Washington State men’s hoops reduced to sideshow for Cougar football?


Jan 26, 2014; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars student cheers against the Oregon Ducks during the first half at Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State men’s basketball will complete their regular season schedule this coming Saturday evening when the host the UCLA Bruins at Beasley Coliseum. Speculation is rampant the game likely marks the last time coach Ken Bone will be seen pacing the sideline as the head man of Cougar hoops. But that isn’t what piqued my scrutiny of media coverage.

In the midst of perusing a variety of online stories related to WSU athletics, one in particular left me shaking my head.

One of the best sources of content focused on Washington State athletics is Cougfan.com. They have been at it longer than most, and frankly do a better job than the rest. (Note: This writer has been published by Cf.C on occasion in the past)

Just about every media source, including Cf.C, has Ken Bone sent packing in the coming days following another disappointing season record. Yours truly has joined the chorus questioning the performance of Bone over the past five years in stories published both on All Coug’d Up and Yahoo!.

Today “the staff of Cougfan.com” published “Coug fans need to pack Beasley on Saturday”, a commentary imploring fans to fill seats surrounding Friel Court Saturday night for one significant reason.

Cougar football.

Coach Mike Leach will be hosting a number of high school student athletes for a junior day event this coming weekend. Such events are important components of every college football recruiting program. Young men get to spend time being coached up by the WSU football staff, meet players already on the roster and get a flavor for what it might be like to attend college in Pullman. It’s the last element which Cf.C is concerned with in their story.

Though Saturday night will be a chance to say “Thanks!” to a couple of outstanding WSU student-athletes, Will DiIorio and D.J. Shelton, attention was diverted to Cougar football. The countless hours DiIorio and Shelton have dedicated to being the best basketball players they can be and representing Washington State was reduced to the level of a footnote to football recruiting.

It would seem there’s a greater need to support the efforts of coach Mike Leach and his staff than the hard work and sacrifice made by the guys suiting up in crimson and gray to compete on the hardwood for WSU.

Jan 26, 2014; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars dance team pose for a photo against the Oregon Ducks at Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Attendance for WSU home games this season has sunk to embarrassing depths. Should the Cougs lose to USC on Thursday night, they are destined to finish dead last in the Pac-12…again.

Despite the fact Ken Bone’s team has competitive talent, fans have been turned off by losses and media grinding out story after story about why Bone isn’t the right man for the job. It’s easy to understand why many have said, “Enough”.

In a 180-degree about face, Cf.C now comes around to promoting one of the reasons students choose Washington State over other schools.

Pullman is a special place. The college-town atmosphere is an ideal place to gain both an education and unique experience. For students, the campus is both distinct and uncommon with facilities concentrated in easy walking distance. Everywhere you turn there are fellow students, faculty and a community that is all about Washington State University.

When students decide to walk to attend football, basketball, baseball, soccer, etc., events, Cougar teams typically perform even better than if they are competing away from Pullman. Athletes are inspired and feed off fan support.

Though it would be helpful to football recruiting if students turned out in season-record numbers Saturday night, that isn’t likely.

Is it too late to urge folks to fill the seats in Beasley Coliseum? After an tidal wave of media content focused on WSU men’s basketball not matching brief periods of success over the past several decades, it would seem that ship has sailed.

Or has it?

This writer definitely is in the camp of those who follow and support all Cougar athletes. And let’s face it. I’m neither unique nor singular in my passion for all things crimson and gray. For many of us, it’s tougher to turn away from following our Cougs than it is to be there when they experience defeat.

As much as this writer is looking forward to football spring practice, there will be many other Cougar athletic events to follow and support in the comings days. Among those will be WSU men’s basketball hosting USC Thursday night and UCLA Saturday evening.