Go Cougs: A Season-Opening Game Day Diary

I am the only guy in my house. Between my wife, my two daugthers, our two cats (and the third stray that comes around ever since my wife put some food out for her) I am completely outnumbered. There is only one “Y” chromosome under our roof and I am the one holding it.

I am also the only person here who loves football. I grew up loving football. My mom has a family photo from 1975 and in it, my brother and I are wearing Seattle Seahawks sweatshirts. This Sears-photo-studio-style portrait was taken a year before the Seahawks even played their first game. I played football in junior high and high school. When I lived in Japan, I remember once a buddy of mine and I going to a department store to watch the American Bowl one year, when a couple of NFL teams played in Tokyo. Regardless of who’s playing in the Super Bowl, every year, I make up an enormous mess of food that could feed 20 people, even though the only person usually devouring the wings is me, or on occasion, my four-year-old daughter, Maddo.

My wife is not a football fan. I don’t know how this happened. She grew up in Oakland where, in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the Raiders were awesome and winning Super Bowls every few years. In high school, she was Homecoming Queen, which usually entails having SOMETHING to do with a football game. But, she was an only child, and went to a college that didn’t even have a football team. And I have found that going to college where football rules makes a HUGE difference in determining whether you end up loving football or would rather spend your Fall weekend days watching gay guys sell real estate on Bravo network shows.

I went to Washington State University, in Pullman, Wash. “Wazzu”, as we Cougars affectionately call it, is known for a few things:

1) The school is located about as far east in the state of Washington as you can get, yet remain in the state.

2) The school is on the border with the state of Idaho, which when I went there, had just upped its drinking age to 21 from 19. Getting grandfathered in due to my birthday allowed me to spend 18 months bootlegging beer from Moscow, Idaho over to Pullman every weekend.

3) The student body, at least when I went there, was made up almost entirely of semi-functional drunks.

4) Saturdays in the fall were reserved for football games…

5) …and all the attendant drunken revelry that came with such games, and which left many of us passed out by halftime.

All of that made me a Wazzu fan, and I remain so to this day. But the last few years (10, to be exact) have not been kind to Cougar Football. Wazzu hasn’t had a winning season since Bush II’s first term. And last year’s heralded arrival of Mike Leach as head coach resulted only in a 3-9 season (But a thrilling, overtime win over the hated Washington Huskies in the Apple Cup). Still, I remain a fan, partly out of school loyalty, and partly out of general, broad-based love of football that makes it so I can watch about any game that comes on, no matter who is playing.

But yesterday was a game like none other. It was Washington State’s season opener, all the way down in Alabama against the Auburn Tigers. This was an odd way to start the season, but probably no odder than a few years back when, for some reason that only had to do with money, Wazzu got beaten by Notre Dame on national TV in the Alamodome in San Antonio. And I was determined to watch it, no matter the lack of interest from my wife, nor whatever insanity and brawling that my four-year-old and two-year-old might have gotten into.

[Oh, and I AM indoctrinating my daughters into the family of Cougar Fandom. As you can see from the photo here, they know who to root for. ]

Keep the faith, girls...
Keep the faith, girls…

So, with a pork shoulder turning into pulled pork in the slow cooker, I settled down for the game’s kickoff and decided to keep a running diary for posterity’s sake. I had no idea if some Barbie-related disaster would keep me from watching the game, so I had no idea how far I would get with this. As you can see, I ended up getting pretty far.

[All times are Pacific.]

4:00: Wazzu receives the kickoff and starts at its 24. Connor Halliday is the starting QB. Already, Maddo has asked me for another glass of water and my wife got me up to pull in a hose from our garden that was out in “spiderville”. I wonder how many times I’ll get asked to do something before the end of the Cougars first drive.

4:04…Halliday completes his first pass, for a first down. Looks like Coach Leach is going to pass 147% of the time.

4:07…I have mostly managed to placate my daughters with two bowls of chips, barbecue and sea salt and cracked pepper. We’ve come a long way from the days when the only chips were plain salted, Ruffles and barbecue. I know they won’t even consider touching the pulled pork that I’ve cooked for almost nine hours, but throw two bowls of Lay’s in front of them and the two turn into rabid dogs.

4:12…HOLY SHITE! The Cougs manage to not Coug it, and drive straight down the field for a TD on the opening drive of the year. Win or lose, I’m drinking my weight in Kona Longboard Lager tonight.

4:15…Going to have to get up pretty soon to tend to my pulled pork, which has been cooking for almost 9 hours…Luckily, ESPN U is available live, and online, via Comcast as I haul my laptop into the kitchen. I hope to not splatter BBQ sauce all over the screen.

4:19…Wazzu’s defense stops Auburn. Offense gets the ball back around the WSU 40. Meanwhile, in the other sports world I really care about…The Mariners have taken a 1-0 lead over Houston. Normally, I would be parked on that channel, but luckily, DVR exists. And the “channel back” button works just fine, too.

4:24…Jesus…Connor Halliday is looking like the second coming of Johnny Football today…Meanwhile, my two-year-old just tried her best to amputate her legs by putting them through the slats on the back of her chair, while also leaning back on the sofa and losing her balance. She might end up on injured reserve before any Cougars do.

4:27…Well, Wazzu’s second drive ends with punt. If I were Coach Leach, I would never, ever punt and just throw 89% of the time and run halfback sweeps around the left side the rest and roll up 174 points a game. I’m on Longboard Lager No. 2, by the way.

4:30…Auburn starts on its own 2-yard line. Somehow, I think if the Tigers activated Bo Jackson, he would blast out the remaining 98 yards before I could put my beer down.

4:32…Defense is not going to be the Cougs strong suit this year. Auburn’s made up about 25 of those Bo-Jackson-less yards, so far.

