Jack: When did you realize, or decide, that you were a Cougar fan?
JWardell43: Why Washington State? Mike Leach was asked this same question when he took the WSU job last winter. His response, "That's a stupid question."
I'll agree with coach.
Jack: What is your earliest memory of being a Coug?
JWardell43: I remember my parents and their gin soaked friends going Brandi Chastain crazy when Phillip Bobo caught a deep touchdown pass from Drew Bledsoe in the '92 Apple Cup, affectionately known as the Snow Bowl. Bobo slid into a snow bank in the back of the endzone and Bledsoe and the offense started throwing snowballs, acting like a bunch of kids. When you are six that's pretty awesome. I liked throwing snowballs too. I wanted them to win. Coach Mike Price said that was the most fun he's ever had in the snow.
Only later could I appreciate how huge that win was. The Huskies were defending National Champs headed to the Rose Bowl ranked fifth in America. The Cougs wouldn't beat a team that good again until the 2003 Holiday Bowl against Texas.
Jack: Speaking of snow, I've heard Pullman can be pretty hard to get to when the weather is bad. What is the most treacherous road trip you have taken to get to a Cougar game?
JWardell43: An evening kickoff and windy conditions contributed to a frigid 2010 Apple Cup. Game-time temperatures dipped below 20 degrees. The following day westbound fans heading for Seattle were blitzed by blizzard conditions in the Cascade foothills. Undeterred we pressed on until my truck slammed into two Mule Deer - both at the same time. We collided at about 60 MPH turning Bambi and his girlfriend into instant venison burgers. A few miles down the road we noticed the impact had damaged the cooling system and we were stranded roadside, in a blizzard, and it was getting dark.
Finally a good Samaritan stopped to give us some water for our overheating engine - despite the help we couldn't get it roadworthy. The helpful passerby would have given us a ride to the nearest town but couldn't because he had outstanding warrants (no surprise given the face tattoo). Eventually we coaxed a tow truck driver out of bed to bail us out of a situation that was threatening to become serious. Frostbite narrowly avoided, we enjoyed a musty evening in a motel that boasted they were "cleaner than most."
Jack: What is your strategy for staying warm once the game starts?
Jack: Why is Martin Stadium one of the best places to watch a college football game in the country?
JWardell43: Locals will tell you about Pullman's four seasons, Summer, Winter, Still Winter, and Almost Winter. Traditionally Martin Stadium's harsh conditions have favored the Cougs.
Another WSU home field advantage is the ratio of rowdy students in the stands. Roughly one-third of Martin Stadium's 33,000 seats are zoned for students.
Jack: Do you ever make it off of the Palouse? What are some of the best road trips you have taken to watch the Cougars and why?
JWardell43: We knocked out most Pac-10 stadiums as students. Now getting the college gang back together for a destination out of conference game has become a tradition of its own. Picking the matchup has been a cinch the past couple seasons with San Diego State and UNLV on the schedule. With Southern Utah and Idaho to choose from next year, I've got my fingers crossed for a bowl berth.
Jack: That's pretty good dedication with the way the program has performed lately, why do you still love the Cougars so much despite how much they have struggled in recent years?
JWardell43: I bet Bobby Petrino's mom still loves him in spite of the fact that he's a world class douche bag. It's because they'll always be linked, they're kin. The same goes for your alma mater. You don't get to stop being a fan because your team loses homecoming to an otherwise winless Colorado team (in my opinion the worst loss since a 1934 defeat to Saint Mary's).
The pain of being a Coug fan can only be compared to child birth. It's the most agonizing experience one can imagine, and only those who have gone through it can comprehend the suffering. But at the end of it all it's probably worth it. And you'd do it all again for the joy that it will eventually bring you.
Jack: So let's say that I am a 5-star quarterback recruit from Southern California and you are a coach for the Cougars recruiting me and all you can do is send me a couple paragraphs on why to play for the Cougars, what do you send?
JWardell43: Here's a sample of quarterback stats under Mike Leach at Texas Tech from 2002-08.
02 Kliff Kingsbury 5,017 yards with 45 TD
03 B.J. Symons 5,833 yards with 52 TD
04 Sonny Cumbie 4,742 yards with 32 TD
05 Cody Hodges 4,238 yards with 31 TD
06 Graham Harrell 4,555 yards with 38 TD
07 Graham Harrell 5,705 yards with 48 TD
08 Graham Harrell 5,111 yards with 45 TD
Wanna throw for 5,000 yards and 40-plus touchdowns? Just sign here...
Jack: I know that the Cougars have a great reputation for having legendary quarterbacks, but none more legendary than Ryan Leaf. I heard a rumor that Leaf was banned from the 7/11 in Pullman, do you know if this is true?
JWardell43: Not sure about the 7-Eleven story but it wouldn't surprise me. I do know that after he was drafted he returned to Pullman for a charity event where he dumped a pitcher of beer on a reporter in a bar and told him to shove certain body parts in places they should never go. Later the owner tried to calm him down and Leaf egotistically said he could buy the buy the place, proceeding with more prickish behavior after that. And if you ask me another question about Ryan Leaf I'll tell you "DONT TALK TO ME, ALRIGHT? KNOCK IT OFF!!!"
Jack: If you have to pick one thing that makes you love Cougar football and college football more than anything else in the world, what is it?
JWardell43: Only the greatness of college football could drive a man in Alabama to poison those trees at Auburn. Is this not proof that college football is something special? I say it is!
Why do I love being a Coug fan? I love it because the USC Song Girls and their sweaters come to town every other year. And when they don't, there's a good chance the Oregon cheerleaders will, and they might be hotter than the Song Girls. Oh, there's also UCLA and Arizona State.
But besides the sideline candy, I love being a Coug fan because I've learned to be grateful for things I may not have appreciated had I gone anywhere else. Every win is reason to celebrate. And win or lose no self-respecting Coug fan comes back from Pullman saying, "that sucked." And there's also a lot of bars there too! What's not to love? In fact, if the WSU beats Washington this year Coach Leach has promised to buy all the fans at Valhalla Bar a drink! So here's to free beer and blind faith. Go Cougs!
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