If you squint, unfocus your eyes, and get drunk, this symbol might begin to resemble the letters W, S, and U.
So I just got back from Pullman, and let’s be honest – it wasn’t the Worst Trip Ever. I didn’t go into it expecting it to be anything great; I’ve been to Pullman before so I knew what to expect. There’s a nine hour bus ride through the blasted, post apocalyptic landscape known as ‘Eastern Washington,’ a boring football game very close to the border with Idaho, everybody spends what little per diem they receive and we all go home confident that we’ve wasted a weekend.
That was what I was expecting, and somehow I’m still disappointed.
Fuck you, Pullman. And more importantly, fuck you, Washington State University.
Spokane, where we stayed, is a beautiful city in spite of its unfortunate location in the state of Washington, and I would love to go there sometime again in the future.
Our hotel was kind of a disaster.
The nachos in the hotel bar weren’t necessarily great, but at least they gave you a whole lot of nachos for your $7 investment.
I once read that the human gastrointestinal tract, if it were stretched out to its full length instead of coiled up like it is, would stretch for two miles. Our hotel was the same way – it had the same capacity as an ordinary 7-story hotel, yet it was only two stories and stretched endlessly through suburban Spokane like a long, uncoiled intestine. Also like an uncoiled intestine, it was full of shit.
After picking up our keys in the lobby, we quite honestly had to walk through about a quarter mile’s worth of identical, twisting, turning hallways to get to our room, rather than just use an elevator or jaunt up a flight of stairs. As a result, walking from our room to the dining room became an honest to goodness commute, the sort of thing where you have to pee ahead of time because you’re going to be on the road for so long.
But then we went to the game, and here’s the thing I don’t get:
We’ve had fans treat us like shit a lot. Oregon State’s fans threw paint on us at the Civil War two years ago. Ohio State frat boys jeered us as we left the stadium after the Rose Bowl. Husky fans asked us, “Why do you have zeros on your uniforms?”*
*The correct response is, “Hey, why do you have zeros on your scoreboard?”
And I understood all that, because the Beavers and the Buckeyes are good teams, the teams with solid winning records about which one can feel comfortable talking some smack, and Washington fans are stupid because they go to the University of Washington.
But we got some of the worst treatment from the Washington State fans at this game – and if anything, one would hope that a school that’s been dead last in the Pac-10 for the past decade or so would know a little bit of humility. I mean, people who live in glass houses have every right to live there if they just want to have an excuse to get drunk on a Saturday afternoon, but as soon as they start throwing stones they just become tools.
One thing that we have trouble with at away games is spectators trying to cut through the band’s section of the stands, rather than going up an aisle and down around the other side. We can’t have complete strangers walking through our ranks because we’ve got all kinds of expensive, stealable material lying around, so whenever it happens we ask them to turn around and go back out.
At the Washington State game, one drunk Cougar started sidling through the band until a beefier trumpet player stepped in front of him and told him he’d have to turn around. The fan’s response was to start screaming in his face about what a fucking travesty his having to turn and walk the other direction was before stomping off. Not long after, another drunk fan started pushing and shoving clarinet players aside as he barreled through our section. One of our staff members, who happened to have her infant child in her arms, was in his path, and he shoved this woman, who might I remind you was plainly carrying a fucking human baby, out of the way, flipped us all off, and departed.
I don’t get why Cougars were so eager to cut through the band in the first place. I mean, it’s a tiny little high school stadium anyway, so going around the band isn’t a major detour, and what was their rush? If they were trying to get back to their seats it wasn’t like they were missing any spectacular football, and if they were trying to leave I guarantee you there wasn’t anything exciting happening in Pullman without them.
After the game, a drunk fan jumped onto one of our motor coaches and demanded that we drive him home. When we explained that, no, chauffeuring douchebags around was not part of the Oregon Marching Band’s mission statement, he stormed off the bus and punched out the rear view mirror of one of our equipment trucks, shattering it and leaving a trail of blood as he ran off, police in pursuit.
But by far the worst show of Cougar spirit came during the game, when Oregon tailback Kenjon Barner got more or less knocked out by a Washington State safety who was leading with his helmet. For the ten minutes that Barner was lying on the field, surrounded by medical staff and family members, about half the people in Washington State’s ‘stadium’ refused to sit down, and then began chanting “GO COUGS!” as they loaded him into the horse drawn ambulance to be taken to Pullman’s only hospital so that they could rub Bibles on him until he got better.
That’s not okay, Cougar fans. I’m honestly sort of having trouble making a joke out of how not okay that is – because I’ve never seen Oregon fans, even at their most crass, disrespect a seriously injured player like that. Let’s just say it made me feel really good to watch us spend the rest of the game raping your two-bit backwoods safety school up and down the gridiron as payback.
Now hear this: Boise State, you’re off the shit list in favor of the Cougars, who are just barely tailing the Huskies. Here’s hoping this year’s Apple Cup is a scoreless tie with a lot of career-ending injuries.
Truman Capps promises he’ll stop writing about college football rivalries soon.