Anyone who has gotten the chance to walk around the WSU campus in the past month and a half could say that there is a special buzz radiating all around.
WSU students are seen everywhere wearing big smiles, crimson and gray hoodies, and maybe even a fake mustache. This can be attributed to the run put on by the Washington State Cougar football team that captured its first 10-win season in 15 years.
It has been a joy to be around this student body as it has embraced the whole team led by Heisman hopeful Gardner Minshew II while making a run towards the College Football Playoff. However, had anyone told me this would be the story just a short 10 months ago, I would have said they were crazy.
January 17, 2018 – there was a distinct difference in Pullman. One could hear a pin drop anywhere on campus, from large common areas to the place that is always noisy, Terrell Mall. This day of course was immediately following the death of the starting quarterback to be, Tyler Hilinski. Students were in disbelief. The Cougar spirit was lost as the student body contemplated and mourned the death of their beloved Comeback Kid.
The contemplation and mourning turned to more contemplation. No one knew how the community would handle the loss, how the team would replace Tyler, or how the team would operate next season as a whole.
This all changed thanks to our fifth-year journeyman quarterback. We have all heard and known how Minshew arrived at WSU, but no matter how he came here, his presence has been a gift. He has provided a spark for a team and a school that was looking for its identity again. He provided the team with a leader they could rally behind and a fanbase with a sense of happiness and hope when they needed it most.
As the season comes to its most pivotal moment to date in the Apple Cup on Friday night, the nation will be watching and the Cougar nation will be rooting for what would arguably be the biggest win in program history. All we can hope for is that the buzz on campus can continue.
And finally, for all Cougs, I want to say thank you to this team for bringing the happy back to Pullman. This ones for you, Tyler. Go Cougs.