JIM WALDEN NEVER really lost a game in nine years as head football coach at Washington State University. He just ran out of words. Walden suffers no such constraints in the press box today, as analyst and critic on Cougar radio broadcasts.

Headphones should be required equipment entering any stadium the WSU Cougars play in this season. This is the only stop on radio where you'll hear Walden discoursing on the scat sweep, the jailbreak screen, the snapshot field goal and the sucker pull.

Jailbreak screen?

They didn't call it that in The Longest Yard II.

"Shuttle pass or option, Bob," Walden confides to the voice of the Cougars, Bob Robertson, somewhere in the wilderness of Saturday's 48-7 win over the Grambling Tigers. "Shuttle pass or option. It's what we call the old Utah play."

They probably don't call it the old Utah play in Salt Lake, but who cares? Walden, as usual, is at his best/worst being Walden . He's Jethro, corny to the core, but he's our Jethro.

Jim Walden during WSU coaching days

When Cougar defensive end Adam Braidwood is hit with an offsides call early in Washington State's lopsided win at Qwest Field, Walden wastes no time pouncing on the unmagnificent seven, the officials who bear his wrath every week.

"The (Grambling) left guard or left tackle, one or the other, pulled his hand up," Walden complains. "It's kind of embarrassing when a football player (the Cougar, of course) can point toward a guy who did something wrong and you don't see it. And there's seven of you out there."

Walden's criticism is matched only by the pungence of his praise. When Cougar running back Jed Collins reined in a pass from Alex Brink and fought his way to the 10, Walden was savoring the action nearly as much as Collins.

"Old Jed Collins wants to score a touchdown so bad his teeth ache!" Walden enthused.

Old Jed is a 19-year-old sophomore. The commentary makes him sound like a critter-hunter on a Beverly Hillbillies rerun.

Not that the folksy Walden can't cut deep.

"They haven't got all the high school out of Alex yet," he observed a couple of weeks ago, as WSU quarterback Brink rolled out and threw a pass across his body that fell short, into the Idaho secondary.

There are times, inevitably, when the veteran Robertson gets caught piling on, such as early in Saturday's action when Cougar running back Jerome Harrison appeared to get into the end zone on what would have been an 8-yard TD scamper.

"They're not going to make it easy on the Washington State Cougars here today," Robertson sniffs.

Walden couldn't agree more.

"Awful," he snorts.

Later, the Cougars turn in a nice defensive effort led by Matt Mullennix, moving Walden to comment, "That's what you call a little T-in stunt. The tackles loop out and the ends come down inside. It's kinda screwin' up their blockin'."

You won't hear that on Monday night.

Near the end of the night, Cougar defensive coordinator Robb Akey is told that X-rays on WSU's Scott Davis (foot) and Braidwood (elbow) are good. Akey's gravelly response is that both will be back for Oregon State.

Back in the booth Walden ventures a light-hearted if dated comparison: Akey sounds a lot like Jimmy Durante.

Jimmy Durante?

Counting Robertson, there may be 1,000 people among the listeners on site and at home who know what or who Walden is talking about.

The laugh is infectious and if you listened you might even have chuckled along with Walden.

No matter. It's not rocket science. It may not always be completely factual information.

It's just radio, and it is fun.

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