With Apple Cup now less than a week away, let me reiterate what I say every year: I have no stake in this game.
But if Washington State quarterback Luke Falk plays, I’ll be a bit disappointed.
Listen, I’m not a doctor nor do I profess to know a thing about his health or what’s going on behind the scenes. What I do know is, I watched Falk take a massive blow to the head last week against UCLA, and then watched him taken off the field last night on a stretcher with his head and neck stabilized after hitting the ground. It was sobering. It was scary. And it was real. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Falk and the entire Cougar family.
But I don’t care if this is Apple Cup week, Super Bowl week or Toilet Bowl week – and I don’t care how much of a trooper Falk is. We’re now talking about a situation that goes beyond football. One that has nothing to do with rivalries and toughness – and everything to do with a young man’s well-being.
Don’t get me wrong – Falk has been an absolute stud this season. No one needs to measure his guts, nor his talent as one of the best quarterbacks in the country. And his absence in one of the biggest games of the year would be sorely missed. But it’s a matter of doing the right thing. And my gut tells me that resting him at least until a bowl game would be the appropriate thing to do.
I admit that this commentary is based on assumption, and unfortunately that’s how it has to be, because Cougars coach Mike Leach refuses to give us details. But if Falk was cleared to play and then hit his head again against the Huskies? That’s a hypothetical I could live without.
I understand Coug fans will be disappointed – and some might disagree. But I’d say exactly the same thing if it was Huskies quarterback Jake Browning. Because I see an epidemic that’s now taken the lives of 11 high school football players this year alone, and then I see a player like Falk stretchered off the field after a second straight week of sustaining some semblance of head trauma – and I strongly believe it’s the correct choice.
No doubt, I was looking forward to seeing Falk and the Cougars offense against a strong Huskies defense. It’s a shame the game might lose some star power, but the rivalry itself won’t lose its luster.
Props to Luke Falk for being a warrior. And props in advance to Mike Leach and the Cougs for hopefully doing the right thing.