If you win in a no-win situation, is it still really a win?
I don't really know what to make of last night's game, except that I wish we'd play more afternoon games so I'm not up until 3am trying to find some post game thoughts. Usually I have some sort of inspiration (good or bad) when watching our team and writing about them comes easily. But tonight there wasn't much there. There is nothing particularly motivating about beating the Cougars. WSU has won more games this season than they have in the last two seasons - combined. That, in today's day and age, gives Wazzuu fans the green light to believe they are really something different that what they are. But that doesn't make the victory over them any more satisfying
The sad part is that if the Cougars had bothered to score a touchdown on any of their first half excursions into the red zone instead of having that kicker in the unfortunately tight uniform knock home threes, then probably this conversation is entirely different. And though I have never ever wanted U.C.L.A. to lose, sometimes you feel the pain is coming and you just want to get it over with. Kinda like going to the dentist.
Then, of course, there is the way the team looks and what the "Eye Test" tells us. And though the results will be skewed by yesterday's final score, we had a lot easier test this week than we did last week, and I'm not convinved that we didn't play better overall last week. But I'm the optimist who sees a lot more room in the passion bucket and would really like to see it full and running over.
On the other hand,the record says it is a win. And when you look at everyone's records together, there's a funny thing. In the pretty average Pac-12 South, ASU sits on top at 3-0. That's not the funny thing. Everyone not named Herbstreit expected this, so this isn't a surprise. On the other end from ASU, all grouped together at the bottom to conserve warmth and dignity are 3 schools with zeroes in their Pac-12 win column. We expected Colorado to struggle as they begin to re-rebuild. Utah apparently isn't as great as they told us they were. (Oh, that's right...Mountain West). And Arizona surprisingly is 0-4 in conference after OSU got them. That's right, OSU. Of course there is that place that doesn't count (figuratively speaking. Well, and literally, too). And in between those ends, there is U.C.L.A. at 2-1, one game back of the Sun Devils. And we get to play them sometime, too.
So if it's printed on the ESPN website, then it at least has a chance of being true. If it really counts, the team should get some credit for a win that came despite a fair amount of adversity, including yet another injury to the quarterback.. And with conference victories so scarce around here, we shouldn't reject it.
Despite that, we will keep our eyes on the prize. We have laid out our expectations for Rick Neuheisel's team and what it will take to earn any additional time in Westwood. Yesterday's game was a step along that pathway. Not a huge giant stride, but it step moving toward the target.
So, to answer the question, is it still a win, my answer is yes. But Neu needs 5 more wins to get beyond this season, and today's was only the next step. Survive and advance (that's an NCAA Tournament reference for you, Dominic Artis. We play basketball in March. Oregon doesn't). Neuheisel bought himself another week. Actually it's 11 days. What a bargain. Let's see what he does with it.