don't know what to say - that was the worst-case scenario!" says Puford Busser, of the Wazzu football team's win at the cost of an injury to Tuel.

Yes, Puford, this was like the cruelest twist that even the most cynical Hollywood scriptwriter could conjure up for the Cougars. As if it was not bad enough that the Cougars and Wazzu fans and well-wishers have had to endure the depths of defeat they have had to endure over the last three years - even when they get a blowout win, there is a prophetic parasite attached to the victory to cause extreme discomfort. The loss of Tuel for an undetermined amount of time - depending on the severity of the injury, anywhere from four weeks to the entire season - will obviously have an effect on the outcomes of the season. The one injury the Cougars could not afford to have, happened, and now they must deal with it - first against the incoming UNLV Rebels. Fortunately for the Cougars, the Rebels are only a few notches above Idaho State in haplessness [ranked 113 in Sagarin's rating], so even without Tuel, there should not be a problem in getting the win this Saturday. But after that, all bets are off until we see how the team responds to adversity.

"So far, I like what I'm seeing!" says Unrecognizable Johnson, after Wazzu began their soccer season 3-1.

That is good for your eyesight, UJ, but now comes a real test for head coach Matt Potter and his team. The three wins - which is expected to grow to four today with a win over Weber State - were all expected, Hawai'i, Seattle and Wyoming [though the win over the Redhawks was expected to be a tough win - a win nonetheless]. The lone loss to perennial powerhouse Portland looked good at the time, but the Pilots have dropped two road matches since then and now appear to be a mid-range Top 25 team at best in 2011, so the Cougars might not get as much of an RPI and NCAA selection committee bump from that narrow 1-0 loss in Portland as was expected last week. That makes this week's road matches against Virginia and Central Florida extremely critical to Wazzu's NCAA chances. Virginia is ranked fourth in the country [and just thrashed ASU, 3-0, so they are probably stronger than Portland] and UCF is unranked. Short of two outright wins, a good NCAA-worthy result for Wazzu out of this weekend will be a win over UCF and a draw against Virginia. The expected result is a loss to Virginia and a win over UCF, so that would keep the Cougars level in the NCAA's eyeballs, but anything less than a win against UCF would cost them mightily.


Finally, with college football season now officially upon us and the 93 bowl games coming toward us like a rampaging meteor of mediocrity, we urge people to Fight Mediocrity in whatever way they can. Okay, so this is just one way, but now you know the blueprint.

The Lounge Scientists have discovered water on Mars - well, what they think is water, anyway, since the slight technicality of not actually being on Mars sort of prevents a conclusive decision. But the Mars Orbiter saw dark streaks appearing and disappearing on the landscape in the southern portion of the planet as the planet heated up and cooled down due to seasonal changes. Now scientists think this may be due to salty water just below the Martian surface, emerging as the planet heats up and disappearing under the surface as it cools down.

"We haven't found any good way to explain what we're seeing without water," says Lounge Scientist #27 Alfred McEwan, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson who, reputedly, has no update on whether or not there are plans to have Martian bottled water in the near future.

Maybe the spiteful college football gods will have something to say about Martian water too.




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