Seen & Heard 12/21

'TIS THE SEASON and I'm ticked off. After weeks of getting used to the fact our glorious 9-2 Cougs would be squaring off in the Sun Bowl against an unranked team that is lucky as hell to even be in a bowl game, I actually was starting to get excited about traveling to El Paso. In fact, my young sons can hardly wait for the player autograph party CougMaw is organizing right after the game. But then, yesterday, the blowhards at KJR radio went and ruined my seasonal good cheer.

Hard to believe, but the Gas-bags at the former flagship station for Cougar football actually think WSU screwed themselves and all of Seattle by not telling the Sun Bowl to go pack sand.

I'm not joking.

Here's KJR's thinking: the Seattle Bowl will be a one-year wonder that goes bust right after Stanford and Georgia Tech get done tearing up the turf at Safeco Field. If the Cougars, however, played in the game it no doubt would be a resounding success at the gate. As a result, the Seattle Bowl would live and the Cougars would have a gift-wrapped post-season opportunity awaiting them every year they crank out six wins.

To which I say, GET SERIOUS! With that line of thinking, the logical conclusion is that the Huskies should have told the Holiday Bowl to go packing so they could stay home and do their civic duty.

Couldn't you just hear WSU A.D. Jim Sterk on the phone to El Paso: "I know the No. 3 team in the Pac-10 is supposed to play in the Sun Bowl. And, yes, I know the Sun Bowl is one of the oldest and classiest post-season gigs around. But, really, we'd rather play in a bone-chilling monsoon in a game no one has ever heard of before."

AND SPEAKING OF getting serious, it's high time the Pac-10's executive office starts doing its job. And I'm not just spewing sour grapes over the fact the Cougs are playing a Purdue team that has lost four of its last five games.

While it's mind-boggling that the Pac-10 --- the "Conference of Champions," no less --- would agree to send its No. 3 team up against the Big Ten's No. 5, there's outrage to be had all around. Poor Stanford is the No. 9-ranked team in the nation and they're playing an unranked opponent in a bowl game with all the luster of a bad canker sore. And don't even get me started on how Oregon got the shaft in all the BCS nonsense.

BRING ON THE AUTOGRAPHS: For those of you heading to El Paso, here's the details on the player autograph party I mentioned that is being organized by CougMaw (a.k.a. Gail Gleason, mom of former CouGreat Steve Gleason). After the game, several of the WSU seniors will have an autograph signing event from 5:30-7:00 at the Holiday Inn Airport Hotel for any and all fans of the Crimson & Gray. "The event will be a celebration of a great season and, hopefully, a Sun Bowl win; but it will also be a networking opportunity for the seniors," says Gail. "They want to thank the fans, and at the same time let them know that they are now Independent Marketing Associates for Pre Paid Legal Services, Inc." So Gail can plan for the number attending, please e-mail an RSVP to


* I see where new Cal head coach Jeff Tedford is loading up his coaching staff with former Cougar players. His defensive coordinator will be Bob Gregory, a Gonzaga Prep walk-on-DB-turned-starting-linebacker for Jim Walden in the mid-80s. And Teford's O-line coach will be Jim Michalczik, an honorable mention All-American on WSU's 1988 Aloha Bowl team. Gregory was the DB coach at Oregon before moving to Boise State last year as D-coordinator. Michalczik spent the past three years coaching special teams, tight ends and the OL at Oregon State.

* I've said it before and I'll say it again: Lamont Thompson is incredible. Having watched this talented safety struggle at cornerback as a junior and then sustain that scary neck injury the following year, it just warms my heart that the 2001 season turned out so beautifully for him. First-team AP All-American. The Pac-10's career interception leader. WAY TO GO, LAMONT!

* And speaking of high honors, ya gotta love the recognition that's coming Mike Price's way. The Saint, already named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year, was recently named West Coast region coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association. He's also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year award.

* FYI: The 68th annual Sun Bowl kicks off at 11:15 Pacific Time on Dec. 31 in the 50,426-seat Sun Bowl Stadium. CBS will provide TV coverage.

* While Nakoa McElrath and Fred Shavies will be sitting on the Cougar bench in the first quarter of the Sun Bowl for disciplinary reasons, and RB Allen Thompson will be sidelined with a bad ankle, the Cougars will basically be at full strength against Purdue. Not so for the Boilermakers. Matt Mitrone, an All Big-Ten defensive tackle, left the team earlier this week and QB Brandon Hance quit a week ago after losing the starting job to dinged-up true freshman Kyle Orton.

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