Seen & Heard 5/22

HOW FAR HAVE THE football fortunes in Huskyville fallen in recent years? Forget the 19 losses over the last two seasons. A glance last week at a popular Husky fan site speaks volumes about the mood around Montlake. For there, on the front page, was a tome running more than 1,600 vacuous words on the glory of the Dawgs' win in the 2001 – yes, 2001 – Apple Cup. I kid you not.

Either the writer was fresh off too many games of chicken with a brick wall or Dawg fans are so desperate for something to cheer about they're reduced to digging up the high points of games played when Jake Locker was in junior high.

Presuming the writer hasn't sobered up yet, stay tuned for these epics in the coming days:

The time we held Jerome Harrison to just 207 rushing yards

The moral victory of nearly breaking Ryan Leaf's thumb in 1997

If we had Grady Sizemore, Nevada would have been toast in '03
; and

How Don James took the fourth quarter wood to Northwestern in ‘84.

For good measure, the 2001 Apple Cup story was decorated with four – count ‘em, 4 – color photos.

I'm not sure the Seattle P-I devoted that much real estate to VJ Day back in 1945.

While the Dawgs' win in the 2001 Cup was indeed an upset, it wasn't exactly David vs. Goliath. Mike Price's Cougs entered the contest at 9-1 and the mongrels, led by Rick Neuheisel, were 7-2.

OF ALL THE KIND WORDS about Will Derting that have flowed this month from the message board, over the office water cooler and in the news media, some of the most touching were found in Sunday's Seattle Times, where WSU strength and conditioning coach Rob Oviatt wrote a letter to the editor about Will and the unfortunate end of his football career.

Here's an excerpt: "In 20-plus years of coaching, I have never seen anyone play or practice the game with more love and passion than Will … When healthy, he's the best college linebacker I've coached or seen. As Will gained more and more notoriety here, he never changed. He treated the walk-ons the same as the starters, and he had the rare ability to make those around him better."

COUGAR SENIOR OUTFIELDER Jay Miller of Bellevue needs just three hits to set the WSU record for career hits. With two safeties over the weekend against Oregon State, he now has 302 lifetime, putting him just two behind record-holder Mike Kinkade, the former Major Leaguer who played for the Cougars a decade ago. With four games left on the season – one today vs. Lewis-Clark State and three over the weekend at Washington – Miller should clear the hurdle with no problem.

The Cougars' shot at the post-season were squashed this past weekend by Pac-10 front-runner Oregon State, which took all three games in the series. No Matter. This has been a turnaround year for the WSU program – one that has been fun to watch. With 34 wins, the Cougs have equaled the most produced by a WSU team since 1994. Given the talent returning next season, plus a very promising crop of incoming freshmen, look for the resurrection to continue in 2007.

THE COUGAR BASKETBALL team will be returning to the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage in 2007 for the 30th anniversary of that prominent early season tournament. The field will be impressive. Besides the Cougs, Gonzaga, Michigan, Texas Tech, Xavier, Western Kentucky, Yale and host University of Alaska-Anchorage will be on hand. WSU's last trip to the Shootout was back in 1981 when George Raveling was at the helm.

IF YOU HAVEN'T VOTED YET, there's still time to make your voice heard in the poll to determine the greatest Cougar football team of all time. Jeff McQuarrie, producer of the upcoming feature film about the colorful teams and players in Cougar history, wants to know what you think. As part of "Legends of the Palouse," Jeff will be counting down the top 15 teams of all time.

The final results from the poll will be weighed with those of an expert panel of judges to determine the film's countdown to immortality. Click right here to vote.

Sources close to the situation say the race for No. 1 is tight, with four teams bunched near the top: the undefeated Rose Bowl champion team of 1915; the Ryan Leaf-Fab Five team of 1997; the 2002 Pac-10 champions led by Jason Gesser; and the 2003 club that dispatched Texas in the Holiday Bowl.

Speaking of Cougar football, stayed tuned next month for the re-start of what has proven to be one of the most popular features on CF.C over recent years: Weekly diaries from two Cougar players – one on offense and one on defense – detailing summer preparations and observations for the coming season. Back for his second year at the keyboard will be defensive end Mkristo Bruce. And on offense, we've decided to run a gadget play and not go with a starter. Looking for a little different perspective than in years past, we're putting the pen in the hands of a young guy who's on the deep bench trying to work his way up: Quarterback Cole Morgan.

AND FINALLY, A PROMOTIONAL note. If you sign up now for a CF.C annual Total Access Pass, we'll throw in a full year of Sports Illustrated (56 issues valued at $39.95). The CF.C Total Access Pass also earns you exclusive practice reports and photos; exclusive access to Cougfan.com Premium Forums; online Chats with Cougar coaches and Scout.com Recruiting Experts; Scout.com's Spring and Fall Recruiting Guides; and more.

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