The Mountain West Conference's Guide to Dating a Cougar (Humor)

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So you're a non-BCS conference and you're looking to make your mark in this world.  You've got a good business model going:  healthy rivalries, good schools, and enough ambition to rule the planet.  The only problem is that you're starting from behind; the 'big' conferences are better-funded, have bigger names, better TV deals, and always seem to be one step up with BCS rankings.  If only you had the resources to upgrade yourself and get a little bit of a boost.  You just know you could make it:  you're so close!

There is one option that may be available for you.  It's the route chosen by many young gents in your position who just needed a little help in this world.  Whether you need a bit of cash or simply a jolt to your self-esteem, you might find your needs met by dating a Cougar.

I know, I know - it sounds ridiculous.  Cougars are crazy and nobody who's already established wants anything to do with them.  But hear me out for a second; a fling with a Cougar can be a wild, wild ride that you'll never forget.  Also remember that most cougars tend to be loaded with cash, and they're more than willing to spend it on a charming young lad such as yourself in exchange for your company.

Dating Cougars helped the Mountain West Conference make a mark in the world, and the same strategy can work for you.  Just be forewarned, there are risks with Cougars.  Let the Mountain West help you navigate these tricky waters with a few pointers.

1.  Date, but don't move in.  Go ahead and live life on the edge, but never get too settled in with the Cougar.  They're unstable and may drop you at any moment for no reason.  They may even leave you for a more unstable, lower-grade prospect simply because they can.  (Hint: usually it has to do with a bitter relationship that they're still not over.  It's not your fault that the former live-in finally wised up and left her first.)

2.  Cougars are crazy.  It's not just a stereotype:  Cougars, by definition, are nuts.  Even though they perceive you to be beneath their social status, they're willing to date you.  Unfortunately, their low perception of your social worth means that they will eventually assume they completely control the relationship.  Keep a healthy distance on occasion and never let the relationship become too co-dependent.  And never tie your finances together; she may try to empty the bank account while you're sleeping.

3.  Cougars are jealous.  Ok, so the Cougar isn't exactly your type.  She's fun, but not your first choice for a lifelong relationship.  It's natural that your eye might gaze a little longingly at other, more compatible types.  This is dangerous surf you're swimming in; if the Cougar catches you chatting up another, the jealousy will kick in and you'll learn about circles of living hell that you never knew existed.  The word 'vindictive' was elevated to an art form by Cougars.

4.  Always remember that the Cougar is interested only in herself.  Many Cougar daters forget this most important piece of advice.  While the early stages of Cougar dating feel like one-night stand material, it's easy to get used to all the attention and free goodies.  (And Cougars can flirt like nobody's business.)  But you have to remember that the Cougar is dating you because you're a young, strapping lad that she can have her way with.  She's in it for the wild times, not for you.  As soon as other prospects emerge, she'll drop you.

5.  Keep your eye on the prize.  Most of the pitfalls are covered in the above points, but don't let the negatives get you down.  You're dating a Cougar for a reason, and that reason isn't the Cougar.  Maybe you're enjoying the financial windfall thanks to a family inheritance she's collecting.  Perhaps you're getting your foot in the door of social circles that you've been excluded from.  Or maybe you're just enjoying the wild times.  Whatever the reason you're in the relationship, you dated the Cougar for the reason, not the Cougar.  Remember Point #4:  she's only dating you for her purposes; the reverse is true as well.

6.  The breakup will be ugly.  Short of one of you two getting struck by a meteor, there's no good way this relationship can end.  When it does come crashing back to reality (and it will), expect it to be messy.  Perhaps you'll have a hot and steamy night, only to watch her trying to burn down your house the very next morning.  Carry insurance and have your exit strategies in place.  The pain is a part of the price you pay, but you can minimize it if you're honest with yourself about the situation.

So have fun and enjoy the ride while it lasts.  Dating Cougars can be extremely profitable if you keep the above points in mind and keep your head above water.  With care and planning, a Cougar may help you fast-track yourself to your goals in life.

Happy hunting!

--Mountain West Conference

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