Seen & Heard on Planet Coug 2/21

SAFETY ERIK COLEMAN, one of the great defenders in Washington State history, is on the free agent market. And word out of New York is that no one would be surprised if he followed his old coach, Herm Edwards, to the Kansas City Chiefs. Coleman thrived for the Jets when Edwards was the head coach in Gotham.

But the current Jets boss, blustery Eric Mangini, has made no bones about the fact Coleman doesn't fit in with his defensive schemes.

Coleman isn't the only former star Cougar defensive back looking at free agency these days. Marcus Trufant, fresh off his first Pro Bowl, reportedly has drawn a non-exclusive franchise tag from the Seahawks, which means Seattle can match any offer Trufant may receive from another team or choose to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation. Trufant is believed to be weighing a one-year tender with the Seahawks for $9.47 million.

One of Trufant's old Cougar teammates, 2002 Outland Trophy winner Rien Long, was released from Vanderbilt University Medical Center about 10 days ago following a Jan. 21 car accident in Nashville that left the former Tennessee Titan in critical condition. Long missed the last two NFL seasons with Achilles and knee injuries.

The life of Randal Simmons, the Cougar cornerback from the late 1970s who made a huge mark in Los Angeles as a SWAT team officer, ordained minister and youth football coach, was celebrated by an estimated 10,000 people at his funeral on Friday. A special weapons expert with the LAPD, he was killed Feb. 7 in a shoot-out at the home of a mentally disturbed man. A large delegation of Cougars were on hand, including Mike Levenseller. Another old teammate, Basil Kimbrew, presented Simmons' SWAT partner, who was injured in the shooting, with a framed photo of Randy in his Cougar uniform.

WORD OUT OF PULLMAN these days is that a deal is all but done to put the Cougars in Nike uniforms starting with the 2009 football season. The Cougs have been outfitted by Atlanta-based Russell Athletic for the last several years. No timeline for an announcement by WSU and Nike has been disclosed.

One aspect of the deal you can take to the bank is this: The Cougs won't be donning an array of hideous uniform combos like Oregon, which has become Nike's experimental poster child in recent years. New Cougar coach Paul Wulff told CF.C in December that he's a fan of the traditional look when it comes to uniforms. He also said he's partial to the scripted Cougar logo.

6-FOOT-6 PREP SWINGMAN Klay Thompson, who will play basketball at Washington State next season, brought Santa Margarita High fans to their feet earlier this week when he scored 40 points in the school's second-round playoff win over Los Angeles Loyala.

The LA Times reported that fans were hollering, "Klay, you're a god," and, "Klay, I want to write your biography." In addition to his career-high in scoring (paced by five three-pointers), Thompson had eight assists. Santa Margarita is now 25-4 on the season and will face Compton in the quarterfinals on Friday.

SPEAKING OF LOS ANGELES-area basketball talent, Cougar women's coach June Daugherty will be bringing two Long Beach standouts to Pullman this fall: April Cook, an uber-athletic (she can grab the rim), 4-star guard from Long Beach Poly and tough-as-nails Danielle Lenoir (the sister of USC's Camille Lenoir) out of Narbonne High.

What makes their arrival in Pullman notable is this: The Cougars this season have had a hard time breaking full-court press defense. With these two swifties working the backcourt, those problems should clear up. Cook, rated the No. 84 prep player in the country, is versatile and explosive. Lenoir is strong, tough and a lockdown defender.

HATS OFF TO COUGAR baseball pitcher Ross Humes. The junior closer from Federal Way has been named to the watch list for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award. It's given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I. Last season, Humes set the WSU single-season saves record with 12. The Cougs open the season tomorrow at home against Creighton.

IN RECENT WEEKS, A number of Cougfan.com readers have complained that the automatic redirect from www.cougfan.com to our network address – www.washingtonstate.scout.com – hasn't been working consistently. Rest assured, we're fixing the glitch and think we'll have it nailed by Friday. So when you type www.cougfan.com into your browser, you'll get here every time.

NOBODY ASKED, BUT I have to say UCLA athletic director Daniel Guerrero deserves the Lisa Love Award for riskiest football coaching hire this side of Joe Kapp. Bringing Slick Rick Neuheisel into the fold makes Love's hiring of Dennis Erickson at ASU last year look downright rational. And while on the subject of UCLA, have you noticed that the letter "C" on their basketball uniforms this season is colored yellow while the U,L and A are blue (on the home jerseys) and white (on the road shirts)? This goofy move apparently is some sort of symbolic salute to the fact UCLA is the first school in America to win 100 NCAA titles of one form or another.

And while I'm in a critical mood, let me once again decry the folly of the Pac-10 staging its basketball tournament in Los Angeles every year. The stands are half-empty for most of the games. Put the tourney in Spokane's new arena and I guarantee you'll sell the place out.


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