Seen & Heard on Planet Coug

MIKE LEACH was looking rather "American Sportsman" on his twitter page the other day after shooting a 350-pound black bear in Alberta. But the ol' ball coach shouldn't be too smug. The fact he used a gun to take down the bruin is downright sissified compared to what his boss, Bill Moos, did in 1974. Using nothing but his brawn and bare hands, he went toe-to-toe with a bear.

True story. In one of the wackiest fundraising ideas in Cougar sports history, then-WSU athletic director Sam Jankovich arranged for a wresting bear named "Victor" to do battle at the Coliseum before a WSU-USC basketball game.


Jankovich decided that he himself would wrestle the bear, as would his new assistant, Moos, and Cougar wrestling coach Roger James.

"Sam got in there first, and naturally, he made Victor mad," Moos recounted in Dick Fry's 1989 book The Crimson and the Gray. "By the time Roger and I got to wrestle, Victor was rubbing that leather mask in our faces and trying to bite." Added James, "That bear had awful breath."

USA TODAY PROJECTS THAT the Pac-12 Network will yield $9 million per school per year once it's running at full tilt. Coupled with the revenue from the conference's 12-year deal with ESPN and Fox, that should ultimately bring each school's total annual TV revenue to around $30 million. The Pac-12 Network launches this fall with the live broadcast of 35 football games.

ESPN, by the way, has picked up two of the Cougars' first three games this season: August 30 at BYU and Sept. 14 at UNLV. Those will be Thursday and Friday evening kickoffs, respectively.

SPEAKING OF ESPN, ONE of the senior writers at ESPN The Magazine, Ryan McGee, last week blogged that Washington State is a non-preseason Top 25 team that could make quick inroads into the rankings.

Writes McGee: "People are hyped about what's happening at Wazzu, and not just the folks in Pullman. There's national buzz, and it won't take much for Associated Press voters to buy in. If the Cougars can launch the Mike Leach era with a win over another set of Cougars in a nationally televised Thursday night season opener at BYU (no easy task, but not impossible, either), that bandwagon will need new shocks to handle all the folks climbing aboard. After Provo, it's three weeks of opponents that include FCS school Eastern Washington and then UNLV and Colorado, who combined to win five games last season. By the time State hosts Oregon on Sept. 29, it could be 4-0 and in the 20-25 range of the AP poll."

THERE HAVE BEEN A COUPLE of nice stories in westside newspapers recently that featured future Cougar athletes: The Seattle Times' Track champ Byron Howell Jr. is artistry in motion and the Federal Way Mirror's Everything has come together for ace pitcher Matt Bower.

FOR COUGAR FOOTBALL FANS from the 1970s, here are couple of names you may remember: quarterback John Hopkins and all-conference safety Eric Johnson, the Pride of Moses Lake. In our never-ending dig on the recruiting front we stumbled across the fact both of them are assistant coaches at football powerhouse Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif. Mater Dei is a veritable factory of talent, having produced the likes of Matt Barkley, Matt Leinart and Colt Brennan. Johnson, who was nicknamed Bambi at WSU even though he hit like a truck, has a unique football background. He played in three professional leagues: the NFL, WFL and USFL, and also had bit parts in the football movies Semi-Tough and North Dallas Forty.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR Cougars and Red Raiders in Texas who want to be in Pullman for Mike Leach's first-ever game at Martin Stadium. Travel agent Linda Finch has put together all-inclusive travel packages from Dallas and Houston to get Mike Leach fans -- both of the Cougar and Red Raider variety -- up to Pullman for the first home game of the Leach Era, on Sept. 7. The packages include airfare, tickets to see the Cougars vs. EWU, two nights' accommodations at the Northern Quest Casino, a party bus between Spokane and Pullman, and a tailgater in Pullman. For more information, call Linda toll free at 1-800-682-2251.

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