Seen & Heard on Planet Coug

TOM POUNDS, THE father of the national cult following otherwise known as Ol' Crimson – the Cougar flag that has flown on ESPN Gameday every Saturday for the last six years -- is heading to Seattle and Olympia (with Ol' Crimson in tow) for special appearances next month at the annual "Night with Cougar Football" igatherings in Olympia and downtown Seattle.

Pounds, a WSU graduate living in Albuquerque, will be winging his way north for the Feb. 6 dinner with Paul Wulff and staff at the W Hotel and the Feb. 5 event at the Little Creek Casino in the South Puget Sound area. Word has it that photos with Ol' Crimson could be in the offing for those attending these dinners.

Pounds and hundreds of fellow Crimson Soldiers have, over the last six seasons, turned the Cougar logo into a staple of Saturday mornings for college fans tuning in to Lee Corso, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit. At last count, Ol' Crimson was closing in on 80 consecutive ESPN Gameday appearances..

Ol' Crimson and the sidekick Ol' White on ESPN Gameday in November.

Born from a simple suggestion on the Cougfan.com message boards, the Ol' Crimson phenomenon has received national attention from the likes of USA Today ,The Sporting News, ESPN itself , and Sports Illustrated, to name just a few.

The"Night with Cougar Football" is locked and loaded for Friday, Feb. 6, at the W Hotel in downtown Seattle. 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 is 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 tthrasher@wsuwest.edu

TACOMA CORNERBACK Desmond Trufant and Pleasanton, Calif., safety Johnny Millard aren't the only WSU legacy's who have drawn recruiting attention this season. Four-star quarterback Moses Alipate from Bloomington, Minn., is the son of former Cougar linebacker Tuineau Alipate. Tuneau played for WSU under Jim Walden and Dennis Erickson from 1985=88 before embarking on a pro career in the CFL and NFL. His last stop was with the Minnesota Vikings. Moses, rated by Scout.com as the 20th-best prep QB prospect in the nation, has verbally committed to the University of Minnesota.

DONNIE MARBUT'S COUGAR baseball team will need to continue making big strides this season, because the Pac-10 appears loaded. Collegiate Baseball is out with its pre-season rankings and four Pac-10 teams are in the top 25 and another three are in the top 40. Stanford (No. 5) and Arizona State (No. 6) top the list, followed by UCLA (21), USC (24), Arizona (35), Oregon State (38) and Cal (39).

A fully healthy Jared Prince is expected to lead the Cougars in 2009. A third-team All-American as a freshman in 2006, the outfielder/pitcher from Poulsbo was hampered by injuries the past two seasons.

WHILE IT'S A TRAVESTY that CouGreat Jason Hanson wasn't picked for the NFL Pro Bowl this season after his remarkable work for the Detroit Lions, there is at least some justice in the mix. He has been named the first alternate as NFC kicker if the Giants' John Carney can't make it for some reason. Carney also had a great year, but his selection in light of what Hanson accomplished clearly looks based on the fact he plays for a good team, while Hanson toiled for perhaps the worst club in NFL history.

Speaking of the Pro Bowl, former Paul Wulff protégé Michael Roos, a 2004 All-American at Eastern Washington, has been picked to play for the AFC next month. The Tennessee Titans left tackle surrendered just one sack in the regular season. He becomes the first-ever EWU grad picked for the Pro Bowl.

WASHINGTON STATE HAS never had as much contributing young talent on both it's men's and women's basketball teams as it does right now. For the women, guards April Cook and Jazmine Perkins are among the top scorers in the Pac-10. And with the men, Klay Thompson is averaging 10.9 points per game (second-most on the team behind Aron Baynes) while DeAngelo Casto is No. 4 in the league in blocked shots. His 17 swats put him on pace to shatter the WSU freshman record set by a fellow Spokane product, Rob Corkrum in the early 90s.

Thompson, by the way, received a high compliment not long ago from The Sporting News' basketball guru, Jim DeCourcy. He calls Thompson "a Kiki Vandeweghe clone." You youngsters out there may only know Vandeweghe as the general manager of the New Jersey Nets. But we older types remember him as a jab-stepping, jump-shooting phenom who starred at forward for UCLA back in the day and then played in the NBA for a dozen seasons.

ON THE FOOTBALL RECRUITING front, Scout.com currently rates WSU's 2009 class as the 41st best in the nation. I always take such rankings with a grain of salt. But I do know this. If that rating holds or improves through signing day on Feb. 4, it will mark the second highest national finish for a WSU recruiting class since the 1999 crop featuring Matt Kegel, Isaac Brown, Marcus Trufant, Rien Long, et. al. -- and a darned near identical rating to boot. Although the recruiting services of the day, including Superprep which is now part of Scout.com, ranked the Wazzu crop eighth in the the conference in '99, they also slotted the Cougs at a No. 40 national ranking that year. If that doesn't put a spring in your step, nothing will.


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