Sizing up the debut of the Cougar radio crew

THURDSDAY'S 30-6 loss at Brigham Young wasn't just the debut of the Mike Leach Era. It kicked off the dawning of a new day for Washington State's radio crew. People wondered whether there would be enough air time for the foursome of Bob Robertson, Bud Nameck, Shawn McWashington and Jessamyn McIntyre. But as the game wore on and the Cougars hopelessly fell out of touch, I wondered this:

WWWS?

What Would Walden Say?

Man, I missed the old coach in a game like this. Walden surely would have some emotional, old-fashioned homespun things to say about the disappointing opener. Can you imagine how Walden would have squawked when Michael Bowlin aborted a fake punt then awkwardly booted the ball into a gaggle of BYU rushers?

But Walden is gone, and in his place is McWashington, who clearly has a different style than Walden. And really, in analyzing the debut of this four-man gab team, at the forefront is the impact of McWashington, because he replaces a legend in some minds in Walden.

BobRob was BobRob. Nameck is the secondary play-by-play man. McIntyre can only say so much from the sideline (and boy, she didn't say much in the opener.) But the color analyst is what most people remember.

CRIMSON COMMENTARY

Like the Leach Cougs, there will be growing pains with McWashington.

He tried hard. He knows the game. Boy, does he know the game. You heard terms from McWashington like "their A set" and "their 2 x 2 set," the "Jet sweep," the "4-deep shell."

What you didn't hear was scorching criticism of referees, or for the most part, emotional outbursts from McWashington. He's not Walden. Which some might say is good. But he'll take some getting used to.

McWashington is very clinical. He's very good at breaking down coverages and what receivers do with their routes. He has a good grasp of Leach's offense, and at times, seemed to wonder when the Cougars were going to look like a Leach offense.

Early in the game, McWashington was harping on the Cougars to stay in their base defense because "it allows the linebackers to sit back and make plays." He thought when the defense went to gimmicks, BYU quarterback Riley Nelson picked the Cougs apart.

From an emotional standpoint, there's a big difference between McWashington and the at-times-train-wreck-like Walden. Walden was all over the map during a game, whereas McWashington rarely had outbursts. One time early in the game McWashington let out a scream when Taylor Taliulu had a near pick, but those moments were rare.

McWashington wasn't afraid to tell it like it is. Such was the case when Brigham Young was called for a pass interference penalty on Ricky Galvin during the third quarter.

"Galvin quit on that route. The Cougs got away with one," McWashington said.

McWashington also delivered a good nugget after a series of BYU personal foul penalties.

"For a school based on love, they sure are getting a lot of penalties," he said.

McWashington's monotone delivery figures to get better over time. And I hope they're not paying him by the word, because he says a lot. There were times when BobRob could barely get back into the broadcast because McWashington was overanalyzing the previous play.

But for a debut, it wasn't bad. Just not wow.

As for the sideline reporter McIntyre, the other newbie to the crew, we'll have to give her an incomplete. Not sure how they plan to use Jess during the season, but there were times when I wondered if her mike was broken. They rarely went to her during the game. She didn't utter her first words during the game until the 3:43 mark of the first quarter.

To be fair, McIntyre is up against it. She's competing for time on a four-man team. Not easy. But worse, she's working on a sideline with a coach who thinks talking about injuries is like giving away White House secrets. If a sideline reporter can't report on someone's turned ankle or that the trainer says the quarterback is done for the day, it really limits what she can do.

As for BobRob, he remains the warm blanket that soothes the Cougar Nation. No matter how nad things might be on the field, there's Bob standing tall with you. Still solid in delivery, even if he sometimes gets the yard lines or receivers wrong. Where Nameck fits in, it's hard to say. He didn't say much early in the game, then seemed to find opportunities to work his way into the broadcast as the game wore on. It's going to take a few games to figure out whether a three-man booth is one too many, or just enough.

Finally, here's one tip: if you're planning to watch the game on TV and listen to Bob, Shawn, Bud and Jessamyn on radio, don't. I listened to the broadcast through WSU's website last night, and it was a full eight seconds ahead of TV. In other words, it was about as in sync as the Cougar offense on Thursday.

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