Seen & Heard 6/9

<b>MEL HEIN</b> ISN'T in the fraternity. Neither is <b>Turk Edwards</b>. <b>Jack Thompson</b> and <b>Mike Levenseller</b> missed narrowly. <b>Drew Bledsoe</b> and <b>Mike Utley</b> didn't even come close. But <b>Calvin Armstrong</b> is right on track, thank you.

The Cougar junior offensive tackle, recently named to the watch list for the coveted Lombardi Award, is on the road to joining the most elite group of players in Washington State football history.

Going back all the way to 1917, only six Cougars have earned first-team all-conference or All-Coast honors in three successive seasons.

Armstrong, the 6-foot-8, 321-pound pride of Centralia, put himself in line for the exclusive club by earning first-team All-Pac-10 honors as a sophomore last year. And expectations for him in 2003 are sky high. Besides the watch list for the Lombardi Award, which is given annually to the nation's premier down lineman or linebacker, he's also been tabbed second-team pre-season All-American by Athlon's, with first-team plaudits likely to roll in this summer from one of the other magazines.

Armstrong became the first Cougar sophomore to earn all-conference honors since tight end Butch Williams in 1990 and the first offensive lineman to do it since Steve Ostermann in 1972.

Both Williams and Ostermann went on to complete the first-team all-conference trifecta. The others in that select company are kicker Jason Hanson (1989-91), quarterback Ed Goddard (1934-36) and center Earl Dunlap (1919-21).

Legendary receiver Hugh Campbell was named first-team All-Coast three straight years (1960-62) but was selected all-conference only once because Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State were booted out of the league from 1959-61.

AS MUCH AS SEATTLE P-I columnist Art Thiel's ongoing parade of insults toward Ol' Wazzu tend toward the sophomoric, he has actually struck upon a presicent question in the latest saga over Rick Neuheisel: How in the world did the Slick One escape firing back in February for lying about his interview with the 49ers?

His contract with the UW obligated him to tell Babs Hedges before he interviewed with anyone. He didn't. And his public denials, faxed on university letterhead, "made her look foolish and out of touch."

Alas, notes Thiel, Slick "apparently suffered no consequence other than embarrassment, and perhaps shame, although there is debate about whether shame is possible for him."

Bottom line: The inmate was running the asylum. And that adds up to the phrase UW partians know so well from the days of Billy Joe Hobert: LACK OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL.

Way to go, Art. You're not nearly as ignorant as we all thought.

TWO MEMBERS OF WSU'S 1998 Rose Bowl team were in the headlines recently: Fab Five grab-masters Chris Jackson and Kevin McKenzie. Jackson was just named the Arena Football League's offensive player of the year. The fourth-year Los Angeles Avenger caught 117 passes this season for more than 1,700 yards and 46 TDs. Of note is that he's the third former Cougar in the last six years to earn AFL offensive player of the year honors. The others were former Copper Bowl receiver Calvin Schexnayder in 1998 and quarterback Aaron Garcia in 2001.

McKenzie, meanwhile, led the defending champion San Jose Sabercats to a quarterfinal playoff win over Georgia by by erupting for a record six TDs -- three by air, two by rush and one with a kickoff return.

I just read that another Fab Fiver, Shawn McWashington, is nearing completion of his doctorate degree at Florida State. He of course will always be remembered for TheBlock that sprung McKenzie for the game-winning TD at USC in 1997. McKenzie, by the way, lists that TD play in the San Jose media guide as the most memorable individual moment in his career.

HAT'S OFF TO Pac-10 athletic directors and presidents who recently voted to change the tiebreaker formula for determining the conference's Rose Bowl representative. The first determinant, which sent WSU to Pasadena over USC this past season --- head-to-head play --- will not change. But the second determinant will.

Out is a point system that credited teams with four points for each conference win and three for each non-conference victory. It was dumped, rightly, because it didn't factor the quality of non-conference opponents. In short, the conference has now closed a loop hole that could, for instance, give Oregon State the championship by way of its perennial slate non-conference patsies while WSU is doing battle with the Ohio States, Notre Dames and Colorados of the world.

The new second determinant is based on how the tied teams performed against the rest of the league (i.e. if one of the tied schools beat the conference's third place team and one lost to it, then the winner goes; and so on down the list).

If both teams are still tied after that, the third determinant will be final ranking in the BCS.

WORD DOWN TUSCALOOSA way is that Mike Price, who hoped to become the "second-greatest coach in Alabama history" but instead had a date with Destiny-- will still have his named etched alongside Bear Bryant's. Well, not exactly etched. But definitely inked. Bama officials say Price, despite not coaching a single game, will be listed in all future media guides as the school's 25th head coach. He'll simply have 0-0 printed next to his name.

Mike Shula, the new Bama head coach, kept former Cougar assistants Chris Ball and Bob Connelly on the staff but Eric Price, Aaron Price and Kasey Dunn have been "reassigned to other duties" in the athletic department.

CONGRATS TO FORMER Cougar wide receiver Anthony Buchanan, who recently blazed his way to victory in the 100 meter dash at the Pac-10 track championships with a time of 10/10 seconds. He also anchored WSU's 4x100 relay team that also took first.

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