Wulff talks trench warrior mentality and more

THERE'S NO DOUBTING what part of the field you'll find Cougar head coach Paul Wulff's football roots. The former WSU offensive lineman told a gathering of fans in Bellevue last week that he knows what it takes to be successful in Palouse country. And while he didn't use the words "smash" and "mouth," in the same sentence, he came close.

"It isn't the most talented player," he said. "What it takes is somebody who is extremely tough, who loves Pullman and wants to have that blue collar mentality and roll up their sleeves. We're not looking for the type of players who want the bright lights, we're looking for the type of players who want to sock somebody in the mouth."

At a dinner gathering following the annual King County Golf Classic co-sponsored by Cougfan.com, Wulff said it's his job to educate players how to be Cougars both on the field and off.

"We want tough guys who do things right on and off the field," Wulff said. "The battle cry we're talking is about leadership. For our program, the definition of leadership is about how you make guys around you better. It's about service."

Wulff thinks that service mentality will allow players to be successful as players and as people.

"That's the biggest thing that's going to help us turn that corner to make an average player into a great player because he's a team player," Wulff said. "When it's all said and done, we're going to have a team that you can be proud of and that you'll love coming to watch."

Wulff graduated from Washington State in 1990 and compiled a 53-40 record in eight seasons at Eastern Washington. He was the Big Sky coach of the year in 2001, 2004 and 2005.

He played center for WSU between 1986 and 1989 and was a mainstay on the 1988 Aloha Bowl. He played for three different head coaches – Jim Walden, Dennis Erickson and Mike Price.

"To be part of this big family is a real special thing for me," Wulff said. "I"m excited about where we're heading. I had an opportunity (out of high school in California) to go to several schools and I chose to be a Cougar and I'm proud of it."

WULFF SAID THAT THE the Cougars' loss of eight football scholarships for failing to satisfy NCAA academic progress standards won't hurt as much as some might expect.

"We did take a hit, I don't want to downplay it, but it's just not as big a deal as it's been made out to be," Wulff said. "Right now we're recruiting for next year and we're going to have 85 scholarships. It's going to work out just fine and it's already behind us."

WULFF WASN'T THE ONLY Cougar head coach at the dinner talking about a brighter future. Baseball coach Donnie Marbut just concluded his third straight winning season (30-26) at WSU, but was disappointed the Cougs were not among the 64 teams that made it to the NCAA tournament.

"We're definitely taking strides in the right direction, but we still want to be playing at this time of year," Marbut said. "We have to find a way to win more Pac-10 games. That's our goal."

Marbut said his goal is for WSU to play the toughest schedule in the nation.

"We had the seventh-toughest schedule in the country this year and next year I'll be surprised if it's not the first or second toughest in the country," Marbut said. "We open up with Arkansas, we're home against Oklahoma, we go Rice, we go to Long Beach State. Next year, 14 of our first 16 games are against teams that made the regionals."

CF.C editors Pat Mitchell (left) and Greg Witter take a moment for a photo with one of their strongest-armed fans.

EARLIER IN THE DAY, DURING the golfing portion of the festivities, Cougfan.com editors spent time at the 10th hole of the pristine Golf Club at Newcastle. Here's a smattering of what they learned there:

• Asked if Bill Parcells (his first and last NFL head coach) is as nasty as he's painted out to be, Drew Bledsoe was cryptically succinct: "He's somethin'."

• Cougar tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Rich Rasmussen was asked who the Cougars' holder for FGs and PATs would be this season now that Gary Rogers is the No. 1 QB. "I have no idea," he laughed. "I don't pay attention to that -- as long as he gets the ball down straight, I'm good with whoever's doing it." Wulff later informed us that the answer is punter Reid Forrest.

• Former Cougar center Robbie Tobeck, one of the most personable guys around, hasn't been loafing around the house since retiring from the Seahawks. He runs an insurance agency, Griffin MacLean, in Bellevue.

• Cougar running backs coach Steve Broussard became a father for the third time about three months ago. He has the names of all his kids tattooed on his left arm.

• Don Schwartz, the old Cougar DB from the 1970s who played four seasons for the New Orleans Saints, was on hand for the tourney. He's part of a rare crimson feat. Three of the Cougars' four starting DBs his senior season stuck in the NFL -- besides him, there was Ken Greene and Bob Gregory. And the fourth member of the group, Mark Patterson, had an NFL tryout.

• Cougar receivers coach Mike Levenseller says DB-turned-wideout Michael Willis is far from a finished product when it comes to receiving, but he expects the Lincoln High of Tacoma product to turn heads this fall. With Jeshua Anderson in training for the Olympics, the Cougars' top three receivers are Brandon Gibson, Daniel Blackledge and Willis. Anderson, when he's back from track, will give the Cougs a nice squad but depth must be developed, Levenseller said.

Tony Bennett, a lifelong Green Bay Packers fan, was asked this: Bart Starr or Brett Favre? Starr was a bit before his time and Favre is an old friend, he said, so the answer was easy: Favre. By the way, did you know that the first-ever NFL TD pass thrown by Favre was caught by former Cougar Kitrick Taylor?

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