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September 25, 2009

The Pres' Palouse Park Bench - An Emotional Seesaw


When you were a kid, did you like riding the seesaw? I was always a big fan of the simplicity of it or maybe seeing how quickly you could make yourselves go up or down. Or getting off at the bottom and letting your friend come crashing to earth. But I think that most of us would agree that seesaws gave us bountiful amounts of simple enjoyment in some of our simplest years. So how can a device so simple absolutely torture us now? Because the WSU football team has me on one with them.


All through last spring's practices, I was cautiously optimistic about this football team. They looked like they were getting bigger, faster and better but I knew that they still could only be compared to themselves. After leaving town for three months for the summer and coming home, the transformation was extraordinary. Players looked much bigger than they had before, the athleticism seemed to have increased exponentially and although there was a question at quarterback, it was settled pretty quickly.

Maybe being a glass half full guy, my optimism seemed to be bubbling over. The team looked good and played well in practice. I was all types of excited to see what this team could do against an up-and-coming Cardinal team.

After that game, I was somewhere in the middle of my seesaw. Sure, they had lost 39-13, the same score to which they lost last year's season opener to Oklahoma State, but the coaches and the players all seemed more optimistic and upbeat. Fine, we lost they said, but we lost better. My cockeyed eyebrow notwithstanding, I wasn't discouraged by the end of that weekend but I wasn't exactly encouraged either. The team had played better but they had a long way to go. But they were playing an opponent the next Saturday that barely scraped by Central Arkansas. How can you not be excited or encouraged to see how much they had improved?

Then my seesaw crashed. Early in the week, receiver Kevin Norrell has the book thrown at him by the cops for….everything. It seemed the team had recovered by Saturday but after giving up 35 unanswered points and coughing the ball up more than the old Tiki Barber, they were back to the team of last year. Lopina looked terrible at best and the defense struggled to keep the ball out the Warrior receivers' hands.

After that game, I couldn't be encouraged. The team came back in the second half but they showed an inability to adjust in the first half and could only do it once they made it into the locker room. The offense looked incredibly inept and special teams was still an issue after playing a Stanford team that had long run backs on punts and kickoffs. Perhaps even worse than any of that, the team continued to get beat up. Safety LeAndre Daniels broke his leg; defensive lineman Andy Mattingly and receiver Gino Simone both suffered concussions. And an expected cupcake opponent in SMU had just one their first road game in a couple years.

The first half against the Mustangs went little better. Their offense tore up the Cougar defense and new starting quarterback Marshall Lobbestael was struggling mightily. By the time the middle of the third quarter rolled around, the Cougs were down 17 points. Lo and behold though, they came clawing back. Despite being falling behind in offensive time of possession by a two to one ratio, the Cougars made plays and the previously floundering offense led a last minute drive to tie the game and the special teams won it in overtime. Not only had the Cougars finally stood up and not taking a game lying down, every unit on the football team contributed. I was back on the high end of the seesaw, as happy as I could've been with the second half performance of this team.

Then on Tuesday, I crashed through the dirt. A young man with all kind of football future in front of him and the best offensive weapon on the team was in the hospital after having emergency surgery. I doubt many of us had heard of acute compartment syndrome before running back James Montgomery was lying in a hospital bed suffering from it in his right calf. The most disturbing thing was had the surgery been delayed much longer he could've lost his leg and had it been delayed even longer, it could've killed him.

That should stop you in your tracks. James could've died because of that injury and he's lucky to still have his leg. I was baffled. And at this point, the concerns of this team, facing an angry and out-for-revenge Trojan team this Saturday, became a moot point. I no longer cared that this team might not win another game all year long. What I became concerned with was that a man's life hung in the balance in the wee hours of Sunday morning and the team doctor acted quickly enough to save him.

Frankly, I don't care if this football team wins another game all year. They can lose them all by a 100 points. And if you don't like philosophy or life lessons, stop reading here.


What I care about the most is that James Montgomery recovers quickly and, should the doctors permit him, plays football again. You can tell, just by watching him, he is hungry to play the game every day. And should one day he step back on the turf at Martin Stadium donning Cougar crimson, that my friends, would be the biggest Cougar victory of all.

And my seesaw would be permanently in the air.


PICKS:

Last Week: 5-4
Overall: 17-10

Here is where Cal makes a statement and Jahvid Best vaults himself into one of top contending positions for the Heisman.

Bears Made of Gold 31, How Are Ducks Green? Explain Please 17


Here's the deal: this is Arizona State first real game and to do it in Athens is no easy task. And, by the by, they lost Rudy Carpenter and most of their offense.

The Ugas 37, Los Devils 14


How is Arizona favored here? I mean, really? The other Arizona school that is actually worse than many think.

The Jacquizz Rodgers 28, Non-Tame Cats 10


This one is hard to read. UW is riding high after beating USC but this is their first one away from Montlake and they have to face a Stanford team that can't seem to decide if they are a good team or not. God I hate doing this.

The Fuskies 31, The Trees 28


And now, your Cougar picks:

Southern California 68, Washington State 3 says extremely talent newsperson and all-around nice lady Michelle Ludtka.


Southern California 38, Washington State 7 says very important Murrow College person Adam Walberg. Get a haircut!


Southern California 27, Washington State 7 says Microsoft man and WSU alumni C.J. Lewis. By the by, can I have your boat?


Sometimes you just have a feeling. A feeling that won't go away and can't be silenced. A feeling that overwhelms your mind, telling you to make the other decision even though it makes no logical sense. You just have…..a feeling.

Then you remember feelings are bubkiss.

Southern California 52, Washington State 10


Obscure Pick of the Week: A coeducational liberal arts school in Lancaster and another coeducational liberal arts school in Huntingdon. Why do these kids in central Pennsylvania need to be co-educated?

Franklin and Marshall 24, Juniata 14


Dunderhead of the Week: Whoever thought it was a good idea to mow the lawn in front of my apartment at 7:00 AM. On a Sunday. Really? No, I don't like sleeping in or anything. No, your mowing is much more important than that even though your mowing can be done whenever and I can't sleep during the day when its 245 degrees inside my apartment..





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