Seen & Heard on Planet Coug

WHETHER IT WAS A match-up-related decision or purely the fact that the Pac-10 portion of the season is coming up fast, Caleb Forrest played a ton of minutes for the Cougs against Gonzaga on Wednesday. Twenty-six, to be precise. And they were 26 minutes of hard work and sweet strokes. This is the same Caleb Forrest who played six minutes against Baylor and seven against Pitt.

I'll tell you what. I liked the energy and scrappy attitude the senior from Colorado brought to the game. I'd love to see more of him. Same goes for freshman forward DeAngelo Casto.

Forrest isn't the fastest guy on the court and the young Casto has a learning process to negotiate. But from my standpoint, their work against the Zags stood out as much as anyone's could in such a one-sided affair.

Casto (left) and Forrest close in on Gonzaga's Austin Daye.

Forrest scored 9 points, pulled down 4 rebounds and blocked a shot. Casto scored 10 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and blocked 2 shots.

IT'S GOING TO BE UP TO WSU students to remedy the can of scheduling nonsense the Pac-10 has foisted upon Tony Bennett's basketball team. The Cougars open Pac-10 play at home on Jan. 3.

There are two things wrong with Jan. 3.

First, most students will still be back home enjoying Christmas break. Second, Pullman is a college town, for crying out loud. If the students aren't around, it's not like the surrounding community is big enough to fill all the seats. So what say you, WSU students? Head back to the Palouse a little early and cheer the Cougs on to their eighth consecutive win over the Dawgs.

IN LOOKING AT THE SCOUT.COM database of football verbal commitments among Pac-10 schools, I found three -- count ‘em, 3 -- high school kids from the state of Oklahoma who are headed to Oregon State. That has to be a first for the Beavs -- or any team from the Pac-10. All told, OSU has 17 known verbals lined up for the class that will sign letters of intent in February. That's the most known verbals of any other school in the conference.

The UW, with six, has the fewest. WSU has 10 firm verbals with one soft commit. The Cougs are expected to take around 17-19 prepsters in the upcoming class. Two grayshirts from the 2008 class, Tim Hodgdon and Alex Reitnouer, will count toward that 2009 total.

THE NEWS THAT SEATTLE'S esteemed KIRO-AM Radio is switching from news to an all-sports format couldn't come at a better time. If memory serves, the contract to carry WSU football broadcasts in Seattle is coming open soon. The Cougs and KIRO could be a perfect fit. KIRO's 50,000 watts would be a big improvement for crimson listening west of the Cascades. By the by, the guy running KIRO's sports format is Dave Pridemore, a WSU graduate from the early 80s.

IT WAS NO SURPRISE to read last month that two of my all-time favorite Cougar footballers – Mkristo Bruce of the Jaguars and Jason Hill of the 49ers – spent time over Thanksgiving helping feed the homeless.

Another of my all-time favorites, running back Rueben Mayes, was formally inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday in ceremonies in New York. The former NFL Rookie of the Year and Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year joins legendary Cougars Mel Hein, Turk Edwards and Babe Hollingbery in the Hall. If you missed CF.C's interesting feature story on Mayes earlier this year, you can click to it at Hall of Fame is great, but higher honor awaits Mayes.

On the subject of NFL Cougars, I think Cory Withrow needs to borrow the nickname that Hein made famous: "Old Indestructible." Hein earned the moniker because he never missed a game in 15 years with the New York Giants and, more remarkably, only missed one snap in his entire pro career. And he played both ways, fergawdsakes.

Withrow isn't quite that durable, but you have to hand it to the guy for persistence and staying power. The one-time WSU walk on and 1998 Rose Bowl standout has been bouncing around the NFL for a decade, mostly as an insurance policy for teams' offensive lines. When he pulled a hamstring last summer and later was released by the Chargers, it looked like the end of the line had arrived. NOT SO. Withrow was picked up by the Rams a couple of weeks ago.

YOU COULDN'T HELP BUT chuckle the other day when Dave "Softy" Mahler, the Husky booster who hosts a show on KJR Sports Radio in Seattle, breathlessly told listeners that Steve Sarkisian is the first head coach in UW history whose first name begins with the letter S. Now that's the kind of insight you just can't find anywhere else.

Speaking of Softy, he and former Husky QB Hugh Millen conducted an interview last week with Jake Heaps, the all-world prep signal caller for state champion Skyline High, that came just shy of an outright plea for him to attend the UW when he concludes his high school career next season. The interview itself, and then the banter after the interview, was a shameless pitch for the guys in purple. Grab an air sickness bag and click here to listen.

While on the topic of Softy and the Huskies, I laughed out loud at the YouTube spoof "Hitler Reacts to the 2008 Apple Cup" that some enterprising fan put together after WSU's 16-13 double-overtime win. Given that more than a dozen people emailed me a link to the clip, it's no surprise that it's been viewed nearly 200,000 times. Here's the link in case you missed it: Don James never would have let this happen.

And one final thought on our rivals from Montlake. What is it with the selective memory of the Dawgs? In the vitriol aimed at Ty Willingham there seems to be a move toward revisionist history. Sure, the Dawgs just finished the season 0-12, but how could anyone forget that the Huskies were 1-10 the season before Willingham arrived? Ty didn't destroy the Husky program. He simply kept it moving in the wrong direction.

PUGET SOUND-AREA COUGS need to mark the calendar. The annual "Night with Cougar Football" is locked and loaded for Friday, Feb. 6, at the W Hotel in downtown Seattle. Head coach Paul Wulff and his staff will preview the new recruiting class and the 2009 football season. Jim Sterk will also provide an update on athletics generally and the Martin Stadium renovation. Social hour at 5:30, dinner at 7. Cost is $100 for Athletic Foundation members and $125 for non members. In addition, a VIP reception with the coaching staff will be held prior to the dinner -- the cost is $500 per person and includes one seat at the dinner itself.

Also, for Cougs living in the South Sound area, a similar dinner will be held the evening before, on Feb. 5, at the Little Creek Casino.

To make reservations for either dinner, contact Todd Thrasher at WSU West at (206) 448-1335 or e-mail him at

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