I went to my first Cougar rodeo this weekend….officially speaking.
Received “official” press passes to cover the Washington State Cougars’ Crimson & Gray game this past Saturday. I was happy at first but as time grew closer and ideas raced through my head, I grew more nervous. I’ve never done anything like this before. While others could be found dancing the Friday night away, I was nauseatingly nervous.
I call myself a Twitter sports reporter. Or a fledgling sports writer/blogger. Or maybe even a sports content producer. I encompass all of those because that is literally what I do. Nobody has hired me to work “at” their company so I do consulting/free-lance work, via social media.
I’ve been privileged to work for a local radio station here in town. Through them I was able to secure a pass for this weekend. And what a weekend it was:
An absolutely beautiful day for football. Then I ran into this guy:
“Butch” the Cougar goes to all of the WSU Cougar home games, Seattle games and has traveled as far as Corvallis. Butch looks stuffed to me.
Having arrived early Saturday morning, the tailgating area was the first area to check out on my agenda. RV lots had opened the night before. If it was anything like regular season Cougar games in Pullman that I had heard about, it should have been packed.
Sadly, it wasn’t. It was pretty sparse when I arrived. As excited as Cougar fans have been about the Coach Leach hiring, I expected there to be rows of RVs. When I arrived, there was one row of RVs plus a few cars parked behind the RVs. Certainly not what I expected from Cougar fans.
Undaunted, I pursued an idea that kept me awake the night before…interviewing Cougar fans. Being a “noob” to the media business, I gave no forethought to the fact that “I” was in charge of asking the questions. I’m great at coming up with ideas. For others.
Psyched myself up, boxer-style, bobbing & weaving, dancing & shaking, talking in 3rd person and I gave it 100%!!!
Not surprising that they expect winning. Bowl game? Possible. Rose Bowl or BCS in a year or two? A bit of a stretch perhaps at this point. They’re fans like of any other team in any other sport. They want to win. They want to see “their” team winning.
One comment of note was a reference to “amount of money they’re paying him”. Leach’s base salary is reported to be in the range of $2 million. In Paul Wulff’s last season, he made over $600,000. And yet, the expectations for Wulff were to win. Beat the Huskies. Go to the Rose Bowl.
The same expectations of Leach, of course. “Amount of money they’re paying him”.
Wulff=$600,000 vs Leach=$2 million.
Same expectations. Math.
What “I” didn’t expect was this:
And most definitely not THIS:
[Note to self: Never go to tailgating hungry.]
Such a new experience for me. I’ve always gone to games as a fan. Never looked at them any other way. A certain highlight for me was to look at the fan-team relationship during the pre-game autograph session. Adults, ‘groupies’ and the like were aggressively seeking autographs but what hearkened me back to the days of innocent fandom was when I saw the kids. Little kids looking wide-eyed at their football heroes
We might have some future Cougar quarterbacks in the making here though:
There was one particular fan that stood out. Perhaps some of you in Texas Tech country may recognize him:
My oddity of the day, minus Texas Tech guy, was sitting in the press box. No matter that it was only a spring game, I was there to “cover” it as media. Me. Surreal.
My view pre-game:
The “game” itself was mildly entertaining. Covering it on Twitter, my attention was focused on more of the fan reaction for some special editions online newspapers I did during the day. [That and El Classico updates but we won’t go there now.]
The offense has potential to deliver some big games, stats-wise. The Cougar offensive line needs time to develop. The defense had its moments but they may be exposed in the depleted linebacking corp area this fall.
Good fan support from the Cougar faithful. Those that wanted to see the Coach Mike Leach offense were not disappointed.
And those that wanted to come to game for a beer, well they weren’t disappointed either. One of three beer gardens available:
Cougar fans should be excited. This is a team that will be talked about for a few years to come. Too early to “guess” what they will be this season. Bowl game? Every team has a shot at a bowl game in April. This Cougar team still needs to time to learn and gel together. Mostly, they need to learn what it takes to flourish under Coach Mike Leach.
Able to access the field post-game, I was able to capture Coach Leach’s post-game thoughts on video:
Thank you to everyone involved in making this day happen for me. And thank you to those who encouraged me and answered all of my questions. It is the first of what I hope will be many more sporting events I will cover in my new career.