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August 15, 2010

The Cougar Lounge - Jet-Propelled Hype

"For Michaela Castain to get her collegiate career started with a goal after four minutes is a great accomplishment and I thought she was dangerous all day."

- Wazzu head soccer coach Matt Potter, after the Cougars crushed Idaho, 5-1, in an exhibition "friendly" in which the true freshman Castain scored three goals.




"We just didn't string a lot of good plays together at times."

- Wazzu head football coach Paul Wulff after the Cougar offense was dominated by the Cougar defense in the first scrimmage of the 2010 fall practice session.




"The officiating was brutal. I think there may have been a payoff at the end."

- Wazzu head volleyball coach Andrew Palileo alleging [jokingly] a payoff involving the umpire [head baseball coach Donnie Marbut] and soccer head coach Matt Potter after his volleyball squad lost, 5-2, in a softball game between the two teams.




"How did you get this job?"

- Legendary jazz musician Eubie Blake to legendary talk show host Johnny Carson after Carson was unable to tell him what a "medicine show" was.








The fancy introductions are now officially history. No more hype - there is no disguising that the 2010-11 athletic season has arrived. In soccer, Wazzu has already played its first exhibition match and in the "other" football, the team has already conducted their first scrimmage of the fall practice session. The volleyball squad has already begun practices and it is only a matter of time before they, too, will be playing in their first match [next Friday, August 27, against UC-Irvine]. Pullman is alive with activity or, as they say in the more hip portions of the Lounge - the joint is jumpin'.


The first Cougar athletic contest of the year is already in the books and it was a 5-1 Wazzu mashing of some Idaho potatoes in the aforementioned soccer exhibition match which, technically, is called a "friendly" but a 5-1 score is generally not very friendly. What is most astonishing though about the match is not the final score but rather, where the goals emanated - four of the five Cougar goals in this match were scored by true freshmen. Michaela Castain scored three of the goals and Roslyn Pontius scored another with sophomore Shannon McFadden being the only non-freshman to score. With Potter resting [and also avoiding unnecessary injuries to] many of his regular starters, the true freshmen and others who are not expected to be regular starters, received much of the playing time. Essentially, Potter was playing the majority of his reserves - a common "friendly" practice - against the Spuds and it still resulted in five goals. Since Idaho is in no way, shape or form even closely resembling the Cougars' first opponent - sixth-ranked Florida State [coming into Pullman this Friday for a 3pm match at Cougarland Field] - there is little that will transfer from this match to that one except that the reserves received some significant action against a live opponent. However, this can only bode well for the portion of the Cougars' schedule when they come up against teams that are of roughly Idaho's caliber and therefore, teams which - in theory - they should defeat [Long Beach State, Weber State, Hawai'i, Pepperdine, Gonzaga]. Potter can now breathe a little easier knowing that - at least in Michaela Castain's case - there will be no dropoff in talent level when the subbing-in process begins against those teams. The real question now is, can Castain and her fellow 2010 classmates hold their own against the likes of FSU, Texas A&M, BYU and the entire Pac-10? Or, for that matter, Pac-12, since Utah and Colorado are on Wazzu's schedule this year.

The stage is now set for perhaps, arguably [there are other viable candidates, but who likes to argue?] the largest match in school history and perhaps - no, the largest - non-conference collegiate soccer match in the 2010 season among the four Pac-10 schools inhabiting the Pacific Northwest. With a match of this proportion - the nation's sixth-ranked team against the nation's 21st-ranked team - one would expect there to be some sort of television coverage from an outfit purporting to call itself Fox Sports Northwest and purporting to cover the collegiate sporting events of Pacific Northwest schools, especially the big sporting events involving the Pac-10 member schools. Additionally, with a rare occurrence of a team from the ACC - and a perennial powerhouse team, no less - coming all the way across the country to play in Pullman and given the fact that this match was not some last minute addition and had been on the schedule for quite some time, it would seem as though an outfit purporting to cover the collegiate events of Pac-10 schools would be all over this. But unfortunately for Cougar fans and well-wishers who will be unable to make it to Pullman to watch their nationally-ranked squad tussle with an NCAA title contender, they will also be unable to watch the coverage of the match on television either. A cursory sashay through the schedule of Fox Sports Northwest [an oxymoron if there ever was one] reveals this schedule for the two-hour block of time during which the match will be conducted on Friday, August 20. At 3PM, when the Cougars and Seminoles are kicking off, FSN will broadcast yet more promotion for Pete Carroll with an episode of Seahawks All Access where we are sure to hear further bits of the unparalleled Carroll genius [though not how he escaped unscathed from USC's mess - now that, combined with what he thought of Mike Garrett, might be worth 30 minutes of air time], followed by, at 3:30PM, a scintillating episode of Mariners All Access [do we need to say more?] followed at 4PM by the riveting Fishermen's Handbook and finally, at 4:30PM, Stock Car Series. So there you have it - a complete dedication to programming excellence when it comes to broadcasting premier Pac-10 athletic events on display by FSN. Needless to say, the case could not have been made more clear for Larry Scott to make a deal with ESPN, create a Pac-10 Network and leave Fox Sports out of it.

On the other hand, ESPN [slash ABC] still have some work to do as well as West Coast collegiate football viewers will be treated this year to a dynamic duo of a former Duck [Mike Bellotti] and a former Husky [Brock Huard] pairing up for most of the Pac-10 broadcasts. This is not good news for Beaver and Cougar fans and well-wishers who were hoping to hear less whining and more balanced commentary. How can ABC go from Keith Jackson and Bob Griese to these guys? The ledge on that dropoff is pretty steep. But at least they are televising the games - so they do receive points for that.

