Seen & Heard on Planet Coug 10/11

SO I'M IN THE COUG LAST Friday night having some cold ones with buddies when a group of fellow WSU alums invite us to join their table. Everybody is from Yakima, except one guy who is from Okanogan. Knowing the fabled Will Derting story about phone service in those parts, I jokingly ask the guy if Qwest has strung any lines out that way yet. Everyone at the table starts laughing.

What's so funny, I ask.

"Do you know who this is?" they inquire, pointing to their pal from Okanogan.

"Nope," I reply.

"He's Will Derting," they tell me.

I don't believe it. So I ask the guy, "If you're Will Derting, tell me what team you were playing when you blew your knee."

"Oregon State," he responds.


Correct answer. But I'm still not convinced. Granted, I don't really remember ever seeing Will's face without it buried in Carlyle Holiday's face or Andrew Walter's ribs, but this guy just doesn't strike me as somebody with the temperament to inflict bone-jarring pain on others.

I need to see some ID. And not just one piece, but two.

Sure enough, this wrangler from Okanogan turned out to be the actual Will Derting. Talk about a sight for sore eyes – though I must admit that Andy Mattingly's performance against ASU the next day certainly stirred the imagination.

I won't go into all the details, but the evening ended with some arm wrestling -– at which time I knew for a fact this was indeed THE Will Derting. My arm is still aching.

IN THE WAKE OF STANFORD'S stunning upset of USC, I have to chuckle at the handful of message board pundits who are throwing arrows at Bill Doba for signing Arkelon Hall as the quarterback of the Cougars' 2005 recruiting class instead of Tacoma's Tavita Pritchard, now the pride of Stanford.

Mind you, Hall was a 4-star prospect back then and rated the 16th best prep QB prospect in the land. He was the highest-ranked quarterback recruit for the Cougs since Mark Rypien in 1981. Pritchard, the son of one-time WSU running back Dave Pritchard and cousin of Jack Thompson, was definitely on the Cougars' radar -- and someone then-recruiting coordinator Robin Pflugrad had said after signing day had piqued the Cougs' interest. When Hall verballed before his high school junior year had even concluded, the Cougs were universally praised,but there was no room for Pritchard.

Now, three years later, in the wake of Hall's wash out and Pritchard's glittery one-game debut as a starter, it's hardly credible to cast stones at WSU for making a recruiting miscue.

MIKE UTELY (seated), PAT MITCHELL (right), RICH HOWARD (left) and GARY.

TWO WEEKS AGO I rode with my two favorite Cougar grads, Howie and Shaun, in Mike Utley's Dam2Dam bike ride along the Columbia River between the Rocky Reach and Wells dams. Money raised for the annual event goes to the foundation Mike created to help find a cure for spinal cord injuries.

I was compelled to ride by Mike when he spoke last November at the Apple Cup rally. When I told him I was old and out of shape and would rather just donate money than ride, his reply was straight forward: "All I'm hearing are excuses, Pat."


I'm proud to say this 50-year-old body made it 25 miles. Rich "Howie the Hog" Howard went 50 and Shaun Lemieux, riding for the fourth straight year, went 62.

THE THIRD ANNUAL Cougar basketball preview dinner in Seattle is on tap for Oct. 19 at the Bell Harbor Conference Center. Tony Bennett and June Daugherty will be featured at the event. Social hour starts at 5:45, dinner and program at 6:30. The cost is $100 per person for Athletic Foundation members and $125 for non-members. Call WSU-West at 206-448-1330 or send an email to to reserve your spot.

If you're attending the event, be sure to stop by the table. Among our guests will be former Cougar basketball coach Marv Harshman and the legendary Jack Thompson. Mkristo Bruce also was slated to sit at our table but a conflict has arisen on his schedule – he was just signed by the Oakland Raiders! Way to go, Mkristo.

AND FINALLY, A BELATED congratulations to former WSU track All-American Bernard Legat. The Kenyan who became a U.S. citizen in 2004 last month won both the 1,500 and 5,000 meters at the World Championships in Japan. In doing so, he became the first American ever to complete the 1500/5000 gold double at either the Worlds or the Olympics, and the first American ever to earn a medal of any kind in the 5,000.

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