Seen & Heard on Planet Coug

BILL MOOS WAS on KJR Radio the other day with Ian Furness and said the 2011 Cougar football team is going bowling. He didn't actually use those words. What he said was that a quick gander at the schedule tells him the Cougars are poised for at least six wins. You'll get no argument on that from me.

Coupled with the talent that's returning, the improvement I saw this past season, the physical strength and bulk that this young team will gain over the off-season, and the JC kids that are coming in to offer instant depth, the 2011 season shapes up nicely for the Cougs. That's especially true when you consider that the scheduling gods who did zero favors for WSU in 2010 are making up for it in 2011 with a first five that goes like this: Idaho State, UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado and UCLA. One downside to that opening stanza is that the last three are all on the road.

San Diego State, by the way, is no gimme. Since the last time WSU played SDSU – a 45-17, Alex Brink-fueled WSU win in Seattle in 2007 – the Azetcs have improved hugely. They went 8-4 this season and will play Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl. And of their four losses, all were tight games against good-to-great teams. They lost to Utah, TCU, Missouri and Air Force by an average margin of less than 4 points. The head coach of the Azetcs is Brady Hoke. You may remember that name. He was among the top handful of candidates to replace Bill Doba at WSU in 2007. He was the head coach at Ball State (Doba's alma mater) at the time.

With Moos publicly stating that the Cougars, barring the injury bug, should win at six-plus games, there is little doubt how Paul Wulff's performance will be judged when all is said and done on 2011.

CHRISTMAS IS COMING UP FAST and my crimson wish list is straight forward. In football, I want a quicker, stronger defensive line and a rock-solid answer at left tackle to protect Jeff Tuel's backside. Steady production from the placekicker and a punter as good as Reid Forrest would be nice too. In basketball, I want consistency from Klay Thompson, no foul trouble for DeAngelo Casto and more of the excellent defense we've seen of late. In baseball, I won't make any bones about it: I want a trip to Omaha. And I think Donnie Marbut has the horses to get there.

Not to get too far into the spring here, but I can't wait for spring football to begin. I say that for two reasons. First, because freshman receiver Kristoff Williams, who was forced to redshirt this season due to a bad case of turf toe, sounds like the second coming of Marquess Wilson.

And second, because I love nothing better than a battle royale in the trenches and one looks to be brewing at center where fifth-year senior Andrew Roxas, third-year walk on sophomore Elliott Bosch and JC transfer Taylor Meighen figure to be fighting it out. Meighen just signed with the Cougs this week. He's a 6-3, 285-pounder from Kilgore College in Texas. "Taylor is going to bring excellent toughness and great leadership qualities to our team," says Coach Wulff. "He has played all five positions on the offensive line though we envision him playing guard and center. He is going to get a lot of quality time this spring."

SPEAKING OF CHRISTMAS, YOU MAY want to plant this idea on your spouse's to-do list: Reserving you a spot at the second annual Cougar Legends Fishing Adventure in British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands, from June 25-29. If you go, the Cougar legends you'll be joined by include Jack Thompson, Mark Rypien, Jason Gesser, host Ryan Leaf, Matt Kegel and Bill Moos. Everyone I've heard from who went last year says it's the Mother of All Outings, what with gorgeous scenery, great salmon fishing and lots of Cougar tales from the guys who lived 'em. To reserve a spot for yourself or a loved one, give a shout to Justin Felker of the WSU Athletic Foundation at 509/368-6729.

WITH BRETT FAVRE'S CAREER finally, mercifully – presumably! – coming to an end, what better time reflect on how his legend began: With a Cougar leading the way, of course! Back in 1992, in Favre's inaugural campaign with the Packers, the first-ever game-winning TD pass he threw was caught by none other than old Cougar Kitrick Taylor. For WSU fans age 40 and above, Kitrick was a Coug you can't forget – an absolutely electric punt return specialist (who is still in the WSU record books) and one of Mark Rypien's favorite receiving targets. In fact, Ryp-to-Kit late in the fourth quarter secured the Cougar win in the nail biting Apple Cup of 1985.

Kitrick went on to play six NFL seasons for five different teams and in his lone campaign with the Packers, he caught the only TD pass of his career – the game winner! -- from a backup QB named Favre. A few years ago, Favre told the Los Angeles Times "I'll always remember Kitrick as a guy that kind of jump-started my career." That same Times story included comments from Kitrick, who was back in his native Southern California working as an administrator of group homes for abused kids. Kitrick still had the TD ball, he said, and his four kids had pretty well played with it to death.

SPEAKING OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, they recently did a "Where are they now?" story on Anthony Davis, the star tailback, kick returner and outfielder at USC from 1972-74. He won five national titles – two in football and three in baseball – and was a runner-up to Archie Griffin for the Heisman Trophy. But for us old-timers, he is unforgettable because he scored 11 TDs in three games vs. Notre Dame, including six in the crazy Trojan-Irish game of 1972. I remember him running circles around the Cougars at Spokane's Joe Albi Stadium in 1974.

But that was then. Talk about sad. Davis is now a part-time security guard who lives with his mother. Following a marginally lucrative (thanks to the defunct WFL) but brief pro, a series of poor business decisions and an almost pathological desire to capitalize on his historic place in the USC-Notre Dame rivalry have high-centered him. I hate to see that. Reading about guys who weren't prepared for the real world when they left football is another reminder that the student comes first in student-athlete, and that for all the focus on wins and losses, we must never lose sight of the bigger picture.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The annual "Night with Cougar Football" dinners that follow LOI Signing Day are set for Feb. 4 in Seattle, Feb. 5 in Richland, and Feb. 11 in Beaverton. In addition, the annual LOI Signing Day Party is set for the Northern Quest Casino in Spokane on Feb. 2. Paul Wulff and staff will be on hand for all events. To reserve your spot, head to

AND A FINAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Can anyone tell me how big the brown paper bag was that someone at the UW slipped to Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer? In addition to a pile of money, the bag no doubt contained a mountain of grape-flavored Kool-Aid as well. My lordy, Brewer produces more sugary fluff about UW sports than the school's sports information director. Not since John Owen of the Seattle P-I retired has there been such blatant, ridiculous boosterism in Seattle newspaper circles. Jerry isn't a writer, he's a publicist worthy of Barum & Bailey. He's my first stop in the mornings as I wonder whether he can top himself from the day before in his shameless homerism. Other than that, I have no problems with his work.

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