Seen & Heard 6/7

<b>PAT TILLMAN</b>, the NFL standout who walked away from millions to become an Army Ranger, is best remembered around Planet Coug for knocking the snot out of many a crimson ball carrier in his time at Arizona State. But there's a much closer connection between Ol' Wazzu and the American legend who was killed by friendly fire following an ambush in the mountains of Afghanistan earlier this spring.

Tillman was just finishing up his freshman year at ASU when Robin Pflugrad, now WSU's assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator, joined the Sun Devils' staff.

"I'll never forget the first time I met Pat," Pflugrad told shortly after returning from the memorial service for Tillman in Phoenix. "He walks into my office and says, 'Are you the new recruiting dude? You've got a weird name, it might be hard for recruits to remember. Ever thought about a change? Or, maybe, it's so different they'll remember you.'"

Tillman proceeded to sit down and give Pflugrad a break down of what he thought the Devils needed at each position in order to get to the Rose Bowl. "He was right on target. Perfect," Pflugrad remembers with a fond smile.

ASU did indeed make it to Pasadena three seasons later -- the same year Tillman was voted Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.

HURD MOVING SOUTH? The Daily Evergreen reports that strong-armed WSU junior quarterback Chris Hurd, coming off knee woes and figuring to be in a battle to hang onto the third-string job this season, is going to transfer. He's reported to have had discussions with former Cougar coach Mike Price about his situation.

AFTER FIVE YEARS OF great work in the classroom and on two fields of play, Collin Henderson's remarkable Cougar career was wrapped up in fine fashion this spring when he was named first-team Pac-10 All-Academic -- for the sixth time! Three times each in baseball and football Henderson has been honored as one of the conference's brightest athletes.

He also was recently named to the 2004 baseball Academic All-American third team. The outfielder from Puyallup maintains a 4.00 GPA while working toward his master's degree in athletic administration.

Henderson's feats on the field of play have been similarly impressive. In baseball this season, he piled up 90 hits and led the conference in fielding percentage. In fact, his last error was way back in 2002.

In football, where he was mainstay from 1999-2002 as a receiver, holder and return specialist, he forever etched himself in Cougar lore by throwing eight passes on trick plays -- completing all of them for a 47-yard-per-throw average and a remarkable five TDs. He also posted 43 career receptions for 408 yards.

Collin, of course, comes by all his skills naturally. His pappy, Jerry, was a Cougar QB in the 1960s.

THE WSU-COLORADO game in Seattle on Sept. 11 is expected to be a sellout or near-sellout. But the price for seats pales in comparison to tickets from the WSU-Colorado game that was cancelled following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Tickets from that contest that was never played are selling on eBay for upwards of $200.

COUGAR FOOTBALL COACHES continue to wait anxiously for the academic word on five members of the incoming recruiting class who are on the bubble: Michael Bumpus, J.T. Diederichs, Charles Dillon, Michael Willis and Randy Estes. Given the Cougars' woes at receiver with injuries, getting Bumpus eligible would be huge. But as I learn more about all these kids, the more I think each has the potential to play early and often for the Cougs.

IT'S ALL IN THE SMILE: Our executive editor proudly reports that his adorable niece Laura Brindley, a fourth grader from Mercer Island, is sporting braces on her teeth these days. But not just any braces -- each tooth is alternately colored crimson and gray. Laura, whose mom is a Cougar and dad a Husky, is as devout a Crimsonsite as they come. She broke into tears in 2002 when Jason Gesser went down with that leg injury that cost us the Apple Cup. Bottom line, Laura's colorful smile shows the power of superior parenting.

MY ONGOING COMPLAINT that the Pac-10 doesn't get enough national attention doesn't hold water when looking at national pundits' watch lists for the Heisman Trophy. USC QB Matt Leinart and Cal receiver Geoff McArthur seem to be mentioned at every turn. And if Dirk Koetter can manage to figure things out in Tempe this season, I'd toss Sun Devil QB Andrew Walter into the mix as well.

NOBODY ASKED, BUT I heard former Dodger manager Tom Lasorda on the radio not long ago and it dawned on me that, yes, he was indeed as buffoonish as I always thought he was. Talk about a self-absorbed bag of wind. All I can say is this: Giants fans were right about him all those years.

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