Seen & Heard 5/7

THE PAINT SWAPPIN' doesn't resume in Pullman for another three months or so, but there's still enough doings on Planet Coug these days to satiate even the hardest-core Crimson addict.

So what better way to get started than by talking about one of those hard-core Coug fans: Stan Coe.

Some people know him as the former chair of the WSU alumni association. Seattle residents know him as one of the city's foremost veterinarians. And readers of People magazine may remember him as the big-hearted doc who has donated countless hours over the years caring for the pets of homeless people.

After reading this, Cougar fans everywhere will know him as one of the most amazing Crimson Soldiers of all time. For starters, Stan and his wife Marge -- who live in Seattle, mind you -- bought a condo in Pullman so they could make every home game, from football to volleyball, a real "home" game.

This past August, just a couple of days before the season opener against Idaho, Stan suffered a heart attack at his place on the Palouse.

Marge gave him CPR. But when medics arrived he was, as Stan puts it, "a flat-liner." But the miracle of medicine brought him back. And a few days later he was asking his doctor if it would be all right to travel to Boise to see the Cougars take on the Broncos.

He was completely serious.

So on Sept. 8, Stan Coe -- a flat-liner just days earlier -- literally rose from the dead to see his beloved Cougars dismantle Boise State.

That, my friends, is what Cougar pride is all about.

WORD DOWN Pullman way is that WSU President V. Lane Rawlins has canceled his subscription to Sports Illustrated. And for good reason. In a feature story on Drew Bledsoe in the May 6 edition, those bad boys at SI had the temerity to refer to WSU as Wazzu. To make matters worse, they spelled it "Wazzou."

Yes, it's true, the fine president of our beloved university has made himself an oh-so-easy target these days with his well-intentioned, but mishandled, attempt to clean up the t-shirts at The Bookie.

Two thoughts linger in the wake of all the fallout (which even included a critical column in a newspaper, The Seattle Times, that rarely acknowledges the fact Wazzu exists). First, is Rick Dickson moonlighting as Lane's public relations counsel? And second, given the dynamic vision Mr. Rawlins has brought to his post over the last two years, a miscue like this one is most forgivable.

THE RECENT decision to move this fall's WSU-UCLA football game from Nov. 16 to Dec. 7 has received mixed reviews from the faithful, ostensibly because they see it as a snub to the Cougar-Husky rivalry.

Only five times since the end of World War II have the Cougars concluded the regular season against a team other than Washington:  vs. Michigan State in '46, Penn State in '48, Houston in '59, Cal in '87 and Hawaii in '99).

Since the Cougars were planning to tackle Hawaii again this season, a week after the Apple Cup, moving the UCLA game to Dec. 7 hardly seems a gross breach of rivalry decorum. Moreover, the upside is huge: A national television audience, and therefore, a big-time payday and -- repeat, AND -- a bye the week before the Apple Cup. That's right. WSU will now have two weeks to prepare for the hated Dawgs. Given the Cougars' woes in November over the last dozen years -- due in no small part to the injuries that start to mount at that point in the season -- a bye on Nov. 16 sounds pretty darn enticing.

Speaking of Hawaii, Price and company are said to be looking for a way to strike the Islanders from their schedule. Since the UCLA game move, the thought of flying back from Oahu just five days before jetting down to Los Angeles seems to be just a bit too much wear and tear on the Cougs.

THIS CERTAINLY isn't an original idea, but the unexpected death this week of former Husky defensive back Curtis Williams, paralyzed two years ago in a freak play against Stanford, is proof-positive that the NCAA needs to step up to the financial plate when it comes to the players.  Williams and his family shouldn't have had to rely on fundraisers to help pay his astromical bills. The NCAA should provide every player with insurance coverage so the heartache of a catatrophic accident isn't compounded by financial destitution. Rest in peace, Curtis. You were a courageous young man who deserved better from the NCAA.

NOTABLE NOTES:

* Mike Price has been named head coach of the West for the 2003 East-West Shrine Game and his old Stanford nemesis, new Notre Dame chief Ty Willingham, will be coaching the East. Price is no stranger to all-star coaching. He was head coach of the West in the 1998 Hula Bowl, associate head coach of the West in the 1995 Shrine Game and offensive head coach for the North in the 1993 Blue-Gray Football Classic.

But the Saintly One still has a ways to go to match the all-star coaching resume of legendary Cougar coach Babe Hollingbery. Babe was head coach of the West nine times for the Shrine classic, winning six.

* It's been a banner month so far for Cougar golf coach Walt Williams. First he was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year. And then on Monday his men's team earned a berth in the NCAA tournament, marking the first-ever such invite for the Cougars who are ranked No. 24 nationally. They tee up May16-18 in the West Regional at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

* NCAA bids are flying around Pullman these days. A week before the golfing men received their invite, the women's tennis team received an at-large berth in the NCAA Tennis Championships. The No. 27-ranked Cougs take on Fresno State this Friday.

* While the mighty Bulldogs of Gonzaga picked off one of the biggest plums this basketball off-season in the form of Husky transfer Errol Knight, the Cougars managed to do a little upgrading themselves with the signing of Ezenwa Ukeagu. At 6-8, 255-pounds, he figures to help the Cougars where they need it most: In the post. He averaged 13 points and 11 rebounds this past season at Palm Beach (Fla.) College. With a deft shot -- he hit 68 percent from the field last season -- and plenty of girth, he should see instant playing time in place of graduated J. Locklier.


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