It's official on Friday: Cougs to battle Grambling

<b>WASHINGTON STATE officially will confirm on Friday the worst kept secret this side of Charles and Camilla: That the Cougars' Seattle home game this season will be against the Tigers of Grambling State. While a tiny Division I-AA school -- enrollment 4,300 -- Grambling's record on the gridiron is nothing less than immense.

And that statement has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact the Tigers' starting offensive line averages 330 pounds per man.

Located in north-central Louisiana about 40 miles from the Arkansas border, Grambling has been a small-college power for much of the last 60 years.

The Tigers have won 20 league titles and eight black college national titles. Not surprisingly, the architect of much of that success, Eddie Robinson, is the winningest coach in college football history.

WSU athletic director Jim Sterk and head coach Bill Doba are expected to announce the Cougar-Tiger cat fight in a news conference at Qwest Field this Friday afternoon. The game figures to be played on Sept. 17, one of two open weekends on the Cougars' calendar.

Definitive word will come down Friday, but it is believed that WSU would be able to count a victory over Grambling toward the minimum six wins required to become bowl eligible. Based on a cursory reading of the rule book, Divsion I-A schools can count a win over an Divsion I-AA opponent once every four years.

Grambling will be WSU's first Division I-AA opponent since taking on Montana State in both 2002 and 2003. The Cougars did not need to count either victory in order to be bowl eligible those seasons.

The Cougars will be the Tigers' first Division I-A opponent since San Jose State handed them a 29-0 setback in 2003.

WSU This will mark the fourth consecutive season WSU has played a home game in Seattle and reaffirms school President Lane Rawlins' stated intention of making the journey into the single-largest market of crimson graduates an annual tradition. In 2002 the Cougars faced Nevada. The year after it was Idaho and this past season Colorado. The average attendance of those games has been 56,000.

While Grambling's schedule is heavy on names obscure to Pac-10 fans -- Arkansas Pine Bluff, Alcorn State, and Prarie View A&M, to name a few -- the fact is that the Tigers have been a hotbed of big-time talent, sending a Who's Who of stars to the NFL.

The alumni roll call includes one Super Bowl MVP (Doug Williams), the first-ever starting black quarterback in the NFL (James Harris), and four Pro Football Hall of Famers (the Raiders' Willie Brown, the Chiefs' Buck Buchanan, the Chargers' Charlie Joiner and the Packers' Willie Davis).

In 1971, Grambling had a remarkable 43 players in NFL training camps. In all, more than 200 Grambling products have played in the NFL.

The legendary Robinson retired nearly a decade ago. But over the last seven seasons the Tigers have compiled a 58-23 record and won three Southwestern Athletic Conference crowns. This past season they went 6-5 under first-year coach Melvin Spears.

Sterk and Doba also are expected to announce Friday that Grambling's renown marching band will be making the trip to Seattle.

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