Long wins Outland, turns focus to 2003 Heisman

WSU JUNIOR defensive tackle <b>Rien Long</b> today became the first Cougar -- and just the sixth player in Pac-10 history -- to win the coveted Outland Trophy, given annually to the nation's top interior lineman (offense or defense).

The prestigious award --- a Heisman for hosses -- is decided on by the Football Writers' Association of America and has been in existence for 56 years. Long and head coach Mike Price were in Orlando, Fla., for the announcement, where Long was joined by fellow finalists (both seniors) Brett Romberg of Miami and Jordan Gross of Utah.

The Pac-10 has only produced five other Outland winners: Kris Farris (1998) and Jonathon Ogden (1995) of UCLA, Rob Waldrop of Arizona (1993), UW's Steve Emtman (1991) and USC's Ron Yary (1967).

This season, Long had 20-1/2 tackles for loss, including 13 sacks.

Remarkably, Long wasn't even on the 30-man "watch list" of Outland contenders when the season began. And the fact he beat out a contender from Miami whose candidacy typically would be a lock for East Coast voters speaks volumes about Long's game-altering abilities.

As an Outland winner, Long joins an elite fraternity that includes such grid legends as Merlin Olsen, Jumbo Jim Parker, Alex Karras, Tommy Nobis, Rich Glover (a Nebraska star who later served as an assistant coach at WSU), Randy White, Lee Roy Selmon, Ross Browner and Orlando Pace.

If Long returns for his senior season -- which he says he will barring something untoward such as Price leaving WSU --- he'll have a chance to achieve something only one other player in college history has done: Win the Outland twice. Nebraska center Dave Rimington captured the award in 1981 and 1982.

But Long is thinking even bigger. After receiving the Outland, he said his work at WSU would be done when the Cougs won a national championship and he was gunning for the Heisman. Hugh Green, the legendary defensive end from Pitt in the 1970s, is believed to be the only Steak Eater ever to seriously contend for the offense-dominated Heisman Trophy.

Earlier this week the 6-6, 286-pound force from Anacortes was named first-team All-American by ESPN.com and CNNSI.com. Last week he was named first-team A-A by the Football Writers' Association.

His Outland victory caps a great week for Cougar players. QB Jason Gesser was named first-team All-American by the College Football News, cornerback Marcus Trufant was named first-team A-A by ESPN.com, and guard Derrick Roche earned second-team A-A honors from CNNSI.com.

Cougfan Top Stories