Archive for the ‘Jason Gesser’ Category

Kaddy Reports From Columbia River Cougar Club

June 17, 2009


Our own Kaddy was able to take in the Columbia River Cougar Club function a few weeks ago and got some good time with some of the coaches. Check it out (and as always, a big thanks to Kaddy for the recap!):

Well, that time of year for the Columbia River Cougar Club dinner-auction-fundraiser to support Cougar Athletics came and went. This year the event was held on Friday, June 5 at the Vancouver Hilton Hotel, as usual.

I happened to be on the auction committee this year, and let me tell you, it was a LOT of work. I had no idea how much went into these events. Usually I just show up for cocktail hour and silent auction, everything is laid out on the tables, marked with descriptions, and away we go. Not so much this year. First of all – the soliciting of businesses and Cougar supporters for stuff to auction off is an event itself. If you know of anyone that needs some cold-calling experience, have them volunteer for a fundraising auction. One thing I learned by calling on local businesses is that many of them receive calls EVERY DAY for items to be donated…sometimes 5 a day. I had no idea. Needless to say, many of your calls go unanswered or unreturned.

When all was said and done, however, the event turned out to be pretty successful, with all things considered (i.e. economy, job market, general apathy, etc). Attendance at the Vancouver event was pretty close to last year, with about 175. We expected a slightly lower number this year, so that was good news. I don’t yet have the dollar amount raised, but it was definitely down this year, which was also expected. Many people don’t have the extra cash to spend this year, understandably. To give you an example, I purchased two sideline passes for the SMU game in Pullman for $150! These normally go in the $500-600 range.

Read on for more…

I do have to say that this year was the most fun I’ve had at the event. We had a great table, and the auctioneer actually said we were his favorite table, as well. The primary reason for this had to do with the amount of alcohol we drank, and the fact that our table bid on almost every item in the auction, sometimes bidding against ourselves without knowing.

Coaches in attendance this year were Paul Wulff, Todd Sturdy, Steve Broussard, Chris Ball, and Malik Roberson for football. Donnie Marbut was there to represent baseball, Ken Bone for men’s hoops, and Brian Holsinger for women’s hoops.

Cougar celebrities in attendance were Jason Gesser, Gary Rogers, and Drew Dunning. Jack Thompson golfed at the tournament the next day, but couldn’t make the auction.

I had a chance to speak to talk to Donnie Marbut quite a bit, and he was very impressive. He had a chance to speak on stage, and probably the coolest thing he said was that, although the baseball program has many of their own needs, the most important thing that Cougar fans and supporters can do right now is to get Phase III done.


He pointed to Coach Wulff and said that when we have a successful football program, the rest of the sports share in that success (hint: $$). I thought that was incredibly unselfish of him, and showed his ability to see the big picture in terms of Cougar Athletics. In addition to Marbut, Wulff, Bone, and Holsingers also spoke, and all did a good job.

Jason Gesser spoke from a former student-athlete point of view, and emphasized the importance of providing scholarships.


Gesser has got to be right there with Jack Thompson as one of the quintessential ambassadors for WSU. I hope that he someday gets the chance to coach at WSU, which is his dream job. He is the new Head Coach for Eastside Catholic High in Issaquah, for those of you that don’t know already. I made a point afterwards to ask him to send all D-1 talent to Pullman, and he guaranteed they would all end up at WSU (uh-oh, please no recruiting violations!!)


All in all, it turned out to be a great event, as it always is. If you haven’t had a chance to attend one of these fundraisers, you really should. They happen every year in Seattle, Vancouver, Tri-Cities, Olympia/Shelton, and many other locations – all with the goal of raising much needed money for Cougar Athletics.

Finally, and just like last year – I have a pic with our friend Todd Thrasher, who organizes this event, and his trusty sidekick volunteer, Michele, one of the great Cougar supporters!


That’s it for today. As always, GO COUGS!

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Are Nuggets and Chips Overrated?

January 27, 2009


So the recruiting season for this year’s class is winding down. And even though there are always some surprises that emerge late in the game (see Bumpus, Michael), usually what you see this close to the finish line is what you are going to get. And with less than two weeks to go until signing day, things are starting to crystallize.

For the most part, it is looking like coach Wulff and staff are holding the line with the current verbal commits. So far, the only verbal lost this entire recruiting season has been Geoff Meinken, and that was for a full ride to Stanford. Honestly, can you blame the kid for changing his mind? A full ride to Stanford and playing for Captain Comeback, the most enthusiastic coach in the conference next to “High School Harry” Pete Carroll?? Not a bad option if you can get it.

