We start by putting our Bud Light Spotlight on a glimmer of hope from a place we’d least expect it: Pullman.

 

I’d argue that the best sports story in the country this weekend came at Washington State.

 

For close to a week, we were sidetracked by the horrific details of a Penn St. sexual abuse scandal and by the loss of legendary boxer, Joe Frazier. Even today, the national buzz continues over the Joe Paterno firing and the Marquez-Pacquaio fight.

 

It all overshadows a storyline that most non-Cougar fans haven’t heard – likely because it came on a cold, blustery night in eastern Washington when everyone’s attention was somewhere else.

 

When Steve Gleason addressed his former team at Washington St. last night, he not only provided motivation for a group that desperately needed it, he gave a universal message of hope.

 

Gleason – the standout linebacker who helped lead the Cougs to the 1997 Rose Bowl and also played for the New Orleans Saints - was tragically diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease earlier this year. In a special visit to the Palouse, he raised the Cougars flag and was greeted by fans holding signs bearing his former number, 34.

 

He talked about life, and the relationships we make. About discipline, overcoming challenges, and how to deal with fear.

 

Gleason, a man that’ll one day lose control of his mobility and speech, provided a hopeful stimulus that, according to coach Paul Wulff, didn’t leave a dry eye in the building.

 

And wouldn’t you know: A team bereft of passion or even a pulse the past month – a team with a coach about to lose his job playing with a third-string QB, went out amidst the adversity, and convincingly beat Arizona State. Oh, and a redshirt freshman in his very first start threw for 494 yards – the most ever in a Washington St. win.

 

Appropriately, Gleason was awarded the game ball.

 

Give Gleason an assist last night. And then assist him in his fight against ALS. He’s started a foundation called “Team Gleason” to raise awareness about the disease. It’s a cause that should cross rivalry lines, and unite us all.

 

Plus, given the immediate effects of a Washington St. win, Steve Gleason indirectly might’ve added fuel to an Apple Cup which, until now, lacked many storylines.

 

If Gleason’s message carries to next week and gets the Cougs past Utah at home, then they’ll be playing for their first bowl game berth since 2003, and possibly Wulff’s job when they face the Huskies in two weeks.

 

They’ll have a chance to erase the future that was practically written in stone – a chance to pull a minor miracle – one Gleason likely won’t  get when it comes to his life.