What They're Saying

THERE IS NO shortage of downright inspired verbiage framing up the game and the quarterback that propelled WSU (10-2) to its second Rose Bowl in six seasons (this time against Big 12 champion Oklahoma, 11-2).

It wasn't exactly a limp. It wasn't exactly a shuffle. Imagine a sports car wheeling along with one tire slightly smaller than the others. That's how Jason Gesser looked as he jogged to the field for the first offensive series. Just a little rickety. Is it possible to get to the Rose Bowl in a rickety sports car? Emphatically, yes. -- Dale Grummert, Lewiston Morning Tribune

As if there hadn't already been enough loopy elements to WSU's football season, here were the Cougars, holding the key to everything from the BCS to the Houston Bowl to the Humanitarian Bowl to the take-out ordered by the guys on the set of ESPN's GameDay. The Bruins, of course, capitulated miserably to the Cougars … and if that's the epilogue to WSU's regular season, all it's been is the weirdest, strangest, screwiest ride since Jerry Garcia. -- Bud Withers, Seattle Times

Jason Gesser would get dumped on the ground and try to collect himself Saturday at the Rose Bowl. Every time, it was the same thing. There was a UCLA player wrenching on his injured right leg. "I was like, ‘C'mon man, let go,' " the quarterback said. "This one guy was saying: ‘We're trying to hurt you, man. We don't want you out here.' " If the Bruins and the rest of the college football world don't get it by now, nothing short of pulling Gesser's leg completely out of the socket is going to stop him. Even then, he probably would keep wiggling around like some indestructible centipede. -- Dan Raley, Seattle P-I

Jason Gesser, was suffering from a sprained ankle so serious, his lower right leg was bundled up like a Sunday newspaper. His limp was so pronounced, it appeared he needed crutches. Yet the Bruins rarely hit him, barely pressured him, allowed him to throw for two touchdowns and 247 yards while standing in the pocket like a pelican. -- Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times

In an unwitting touch of irony, the UCLA band began playing Iron Man as Gesser returned to the field (following Ricky Manning's blast to the QB's ankle when Gesser decided to run interference as Jermaine Green reverse field on what was supposed to be a run around right end). -- Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times

He is the toughest guy in college football. -- Ricky Manning Jr., UCLA cornerback, on Jason Gesser.

When I think about what he (Gesser) did for us today I get a tear in my eye. -- Rien Long, Cougar DT

Jason Gesser's season began with the hoisting of a modest Heisman campaign banner on the side of a dingy grain elevator in suburban Dusty, and climaxed Saturday with his becoming the poster child for a brand of athletic courage seen all too rarely. He won't win the Heisman, but he won every Cougar's heart. -- John Blanchette, Spokesman-Review

Once we pulled up outside (on Friday) and they had that Rose Bowl sign all lit up, we knew it was our destiny. -- Jeremey Williams, Cougar DT

The Bruins actually had everyone in Los Angeles -- except those hoping for evil things for Bob Toledo -- every Irish-Catholic, every cardinal-and-gold Trojan, every team with a shot at one of 13 unfilled bowl berths, every man wearing a too-bright jacket in a football press box, all crossing their little fingers and hoping for one single thing. A UCLA victory. Better to hope for world peace this Christmas. The Cougars, whose entire city of Pullman would almost fit inside the Rose Bowl, were the team that rose to the moment. Who answered the call. ….Those selfish Cougars just went out and played for themselves, overcoming an early deficit and then almost scoring at will. -- Stephen Dilbeck, L.A. Daily News

It was the stuff of legend in the land of dreams. -- Don Ruiz, Tacoma News Tribune

Stop blocking and tackling people and just play quarterback, and I'll put you back in. -- Mike Price to Jason Gesser after the QB tried to lead interference for Jermaine Green.

And THAT, Cougar fans, was a backward pass. -- Bob Robertson, playing to his Apple Cup-stung audience, describing Jason Gesser's first quarter toss to Collin Henderson that put in motion Henderson's  66-yard scoring strike to Mike Bush with just 37 seconds off the clock.

Kicker Drew Dunning set a WSU single-season record for scoring yesterday, but he is going to have to brace himself for ribbing after throwing one of the sorriest-looking incompletions of the season. -- Craig Smith, Seattle Times

If you're a member institution in the Big Ten or Pac-10, your goal is always to play in the Rose Bowl. Things have changed in college football. --- Kirk Ferentz, Iowa head coach, upon learning that his Hawkeyes would be traveling to the Orange Bowl to play USC rather than to Pasadena to play WSU.

You don't mess with your Grandaddy. Or maybe you do kick his cane knowing the old man is helpless to defend himself. Either way the Bowl Championship Series didn't show much respect for the elderly on Sunday. The Rose Bowl -- the Grandaddy Of Them All -- suffered the vagaries of the BCS to the point it will not get its traditional matchup for the second straight year. That was the outcome of a new, surprising and almost secret corner of the BCS that the sports world discovered on Sunday. Because of something called a "selection preference," the Orange Bowl was able to pick both USC and Iowa. Left out in the bowl cold was the Rose, which was left to select Big 12 champion Oklahoma to match against Pac-10 co-champ Washington State. The Rose understood that it could lose its main tenants, the Big Ten and Pac-10, once every four years. But the latest development essentially creates a "Rose Bowl East," 3,000 miles from the actual home to the game. -- Dennis Dodd, CBS Sportsline.com

Oklahoma and Washington State is an interesting game because Oklahoma's defense is as fast and physical as the Cougars' offense is quick and prolific. When those teams are on the sideline, which is to say, when Oklahoma has the ball, feel free to go replenish the snack dish. -- Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com

As the game went on, Jason Gesser got better and better. And a legend grew. And a Rose Bowl berth bloomed. -- David Leon Moore, USA Today

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