Thursday, December 2, 2010

This Is Pullman

I remember I had to write an English paper in college and the last words in the opening paragraph had to be "this is Pullman".

I wrote something like this; "Nestled in the wheat fields of Eastern Washington lies a remote little college town. This is Pullman."

As I approach a big weekend in Pullman for the Apple Cup, I will never forget those words. It really describes what I wanted when I made the decision to attend Washington State University.
I will never second guess my decision, and I will always cherish the friendships I made in my days at Ole' WAZZU.

It's no secret we want to win the game against our cross state rival, the University of Washington. We want to spoil their chances of going to a bowl game for the first time in years. But it's really not about the game. Football is really a side show in this glorious town. Regardless of what people say, there are plenty of things to do. And win or lose, we still have a great time with our Cougar friends.

I met my wife in Pullman and we always like to stay at the Cougarland Hotel. It sits on the side of a hill downtown, within walking distance to the only breakfast place in that part of town, and of course the watering holes known as the Office and the Sportspage. The Sportspage is where all the coaches hang out, and older alums like ourselves. We will ALWAYS run into Coug friends that we know.

Pullman breeds character, it really does. When you check in to the Cougarland Hotel and they hand you a remote, you know you landed a room with a TV. It's just one more thing to talk about with your friends over a bubbly one.

Sometimes the simple little things mean so much.

You see, it's the small things that make this place so special. Heading across town is no big deal if you've had too much to drink. You just give Big Cat Taxi a call and you can go wherever you want for only $6 bucks. And you can bring all your friends.

This is Pullman.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Apple Cup Thoughts

I've been going to this game since 1968. I was 9 years old then. That was then, and this is now.

It's still as exciting of a week as ever.

Things are a lot different now for both programs. The Huskies aren't the powerhouse they were in the Don James era when they manhandled teams with their mammoth offensive line. They always had a dominating defensive tackle. Ball control and the kicking game were two key components that won many games for them.

Boy have times changed.

The Huskies enter this year's Apple Cup game hoping to land a bid in the Alamo Bowl, Sun Bowl, or perhaps the Holiday Bowl, not long ago going to the number two team in the Pac Ten Conference.

Not this year.

With Oregon on it's way to the national championship game and Stanford, say what?, possibly headed to the BCS Championship Series, one would think this is a changed conference, especially with the new additions making it the Pac 12. Oregon, a former doormat in the Pac Ten Conference along with it's sidekick Oregon State, has progressed into the premier program in the conference, and perhaps the west coast. Chip Kelly is changing the game with his high powered, quick strike offense that drives defenses crazy, especially when the fourth quarter arrives.

Then there's Washington State. The team with really no identity and still many questions loom over the future of head coach Paul Wulff. In his weekly talk show, WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos still refrains from answering questions about the future of Wulff. After an impressive 31-14 win over Oregon State in Corvallis on November 13Th, the Cougs have been waiting for their arch rivals to arrive in Pullman. The game features a new twist now with the resurgence of the Husky program generating two wins over UCLA and Cal in successive weeks. It used to be expected and is now treated as one of the two biggest wins in school history. "God's play" is what people are calling the one yard touchdown run by Chris Polk as time was running out in the victory over Cal last weekend. Husky fans bombarded the field like they were headed to their first Rose Bowl.

When the final bell rings Saturday, there's a few scenarios that could unfold. We will finally find out the future of Paul Wulff and whether he will be able to fulfill the final year of his four year contract. Will the Huskies go to a bowl game for the first time in years?

Back in Anne Arbor, Jim Harbaugh will be named the new head coach at the University of Michigan, leaving Stanford for his treasured job.

And Paul Wulff will be packing his bags, for another recruiting trip for the 2011 season.