Special Apple Cup Q&A: Scott & Steve Pelluer

SCOTT PELLUER IS a Cougar through and through. Steve Pelluer, Scott’s brother, is a devout Husky. On Friday in the 108th playing of the Apple Cup, the starting WSU middle linebacker will be Peyton Pelluer -- Scott’s son, and Steve’s nephew. So obviously, there’s a lot to talk about.

Scott starred at Washington State as an in-your-face linebacker with 180 of his 240 career tackles of the solo variety. He posted a school-record 12 sacks and led the Cougs in tackles for loss (18) during the 1980 season. Scott's 19 sacks as a Cougar are still No. 7 on the all-time career list at Washington State.

Steve quarterbacked the Huskies to a 1982 Rose Bowl win and was the Pac-10 offensive player of the year in 1983. That season, he completed 65.1 percent of his passes, setting the all-time single-season mark at Washington (still No. 2 all-time at Washington behind Keith Price [66.9]).

COUGFANcom: Enough with the niceties. It's Apple Cup week. Scott, how on earth could you let Steve become a Husky given that two grandpas and dad -- in addition to yourself -- were Cougs?!

Scott: I believe that one of the big reasons he decided not to be a Coug was that the WSU assistant coach that was recruiting him was all enamored with a young high school sophomore QB, a guy named Mark Rypien.  Steve didn't really feel loved compared to how hard the Huskies recruited him. (It seemed to work out pretty well for him as he led the UW to that big Rose Bowl win over Iowa as a sophomore and won the Pac-10 Offensive POY as a senior).

Steve: I really like the Cougs and Pullman but going to high school near Husky Stadium and having two quarterbacks from my high school (Interlake) get scholarships there, one of them being Tom Flick --  it was hard to say no to the Dawgs.

COUGFAN: For both of you, who did your mom root for in the Apple Cup when you were playing?  

Scott: I've got  a pretty good story about my Mom. My senior year in the Apple Cup, she was sitting up just a few rows behind the Husky bench. We were ahead at halftime and she yelled at Steve, saying, "Steven!  Look at the Scoreboard! Look at the Scoreboard, Steve!!  Go COUGS!!!"

Steve: I think my Mom started rooting for the Huskies in the Apple Cup after my sophomore year.

COUGFAN: What is your favorite Apple Cup memory? 

Scott: My favorite Apple Cup memory was my senior year, way back in 1980, where I got the opportunity to play across from a very good friend and a guy that I actually went to Interlake High with in Bellevue: Tom Flick. He was a senior when I was a junior but he redshirted at the UW, and I had been able to play a bit as a freshman, so we were both seniors in the 1980 Apple Cup. We were ahead at halftime and I remember sacking him 2-3 times that game, even though they came back and unfortunately beat us. I'm embarrassed to say that as close as we were and as hard as we played in the Apple Cup, I was 0-4 in all four Apple Cups that I played in. (Ironic fact:  In 1981 in late April in the NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins took Tom Flick with the seventh pick in the fourth round - and the Dallas Cowboys drafted me with the eighth pick in the fourth round!) We're still good friends to this day.

Steve: In the 1981 Apple Cup with the Rose Bowl on the line, I underthrew Paul Skansi in the right corner of the east end zone - a true wounded duck. But Paul jumped over the defender's back to catch it and score before halftime, giving us a healthy lead.

COUGFAN: Has the Apple Cup ever led to any heated debates/foodfights during Thanksgiving?  Would love to hear a story or two.

Scott: Nothing really heated.  But my Coug cheerleader girlfriend (who would eventually become my beautiful wife) and I decided to go to Sun Valley to go skiing and enjoy the beautiful Christmas/New Year's atmosphere instead of going to the 1982 Rose Bowl to watch my brother play!  At the time, we both hated the Huskies and really didn't want to leave stunning Sun Valley for Pasadena. In hindsight, we regret that decision. But we figured that Steve, a sophomore at the time, would eventually get back to the Rose Bowl with the Huskies and we'd go then. They didn't, thanks to the Cougs!

Steve: Not really within the immediate family.  My uncle's family takes it more serious, so it is fun to tease them.

COUGFAN: Scott, you know a little something about playing linebacker for the Cougars. What's your chalk-talk analysis on the Cougs' middle linebacker, a rising third-year sophomore named Peyton Pelluer who leads the team in tackles (87) headed into the Apple Cup.

Scott: First off, I'm a huge fan of what coach Alex Grinch has brought to the program from Missouri! Everyone seems to be in the right place, they are always working hard -- as well as playing very hard!  The second thing I'll say is that we are very thankful to be able to watch our youngest son, as well as all his Cougar teammates.  I truly love Peyton's “nose for the ball” and the fact that he's always around the football.  He's a very conscientious kid who works very hard both on the field and in the classroom.  Even when he gets a week off to come home for a break, he's up by 8 a.m. every morning to go work out.  Even though I was a defensive college coach for 16 years, I rarely critique him.  I believe that the coaches do enough of that, and feel that it's our job as parents to always be there to support and love him up after every game, win or lose!

Peyton has also told me that Ken Wilson has made him and the other linebackers much better players!! Ken's a perfectionist and has really pushed Peyton to improve his reads, his first step, and his tackling. Peyton really appreciates and loves each and every defensive coach and what they bring to the Cougar Defense.

