January 8, 2010

The Pres' Palouse park Bench - None Of The Above




Normally around this this time of year, an article explaining the status of men's basketball in this conference would be warranted. But frankly, this conference is weaker than beer in Utah. Except for Oregon State and possibly Stanford, every team has an opportunity to win the conference crown; which is good but mostly bad. It wouldn't be a stretch to assume that only one or two teams will make the big dance unless another team comes out of nowhere to win the conference tournament in March. With the conference season being so incredibly young, it's tough to tell who might ultimately come out on top this season, let alone what it's going to take to make it to the postseason.


Really, I wanted a question answered. I want to know what the Cougar football team did to deserve the schedule they just got. Does the Pac-10 hate Washington State? Did Steve Broussard win a "Best Calves" contest the mob had a lot of money on and lost because of Broussard's Greek god like leg muscles? Because a team that was arguably the most inexperienced in the conference was looking for a favorable home schedule got the proverbial shaft.

I realize that the schedule swaps every year, that is to say you play one set of teams at home one year and then the other teams the next season. What can make a schedule favorable is how it's structured and when you play whom. A team already entering the season with a crutch of inexperience might as well come in on a wheelchair.

The first trip of the year isn't exactly an easy one to Stillwater, Oklahoma to face a good Oklahoma State team. Granted the Cowboys lose a lot of seniors but they will still be a solid team looking to put the hurt on an opponent early. Then, a dangerous trap game in Pullman against a decent Montana State team and a trip to Dallas that seemed like a good chance for victory against SMU is now a lot tougher. In a good scenario, you'll be getting one win out of that out-of-conference schedule.

From there, it gets even tougher. After what will likely be a difficult trip to Southern Methodist, you come right home and run into USC. Some will say they aren't the Trojans of years past but they are still Southern California. The only way this game gets easy is if herniated discs decimate every skill position player on the team. The next game at UCLA gives you seemingly your only "break" before you really find out what this team is made of with two straight home games against Oregon and Arizona, two teams that will be vying for the conference title next season. I don't have to remind you that the Wildcats get Nic Grigsby and Nick Foles and that Oregon welcomes back 18 starters.

After those two games, the Cougars get the real screw job and spend a month outside of the friendly confines of Martin Stadium with three road games against Stanford, Arizona State and Oregon State. That extra bye we heard the athletic department ranting and raving about? It comes two thirds of the way through the epic road trip. That's right: fully nine weeks into the season, the team finally gets to use its extra bye. It's like it doesn't even exist. The problem is, where else in that schedule would you put the bye? It structured so bad prior to that there is virtually nowhere to put it. You can't put it between Oregon and Arizona. That's too early in the season. You can't put it before the three game road trip because then there is no break in there. So, while it's the best place to put it, that's like saying the Geo Metro is slightly better than a Pinto. After your road trip, the schedule actually gets really nice with your last two home games of the year against Cal and Washington split up with another bye.

There are things you never want in a football schedule, especially when you're dealing with a team that is looking for a semblance of hope. You never want to play all your tough games early and having long trips with infrequent byes. The Cougars will be lucky enough to get both those things in the 2010 season. Forget for a minute whether the Cougars will be playing a game in Seattle (as an aside, the only choice is the Montana State game) but this schedule is as terrible a one as I have seen for any team whether they're the Cougars or whomever. This schedule does not set this team up for success in a season where success may be its most important in recent memory. So before the season has even started, the Cougars find themselves with another crutch on their team, an all too sobering and real metaphor from their past couple of seasons.


PICKS:


Forgot the WSU/UA, UW/ASU happened on Friday. Whoops! Won't count those until next week. In the meantime:

Last Week: 5-3
Overall: Same

Well now I don't even know what to think of this after both these teams won when they shouldn't. Coin flip!

UCLA 67, Stanford 60


Have the problems of the self-imposed punishment really affected USC that much. Probably.

Cal 76, USC 58


A stifling Arizona State defense is going to give the Cougars their first real test offensively of the season and I don't think they'll pass.

Arizona State 59, Washington State 51


No idea what is going to happen here. Arizona overachieves at times and Washington underachieves at times. I'll take my chances with the better team.

Washington 71, Arizona 65


This game is looking more and more like a beat down that I wasn't expecting.

Oregon 78, Oregon State 48


This one got way more intriguing in recent weeks especially since I didn't expect Oregon to be as good as they may be.

Arizona State 56, Oregon 50


Well, this one would be completely undesirable to attend or watch/listen to.

Arizona 68, Oregon State 50


Losing to Oregon was one thing for the Huskies. If they lose to Stanford, I call dibs on laughing in Quincy Pondexter's face.

Washington 71, Stanford 59


This one is hard to call but I'm going to go ahead and assume Klay Thompson lights the Bears up for 40.

Washington State 76, Cal 68


Obscure Pick of the Week: I'm going to go with the one that sounds more hilarious to a teenager.

Longwood 65, South Dakota 57


Dunderheads of the Week: People who live in Seattle and hate it. All week, I hear complaining about the weather in the winter, no snow at Christmas, how depressing it is and on and on. I have a solution for you then: move.






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