Don’t take our word for it though. A scan of the recruiting services show that Stanford has done a FANTASTIC job this year, currently a strong #2 to USC in the conference and staring at a top-10 or so ranking nationally. We said last spring in the fishwraps that Stanford wouldn’t be down long, and they were just one win from a bowl last year. So good for them.

Anyway, barring some shockers, this WSU class is holding up.

Speaking of recruiting, both the Times and News Tribune have released their Nuggets and Chips lists. I know the Times is old news, but the Nuggets just hit over the weekend. Check ’em out, Nuggets here and Chips here.

Interesting lists aren’t they? A couple of things immediately stand out – 1) There are articles and quotes that it isn’t a good year in Washington, and 2) lots of WSU sprinkled throughout for the “committed to” or “college” categories, something we didn’t always see from days gone by. And normally one would think having the majority of the best local talent heading for Pullman as a very good thing. But IS IT GOOD for this year??

Ask any Husky Honk about recruiting this season, and there are two common messages among UW elites – 1) Sarkisian rocks, so brace yourselves for the recruiting superpower of Jesus in a purple visor once he has time to build this thing, and 2) IT IS A BAD RECRUITING YEAR IN WASHINGTON. Not that you are out there asking UW types what they think of recruiting right now. But they love to share their insight out in the wonderful world of message-board-land.

I don’t know about Jesus in a purple visor. Even though “he” has shown the ability to conjure up fog on-demand to show off for recruits? Something tells me this isn’t the second coming. Looks like that search will continue.

But part of what they are trying to do is to simply rain on the parade of WSU goodness, in ways only they know how. The proverbial wet blanket, if you will. You know, little brother accomplishes something and is happy/excited. Yet “big brother” is thoroughly unimpressed, rolls his eyes at the dinner table and in dismissive fashion quickly replies “simmer down little bro. It’s not that big of a deal. Yes, I’m here to put you back in your place.”

But there is at least some truth to it. No, not the Jesus part. But it isn’t a GREAT year in Washington recruiting……or is it?? Maybe on signing day there isn’t a Drew Bledsoe to parade around and show off for the villagers. But that is just for today. How do we know what is going to happen with these kids in the future?

Remember Marcus Trufant? Here was an interesting high-character kid out of Tacoma, but relegated to two-star status with an “OK” upside. (To loosely translate, two stars basically amounts to Pac-10 roster filler out of a scale of one-five stars). A fringe starter, likely a special-teamer and backup for his four years of college ball. Hardly an all-conference/All-American type, and certainly not a high NFL first-rounder.

But that IS the story of Marcus Trufant. He came in, took to the coaching of Chris Ball, Bill Doba and others on the defensive side of the ball, worked his tail off, and the rest is history. What if he would have been written off with a shrug on signing day??

How about Jason Gesser? Another under-estimated kid by the recruiting wonks, mainly for a lack of prototype size (a less-than-imposing 6’1″ and on the skinny side when he signed) and missing the big-time arm or elite speed. Yet all Gesser did from his redshirt frosh season was make plays and lead the team to consecutive 10-win seasons, including a Pac-10 title his senior year. Mike Price called him the MVP in the history of WSU athletics (and Price coached Drew Bledsoe and Ryan Leaf). All that from an unknown straight outta Hawaii??

According to the experts who do this for a living, they point out that the true BCS all-conference types just aren’t plentiful in Washington. Period. SI had a pretty good read last week about where the talent is (Cali, Texas, Florida) and where it isn’t. And UW honks will quickly pull out their press release on last year’s signing day, a highly decorated collection of talent from the state, and claim that there isn’t anyone comparable for this year’s crop of talent. The UW class, remember, is filled with guys who are going to explode under “Sark”…..

By the way, why is it UW’ers say in one breath that Ty Willingham was lazy and couldn’t recruit, and that was why he was fired? Yet in their next breath, they all claim “boy was last year’s recruiting class great or what!?” Or “Sark has a ton of young talent already on the roster to turn this thing around fast”. How can you have a great class and a lot of young talent when your head coach can’t recruit? Either you keep the cake under glass, or you eat it. Can’t have it both ways….or maybe they have split the atom and figured out that only they can do it?

And meanwhile, how is a “great class” even decided anymore? Do you declare a winner on signing day, ala Dewey Beats Truman? Do you, as a fan-alum, throw a party or demand firings, all based on how grumpy old men project how high school hotshots they haven’t even seen play will do in the different programs? I know the recruiting grades and rankings and such move newspapers and online premium subscriptions, but how much weight does that stuff really hold? Sort of like when the talking heads on the NFL Draft coverage unveil their winners and losers the day of the draft, it is CRAZY to fret about the rankings every February!

