By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
I stared Pat Foster right in the face and lied to him. It's something I don't believe journalists should do during interviews.
He asked me, "You aren't going to put that picture of me in the girl's shirt in the paper are you?"
"No," I lied. "We'll just use the head part for your mugshot. I would never put the whole picture in the paper."
Really, I had every intention of putting it in the paper. Come on, look at it. Was there ever really a question that something like that wouldn't be on display for people in Havre to see? Could he honestly believe that I wouldn't do something like that?
After the amount of grief he gave me following last year's Cat-Griz game, how could I not put in a picture of one of the biggest MSU fans I know, wearing a UM shirt, not to mention a girl's UM shirt?
Of course there's a story behind the picture. How can there not be a story?
Well, it all started out with that drag queen contest in Missoula that Pat had his heart set on winning. Wait, that's a lie. It was in Bozeman. Okay, it belonged to the UM cheerleader Pat has been dating. All right, that's a huge lie. Actually, Pat stole it off a Grizzly Cabbage Patch doll and it fit pretty well. Still don't believe me.
Let's be honest, the real story isn't that entertaining. Pat was in Missoula and wanted to wear a UM shirt to the Griz game and that's the shirt he was handed first. Obviously, he didn't wear that shirt to the game (it was cold out), but as I've said before this space is used to ridicule our guest pickers, and I've been saving up for Pat for awhile.
This is about as big a weekend as it gets for football in the state of Montana. While appearing in this column isn't as prestigious as it may seem, the list of possible people who would be our guest during Cat-Griz week was lengthy and distinguished.
But I decided to go with Pat for two reasons. First, I knew he would pick the Bobcats and provide plenty of nasty little comments about the Griz. Second, I know the Griz will win so I will have all of those nasty little comments to throw back in his face when all of these newfound Cat fans are crying in their beers.
To be fair, Pat isn't one of those Cat fans that appeared after last year's Cats' 10-7 win over the Grizzlies in Missoula. No, he's been a fan since before attending school there in 1990. I know I've personally teased him about the Bobcats for at least five years. So he isn't some bandwagon, johnny-come-lately fan.
Nope, he's been there for the one good time and the bad times, and the more bad times.
Still, most self-respecting Bobcat fans would sooner wear a speedo than a Griz shirt, but Pat isn't quite as spiteful as other fans.
"I root for all Montana schools," Foster said. "But when they're playing each other, I want the Griz to lose and lose badly."
It's true. At the Griz-Idaho game earlier this year, I watched Pat, clad in a more masculine-looking shirt, cheer loudly for the first three quarters of the Griz win. I suspect the fact that he was sitting next to three highly-attractive college coeds, who were cheering for the Griz, made him a little more enthusiastic. I know it would for me.
Perhaps my favorite part of that day, came in early in the fourth quarter. With the Griz firmly in control, the public address announcer declared the Bobcats had just lost to Northern Colorado, 14-10, in Bozeman.
At once 23,000 stood and began cheering wildly. I looked over to where Pat was sitting, and he might have been the only one in the stadium not standing. Instead, his head was buried in his hands. After a few moments, he glanced up to where my friends and I were standing. We began to laugh wildly and wave at him. He shook his head and saluted us in the same manner the infamous Bobcat fan saluted camera on statewide TV following UM's stunning win in 1997 on Kris Heppner's last second field goal.
"I forgot how much I hate Griz fans sometimes," he said after the game. "I was just enjoying the game and they ruined it by cheering my misery."
I guess he forgot about last year in Missoula, when he wandered around the downtown area proudly displaying his Bobcat clothing and sporting a perma-grin that even a slug to the face wouldn't remove.
"I was sitting in the middle of all the Griz fans cheering when the Cats won, it was great," he said. "I predicted it the week before."
Gee, a Cat fan picking MSU to beat UM. It's not like like he's a psychic. But I guess after 16 years of misery, it would be tough to keep picking MSU.
But even he was first to admit that the Griz losing to the Cats was uncharted territory for many MSU fans, especially the ones that seemed to appear overnight.
"It doesn't surprise me," Foster said of the growing bandwagon. "The same thing happened when the Griz started winning a lot."
He may have a point. I don't even want to get started on Griz fans. But his response begged the smart aleck in me too ask a question: "Since Cat fans have gotten so used to losing to the Griz every year, and since Griz fans finally have to deal with a loss to MSU in 16 years, how do you cope with losing, since you guys obviously have a lot of practice at it?"
"Shut up," was his first reply followed by, "We have more class in Cat country. You never get used to watching your team lose. Griz fans felt last year what we've felt for the last 16 years. They better get used to it."
Really? How about that advice for dealing with losing then?
"Beer always worked pretty well for me," he said.
I think beer works pretty well for everybody during Cat-Griz weekend, winners or losers.
As for his picks this week, we've asked our panel to predict the score of the big game. For Friday's paper we are going to have several people to pick the score of the game around the area. Of course, Pat went with the Cats winning 24-21 on a late field goal.
"It doesn't matter if the Griz are coming on," Foster said. "This game is always different and the weather is supposed to be bad. The Griz showed last year, they don't play well in bad weather."
As for his other picks, Pat is also a die-hard Dallas Cowboy fan, so he picked them to upset Carolina. No, I'm not making this stuff, he really is a Bobcat and a Cowboy fan. My brain is on overload with all the things I want to make fun of him about.
Pat also went with Washington State, Michigan, Oregon State, Auburn and South Carolina in the big college rivalry games.
But there is only one rivalry really worth discussing.
"We have a one-game winning streak," he said.
When informed that it takes more than one win to constitute a streak, Pat countered: "That's how bad it is being a Cat fan, you have to count one win as a streak. You can't say one-in-a row, but I'll be saying two-in-a row next week."
Sure Pat, whatever helps you sleep at night.
It looks as though, it has come down to George and Wells in overall standings. George went 14-4 last week, with Wells, Harvey and myself going 13-5, while Barry was 10-8. Our guest Mike Mangold successfully picked the Bengals to upset the Chiefs, but that was about the only game he got right, going 9-9.