Seen & Heard 6/18

NUTTY MAYBE, but for me one of life's great simple little pleasures is finding a new issue of <i>The Sporting News</i> in the mail. And whoa Nellie, the June 16 edition was, for a Cougar partisan, akin to Christmas Day: One surprise after another.

For starters, the issue included a color photo of Cougar point guard Marcus Moore, with a caption that said his 6-6 height might nudge him into the first round of the upcoming NBA draft. Alas, the magazine was clearly on its way to press when Planet Coug breathed a collective sign of relief that Moore has opted to come back for his senior campaign. Head coach Dick Bennett hailed Moore as his best recruit of the year.

Moore, by the way, is one of only three players in Cougar history to record more 1,000 points, 300 assists, and 125 steals in a career. The other two? Fellow guards Keith Morrison and Bennie Seltzer.

Moore wasn't the only Cougar drawing the attention of TSN. Forward/center Justin Bellegarde, the 6-9 senior-to-be, was mentioned as being one of the early enrollees in Pete Newell's annual Big Man Camp, to be held in Las Vegas this summer. Bellegarde averaged only 10.2 minutes of PT per game last season, averaging 2.3 points and 3 rebounds. Newell, the hall of fame coach who tuned Cal into a national power way back when, is renown for his work with post men.

In football news, TSN's Matt Hayes penned an insightful column on new Alabama head coach Mike Shula, basically saying the guy will be given a huge honeymoon by Tide fans in the wake of the long-running melodrama starring Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione and Mike Price. Hayes also said Bama "panicked" in hiring Price after South Florida's Jim Leavitt turned them down hours before. In addition, Hayes couldn't resist the One-Liner of the Month: "Did you hear about Mike Price's 2003 season slogan? Win one for the stripper."

Speaking of humilated coaches, TSN also took a drive-by swipe at Rick Neuhesel, saying he's a fine coach but a "goofball" off the field. "Rick, meet Martha Stewart: Two people who can't grasp that chump change now can cost millions later."

In TSN's pro football round up, it was noted that former Fab Five Cougar receiver Chris Jackson, fresh off Offensive Player of the Year plaudits in the Arena League, has signed with the Miami Dolphins. Coaches likes his size (6-2, 200) and speed and think he'll fit in nicely as a fourth or fifth receiver. Congratulations, Chris. He's what I call a walking testament to perseverance.

Also mentioned was that the Seahawks plan to position veteran corner Shawn Springs against slot receivers in nickel and dime formations, thus allowing first-round rookie Marcus Trufant to play left corner where he won't need to digest as much in the heat of battle.

Another NFL first-round pick with crimson ties also was featured in the current issue of TSN: Ryan Leaf. The ol' stat machine produced a list of all QBs drafted in the top five spots over the last 10 years and then computed their pass-efficiency ratings while in the NFL. Leaf was worst, No. 13 out of 13 with a rating of 48.8. Another former Pac-10 star was the second-worst -- Akili Smith at 52.8. Drew Bledsoe was No. 5, at 75.9.

And finally, just in case you're wondering if I can be a vindictive son-of-a-gun, the answer is "yes." That's why I so relished the TSN mention of former WSU Athletic Director Rick Dickson on page 58. Perhaps the biggest horse's ass to hit Pullman since Jackie Sherrill, Dickson apparently has been working his unique brand of "magic" at Tulane the last couple of years. Turns out that school officials are on the verge of dropping all sports from Division I down to Division III.

OK, ENOUGH OF The Sporting News. Let's talk Cougar football 2003. Three games already have been penned in for national TV coverage: at Notre Dame on Sept. 6 (NBC), at USC on Nov. 1 (ABC) and home against UCLA on Nov. 8 (ABC).

Here's another notable note: This will be the last season schools can schedule 12 regular season games. The standard 11-game schedule returns in 2004, with the next 12-game regular season coming in 2008 when there are 14 Saturdays between the last week of August and the last weekend of November. Not sure how road games vs. Hawaii or contests with Division I-AA schools play into this, but that's the basic format.

And speaking of schedules, WSU and Colorado have rescheduled their game that was derailed by 9/11 in 2001. The Buffs will be coming West in 2004 for game on Sept. 11. Whether it's played in Pullman or Seattle remains to be seen.

A FINAL NOTE ON RECRUITING: We've heard that some of our readers have had trouble finding our database list of Cougar football prospects for the recruiting class of 2004. Here's how you get to it. In the left-hand menu bar under "Football," click on the "Cougar Recruits" heading. From there, you'll see the list of prospects from 2003; simply go to the class drop-down menu and choose 2004 instead. Instantly, before your eyes, will be every kid we have in the database, broken down my position.


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