June 14, 2009

The Cougar Lounge - Big, Bad Voodoo Pork

"It was a good decision for me not to sign with San Francisco last year."

- Wazzu senior pitcher Matt Way, who came back to help lead the Cougars into their first NCAA appearance in 19 years and then improved his draft status by 31 rounds.




"I can get out of that apartment and I'll move a mattress into the house tomorrow."

- Wazzu head men's hoop coach Ken Bone detailing his relocation priorities and who will, presumably, not require a private plane to do the trick.




"It's getting to the point where people with means can afford to go. I love collegiate athletics but it's becoming big, big business. Maybe I'll start following women's basketball instead."

- California Bears football fan John Thomas, reacting to the university's recent plan to charge up to $225,000 per season football ticket and evidently forgetting that women's hoop is part of collegiate athletics.




"I didn't kill newspapers, OK?"

- Arianna Huffington, owner of huffingtonpost.com, in making the customary five-word acceptance speech at the Webby Awards.








A depression is sometimes called a regression and when the Lounge thinks of regression these days, we cannot help but think of USC - oops, make that, former - USC head men's hoop coach Tim Floyd. Floyd, as everyone undoubtedly heard last week, unless they were not only living under a rock or in a cave but were also immersed in their iPod, resigned under allegations that he had illegally paid former Trojan star OJ Mayo. Everybody who thought Floyd was clean as a whistle, raise your hand….[insert visual image of tumbleweed blowing across screen here]…Floyd has had nothing but controversy follow him around from Idaho to New Orleans to Iowa State and even into the NBA when, before he briefly coached the Chicago Bulls, and was accused of colluding with manager Jerry Krause to help then-head coach Phil Jackson move aside. So, while there is no paper trail directly leading to Floyd, there is an unmistakable stench that seems to hover over him and who, exactly, was surprised to hear his latest shenanigans with USC, we do not know.


Floyd's reputation both during his tenure and after his resignation were as credible as the e-mail the Lounge recently received to notify CougZone of the bidding and sales opportunities that awaited us in the 2009 Defense Department budget. Must have been our mailbox shaped like a shoe that attracted the senders. What seems most likely as the scenario is this - USC athletic director Mike Garrett, long having the backing of influential USC boosters and seeming immunity from NCAA infractions, especially in football [possibly due to those influential boosters], did not care about Floyd's seamy background when making the decision to hire him. He only cared that he won games and in doing so, did not upset the apple cart along the way - this would be the apple cart that helped Reggie Bush's parents and Matt Leinart and Dwayne Jarrett with their living arrangements. With the apple cart being upset by Floyd's apparent creative financing schemes, there is the distinct appearance that Garrett forced the resignation of Floyd for possible appeasement of the NCAA in potential lack of institutional control penalties involving their combination of their ongoing investigation into both the football and men's basketball programs. Will the tactic work? Garrett is counting on it.

Another thing Garrett is counting on is more money to be rolling in to the already-bulging USC coffers after the Pac-10, last week, approved, in concept, the idea to continue the women's hoop conference tourney at USC's Galen Center - thus ensuring that both men's and women's Los Angeles-based Pac-10 teams will not have to travel for post-season conference tourney action for at least the next two years. The men already play annually at Staples Center and now the women are going to be locked in to another Los Angeles venue, which, ironically, could rarely be filled or even half-filled when the men's team played their regular season games there. Garrett had built an opulent facility that was not being used and in danger of being a boondoggle until the Pac-10 came to his rescue and gave him a guaranteed gate at the facility for at least a week. So, instead of fairly rotating either tournament to regional locales, the conference's athletic directors have been cowed into forfeiting fairness for money - but worse yet - giving both USC and UCLA competitive and financial advantages of not having to travel nor having to spend money on travel. That frees up time for Garrett to work on this little NCAA problem.

But while everyone is waiting for the NCAA to let USC off the hook and thinking there is no justice in the world, there comes the announcement that some members of Congress want to turn down the volume on loud commercials. Industry experts say that legislation is not needed because broadcasters are already working on lowering commercial volumes and expect to announce industry standards next month that will then be implemented for the fall season.

That is, of course, good but it will do nothing to massage the eyeballs from viewing the new Cougar football uniforms that were unveiled last week. This is the result when Nike happens. First, vanilla is plainer than these uniforms so we hope Wazzu paid exactly $37.21 [$37 for using the logo and 21 cents for whoever's idea it was for the horizontal censorship-shaped bar on the sleeve] for the design element of this apparel concoction. Second, we can see that somebody still has some trouble in recognizing the four letters which spell out the word "gray" when identifying that the official colors of the university are crimson and gray and not white. A white stripe here and there is acceptable for aesthetically pleasing purposes but a Washington State University uniform should never be predominantly white simply because it is not one of their official school colors. That seems pretty straightforward - perhaps that message will be conveyed at some point to brains in charge. But for now, to sum up the reaction to the new uni's in the clientele - it is currently wavering somewhere between "blah" and "zzzzzz".

