Seen & Heard 5/11

JIM MOORE, THE PITHY Seattle P-I sports scribe and unabashed Cougar partisan, reports that a WSU alum from California is lobbying to get the name Martin scrubbed off the Cougars' football stadium. The man's reasoning is beyond flawed, but the bottom line --- as in THE bottom line --- is very much on target.

Gene Miller, class of 1968, says Martin Stadium should be renamed because former Gov. Clarence D. Martin, for whom the stadium is dubbed, was a graduate of the University of Washington. True fact.

While perhaps xenophobically well intentioned, Mr. Miller is off base for two reasons. First, as governor from 1932-40 and as a lifelong Eastern Washington resident, Clarence Martin was a firm believer in Ol' Wazzu. And second, the governor's family has generously supported WSU over the years.

Moreover, is it really fair to punish the Governor for a mistake he made when he was an impressionable 18-year-old?

Alas, I'm still in favor of changing the name. Why?

Because the $250,000 the Martins donated to WSU to help build the stadium 34 years ago has more than exceeded any reasonable return-on-investment.

WSU is looking to expand and renovate Martin Stadium to the tune of $58 million, starting next year. If someone comes up with a $20 million down payment, they earn the right to rename the stadium.

Now, before you all start chanting Paul Allen's name in unison, word on the street is that the third-richest man in the nation was approached on the subject and decided his financial tentacles would be better used to equip his 416-foot yacht Octopus with a 10-man submarine. Or something like that. So he's not an option.

There are more deep pockets in the Cougar Nation than Mr. Allen's, however. Granted, they don't approach his $21 billion net worth, but they do have serious coin. In fact, more than a dozen of them were in the paper a few weeks back. The topic was NFL player salaries.

There's Drew Bledsoe, a 12-year veteran, who made $8.75 million in 2004. Jason Hanson, a 13-year vet, brought in $2.95 million. The list goes on: Marcus Trufant $3.36 million, Robbie Tobeck $1.8 million, Cory Withrow $1.6 million, James Darling $854,000, Rian Lindell $729,000, Rob Meier 705,000, Devard Darling $669,00, etc., etc.

Add in some retired pros who made big bucks and you're off to the races. Ryan Leaf comes immediately to mind. So do Chad Eaton ($10 million just between 2000 and 2003) and Lewis Bush ($5 million between 2000-2002) and James Hasty ($3.7 million just from 2000-2001).

Suddenly Martin Stadium is transformed into Pro Players Stadium II. Better yet, as the esteemed Jim Moore suggested this week: Bob Robertson Stadium.

If that doesn't work, then it's time to think corporate. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Envision Glenn Johnson on the PA: "We're brewing up what figures to be a great game today here at the Starbucks Coffee Grounds."

Or how about Keith Jackson telling a national television audience: "You can bet the Cougar offense will be airing things out here at Boeing Field in the Horizon Air Football Hangar."

CALL ME NUTTY, but one of the thoughts that has kept me warm during this dark period between the bowl season and the start of August workouts is the notion of Troy Bienemann and Cody Boyd being healthy this football season. The two tight ends are great athletes and playmakers. If you want to analyze the struggles of the Cougar offense last season, it started with the injuries to them. They add an incredible dimension to the offense. If they're both healthy in 2005, look for Josh Swogger and/or Alex Brink to really shine.

Speaking of incredible dimensions that will help the quarterbacks, I can't wait to see JC transfer Lorenzo Bursey in a Cougar uniform this fall. He's been a running back most of his career, but his lightning speed (4.4), deft moves and soft hands say he'll be an outstanding slotback. He also figures to be a sparkplug on special teams. Bursey, who signed with Oregon State out of high school, will have three years to play three seasons for the Cougs. This past season at West Los Angeles College he rushed for more than 1,000 yards, caught nearly 300 yards worth of passes and racked up 248 return yards. In his last two years of high school he rushed for 2,500 yards and 41 TDs.

IN CASE YOU MISSED the report over the weekend, Carolina Panther and former Cougar Mark Fields' cancer is back. The 1994 Pac-10 Defense Player of the Year earned a trip to the Pro Bowl this past season after winning his first bout with Hodgkin's disease. It's already determined that he will miss all of this upcoming season in his second fight. He is optimistic as ever and pledges to back in action in 2006. Many thoughts and prayers to Mark and his family.

NOBODY ASKED, BUT I would be remiss in not mentioning what a fine addition KOMO Radio's Tom Hutyler was to the Pierce County Cougar Club's annual coaches dinner earlier this year. Tom, best known as the Mariners' PA announcer, served as the master of ceremonies. A year ago that role was filled by Bill Wixey of KCPQ morning show fame. His various attempts at humor were, um, well, more cringe-inducing than laugh-producing. So hat's off to the Pierce County folks for letting Bill stick with his day job this time around.

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