4:36…Kids have first brawl, over a “glass” slipper we got at a garage sale. Maddo claims Lily was trying to ”cut her arm off”. I move on to Longboard Lager No. 3.

4:37…And I need to. Halliday’s pass is tipped for an interception that Auburn takes back to the Wazzu 28. I should probably start pulling apart the pulled pork, soon

4:41…But before I can get up, Auburn  scores, AND gets the 2-point conversion…8-7 Tigers with 2:26 left in the first quarter.

5:04…Well, I got done pulling the pork apart…Managed to see Wazzu throw another INT in the process…Now the Cougs are on the Auburn 35…My younger daughter is blowing on what I think is an old raisin she just found on the rug…It will likely end up in her mouth, soon…Wazzu gets the 1st down to the Auburn 21.

5:07…Wazzu calls Time out…I switch over to see the M’s are up 3-0 on Houston after 3. M’s coming up to bat.

5:11…3rd and nine…Cougs have the ball…Looking for some of my old frat buddies that I know are in the crowd. I have to believe they are a little more sober than they were when we would get hammered at games back in the day.

5:13…Halliday to Bobby Ratliff from the 7…Cougs score, get the PAT…Up 14-8, now. 8:02 left in the half…More Liquid Aloha from Kona brewing is on tap.

5:43…Have spent the last half hour putting the pulled pork together, while my wife has decided, RIGHT NOW is the time when we must figure out, once and for all, what the deal is with this old car that used to belong to her dad and is now sitting out on the street in front of our house…Meanwhile, Wazzu and Auburn have played pinball during the first have and the tigers are up 25-21.

5:50…And that’s where it stands at the half…Time to eat…Here’s a look at dinner.

Pulled pork sandwich. Steak fries. Kona Longboard Lager. Thank me.
Pulled pork sandwich. Steak fries. Kona Longboard Lager. Thank me.

6:20…Jeez…I forgot I was supposed to be keeping this running diary. Well, anyway, the Cougs just had to punt. It’s hard to type when you find yourself switching between the game you want to see, the Mariners attempt to sweep the worst team since the ’62 Mets, and an old-fashioned offensive shootout between Oregon State and Eastern Washington, up in Corvalis.

6:26…Just heard my wife say to Maddo, “Why would you DRIVE into Little Sis?” Luckily, she is only driving a tricycle. No word on whether she was texting and driving.

6:28….Auburn calls time out and is on about the 5 yard line. This Dick’s Sporting Goods football commercial is goddamn amazing.

6:34…Auburn gets a FG to go up 28-21…meaning the cougars need a TD just to tie it up. I feel it’s coming, and I don’t mean a score.

6:34: Bo Jackson uses (shills) for 5 Hour Energy Drink. Bo Knows, right?

6:39: Wazzu’s driving…Still hoping. Eastern beats OSU, 49-46 as the Beavers’ last second FG to tie goes wide right.  Now, the battle for my attention is between the Cougars and the Mariners. Also debating if I should have a second pulled pork sandwich.

6:44…Cougars don’t convert on 3rd down…And out comes Andrew Furnley, whose right leg won the Apple Cup last year. He splits the uprights, making it 28-24 Auburn, with 4:18 left in the 3rd Q.

6:47…Checking out the Mariners game…Somehow, they are holding on to a 3-1 lead in the top of the ninth against the Amazingly Shitty Erik Bedard. He’s Canadian and looks like he’d rather be doing anything than pitching, and pitching for Houston, in particular.

6:53…Wazzu stops an Auburn drive, causing the Tigers to punt. 1:11 left in the quarter.

6:55…Dammit! Halliday throws his THIRD INT of the game…Wait, it’s now being called incomplete. Well, he sure as hell completes his next pass for a first down. Just keep moving the chains….

6:56…Nice…Teondray Caldwell breaks off a 25-yard run for Wazzu to end the third quarter. Over in the M’s world, Danny Farquhar has come on in the bottom of the ninth to (hopefully) save the win for Seattle…

7:04…Farquhar has gotten two out, man on first. Guy up for Houston has a last name of Hoes.

7:06…Farquhar gets the save, his 11th. Mariners have now won the first three against Houston. Game four tomorrow…Now, back to Wazzu-Auburn.

7:17…Ugh…my attention is waning. Auburn just got another FG, and is now up 31-24. In other matters, I’m hopeful Boise State will run rampant over the U-Dub in Seattle.

7:21…Lily just looked, and laughed at me…She is now grabbing my WSU hat and rocking my head back and forth and going “WOOOOO, OOOOOH!” in my ear. I may be deaf, in addition to drunk by the end of this game.

7:23…Cougars get a first down…What they NEED is a touchdown (Nice one there, Rex!)

7:26…Cougars moving, announcer says they have ‘First down, goal to go” like a drunken Pat Summerall in a 1977 CBS NFL telecast.broadcast.

7:27…and of course, Halliday throws an INT in the end zone.

7:32…2:50 left and the Cougars, somehow, got the ball back…They are now looking at 4th and 5 with 2:37 left…I don’t know what the hell to think…But Halliday throws incomplete…Oh, man…Maaddo got crap on her hand while wiping her butt in the bathroom. Thank God for the DVR.

7:37…1:59 left…Auburn’s got the ball…

7:41…And runs the clock out. That’s that…31-24…That’s what you get when your starting QB throws 3 INTS, including one in the opponent’s end zone.

And next week, the Cougars head to Southern Cal to take on the insufferable Trojans. Pulled pork will be swapped out for birthday cake and I don’t know how much of that game I will get to see. My younger daughter has her third birthday party that day, and the shindig starts right around kickoff.


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