Washington State Sports, the Palouse Mentality and Ken Bone


Dec. 5, 2012; Pullman, WA, USA; A couple of Washington State Cougars students hold up a sign during a game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the second half at the Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum. The Bulldogs would go not beat the Cougars by a final score of 71-69. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Through years of pain, struggle and quite the opposite of athletic excellence, what is it that makes us love the Cougs? Why do very promising, talented recruits buy into our school and choose to throw their future into our loving hands?

I mean it’s no secret we’ve been less than a competitor in the pac12/pac10 during the last decade in a lot of our sports, not to discredit our few athletic teams who have excelled in this time but our victories overall have been few.

Maybe it’s the fact that we have had success in a time that a lot of us remember, all the way to the top with our Football team having reached #3 in the nation, or our Basketball team reaching the sweet 16… Is it these memories that keep us holding on?  What about the people who don’t remember any of the successful years but still bleed Crimson and Gray?

The fact is the school is randomly on a farm in the middle of nowhere where the weather is bipolar and harsh, so what is drawing all these people?

I swear something magical happens when you set foot on campus there, if you are wearing the school colors, you are instantly family.  Something about being greeted by an enthusiastic college student or alumni in a random passing-by on the street with a “Go Cougs” forces you to top that greeting with a bigger reply of “GO COUGS!”.

Put best by former Wazzu basketball star Marcus Capers as an athlete, when you’re at Washington State, you feel like a celebrity in a small nation. Everyone knows who you are and appreciates what you do to represent them on the court or or on the field.  The Party scene is unmatched and the friends you make, like the memories you will make, they will last you a lifetime.

So those are just some small reasons why someone might choose Washington State and the biggest to me is the sense of family.  A lot of people look out for each other and if you’re in a hostile environment (even if its Husky Stadium or C-Link in the middle of a thousand Huskies) when you see another Coug it’s like seeing a brother and you get that feeling you get when you’re around family and just know you’ve got their back and they’ve got yours.

The thing about family is, we can’t always seem to tell them when they’re bad at things or cut them loose if they aren’t getting the job done because we get too attached and feel bad about it.  We make excuses for them and sometimes they can stop us from accomplishing what we’re capable of because of this sense of protecting their feelings.

Let’s look back at Paul Wulff:  We all wanted him to work so badly, but he continued to let the football program slide and there were repeatedly no signs of significant improvement when the rest of the conference was moving forward. That’s why it seemed like such an easy choice to be rid of him, even though it wasn’t. We knew it could get better.

Ken Bone is a different story it seems.  When Ken came onto the scene he took over a decent program and he’s had a down slide. Our football program was at what seemed to be rock-bottom when Wulff took over.  When a program slowly decreases in performance and results, we at Washington State start making excuses for those in charge but I feel I have met an end with my patience for Ken Bone.  The SAME problems continue and the talent isn’t making any leaps, we’re not bringing the right kind of kids into the program to turn the thing around and there is no sign of this changing and the coaching errors we see game to game also seem to continue.

This is not a bash Ken Bone article. In fact I like Bone, it just seems he isn’t the right fit to have a successful Washington State basketball program and I think that now I have every right to say it.  Last year they said “it’s too early to judge Bone’s success because it’s not completely his program. Give him at least a year with all his recruits and kids in place and then you’ll know” and I agreed…

Well I hate to be negative Nancy before seasons’ end but it seems we have our answer.  We need to stop making excuses for our brother Coug Nation. If our program is to move much further beyond where it is now, we need new leadership under a new leader.  I’m not saying I have the answer for who or what would fit our program better, but I can tell you it will not improve like this.  If Bone stays and turns this thing around, no one will be happier than me of course but it is my belief that it won’t happen that way and I think at seasons’ end that will be determined.

The point is this: Don’t be afraid of moving forward and demanding excellence out of our athletic programs. They are capable of achieving this, we’ve seen it done and we will see it again but the time has come to stop making excuses.  Sometimes good coaches just don’t work out at certain schools, same with players, it’s got to be the right fit.  Please stop letting our family like BIAS get in the way of our success.