The date is August 31, so mark the calendar, all ye faithful. For Cougfans from east of the mountains, there's an added reason for traveling West --- the Mariners will be in town that night taking on Kansas City. Talk about a sports fans dream weekend! Cougs for lunch, M's for dinner. The only icing you could put on top of that cake would be a Husky loss to Michigan that same day in Ann Arbor.
I love the idea of the Cougars playing a periodic home game in Seattle. The vast majority of WSU grads live within two hours of downtown and 80 percent of the best in-state prep football prospects live in the area. This is a good, sound business decision. Jim Sterk should be applauded for making it happen.
Now on to other crimson matters. This past weekend was one of highs and lows for we Cougar faithful. The low was watching the Senior Bowl and the Rotary Gridiron Classic --- games that marked the final time we'll see Lamont Thompson, Raonall Smith, Billy Newman and Nakoa McElrath wearing the Cougar logo on the side of their helmets. Their collegiate farewell --- especially Newman's because of his incredible fight and fury --- also drove home in spades how the 2002 Cougars need their safeties and linebackers to step up big time if the 10 wins we saw in 2001 are to be equaled.
The high of the weekend, though, was very high indeed as Drew Bledsoe played Lazerus, rising from oblivion to propel the Patriots into the Super Bowl. Was that satisfying, or just what? Watching Drew come off the bench to lead the Pats to victory over the heavily favored Steelers, in Pittsburgh, no less, was a thing of beauty.
And get this: Drew hadn't thrown a pass in a game since puncturing his lung back in Week 2 against the Jets. That was Sept. 23. The guy takes nary a snap in a real game in four months and he proceeds to complete his first three pass attempts --- the third one an 11-yard TD just before halftime. And did you see the touch he put on that one sideline pass in the fourth quarter? Pure sweetness.
This guy is a champion in every way. Even though he was healthy and ready to play seven weeks ago, he didn't utter a word of discord when head coach Bill Belichick decided to keep the three-time Pro Bowler on the bench in favor of Tom Brady. In fact, Brady has praised Beldsoe all season for being such help to him.
Now comes the question of whether Belichick will stick with Drew as his Super Bowl starter. The case for him is a strong one. First, Bledsoe obviously has ice water in his veins and very little rust in his game. Second, he guided the Pats to the 1997 Super Bowl, so he knows the over-hyped drill very well. Third, he's thrown for nearly 30,000 yards in his career, as well as 166 TDS; if the Pats expect to keep up with the Rams next Sunday, they need a bomber behind center. Bledsoe is the man.
RECRUITING TRAIL UPDATE
My CF.C colleague Jack Evans has been beating the bushes to find out something new, but since Mike Price pretty well wrapped up his 2002 class six weeks ago, there's not a lot to report. However. Jack is never at a loss for words, so here's the latest from him:
"Defensive back Reggie Grigsby, a prepster from Southern California, has backed off his verbal commitment to the Cougars and cast his lot with local favorite San Diego State. Don't let it bother you, Cougfans. With the fact WSU wrapped up its 2002 recruiting campaign so soon, it would have defied the laws of gravity to hang on to every single guy with all the other sharks lurking out there until signing day on Feb. 6. However, one report to get down in your cups about is the unconfirmed story that JC stud Sammy Moore, an all-world kick returner and receiver, is switching gears and going wiht Kansas State over WSU."
And speaking of verbal commitments, I see that Ferndale tight end/defensive end/power forward Cody Boyd was one of only three players in the state tabbed a blue chipper by the Seattle Times in their annual analysis of prep grid talent. The other two were Seattle's Isaiah Stanback (head to UW) and Vancouver's David Beall (headed to Stanford).
The one prospect in the Cougar orbit that intrigues me most is tight end Eddie Robinson. Besides having a great name for football, his pedigree at position where the Cougs lose a lot of experience is very inviting. Jack, however, hasn't heard a word on him in weeks and weeks. For those not familiar, Robinson was a hotly recruited prepster two years ago. He signed with Tulane, played as a true freshman, and then sat out this past season while Compton CC.
He's 6-3, 240. Word from California in December was that Robinson had a great official visit to Pullman. In 1999 at Venice (Calif.) High he earned all-state recognition, catching 20 passes for 500 yards and 8 TDs. He also played end on defense as a junior, posting 53 tackles. Super Prep Magazine rated him one of the top recruits in the Far West for the 2000 recruiting class. He had narrowed his list of suitors that season to Tulane, Virginia, Kansas State, Arizona State and Oregon. He verballed with both Tulane and Virginia before finally signing with the Green Wave.