I remember a conversation a few years ago with someone who talked to a former WSU assistant about a specific signing class. If you can recall, there was much excitement over the class that signed in February 2004, coming off the Holiday Bowl win. But among all the hype and hoopla, the conversation went like this:

Alum: “Hey, looks like you guys got a GREAT recruiting class! Lots of high-ranked kids, some big-time talent coming in!”

WSU Assistant: “Eh…..talk to me in four years.”

Maybe the sensible thing is to wait until at least a few seasons have passed and the recruits have settled in? You know, after they actually passed admissions, kept up their grades, practiced well, hit the weight room, stayed healthy and out of trouble, learned the playbook and are actually PLAYING to see how things are working out? Let’s see what happens with a few years of the Paul Wulff weight room GAUNTLET, where these kids can get into a serious program that can make them bigger/stronger/faster with proper instruction and nutrition.

Most of all, when it comes to signing day, RELAX. Let the naysayers downplay the state of, well, the state. Trust the process, understand the time and hard work it will take, and hope the coaches in place who are actively out there recruiting will get the job done. But give the kids a chance to show what they can do, before they are labeled nobodies. You just never know who will break through, or who will never make it.

ENJOY YOUR DAY, and GO COUGS!

What a Day!

November 23, 2008

It’s Still the Apple Cup

November 17, 2008

What makes a rivalry game great? It’s many things. Friends, co-workers and family members will gather to root for their side. But even in down years, this game is always circled, always in the back of your mind as a Coug/UW fan. And most of all, you just never know what’s going to happen. In more recent years, WSU has been the better team, yet knocked off by UW. But in the past, even in years UW had a Rose Bowl bid on the line, the Cougs have returned the favor (1982 and 1983 ring a bell?).

But regardless of the awfulness of the 2008 records, you really can throw it all out on Saturday. That’s what makes college football special, what makes it unique, are these rivalry games. You just never know.

Vegas has a handle on it, and right now we’re seeing anywhere from 7.5 to 8.5 in favor of the visiting dawgs. But as recent history suggests, does that matter? Let’s take a look.

2001: WSU was a favorite of seven or so points in this one. We came in at 9-1, and the only loss of the season at that point was a tough 7-point loss to Oregon at home. An Oregon team that would go on to win the Fiesta Bowl that year and had a legit argument for being in the BCS title game. A win over UW would have likely secured a BCS bowl or, at worst, the Holiday Bowl. Meanwhile UW came in at 7-2, but off a horrible loss to Oregon State the week before where QB Jonathan Smith just destroyed the UW defense in Corvallis. But WSU would sputter in the red-zone, with some costly INT’s, one on a halfback pass from Dave Minnich. UGH. UW meanwhile kept going to Reggie Williams, and Marcus Trufant and Jason David just couldn’t stop him. UW wins it 26-14. Underdog covers the spread (1-0).

2002: WSU an eight-point favorite in Pullman, yet UW wins 29-26 in triple OT on one of the most controversial calls in Apple Cup history. The thing to me isn’t the fact as to whether that pass from Kegel was backwards or not, and there is video evidence out there that shows that, if anything, a straight line pass that never should have been overruled as a fumble from an initial incomplete pass. The other thing is, at least one ref started to blow the whistle once the ball hit the turf, and that should have automatically made it an incomplete pass. No, I’m still not over that one….but the point is, WSU was a healthy favorite at home, and lost. Underdog covers the spread (2-0)

2003: WSU a seven-point favorite at Husky Stadium, yet UW wins, 27-19. A very sloppy game with turnovers all over the place. If you remember that game, WSU moved the ball well at times, but turnovers (six) and major red zone issues (as they did the entire 2003 season) led to settling for Drew Dunning field goals. Plus a young and nervous Josh Swogger had to relieve Matt Kegel, and it just didn’t work out down the stretch. UW still had to rally, and did so, with Cody Pickett hitting Corey Williams in the final minute to take their first lead. UW would return an INT for a TD the next possession, and that was it. Another lesson learned in this one? NEVER over-estimate how a team is going to do in this game based on what they did the week before. WSU was coming in at #8 in the country and had just whipped ASU at home, 34-19, while UW was coming off one of their worst losses ever, 54-7 at Cal. Underdog covers the spread (3-0).

2004: WSU was a 12-point favorite in a tough season, while UW limped in with one win, being talked about as one of the worst Pac-10 teams in a while, their lone win coming over San Jose State. Gilbertson would announce he was stepping down a few weeks before the game, somewhat similar to what UW is going through now. But while WSU sprinted out to a 28-10 lead, UW would insert Isaiah Stanback and rally big-time, cutting it to a 3-point game. But the Cougs would hold on and win in Alex Brink’s first of three Apple Cup wins. Underdog covers the spread (4-0…see a theme here?).