Maybe Nike is saving all their design money so they can buy California football season tickets. At Berkeley, their novel concept to fill stadium seats is to blackmail their football fans by offering them the "choice" of either paying $225,000 per seat for 50-year rights to the seat including amenities or giving up the seat. Gee, that sounds reasonable, especially in this economy. Of course, if $225,000 sounds out of line, there are always the much more reasonable options of $125,000 for 45 year rights or $60,000 for 40 year rights. We hesitate to mention this but there is also the annual 30-year payment plan with 6% compounding administrative fee just in case the typical Cal football fan may also want to afford to live the rest of their lives.

"I am speechless!" says Rancid Polecat #2 of Wazzu's Jeshua Anderson repeating as the NCAA champion in the men's 400-meter hurdles last week.

One the one hand, it was easy to expect Anderson to repeat as the men's 400-meter national champion at the NCAA Track & Field Championship in Fayetteville, Arkansas, last week. After all, the dude was the national high school champion and the defending NCAA champion - in other words, he has done nothing but win this race since high school. But, on the other hand, anything can happen in collegiate athletics and nothing can be taken for granted. So it was not carved in stone that Anderson would win again - particularly when his main competitor had posted the best collegiate time in the event to date this year. But not only did Anderson come through, he came through with another school record - 48.47 - as he is closing in on the Pac-10 record of 47.72 set by UCLA's Kevin Young nearly 20 years ago. The only real question remaining for Anderson is how long he continues playing football as it becomes clearer and clearer that he has a definite possibility for competing in the World Track & Field Championships in Berlin from August 15-23 and then can make money from lucrative contracts on the European track circuit before going for a spot on the USA team for the 2012 Olympics in London? On the football field, Anderson is a marginal talent, but on the track, he is a world-caliber talent and it seems clear this is where his destiny lies. If he continues to improve at his current pace, the Cougars will have to consider themselves to be lucky to keep him past his junior year.

"I am so happy for Matt," says Dereck "The Avant-Garde, Left Wing, Namby Pamby" Eau de Toilette of the Cougars' senior baseball pitcher beling selected in the sixth round of the recently completed Major League Baseball draft.

The Lounge can only imagine the inexplicable joy being felt by Way and his family at this moment after having been successfully rewarded for making the right decision to come back and finish off his senior year with the Cougars instead of going pro prematurely last year. Way's decision not only resulted in Wazzu making the NCAA tournament for the first time in 19 years but also improved his draft status by 31 rounds in the process. Way will now receive a reasonable shot to make a major league baseball team whereas last year, he would have been a long shot, at best. Above all, though, Way's decision allowed him to get his degree and graduate and that is what collegiate athletics is all about. If, for some reason, Way is unable to make an MLB roster, he will always have his degree on which to lean upon - and not everyone in the MLB can say that.


The Webby Awards came and went last week and we are always watching to see when CougZone might be nominated because we have already practiced several five-word acceptance speeches for the short attention-span-afflicted of the world but we are happy with some of the offerings in this year's batch of winners at The Webby's. Even though they did not win - not everybody can be winners despite what they tell you in competitive sports - we are particularly fond of Odd Wall, the Seattle Ad Club's site for their annual party - AdBash - and Blenderbox's bubbly and stylistic home page.

Meanwhile, the Lounge Scientists have slipped into the debate surrounding whether or not there should be a new kind of cloud formation entered into the books. No, it would not be Cloud Nine, it would be altocumulus undulates asperatus. That fairly unwieldy name depicts a cloud structure that has roiling undercurrent that gives off a turbulent appearance and is perhaps indicative of an imminently violent weather event such as a tornado. But the scientists, as they are prone to be, are skeptical and have, so far, declined to add AUA to the cloud books.

"People have been looking at clouds for hundreds of years and the general cloud classification is well-defined. It's not as if someone discovered a new plant in the Amazon. It's what you've seen every day. There was no atmospheric condition that caused a new kind of cloud to form," says Lounge Scientist #51, Brant Foote, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, who reportedly has had his head in the clouds for some time now.

But Foote and his colleagues have told CougZone that they can definitely see storm clouds forming on USC's horizon.




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