Seen & Heard on Planet Coug 9/16

REVENGE COULD GO both ways Saturday when Portland State travels to Pullman. For Paul Wulff and staff, there's the sting of EWU's upset loss to the Vikings last season. And for PSU head man Jerry Glanville, there's this potential burr in the saddle: In the final days before letters of intent were signed last February, Wulff spirited away three recruits who had verbally committed to the Vikes.

When Wulff was named WSU head coach on Dec. 11, the Cougars' 2008 recruiting class had just three verbals in it. Moreover, much of December is a recruiting dead period per the NCAA, so Wulff and his staff basically had to pack a year's worth of talent hunting into the month of January.

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In the process, they made offers to -- and received commitments from -- three Northwest kids who had originally planed to play ball for the Man in Black: 6-4, 240-pound Adam Coerper from Hood River, Oregon; 6-1, 198-pound Jay Matthews from Lake Oswego, Oregon; and 6-0, 214-pound Mike Ledgerwood from Kennewick.

Coerper, a defensive end, and Matthews, a safety, are redshirting this season. Ledgerwood, a linebacker from River View High, has been a mainstay on Cougar special teams this season and has taken some turns on defense. He's posted five tackles through three games.

COUGAR PUNTER Reid Forrest has been nothing short of outstanding since returning from the ankle break that kept him on the sidelines in the opener against Oklahoma State. Over the last two weeks he's booted the ball 12 times, averaging 43.9 yards per kick. You'd think that glossy number would have him ranked among the national punting leaders.

Alas, if you check out the NCAA's stats list, the sophomore from Ephrata is nowhere to be found. His absence is explained in the fine print. To be included among the leaders in any statistical category a player must have appeared in at least 75 percent of his team's games. Forrest, because he missed Week 1, has only appeared in 66 percent, so we'll look for his national emergence next week after the PSU game.

If Forrest were eligible for the punting list this week, he'd rank No. 17 in the country.

IN THE LITTLE-KNOWN fact department comes this cinematic nugget: The night before the Cougar basketball team routed Notre Dame in Round 2 of the NCAA Tournament, head coach Tony Bennett was watching film. But not the kind you think. He and his wife Laurel plugged in the Ellen Page comedy "Juno."

There's no word yet on what was in the DVD player prior to the ensuing WSU-North Carolina game – The Poseidon Adventure? The Hindenburg? – but whatever it was, you can bet it's not going to resurface anytime soon.

Cougar center Aron Baynes, who has slimmed his 6-10 frame down to 260 rock-solid pounds, says his No. 1 personal goal this season is to improve his rebounding. "I've never been happy with what I've done on the boards. I know I can do more," he told CF.C this summer while in Seattle helping out at June Daugherty's Hope Heart Institute basketball camps. "That's something I'm really focusing on."

Baynes averaged six boards per game last season, up from 3.1 the year before and 4.1 the year before that.

Asked if he thinks referees pick on him unfairly, given what seems like a plethora of questionable calls against him over the last two season, Baynes was matter-of-fact: "I'm usually the biggest person on the court -- I take up a lot of space, so I think people may look at me first."

WORD ON THE mean streets of Seattle is that Washington, in its search for a new athletic director following the forced resignation of Todd Turner, sent some casual feelers toward Cougar AD Jim Sterk. Suffice to say, Jim appears to be very happy where he is.

By the way, if you think this weekend's game between WSU and Portland State -- the first-ever meeting of the schools -- is purely a convenient regional schedule filler, think again. Sterk was the AD at PSU for five years before coming to WSU in 2000. This was a game scheduled by old friends.

One interesting WSU-PSU connection you probably didn't know? Wulff played for Mouse Davis in the World League, back in 1992 with the New York-New Jersey Knights.

I'VE ALWAYS MARVELED at the many ways former Cougar head football coach Jim Sweeney's legacy continued to touch the program so many years after he left following the 1975 season. Sam Jankovich, Bill Moos, Dennis Erickson, Mike Price, Mike Levenseller, Kelly Skipper, Ken Greene, George Yarno and Leon Burtnett all had direct connections to Sweeney in one form or another.

And now I stumble onto this factoid that has me convinced the trivia game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" should actually be "Six Degrees of Jim Sweeney."

Jeff Tuel, the quarterback from Fresno's Clovis West High who has verbally committed to be part of WSU's 2009 recruiting class, didn't make his first varsity start behind center until two weeks ago in C-West's season opener. How, you ask, does a kid so talented that he gets a Pac-10 offer before his first-ever varsity start, manage to ride pine for so long?

The answer is Beau Sweeney. Yep, Beau is Jim's grandson. He's is a freshman at Cal this season. But prior to that, he was starring at Clovis West, where he was one of the hottest QB prospects in the Golden State. His dad is Kevin Sweeney, who went to grade school in Pullman and later starred for his dad at Fresno State before going on to play for the Dallas Cowboys.


OSU'S PISTOL PETE

Clovis West is 1-1 this season. Haven't been able to track down Tuel's stats from the first game, a win, but in the second he was 23 of 43 for 191 yards, with one TD and one INT.

NOBODY ASKED, BUT ... in a twisted way it's been almost good to see Rick Neuheisel and his sweatervest in the Pac-10 again ... That sideline mascot of Oklahoma State's is about as hideous as any Halloween costume ever created ... The new east end zone area at Martin Stadium is fabulous. Now if they'd just invest a few bucks to clean up the chipping paint on the section numbers elsewhere in the stadium ... Whatever the Mountain West Conference is putting in its Gatorade buckets ought to be patented. Last weekend Mountain West was 4-0 against the Pac-10 -- Arizona State lost to UNLV 23-20, Arizona was defeated by New Mexico 36-28, UCLA was beaten 59-0 by BYU and Stanford lost to TCU, 31-14.


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