Cougar Football Notebook

IF PAUL WULFF HAS THE same fortune as the last WSU coach to throw out a ceremonial pitch at a Mariners game, he'll likely be in the market for a bigger house come January. Back in '06, a rookie coach with few expectations on him took the mound at Safeco. A few months later, after his team had been universally picked to finish last in the Pac-10, Tony Bennett was the national coach of the year.

And so it is with Wulff, who fired a good-looking fastball to home plate on Monday before the Mariners-Red Sox game. Though expectations for his inaugural season aren't quite as low as Bennett's were -- the Cougs are widely predicted to finish ninth or tenth by most of the pre-season magazines and pundits.

The Pac-10 media poll released Thursday morning tabs the Cougs tenth, with Stanford and Washington in the two slots immediately above.

Of course, those kinds of predictions for the Cougs aren't unusual. WSU's 2001 Sun Bowl team, 1998 Rose Bowl team, 1994 Alamo Bowl team and 1992 Cooper Bowl team were among the crimson clubs over the years who were picked to finish at or near the bottom of the Pac-10.

Based on the attitude of Cougar players at the team's voluntary summer workout sessions, that lack of respect is only fueling the fire of desire.

Depth, especially on the two lines and in the secondary, figures to be the Cougs' Achilles this season. If they can stay healthy, a bowl game could be within reach. If injuries abound … well, let's not go there.

SIDE-VIEW OF THE PLANNED PREMIUM SEATING TIER ON THE STUDENT SIDE OF THE STADIUM. Color renderings of the frontal view are at the bottom of this page.

THE $42 MILLION PHASE III of the Martin Stadium renovation project -– which will add 2,220 premium seats on the student side of the stadium -- is tentatively set to begin in January. Completion is targeted for the 2010 football season. The start of construction is contingent on WSU pre-selling 60 percent of the premium seats, which in turn would allow the school to leverage bonded financing to commence the project.

So far, about 40 percent of the seats are sold. The 2,200 premium seats break down this way: 432 spread among 18 suites; 344 contained in 35 loge boxes; 1,280 outdoor club seats, and 144 indoor club seats. Depending on the location, the 24-person suites sell for between $35,000 and $50,000 per season. Loge boxes, which come in four- and six-seat configurations, range from $9,100 to $15,300 per season.

Outdoor club seats range from $1,700 to $2,000 per seat per season. And indoor club seats are $2,500 per season.

Separate and apart from the seat costs, individuals and/or companies can improve their seat locations by making a contribution to the stadium renovation project. A $500,000 contribution guarantees access to a suite; a $100,000 donation guarantees access to a loge box; and $5,000 guarantees access to club seats.

For more information, contact WSU's Justin Felker at 509-368-6729.

COUGAR QUARTERBACK Gary Rogers may be an unknown quantity to most folks outside the Cougar Nation, but Alex Esselink of College Fantasy Football Insider isn't among them. He's out this week with his fantasy sleeper picks at QB and Rogers is one of his top three.

"Rogers gets special sleeper consideration, not because he checks in at 6-7 and has a mini- Howitzer for an arm, but because new head man Paul Wulff favors an aggressive no-huddle spread offense, which has the potential to score some points," Esselink writes. He questions Rogers' mobility, but concludes his analysis with a nice walk down memory lane: "We long for the days of Mike Price pulling shockers in the Pac-10 with his high-powered offenses. Wulff might just be the guy to bring that magic back to Pullman."

• Paul Wulff's plan this season to have WSU wear silver helmets adorned with the scripted Cougars logo at home and the crimson helmets with the Cougar-head logo on the road won't mark the first time WSU has alternated logos in a season. In 1995, the Cougs wore the scripted logo for some of their games and the Cougar-head for others.

• CougZillatron, the super-sized $2.4 million scoreboard WSU is erecting in Martin Stadium this summer, wasn't paid for via donations to the stadium renovation project. It was covered through athletic department operating revenues.

• Former Cougar quarterback Jason Gesser is conducting two youth football camps next month at Interlake High in Bellevue. The first one, for high schoolers, is August 2 and the second one, for kids between ages 7 and 13, is August 3. To register, CLICK HERE..


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