2005: A thrilling game at Husky Stadium, this one saw Brink rally them on the last drive, converting some big third downs and then finding Trandon Harvey on the bubble screen. The rest was history. WSU was a three-point favorite, and with the final score 26-22, it was the first time since 2000 that the favorite actually covered in this series. The favorite covers the spread(underdog now 4-1).

2006: This one still hurts. WSU started hot, 6-3 and ranked in the top 25, before injuries destroyed them down the stretch on both sides of the ball. UW meanwhile had a strong beginning to their season, sitting at 4-2 at one point and looking good for a bowl bid. But Stanback would go down vs. Oregon State in the seventh game of the year, and UW would fall apart, losing the rest of their games, including an awful 20-3 loss to one of the worst-ever Pac-10 teams in Stanford. And then the Apple Cup happened. While WSU was an eight-point favorite, UW would pull it out, 35-32. This game might be looked at as the beginning of the end of the Bill Doba era. Underdog covers the spread (5-1).

2007: Finally, last year. UW came in at 4-7 and feeling good about themselves after a walloping of Cal the week before, 37-23. Meanwhile Alex Brink had his worst-game ever vs. Oregon State the week before, closing out his home career in disappointing fashion, a horrific 52-17 loss that sealed WSU’s non-postseason fate yet again. UW was a six-point favorite, but of course, WSU wins it 42-35 with one of Alex Brink’s best-ever games, 399 yards and five TD’s. YET ANOTHER example of never putting too much stock into what happened the week before a rivalry game! Underdog covers the spread(6-1).

So there you have it. Rivalry games are just too hard to call. In the best of seasons, in the worst of seasons, the favorite has only covered the spread one time since 2001. What does that tell you about this Saturday??

ENJOY YOUR MONDAY, and GO COUGS!

Are You Not Entertained?

October 7, 2008

Why exactly do you watch Cougar football? Is it because of your student roots, whether you are still in Pullman or a former student/alum/whatever? WSU isn’t exactly your standard “t-shirt” school, where people all over the country buy your gear. That’s no secret. Sure, we had some bandwagon hoppers climb aboard from the 2001-2003 seasons. But those that hopped on at those times have clearly hopped right back off.

My blood runs crimson because I went there, and those of you who went there or still go there can attest at the affection you develop towards the place. It’s hard to put into words, but you simply understand. And because of that affection, that love of all things WSU, is why you care, even in these dark times. It’s why you criticize or celebrate on message boards and comments, even right here on this little site. It’s why you come here, looking for something new. We do what we do because we LOVE it, that’s all.

That said, one of the worst things you can do in sports, whether it’s college or professional, is be boring. Around the turn of the century (2000, to be exact) I worked in a sports news room, where NCAA football and MLB games were logged and sports were reported on a daily basis on a web site. There were people in this news room with all sorts of experiences in the sports media, from ESPN to SI to local stations like KING/KIRO/KOMO. They all had great stories from their various walks of life, and it was fascinating to listen to all the anecdotes of what they had experienced, from all over the country and all types of sports.

But one in particular caught my attention that I’ll never forget. It was from a guy who had a ton of experience, working in the NBA and NHL. He said the worst thing you can be, in sports, is BORING! For example, the NBA model is either go for the title, or tear it down and rebuild, but don’t be trapped in “middle earth”. You know what I mean by the NBA, right? Back when there was a team in Seattle, the most times the Sonics “moved the needle” among the fanbase was when they were contending for the NBA western conference, or when they stripped it down to nothing and rebuilt towards the future with youth like a young Gary Payton or Shawn Kemp. The big losses were OK, as long as GP was throwing alley-oops to the Reign Man and getting on plays of the week. You could see the promise of the future. But those years where they would be a mediocre 41-41, flirting with the 8-seed in the playoffs and getting into the back end of the lottery?? BORING. (note – you cannot bring up the poor attendance and Kevin Durant in Seattle, as everyone knew regardless of how wonderful a player he was/is, the Sonics were history in Seattle.)

The thing is, fans get it. If you are going for it, you are going for it. If you are rebuilding, and you are playing your young talent to point towards the future, then do it and don’t be shy about it. Rebuilding can, in fact, be entertaining. It can be worth the price of admission to get a glimpse at the young talent in the pipeline, and most of all, have hope for the future.


