*Originally written by Jay Skeen who quit us.
It’s rivalry week in college football, which means it’s time for the Apple Cup, a game that’s a huge deal in Washington and the definition of irrelevant everywhere else. The Washington Huskies and the Washington State Cougars will square off this Saturday, and once again I have to decide who I want to support, and it’s a tough choice. I’m a Boise State fan, but every year when this game comes around and the rivalry flares up and if you live around fans of either team you can’t help but get sucked into it and root for one of the teams. I make that decision every year around this time, going through the likes and dislikes of both teams.
First off, I spend most of the year rooting against the Cougars, despite having friends and family who either go to the school currently or are alumni. I do this because Coug fans are the most annoying and radical fans in the world. And if you are a part of that it’s cool, and if you’re a player, you love having that kind of devoted fan base, but for everyone else it gets so annoying that it starts to physically hurt you. For example, at my Uncle’s work (the probation office in Yakima), they regularly have to go out into the field to find people skipping their parole meeting. When they do this they have to sign out with a pen attached to a clipboard by the door. There’s one officer who refuses to use it because the pen is in purple; husky colors. Another example; there’s a morning sports program called College Gameday, which goes on location to what is considered the best College Football game that week wherever in the country. Since 2003, there has been a Washington State flag at every College Gameday filming, making up over 200 appearances. People fly all over the country to keep the streak alive, our own Dane Williams flew across the country to wave the flag and keep the streak going. In the time of that streak, Washington State has not won a major bowl game. They’ve won 2, but they were lower rung bowl games, they weren’t the rose bowl by any means.
These are examples of cult behaviors, not fan base behaviors. Coug fans I know have Cougar EVERYTHING. Coolers, car fresheners, shoes, can cozy, blankets, lawn chairs, rugs, everything. Everything you can think of has been transformed into a red and white version with the WSU logo on it.
Also a negative for WSU, Mike Leach, a sickening combination of arrogant and ridiculous. The ridiculous aspect of him is harmless enough; you just never know what you’re gonna get at a press conference. He might do unprompted demonstrations of a shovel pass using a water bottle, he may start talking about aliens, anything goes. Those are 2 very real things that happened at separate press conferences.
But his arrogance is what turns people away. He recently proved how deluded he was when he claimed that the pac-12 (the conference of both the Cougars and Huskies) was a better conference than the SEC, which houses teams like Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, you get the picture. The conference is full of powerhouse teams. There’s really no comparison.
In addition, there have been numerous allegations of player abuse towards him, at both Texas Tech and Washington State. While I’m an advocate for pushing players to their limits and past so that they learn how tough they really are and what they’re truly capable of, there’s a line, and Leach crossed it, and to me that means that you were responsible for the wellbeing of young men and were reckless with that responsibility. If you do that you don’t deserve to be a coach.
However, as I said I do have friends and family who went to WSU and are fans of the team and the school, and most of them are not annoying in their support of their team, and I want them to be happy with their team. When you root for a team that is having a successful season, it brings a happiness to your life that we all need. It’s one of the things that’s so great about sports.
Until a few years ago, I rooted for the huskies pretty consistently. I have friends who are UW fans as well, almost all of them are much easier to stomach than the WSU fans, and I liked seeing the coug fans that annoyed me get butthurt when they lost. But like I said, I’m a Boise State fan, which means Chris Petersen, who now coaches UW, used to coach my team, and led them to several extremely successful seasons, the highlight of that era being the upset over Oklahoma in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, the greatest College Football game ever played, no contest. But he left, and I’m still super pissed, because while we’ve done well under Bryan Harsin, we could have done better if he’d stayed around, and possibly been moved into a more competitive conference like the Pac 12.
Maybe it’s petty of me, but my anger at Petersen trumps everything I hate about Leach and his obnoxious fan base so…..go Cougs.