FOR ALL YOU WSU fans living west of the Cascades who balk at making the drive to Pullman to watch the Cougars, try this on as an incentive to pack up and head east.
Quarterback Carl Bonnell, the state of Washington's Class 4A Player of the Year, is going to Ol' Wazzu because his mom and dad, at the invitation of family friend and WSU alumnus Gary Anderson, treated the then-13-year-old Carl and older brother Ray to a Cougar game back in 1996.
"The boys just loved Pullman," their mom, Theresa, told Cougfan.com recently. "They thought it was really special."
A return trip to the Palouse in 1997 to see the Rose Bowl-bound Cougars defeat Arizona in overtime pretty much sealed their allegiances, says proud papa Glenn. Carl and Ray have been in the deep clutches of Crimson Fever ever since.
Ray, a walk on linebacker, enters his second season at WSU. And Carl, a three-year starter who went 37-4 at Kentwood High, committed to the Cougars a month before his senior season began even though he was getting solicitations from the likes of Nebraska, Stanford and Northwestern.
TINKERING WITH THE D
This stretch of time between letter of intent signing day and the start of spring workouts has been anything but a breather for WSU defensive coordinator Bill Doba. He recently spent some serious time on the road visiting with the staff of an NFL team whose defensive schemes piqued his interest last season. I won't name names for obvious reasons, but you can be sure there will be some new wrinkles on D for WSU this fall.
And speaking of new winkles, when Coach Doba was asked recently by CF.C if the five-man front the Cougars used so effectively last season against UCLA would be a fixture in 2002, he was non-committal but indicated it could become a regular part of the arsenal. More than anything, though, he lamented that he hadn't tried it the week before the UCLA game when the Cougars yielded a gazillion rushing yards in that nail-biting loss to Oregon.
NOW THAT'S A PRICEY HELMET
Oh, how a 10-win season makes all the world look brighter. Bob Robertson, who played emcee and auctioneer at the Pierce County Cougar Club dinner two weeks ago, opened the bidding on a Mike Price-autographed Cougar helmet by quipping that a year ago the Spokesman-Review would have liked to auction off a helmet with Price's head in it. This year, though, the only question was how high Price's adoring fans would bid up the helmet, sans head of course. It went for $400.
A few moments later, the bidding was heated as Robertson auctioned off the opportunity to be honorary head coach of the Cougars when they take on Oregon this season. The bidding ended at $850. But thinking fast, Price offered to "hire" a second honorary coach so as not to let the runner-up's open checkbook close without benefit to Ol' Wazzu's athletic department coffers.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT
And speaking of the legendary broadcast voice of the Cougars, Mr. Robertson recently shared a fascinating --- and masochistic --- piece of trivia with Cougfan.com editors. WSU opened the 1967 season with three monstrous opponents: USC, Oklahoma and UCLA. The Cougs dropped all three games by a combined score of 121-23. More notable, though, is that each team featured a Heisman Trophy winner: UCLA's Gary Beban, who won the award that season; USC's O.J. Simpson, who won the award a year later; and Oklahoma's Steve Owens, who won it in '69.
Good news for all Western Washington Cougars who suffered last season because of spotty reception on Cougar radio broadcasts. In 2002, Cougar games will be clean and clear up and down the I-5 corridor. Two – count ‘em, two – 50,000-watt blow-torches will be carrying the Crimson Cats. In Seattle, it's KYCW (formerly KING-AM 1090) and in Portland it's 1080 on the AM dial.
This means the Cougars will have their best radio coverage West of the Cascades since 1964 – Bob Robertson's inaugural season in crimson --- when WSU games were carried on KOMO.
And one more bit of good news to report: KXLY Radio in Spokane recently bought the broadcast rights to Cougar football and basketball from Learfield Communications, and their first order of business was to give Saint Bob a five-year contract. To which we say, ONWARD BOB!