I remember the 2000 WSU football season. A young sophomore QB in Jason Gesser getting his first crack at the full-time starting gig. It was full of potholes and wildly up-and-down performances, from awful losses vs. Stanford and Idaho and UW that year, but also some high moments like at Utah, at Cal, and even at USC(!). But the one thing I took from that team was that it was really entertaining, and full of hope for the future. That was the year of three OT losses, where these young guys played their butts off. You could see glimpses of what Gesser could do, before he went down with the broken leg. You could see a young, high-energy defense with just young kids like Isaac Brown and DD Acholonu coming off the edges. You could see promise with Lamont Thompson, Marcus Trufant, Jason David in the secondary.

Most of all, we were ENTERTAINED. They were exciting, promising, and the best point yet, the seeds were planted for an excellent run to follow. 2001-2003 are the greatest years in program history. We’ve never topped that, and we might never again. But the 2000 season meant something. It was simply part of the process, a necessary process we had to experience. We had to see them get knocked down in 2000, so they could get up again in 2001-2003. And as a fan, I know I appreciated the pain of 2000 because of the fruit harvested from 2001-2003.

I heard our own Ian Furness on KJR yesterday. Amongst the gnashing of teeth of the inept Seahawks in New York (yikes), and the husky angst over Willingham, etc, he snuck in a little info regarding WSU. He said that based on who he has talked to over the last couple of weeks, there is a real growing belief internally at WSU that they will be MUCH better the moment the 2008 season is over. There is a strong feeling that there is hope for the future, and that there are some redshirts right now, players we haven’t seen, that will make this team a much better unit in 2009 compared to what we see right now. Furness also mentioned the CAL transfers, like James Montgomery and Brandon Jones, and that they will help a lot for 2009. Combine all that with a promising recruiting class that is forming as one of the best we’ve had in a long, long time, well, the seeds are in fact being planted.

So after this long rant, I ask you – are you ENTERTAINED right now? Do you look at Marshall and see a young Gesser? Do you see Jeshua Anderson making some athletic plays and see another Jason Hill or Brandon Gibson? Do you look at all the young players on defense, with the youth at linebacker and in the secondary, and do you see some promise for better days ahead? I know I have preached for patience, and belief in this coaching staff. I am approaching the rest of the season to hope for entertainment, improvement and most of all, a glimpse at a hopeful tomorrow. What do YOU hope to take from the rest of 2008?

We’ll have a Wulff radio recap available, either late tonight or first thing tomorrow morning. Enjoy your Tuesday, and GO COUGS!

Does QB Situation Match 1999?

September 23, 2008

*Update 9/23 3:00 PM – It’s official. Kevin Lopina is now out 2-4 weeks with a fractured L-4 vertabrae. That means it’s Ocho Rojo time, for at least the next 2-4 games. Dan Wagner and JT Levenseller will back up Lobbestael.

First off, this is no way an insinuation that the current redshirt frosh QB, Marshall Lobbestael, is on the same path followed by the greatest #17 in school history, Jason Gesser. But in perusing this week’s press release, something caught my eye and made me think back a few years, to when Jason Gesser first broke onto the scene. Believe it or not, there are some parallels to 2008 compared to 1999. Consider:

  • In ’99, Steve Birnbaum was the established player, a senior QB who was getting a final shot at this thing. Birnbaum, you’ll remember, took over for Ryan Leaf in 1998 and struggled in leading the Cougs to a 3-8 season. Birnbaum did the best he could, but never really put it all together. He does hold the record for the longest TD in WSU history, a 97-yard pass to Nian Taylor vs. Idaho in 1998. But that’s pretty much the highlight of highlights for #13. Not much happened in ’99 either, as the team would slog through a 3-9 season.


  • QB Paul Mencke was a junior in 1999, and had a rather undistinguished QB career. Mencke would share some time with Birnbaum, but never was able to grab the job. Mencke would set a WSU record for interceptions, tossing six in one game. But that’s about all you’ll find or remember about Mencke.


  • And then you had the frosh, Jason Gesser. A lot of buzz, some whispers about his leadership, and some people in and around the program who thought the kid had “it”. Not top-shelf talent, not blessed with monster size and strength or fantastic quickness. But just something about him, his leadership and competitiveness, his winning ways back to high school where he never lost a game, people just knew he would be a winner. ’99 saw them all split time, but Gesser never actually started a game until the end of the season, at Hawaii. ’99 was a miserable season, a 3-9 year that saw them beat only Cal in the Pac-10, and something else called Louisiana-Lafayette. But then, that last game of the year, at Hawaii.


Gesser would get the start, and this was against a good Hawaii team to boot, a 9-win bowl Hawaii team in June Jones’ first season on the island. Gesser would lead the Cougs to a 22-14 win, taking some repeated blows from the Hawaii defense in the process.
That game was considered the defining moment to the start of Gesser’s career.