Arizona wants to make it easier for people to relate to their football program and they may have hit on a perfect scheme. What is the first thing people associate with Arizona? [Besides idiotic immigration laws making the state look like it is full of buffoons] Why, it is snowbirds, of course! Snowbirds and their RV's! So naturally, athletic director Greg Byrne took the opportunity to hype their football program with a five-day tour [not a three-day tour like Gilligan and the Skipper started on] of the state in a special Arizona RV to attract, well, we think, elderly people or people visiting from Canada. Possibly, they will find all those missing Japanese centenarians.

The NCAA knows where to find their head coaching stars when it comes how well they are preparing their kids for the real world and simultaneously getting good APR numerals and they do not need an RV - because they have a nifty search tool that does the trick. Unfortunately, the search tool only works for six sports at the moment, so some of Wazzu's best head coaches in this academic measuring stick - Erica Quam for swimming, Jane LaRiviere for rowing, Lisa Hart for tennis and Potter for soccer - are not represented. But other stars, such as Rick Sloan for track & field, Ken Bone for men's hoop and Donnie Marbut for baseball are represented.

The crack Lounge research department has returned from temporary hiatus [otherwise known as holiday or vacation] and the very first thing they discovered upon their return was that somebody ate all the maple bars. Almost directly after that, they found that Sacramento is the city in the United States where adults tend to buy the most sporting equipment, followed closely by Salt Lake City [remember bowling from a few weeks ago?]. Seattle/Tacoma comes in at #9 in the Top 10.

"That was an impressive start but it was just Idaho," says the skeptical Bootney Farnesworth the Third, of the Wazzu soccer team's 5-1 mashing of Idaho taters in their exhibition opener.

Yes, Bootney, you could look at it that way - although Idaho was 9-10 last year and hence, not that bad - but you could also look at it this way. Potter played mostly reserves [or if you do not like that word, perhaps, newbies] against the Tater Tots and not only scored five goals on the Spuds but scored four of them with true freshmen. Now, everybody complete understands that Idaho is not Florida State nor are they even Oregon in the Pac-10 - but they are fairly decent and to score five goals against them [last year's NCAA squad only scored three against them in a regular season match] is impressive. Even more impressive is the fact that Potter's squads are generally known for their defensive prowess - if this is any indication that there is offensive balance from a wider array of players coming in the future, well, you know what that means, Bootney. Not only will that mean more NCAA tournament appearances but it will also mean deeper forays into said tournaments - like, say, into the Sweet 16 or even Elite Eight. But let us not get ahead of ourselves here. First up is Florida State in Pullman this week and the Seminoles are a legitimate national title contender [coming in ranked sixth in the nation]. What Wazzu is able to do against FSU may be a good starting point for what they will be able to do against the Pac-10 and, subsequently, in the NCAA tourney when November rolls around.

"That was exactly what I thought it would be - confusing," says Mrs. B.H. Smegma about the Cougars' first football scrimmage of the 2010 fall practice session.

The confusion stems from there being no clear picture of what to make of the first scrimmage. While the defense was generally good and the offense was generally poor, was it because of the defense being overwhelmingly good or the offense being somewhat less than good or just general rustiness that might be expected from a first scrimmage. Conflicting and confusing results is the Lounge clientele consensus. For example, at the quarterback position, the roles were reversed. The projected starter and person everybody is expecting to have a good day - Jeff Tuel - did not have, ahem, shall we say, one of his better days while his reserve Marshall Lobbestael completed 90% of his passes. There was not much rushing yardage because Wulff said he was focusing more on passing to get his receivers more seasoned but that did not work out too well as the two QB's combined for 12-of-19 with two picks and one touchdown. Back to the drawing board. But the defense seems - it appears we will not know for sure until the first game of the year in Stillwater against Oklahoma State - to have the look of hope revolving around it that they may have some players who can compete against the OSU's of the world. We might need some more scrimmages to determine that or it might not be determined until that first game. It could be a mystery until then.


What is no mystery is how good the late Johnny Carson was when it came to late night talk show programs. Never mind Letterman, Leno or Conan - Carson was the king and his crown has never been in question. With his late night royalty established, it is with extreme pleasure that the Lounge brings to you the official Johnny Carson site, where you will find clips of all his greatest times during a career that spanned an incredible 30 years [from 1962-1992] behind the desk. Unfortunately, this site only compiles clips from 1973 onward which were stored in a salt mine in Kansas and therefore preserved to the level of quality allowing them to be digitized. The pre-1973 episodes will have to be added later. The Burt Reynolds clip was getting top play at the time of the Lounge's visitation but we heartily endorse clips from Betty White, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal and Muhammad Ali and fully realize you can spend most of the rest of the month exploring this site.

Meanwhile, the Lounge Scientists have discovered something that is, really not all that surprising - Jupiter is a big bully and always has been. Running tests and simulations to try and find out why Jupiter [and Saturn - two of the so-called gas giants] have a plethora of heavy elements - even more than the sun - and yet a core masses not that much larger than Earth [relatively speaking], they have found that Jupiter most likely collided with a large Earth-like planet [they called it a super-Earth] early on in the solar system's chaotic teenage development process and engulfed the entire planet.

"The rocky body flattened like a pancake when it hit the gas giant, then barreled into its core," says Lounge Scientist #30, Shu Lin Li, a scientist at Peking University in China who, reportedly, said the planet probably tasted like chicken to Jupiter.

Even though the event occurred well before the existence of the human beings, the Lounge has it on good cosmic authority that Fox Sports Northwest would have televised an episode of Fishermen's Handbook in place of the planetary collision.




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