COUGFAN: Steve, you spent your Husky career looking across the line of scrimmage at middle linebackers, what's your chalk-talk breakdown of Peyton's play this season? 

Steve: He is a specimen.  I get intimidated by his thickness and brawn even without the uniform.  He looks in charge, and leads well.  He seems to always be positive, too.  I think that is important.

COUGFAN: Scott, what's your best Apple Cup memory involving Peyton?

Scott: I had the privilege to work on the radio with Bob Robertson for two years (1999-2000) and I would bring my family with me to several Coug games.   One time as we entered Pullman for Homecoming, there were WSU flags everywhere and Peyton (only six-years old as our youngest and the only one who could fit in the very back seat of our Suburban) he yelled out; "Wow, Dad! We're driving into Coogar Woorld!!"   All my kids totally loved staying at the Holiday Express when we went to Pullman, so they could swim at the indoor pool and have all the breakfast they could eat!

COUGFAN: Steve, does it feel dirty to root for your nephew?

Steve: Not at all.  I have been rooting for him since he was in the third grade.

COUGFAN: Scott, did it feel dirty to coach for the Huskies?

Scott: Yes, it was really weird at first, especially wearing those colors that I hated while I played them.  After being there awhile, it was just like moving from Apple to Microsoft!  Once you get to know all the kids and the coaches, it's hard not to get into it and pull for all the players that you coach and put so much time into -- Plus, it's your livelihood and UW was paying our bills.  Also, my daughter Jordan attended UW and graduated from there as well as Peyton's older brother, Cooper, who played linebacker for the Huskies (he wasn't offered by the Cougs).  So we did the parent thing with Cooper, getting to know his teammates and their families.  I have always been questioned on why I didn't coach at WSU, but I tried.  Mike Price offered me a job, but I had already committed to coach at Arizona, so unfortunately, it just never worked out.

COUGFAN: For both of you, what's the best Apple Cup joke you've heard? 

Scott: A University of Washington football player walks into the doctor’s office and removes his hat to reveal a frog sitting on top of his head. The doctor asks, “What can I do for you?”   The frog replies, “Can you take this wart off my butt?”

Steve: Haven't really heard any good ones lately.

COUGFAN: Scott, what's your take on Mike Leach's 2015 campaign?  

Scott: What's not to like?  I was always a fan and when we hired him and I saw his bowl record at Texas Tech, which was something like 10 bowl games in 10 years, I loved it!   Then, he takes the Cougs to a bowl in his second year, and I'm thinking.. Wow, we're on our way!!   Then, the third year wasn't a whole lotta fun -- I remember ASU running a fake punt to both the right and left for touchdowns and we just weren't very competitive.  Then, I was one of 18,000 sitting in the rain and wind during the Portland State game, and I was wondering if we would ever turn the damn corner!!   

But, all of a sudden we win a couple close ones. Then we beat a couple teams that I never thought we'd beat after that PSU game, and then in came Stanford and we played them really, really tough -- they felt lucky to leave the field with a win after that missed field goal, you could tell by their big celebration after the game!  And now, here we are at the Apple Cup with a chance to go 9-3 and go to a great bowl game!   Amazing ride...  and we're still a very YOUNG Team!!  

The other part of it is that Peyton has said several times that all of the players love Coach Leach, and appreciate how he stands up and fights for all of them!!

COUGFAN: Steve, what's your assessment on the job Chris Petersen has done this year?

Steve: I really like Coach Pete and overall I like what he has done. This year however I felt the offense was not well prepared in several games.

COUGFAN: For both of you, what's your prediction on the 2015 Apple Cup?

Scott: Washington State 28, UW 24!

Steve: Just cannot predict this one. Too close to call. I do predict this, though:  Peyton has a great game.

COUGFAN: Scott, we’d be remiss if we didn’t ask: Please hand the keyboard over to your wife Kim, a dyed in the wool Cougar, for her Apple Cup prediction.

Kim Pelluer: If the Cougs take care of business by staying focused, everyone doing their jobs and trusting in their teammates to do the same, they'll win!!!  We have something special going on right now in Pullman and we want everyone to see and experience it!!!  WE LOVE our COUGS!!!!  Washington State 28, UW 27.

COUGFAN: Scott and Steve, the final word is yours - anything else you want to say?

Steve: Luke Falk is a stud.  I hope Chris Petersen stays in Montlake for a long time, and the same for Mike Leach in Pullman.

Scott: In my opinion, no matter which QB plays on Friday, we'll show up, bring our A game, play extremely hard and battle -- just like we have all season long!  Go Cougs!!

Peyton's grandfather, John (Arnie) Pelluer, played end for the Cougs from 1953-55. His great great grandfather, Carl Gustafson (Scott's mom's father), played flanker for the Cougs from 1925-27 and won the Bohler Award his final year on the Palouse. Two of Peyton's older brothers have gone on to play college football: Cooper at the UW and Tyler at Montana.

The Pelluers at the 2003 Rose Bowl: Back row: Kim, Tyler, Jordan and Scott.
Front row: Peyton and Cooper.

Scott Pelluer Photo

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