Don’t take my word for it. Check out Washington State Magazine’s look back to that game:

He sometimes seemed fragile, but he was always throwing his body at yard-markers, at safeties, at whatever got in his way. He and others recall his defining moments as late in that freshman season of 1999, when he had a bad thumb but led a team of meager capability to a victory at Hawaii.

On one play, he dove for the chains and in his words, “got cleaned in the ribs.” Wincing back to the huddle, he had established a tone. Safety Billy Newman told him that from that moment forward, everybody in the program knew that nothing less than a best effort would do.


So where does that leave us with “Ocho Rojo” (Eight Red), Marshall Lobbestael? I know, I know, it’s one game over a non-BCS opponent. He only played in the second half. There is a great unknown for how he’s going to handle things going forward. And many one-time wonders have been named Pac-10 player of the week, as success can be just so fleeting. But Lobbestael has been special in his past. Such as his bio from Scout.com:

Has a quick release, outstanding accuracy and tremendous poise. Named 2006 state Class 4A Player of the Year by the Associated Press and Seattle Times after leading Oak Harbor to its first-ever state championship game. Passed for 34 touchdowns and 2,776 yards on the season.

His prep coach, Dave Ward, says that from the time Lobbestael started as a sophomore that he knew he was coaching a Pac-10-caliber quarterback: “Marshall is the best quarterback, the best leader, the best passer, the best player I’ve ever coached,” he says.

Burst onto the recruiting radar early in the season against Meadowdale when he completed 18 of 22 passes and a school-record six touchdowns passes (breaking a record set by his older brother John). As a junior in 2005, Lobbestael earned second-team all-conference honors, completing 59 percent of his passes for 1,351 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

The exciting thing in all this is that, two weeks ago, the QB conundrum was a tough one. Here was one QB in Rogers, a senior, who was clearly struggling to pick things up. But even if Rogers stayed healthy and had a decent year, where would that put the program for the future? Would his success hold back the development of another?

The other QB, Lopina, showed a little more success than Rogers, but really not by much. Lopina might be viewed as the better fit in terms of the short passing game and more mobility, but he’s also shown a penchant for the interception, now five in just about two games of playing time. But Lopina is a junior, so even if he does flat-out grab the job, it still might be a full season of lumps before he could really click in 2009. But then he’d be a senior, and the clock would be ticking. Would his success hold back the development of another?

But now, due to injury, here’s Lobbestael, a redshirt-frosh with so much ahead of him. He is something to build around, something tangible to point to in the future. He’s been a success in his high school career, a leader and a winner who won a state title. Most of all, a down season can be turned into something at least somewhat positive if the down times are learning experiences for a very young program, a very young QB and leader the team can rally around. Just like 1999.

One more thing – if Mike Price had it to do over again, he would have given Jason Gesser more starts in that lousy 1999 season. Gesser would have to learn under fire in 2000, but by then he was already a sophomore. He would have some high points in 2000, such as a win at Utah and at Cal. He would also put up some big numbers in a couple of OT losses to Arizona and ASU. But Gesser would be lost to a broken leg at Oregon State late in the year. So really, it wasn’t until 2001, Gesser’s junior season, before he really put it together, and would lead us on the best two-year run in school history. But again, if Price could do it all over again, he would have used that frosh year to put him into the fire and take the lumps while also getting him true playing experience. Maybe 2000 could have been another story in his sophomore year. Maybe those OT losses could have been victories, and a 4-7 season could have been a 6-5, bowl-eligible year?

Anyway, just something to chew on for the rest of 2008. With Rogers now done for his senior year, and Lopina already bruised and battered, it sure doesn’t seem like a bad idea now to give the ball to EIGHT RED and see what shakes. At this point, what do they have to LOSE?

The Gess is Best; What Up With Those Beavs?

December 30, 2007

I guess it was a little predictible, but the first-ever WSU Football Blog poll question has selected Jason Gesser as the runaway winner for “Best WSU QB Ever”. More than size or stats, Gesser just plain won. And who can ever forget his guts vs. UCLA in 2002? That performance still resonates today, and will always be with Coug fans everywhere.

Gesser finished with 61 out of 140 individual votes, or 43% of all votes cast. Bledsoe took 2nd with 39 votes, or 27%, followed by Leaf, who finished with 30 votes or 21%. Also interesting…but not really….was Brink finishing way back, with 10 votes, tied with the Throwin’ Samoan.

