Furney No. 1, drawing playful ire from mates

ANDREW FURNEY

PULLMAN – Video games are a mainstay for college athletes, and for Cougar footballers nothing trumps them all like EA Sports NCAA Football. Sure it's just a video game, but when ratings came out for this year's installment of the popular franchise, and kicker Andrew Furney had the highest rating, repercussions were sure to follow. Gabe Marks, for instance, was playfully incredulous.

Furney is a true talent, no question, and clearly appreciated by teammates. But kickers, in the minds of most players, are … well, kickers. That's to say more country club than blue collar. More IPA than Miller Genuine Draft.

While EA Sports NCAA Football is just a video, players don't take the ratings and representations the game puts forth seriously. It also provides grist for some competitive banter.

And so it was when the 2013 edition came out and Furney was the highest-rated player on the Washington State roster, given a 92 rating out of a possible 99.

"Furney deserved a 92, OK," quipped Marks, the standout sophomore receiver. "But where is Deone (Bucannon)?! Where is Xavier (Cooper)?! (Darryl) Monroe?! I didn't make the top 10 either?! It's a sham. A mockery. It's just insane."

Marks also had a word or two for the EA Sports sales department.

"You tell the people, I'm boycotting this year's game," he said. "It's insane. If they don't get their stuff together, that game is done."

For Furney, it's all gravy.

"Will I use it as ammo? Of course." Furney said. "When guys try to make jabs at the kicker, I'll have it ready."

Furney said talks on the team is spreading.

"I first heard I was the highest-rated player when Kache Palacio came up to me and said ‘Oh, you think you're really cool now, don't you? Mr. 92'" Furney said. "At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about, but now I know."

Indeed, Palacio and running back Theron West have been giving Furney the business in regards to his newfangled fame.

"My rating is cool," Furney said. "It's something I can share with my kids and look back on and laugh. It may even be some extra motivation during my kicks this season."

Exact or not, Furney probably deserved this high of a rating. During his sophomore campaign, the Burlington product connected on 14 of his 16 field goals attempts, setting a new single season field goal percentage record at Washington State. Last season, Furney again connected on 14 field goals, but this time missing six kicks. He even connected on a 60-yarder against Eastern Washington. Remove the busted line play and blocked kicks against UCLA, and you're looking at two consecutive seasons posting a field goal percentage north of 80 percent.

"He has been one of the best kickers in the nation," said junior quarterback Connor Halliday. "I've had some huge, huge games and thrown for a bunch of yards, but I've also been inconsistent. Furn has been very consistent so I don't have any argument with (the rating)." Halliday himself was rated an 85 out of a possible 99, surprisingly the highest rating for a Washington State quarterback since 2003 and Jason Gesser.

While these ratings are obviously not close to an exact science, here are the top 10 players on Washington State's roster according to EA Sports:

1. Sr. - K - Andrew Furney – 92
2. Jr. - QB - Connor Halliday – 85
3. So. – WR - Dominique Williams – 85
4. Sr. - SS - Deone Bucannon – 84
5. Sr. – CB - Anthony Carpenter – 82
6. So. – RB - Teondray Caldwell – 82
7. Jr. – WR - Vince Mayle – 82
8. So. – WR - Brett Bartolone – 82
9. Sr. – OT - John Fullington – 82
10. Jr. – DT - Toni Pole – 81

As is evident, producers don't put a ton of research into these ratings systems. While nobody would argue Fullington, Carpenter and Pole aren't good players, few would contend they're the top 10 players on the team. Withholding the likes of Marks, Monroe, Ioane Gauta and Elliott Bosch should be a telltale sign to take these ratings with a grain of salt.

Regardless, on this day, Andrew Furney reigns as king, and nobody can take that from him. "Not in a million years did I ever think I'd be the best player on any team on some video game," Furney said. "But hey, I'll take it."

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