Jim Walden, coach of the Washington State Cougars, 1978-1986. Walden is the third winningest coach in program football history.
Retired and living in Iowa at the time, the former Cougar coach didn't need much arm-twisting before agreeing to the deal.
Told that he was going to be asked to collaborate on a project that might run 50,000 words, the voluble Walden shot back: ``Well, boy, what are you going to do with the other 250,000 words I'm gonna give ya?''
He wasn't kidding; I could have finished that book in a week. And the biggest challenge was throttling back the word count when the gauge turned 50,000.
Of Jim Walden, former UW coach Don James said before the 1985 Apple Cup; "I'm a 2,000-word underdog."
James was lowballing it.
Although I tried, without dipping too far into dialect, it was sadly impossible to capture Walden's grits-and-gravy tone of voice in print. But I'm hopeful that his Sheriff-Andy-Taylor homespun wisdom comes through in his stories.
As expected, he opened up on a number of topics, many of which have never seen print. He talked of how he countered the negative image of the Cougars at the time he arrived, how he was able to recruit talent to a somewhat remote outpost, and his distaste for the coaches who treated Pullman merely as a springboard to other opportunities.
A rare highlight from the 1986 season. The Cougs dominated the No. 9 ranked Trojans of USC, 34-14. It was Jim Walden's last year as coach at Washington State. During his tenure at WSU, Walden beat every team in the
He talked of his vast respect for Washington coach Don James, and his sparring bouts with opposing coaches, most notably Joe Kapp. He took the blame for his own flubs and foul-ups, and revealed the fact that he so frequently spoke his mind without restraint that university president Glenn Terrell had a standard disclaimer printed and ready to go that reminded the public that ``The opinions of Coach Walden are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Washington State University administration.''
Jim Walden and Bob Robertson share a laugh during the pregame show. In 2004, Walden begins his fourth year in the WSU broadcast booth.
So many of the background sources I contacted for this project offered similar responses. ``Oh, God, you're doing a book with Walden … that will be hilarious.'' But after going through half a dozen of their funniest Walden stories, nearly all added some poignant memory of Walden's kindnesses to others, his generosity, and how his down-to-earth and compassionate advice had helped them in difficult times.
That, readers, is the real Jim Walden. And I hope some of that seeps out of the pages of this book.
Jim Walden's Tales from the Washington State Sideline can be ordered from Sports Publishing LLC at www.sportspublishingllc.com or via Amazon at www.amazon.com
Dave Boling is a columnist with the Tacoma News Tribune. He has been a regular observer of Cougar football for the better part of two decades.