I guess the voting shows one huge thing – wins, well, win votes. Statistically, Brink is the all-time leader in passing yards and TD’s at WSU, and even won 3 Apple Cups, but he never tasted post-season play. That is the end-result of all this. But maybe it’s not fair for Brink. Maybe some time needs to pass before it’s even much of a debate. He did what he could with limited tools, and was absolutely great in his Apple Cup performances, so he’ll always rate as one of the best. But clearly he’ll never be looked upon as THE best, and no matter if it’s 140 or 140,000 votes, he’ll likely never break the Gesser-Bledsoe-Leaf ratings.

Predictably, this is a slow time right now for the football program. The holidays, the dead period in recruiting, and of course, no bowl game. But there is a little recruiting news. Cougfan has a story about Andrei Lintz, a 2-star TE prospect out of Bellingham. He holds an offer from WSU and has the Cougs as his leader. The usual NW schools are in the mix, but he hasn’t been offered from UW, Oregon or OSU. He’s a big, versatile kid at 6-4, 227, playing both ways and even punted in 2005.

The Sporting News has a story about the 1997 Rose Bowl breakthrough (it should be on the news feed to the right, but here’s a link). What a team, and what a season. The Fab Five, the Fat Five, Leaf getting Heisman hype, Price the coach of the year, and even the defense was #1 in the Pac-10 in total D. That team was just so flippin’ special, and really, pretty damn close to winning a national title. If they execute in the end vs. ASU, and they get another snap vs. Michigan, who the hell knows what could have been?

Like Nuss wrote about on his blog, he was covering the Cougars in 1997 for the Evergreen. He saw Mike Price weeping after that ASU loss. Not because they had simply lost the game, but because that was such a special team, and such a special season. That team was NOT a paper tiger. Remember, they had to go to USC, which was never easy, to Oregon, which is always tough, to ASU, which of course was the only regular season loss, and to UW, which was a top-10 team for a lot of 1997. They had OSU as their bye, and the Beav’s were smack-dab in the middle of 27 straight losing seasons. They earned every inch of that season. Ah, memories.

Finally, hats off to Oregon State. Another 9-win, bowl-winning season. And thanks for representing the lousy Pac-10 showing thus far in the bowl season. To think that they won 9 games, and a bowl game, with a lousy QB situation (11 td’s, 21 int’s?) and the loss of the #1 returning WR in Stroughter?? Amazing coaching job by Riley by getting 9 wins out of a season that had 5-7 written all over it, especially when they were sitting at 2-3! They ran off 7 wins in their last 8 games. Nobody in the Pac-10 circles the wagons better than Mike Riley and the Beav’s. Don’t believe me? Last year, guess how they started their season? 2-3. How did they finish? 10-4, with a bowl victory. Amazing.

It really is impressive what they’ve been able to establish after so many years of misery. 27 straight losing seasons is hard to turn around! But think about where they are now – They’ve now won 5 of their 6 bowl games in this decade. They now have 58 victories since 2000, behind only USC and Oregon in the Pac-10. They’ve won 4 of their last 6 games vs. the hated Quacks. It’s all about that 2000 season, with the Erickson excitement and Fiesta Bowl romp that got it all rolling. Now they have a fantastic, intimate 45,000+ seat facility that is first-class in every way.

As Kaddy and I have conversed, OSU did it, yes, with a sugar-daddy in the Reser sponsorship. But they’ve also done a genius thing, and that is reach out to the middle-level donor. The young alums that are establishing themselves in society are able to not only get season tickets, but the school makes them feel “special” I guess is the way to put it. OSU makes the middle guy feel important, if not downright VITAL, to the program’s success, and they’ve managed to reel in those fish and not wasting energy in trying to land the White Whale. /criticism: Maybe our athletic department needs to worry less about landing Moby Dick (cough*Paul Allen*cough) and more about getting the middle guy with $500 in his pocket and would love to feel like he’s important?? /end critcism. Just sayin’.

We’ll have a new poll question up this week. The first one was an easy place to start, but if you have any suggestions, leave a comment. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Turkey Day Q & A; 2002 Rose Bowl Clincher Vid

November 22, 2007

First of all, it’s good to be Tim Tebow. I would imagine he’s got a lot to be thankful for today. And I’m not talking about the Heisman front-running status either.

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled WSU blogger ramblings. We did a quick Q & A with UW blogger John Berkowitz of the UW Football Blog. He does a fine job of covering his team and has a lot of passion for his Huskies, even while living in Illinois. Check it out here (Brinkhater was especially funny). It eventually morphs into a hoops discussion and how we’ve topped them 5 straight…and counting….but give it a read anyway.

