We start with a simple thought: That there’s nothing much better than a pirate on Halloween night. College Gameday or not, it’s safe to say next Saturday will be a wild scene on the Palouse.
It really has a lot of people shaking their heads: How did the Cougs get here? From one of the most embarrassing losses in school history to Portland State in Week One – and now a chance to take control of the Pac-12 North with a win over Stanford next week. For the first time in more than a decade, Washington State is on the cusp of national relevance, and it seems Mike Leach’s plan is actually paying off.
I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong. But I know I wasn’t the only one on the verge of losing complete faith that Leach was the right guy in Pullman.
A couple of 3-9 seasons in his first three years wasn’t exactly a confidence boost – and I can imagine there are many programs nationwide that might not have had that much patience.
But here we are. The Cougs, by all means not perfect – with a lot of room for improvement on defense and special teams – but a group that’s taken bookmakers and Pac-12 fans alike by surprise. And now, a home game on Halloween night that could be the biggest game in Pullman since Apple Cup in 2002.
For ESPN’s part, they’re sleeping on a decision tonight, and basically choosing between Pullman and Philadelphia, where undefeated Temple hosts Notre Dame. I’m obviously biased, but there’s no question that Pullman’s the right choice, given the years of commitment from Washington State’s students and alumni, making sure Ol’ Crimson was flying in the background at Gameday every single week.
And there’s no doubt: When College Gameday came to Seattle for the Huskies/Oregon game two years ago – it was an awesome scene. The hype was at an all-time high – it was an environment that morning that clearly made the school proud.
But imagine what a win that day could’ve done: to break that embarrassing streak to the Ducks, and potentially propel the Dawgs to new heights.
That’s the magnitude of next Saturday in Pullman. Regardless of the result, regardless of College Gameday, the game atmosphere will be at a fever pitch. That, in and of itself, is a huge win for the program. For the first time under Leach, the Cougs have people talking.
But imagine what a win next Saturday would do? All of a sudden, a conference title and a Rose Bowl berth wouldn't be out of the equation. Leach wouldn't have just his signature win – he’d have a watershed win.
And really, what better time for that to happen than Halloween night? The Pirate of the Palouse...swinging his sword...on his home turf...in front of a fanbase that, for the first time in forever, actually believes.