This time, WSU move works well for Mr. Hanser
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This time, WSU move works well for Mr. Hanser

THE IRONY DIDN'T cross Scott Hanser's mind. "I'm crankin' on 30 years since I played, and have so many irons in the fire, my past in football isn't a big deal," he said this morning, one day after son Dylan's verbal commitment to Washington State became public. The fact Dylan is headed to the same school that broke dad's heart in 1987 wasn't even a thought.

"I'm just tickled for Dylan," Scott said in a telephone interview from the automotive business he operates in Billings, Mont. "But now that you mention it, yeah, I guess there is some irony there."

A lifetime ago, before the world realized Dennis Erickson was a serial job hopper, Scott Hanser was a Wyoming linebacker and one of the spokesmen for a Cowboys team stunned by their coach's departure after a single 6-6 season at the helm.

"My jaw hit the floor," Hanser told the now-defunct Spokane Daily Chronicle in 1987 after learning of Erickson's move from Laramie to Pullman. "We put our faith in him. We're in shock. We're real upset about it."

The pique wore off quickly.

Erickson's successor, Paul Roach, led the Cowboys to 10 wins in '87 and 11 in '88.

"We won the WAC my last two seasons and played in the Holiday Bowl twice," remembers Scott.

"WSU right now reminds me of where we were at Wyoming in the 1980s. The school had invested heavily in new facilities, which attracted a different kind of ballplayer."

The kind that win 21 games in two seasons and take on Iowa and Oklahoma State in the post season.

As fate would have it, that road to success included a trip to Pullman for what was Erickson's second game as coach of the Cougars.

NOTABLE COUGS
FROM MONTANA

  • QB TY PAINE (Billings), 1972 second-team All-Coast (pictured here)

  • RB Kerry Porter (Great Falls), 1983 first-team All-Pac-10

  • DE Lee Tilleman
    (Havre), 1991 Niemi Award winner

  • QB RYAN LEAF (Great Falls), 1997 Heisman Trophy finalist

  • QB MATT KEGEL (Havre), 2003 second-team All-Pac-10


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  • "We wanted to annihilate him," Hanser remembers with a chuckle. "We just made too many mistakes."

    WSU won 43-28, but the Cowboys proceeded to win nine straight while the Cougs limped home with a 3-8 record.

    "John L. Smith, a WSU assistant who had been with Erickson at Wyoming, gave me a big hug after the game, and said he hurt for us. Classy guy."

    And trusted friend, too.

    When Scott started to see the size, speed and athleticism coming together in Dylan, he thought his son could play at the next level. But being a dad, he noted, can cloud objectivity. So he called Smith for an assessment.

    "He told us what Dylan needed to do to put himself in position (for a scholarship)."

    One of those things was to get exposure at summer camps.

    A family friend who knows WSU assistant head coach Eric Russell suggested Washington State as part of the itinerary. By the time Dylan left the Cougar camp last summer, assistant coach Jeff Choate believed he'd found a future BUCK linebacker.

    Albeit one who needs to put on some weight.

    Dylan is 6-5 and 210 pounds -- a fact that would seem to figure prominently in the plan for him to grayshirt the coming season and then enroll in January.

    "He can jump, he can run -- he's blazing fast for his size," said Scott. "At a camp he ran a 4.58 40 after three hours of practice."

    Besides WSU, he had a scholarship offer from Colorado State, with Boise State lurking.

    "In September, Dylan had given what you might call a soft verbal to WSU, and at that point it was only fair to tell other schools that he had made up his mind and pretty much closed the process," said Scott. "You don't want coaches spending time on you when they could be looking at other players."