Rob Tobeck and Jack T want to talk business

ROB TOBECK, arguably the greatest Cougar center this side of Mel Hein, is six years removed from his memorable run with Seattle Seahawks yet he looks fit enough to suit up tomorrow. In fact, the other day when he demonstrated the blocking technique WSU tackle John Fullington used on the play that nullified the Jeff Tuel-to-Marquess Wilson TD pass at BYU, it was clear his biceps remain NFL ready.

The flag shouldn't have been thrown on Fullington, Tobeck said as he explained the intricacies of the battle between the Cougar left tackle and his BYU opponent. "He was textbook in his technique. I'm not saying we win if the touchdown stands, but there would have been a different tenor to the rest of the game."

Football, however, wasn't really what Tobeck wanted to talk about. Same for Jack Thompson, the legendary Throwin' Samoan, who was seated next to him, and Glenn Osterhout, a fellow WSU grad and member of the WSU board of trustees.

These guys wanted to talk business.

More specifically, they wanted to talk Cougar business, and how all of Washington State University – academically and athletically – can benefit if Cougs do business together.

They are three of the founders of a year-old grassroots alumni initiative called the "Cougs First Business Network."

Their aim is straight forward: If WSU grads and fans steer their business to fellow Cougs, wallets will grow bigger, and bigger wallets among alums eventually add up to increased donations to their alma mater.

On Sept. 25, they'll be hosting a networking event in Seattle for WSU Alumni Association members to promote the idea of always thinking "Cougs First" whenever and wherever you are making a decision to purchase a product or service.

The event will run from 5:30 to p.m. at Sodo Park (3200 1st Ave. South) and be catered by Herban Feast, which is Cougar owned. WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos and key Cougar business owners will be on hand. To register, send a note to Tobeck HERE via his company's web site and write "Cougs First" in the comment section.

While the group is not directly affiliated with WSU, said Thompson, it works closely with the WSU Alumni Association and encourages WSU alums to list their businesses and services on the school's Cougar Business Network, which can be accessed HERE.

Tobeck, who is the co-owner of Griffin Maclean Insurance Brokers in Bellevue, offered a first-hand testimonial of the benefits that can be derived when Cougars look to do business with fellow Cougars. When he needed a contractor for work on his vacation home in his native Florida, he turned to the Cougar Business Network database.

"I didn't have any leads so figured I'd try the Cougar Business Network. I thought it would be a long shot to find someone not just in Florida but in the right part of the state, but long story short, I found Roger Schatzel of Top Dog Contracting, called him, talked about what I had in mind, and he did an absolutely great job for us."

Thompson, who is a vice president with Sterling Bank, offered a similar example. When the bank found the site it wanted to open its first Pullman branch, they needed an agent to work through the paperwork and close the deal. "We turned to Tracy Harris, a WSU graduate and one-time pitcher for Bobo Brayton, who has been doing great work in real estate for many years. And get this: He donates 30 percent of every commission from a Cougar-related client to WSU athletics."

Osterhout said the hope of he and his fellow "Cougs First" organizers is to spin off the model they're developing in the Puget Sound area to every major city in the U.S.

"There are Cougs all over. We just need to know who all is out there and what kinds of products and services they offer," he said. "This is a chance to connect and reconnect with people you share a unique bond with -- the WSU experience -- and we all benefit along the way."

Cougfan Top Stories