Seen & Heard 10/4

FOR TRADITIONALISTS like me, you can rest easy. WSU will be wearing the standard road uniforms Saturday at Oregon State. Russell Athletic, which donned the Cougs in those retro-futuristic outfits for last weekend's dramatic battle with USC, only made a home-field version. Moreover, WSU doesn't plan on wearing them when they return home for Cal on Oct. 14. But never say never beyond that.

Word out of Pullman Tuesday was that the unis were more a one-and-done than a permanent change, although head coach Bill Doba stopped well short of saying they definitely wouldn't wear them again this year. The jerseys, pants and extras, with the top 45 players on the depth chart receiving duplicate jerseys, totaled about $30,000 -- a gift from Russell that allowed the company to highlight its product in a nationally televised game.

I must concede that while I was initially negative about the new togs, they started to grow on me by the fourth quarter. The way the Cougs were playing no doubt contributed to my warming up to them. The large COUGARS on the front of the jerseys was especially nice.

There's no debate, however, about WSU's offensive game plan against USC. It was an absolute delight to watch. The Cougs ran sweeps, the best misdirection stuff this side of Karl Rove, and a fabulous short passing game. In fact, the short throws were textbook -- high percentage and clock devouring. Of Alex Brink's first 13 completions of the game, 11 were for 10-yards or less. Both of the other two covered 21 yards.

Hats off to junior Michael Bumpus, whose 11 catches against the Trojans upped his season total to 35 -– tops in the Pac-10 and No. 4 in the nation. He's only four balls behind national receptions leader Robert Johnson of Texas Tech. Bumpus also is closing in on WSU's career record for punt return yardage. He's No. 5 on the all-time with 657 hashes – 48 yards behind legendary Jerry Williams (1946-48) for fourth place and 123 yards behind top cat Kitrick Taylor (1982-86).

WITH 14 TOTAL TACKLES against USC, Cougar sophomore middle linebacker Greg Trent thrust himself into the middle of the race for the Cougs' 2006 tackling title. Last year's leader, Eric Frampton, remains No. 1 with 37 stops this year, but Trent has supplanted 2004 leader Scott Davis, in the No. 2 slot. Trent has 33 total tackles so far and Davis 29. Steve Dildine is next, with 28, and defensive end Mkristo Bruce, who leads the nation in sacks (8), is No. 5 with 25 total stops.

BUD WITHERS, THE estimable columnist for the Seattle Times, is out with a new book called "Washington State Cougars -- Great Moments in Team History." It's available at Amazon.com, The Bookie and elsewhere. I have yet to pick it up, but friends who have say it's a "must read." When recently asked by our executive editor for lasting impressions after writing the book, Withers offered up these nuggets ...

"I got hold of Shawn McWashington in the spring of 2005 in Tallahassee, where he was doing graduate work at Florida State," Withers said of the one-time Fab Five receiver. "I reached him at a shopping mall on a Friday afternoon, and we set up a time the following morning to talk. The next day, I spent almost two hours on the phone with him. I'm sure it was the longest phone conversation I've had with anybody, ever. He was more than ready to relive the 1997 Rose Bowl season."

In addition, Withers said, former Cougar player Buster Hollingbery -- the son of the greatest coach in WSU history, Babe Hollingbery – was a gold mine of information. "Certainly the best living source on WSU's most successful coach. He's in his mid-80s but very vibrant, sharp and active. He's constantly on the go -- fishing in Alaska and taking trips abroad."

Speaking of new books and great former Cougar coaches, historian Tom Benjey's biography of Lone Star Dietz -– coach of WSU's lone Rose Bowl-winning team -– also is hot off the presses. It's a fascinating look at a remarkable, multi-dimensional man whose work in Pullman changed the face of West Coast football. The book can be purchased online at LoneStarDietz.com.

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR the Cougs when they return to Qwest Field next year … The Cougar-head logo at mid-field gave Qwest a nice crimson hue, but much more could have been done. How did the 12th Man flagpole go empty? Couldn't we have had a retired Ol' Crimson flag flying on it with a bit of ceremony before the game? This next suggestion, I realize, isn't something that's entirely in the Cougs' control, but playing in town the same day as the Huskies hurts on two fronts – media coverage isn't as considerable and the opportunity to attract non-partisan Seattle football fans to the game is diminished.

By the way, I bought some $7 tickets for my son and his buddies to attend the Baylor game. I was amazed to see the admission price was $2 and the facility fee was $5! I bought them at the box office after the WSU College of Business Power Breakfast on Friday. I can't image what my $2 tickets would have cost if I had gone through Ticketmaster!

On a final Qwest note, another great time was had in the North Lot – we met many of the Cougfan faithful. Howie the Hog grilled up more than 100 ESB-soaked brawts and hot dogs. Not sure if the pink umbrella scared off a few of the boys, but it did seem that the Coug babes were well attended.

STAT OF THE WEEK: After leading the Pac-10 in fewest sacks allowed last season, the 2006 Cougar offensive line has not missed a beat, allowing just two sacks over the last four games. Even more impressive than the low numbers is the way the line is continuing to protect Alex Brink with a rotating line. In 2005 the Cougars used one starting lineup the entire season while this season injuries have forced WSU to use three different lineups through the first five games, with four of the five positions seeing new faces during the games.


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