Seen & Heard on Planet Coug

THE COUGARS' setback at the hands of Butler the other night in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic shows up as an L on the record sheet but, rest assured, the week in Hawaii was a victory for the program. And not just because of the wins over Baylor and Mississippi State en route to the final game. The week was a home run because all three games were on national television.

That's the kind of exposure that helps build brand identity. I understand from friends in and around the Palouse that the Cougars' appearance in this ESPN extravaganza was Bill Moos' idea. Chock up another good move to the AD.

SPEAKING OF MOOS' IMPACT ON the Palouse, his recent announcement regarding facilities enhancements for Cougar football is nothing less than spectacular. In case you missed it, he's recommending two things to President Floyd and the Board of Regents ...

  • That the Phase III Martin Stadium expansion that Jim Sterk was planning for the north side of the stadium go forward but on the south side of the stadium instead; and

  • That a football operations building be constructed in the west end zone to house all aspects of the football program, from weight and locker rooms to offices, players' lounge and more.

    "I believe the only way we can become and stay competitive in the tough Pac-12 Conference is to invest in facilities in order to attract top talent," Moos said in a letter to people who had donated to Phase III of Martin.

    Moos originally was cool to the idea of going forward with Martin's Phase III because he felt there were more pressing needs elsewhere. He didn't say directly in his letter why he had a change of heart, but he alluded to cost efficiencies. The guess here that the low cost of construction in the current economy, coupled with further breaks likely to stem from doing both Phase III and the west end zone at the same time, was too powerful to pass up. Moreover, as he did say in his letter, moving Phase III from the north side to the south is not only more cost efficient and but also allows for improvements in stadium access, parking, the press box and aesthetics.

    The centerpiece of Phase III is the construction of 2,200 premium seats. Game-day revenue generated by those suite, loge and club seats would nearly double the $2 million that is generated from the entire rest of the stadium. Under Sterk's plan, the cost of Phase III was $33 million, with completion in time for the 2012 season. In his recent letter to donors, Moos didn't address timeline or cost of either Phase III or the football operations building in the west end zone.

    Those details will emerge as talks with the Board of Regents get underway. Presuming they give the green light, every Cougar in the land needs to make a donation -- however big or small -- because winning requires investment.

    PERHAPS I'M SHOWING MY AGE HERE but as this holiday season winds down I have to say one of the great traditions I really miss is the annual Bob Hope Christmas Special on NBC. It always included an appearance by the AP All-American football team. My memory fades, but I recall three Cougars -- Dan Lynch in 1984, Mike Utley in 1988 and Jason Hanson in 1989 -- being on the show and trading corny one-liners with the legendary Hope. Not bad for a trio who hailed, respectively, from Spokane, Burien and Spokane. Those were the days, I tell ya. I think the Bob Hope specials ended in the early 1990s but they were a family staple in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

    ONE OF THE GREAT COUGAR defenders of the 1990s – Palouse Posse mainstay Torey Hunter – is on the verge of winning a national championship. He's the defensive backs coach at Eastern Washington, which will play Delaware on Jan. 7 in the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) title game. This will be the second title that he and EWU head coach Beau Baldwin will be seeking together. In 1989 they were standout players who led Curtis High of Tacoma to the state AAA championship.

    Hunter came to EWU from Central Washington, where he also was on Baldwin's staff. Prior to that, he was cornerbacks coach at Idaho State under former WSU assistant Larry Lewis. Torey played eight years of pro ball after a WSU career that included Alamo and Copper Bowl victories. His pro journey was wide ranging, spanning the NFL, NFL Europe, the AFL and the CFL.

    I SEE WHERE THE BIG TEN COMMISSIONER has finally come to his senses and probably is going to scrap the plan to name the conference's two divisions "Legends" and "Leaders." Talk about ridiculous. As Beano Cook said recently, if they paid some consulting company to come up with that then they should get a refund. I like the idea of naming the divisions after the league's two most famous coaches, Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, but I'm afraid the folks at Michigan State would have a fit purely on the grounds of rivalry but also because their own Duffy Daugherty was a hell of a coach back in the day. Same for Iowa, whose Hayden Fry was one stellar head man.

    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

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