Second, I don’t normally do this kind of thing, but I couldn’t resist – my 6-year old proudly donned the colors at school yesterday, and he told me he got a lot of “Go Cougs!”, even here in Mill Creek. But I loved the picture that the teacher took of him yesterday, so I just had to share:

“Ahhhhh, yeah. One on each arm, and dressed in the colors. That’s how I ROLL Daddy.” He’s got something to be thankful for this year too. Not quite Tebow, but hey, you have to start somewhere. Nice work son.

More coaching change chatter going on. The Go-2-Guy was on KJR yesterday afternoon, and while he didn’t specify a source on the matter, he concludes that it’s his belief that it’s “basically a done deal with Doba” and that we’ll see a change. Meanwhile Sterk gave another no-comment on Doba in today’s P-I, only to say that it will be addressed after Saturday’s game. And again, the silence is deafening among the WSU Football Blog “sources”, so you can sort of connect the dots here. Personally I’m leaning heavily towards a Monday morning presser to announce a change, but we’ll see.

Finally, I’ve been feeling some memory lane type-stuff this week with all the Apple Cup highlights and stories. I thought I’d put up some video of when we blew out UCLA 48-27 to clinch the 2002 Rose Bowl bid (I’m trying to use Blogger’s video feature, so I don’t know if it’ll look good or not compared to AOL Uncut of Youtube, but I thought I’d give it a shot.).

It’s just the last minute of the game, but there are some Gesser highlights mixed in and of course, post-game comments from Price and Gesser. I love the true emotion in Price after that game, after witnessing Gesser step up on one leg and take us home, it’s just fantastic. He really is at a loss for words, like many of us were after watching that game unfold. I also like Keith Jackson talking about Bill Doba and how he’s “a pretty damn good defensive football coach” after Dobes got the Gatorade shower. I also like listening to Bob Toledo hugging Gesser and saying “you’re a hell of a Warrior” a few times. The MVP of the history of WSU, hands down.

Hmmm, how about a Price – Gesser coaching combo in Pullman? Maybe Price is the head guy, Gesser can be an offensive/QB coach, Doba stays as the DC and when Price steps down, Gesser gets the “dream” job?

Nah. It makes too much sense.

Brinkhater will come out swinging tomorrow with the final Football Friday of 2007, complete with a prediction (note that unlike our Cougs, Brinkhater is a perfect 11-0 in picking WSU football games in 2007. The perfect season is on the line tomorrow!). So, to all, Happy Thanksgiving!

Will You Boo When Brink Breaks the Record?

October 2, 2007

Ready or not, Alex Brink is going to break Jason Gesser’s passing record, and there’s a real chance he’ll do it this weekend. He’s now a mere 276 yards away from Gesser. Talk about a surreal scene if, say, sometime in the 4th quarter when we’re down 42-16, an announcement comes over the PA that Alex Brink has now passed the Cougar legend. What do you think the crowd will do when that happens?

Personally, to save the embarrassment for Brink, I hope he doesn’t break it this weekend. I hope he does it the following week at Oregon, and it’s merely a footnote from the game story. For reasons that would take weeks to explain, Brink has been the whipping boy for the program, period. He’s been ripped to shreds since he became the starter over Swogger, and while it occasionally faded, it always comes back into the debate after yet another disappointing loss.

Here’s a kid that was recruited by Boise State and Eastern WA, and was ignored in his own backyard in Oregon and all other Pac-10 schools for that matter. He’s not a tools guy, never has been and never will be, but he’s tough, efficient and smart. But even as he’s set to break all the school records, he’s just not “big-time” enough. I think it’s as simple as that. And to be a winner in the Pac-10, eventually the rubber hits the road and the elite talent separates from the mediocre. While Brink’s tools have been closer to Jason Gesser than Leaf, Bledsoe or even Rosie, let’s be honest – our homecoming fans are fed-up, tired of losing and downright pissed at the current state of affairs of the football team. And yeah, what fans that actually go to the game this weekend will be pretty drunk on Saturday, as is typical for a homecoming crowd (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). What do YOU THINK they’ll do when that record falls?? It could be a very, very embarrassing moment for our program when about 3/4th’s of the crowd rains down boos when that record falls. Of course, they’ll probably just spin it and say they weren’t booing, they were chanting “Brink, Brink, Brink”. Well, ok, not Brink, maybe “Frank Madu, Frank Madu, Frank Madu…..”

Brink isn’t such a bad guy. I know I wrote earlier this year something about why he’s never endeared himself to our hearts, and that something was just missing. Whether it’s his personality, or the blandness of his quotes or the lack of the signature win, something has been missing. But the Arizona Star ran a story last week about Brink that’s interesting. Actually I always find it a good read when a reporter from another school provides an outside-looking-in story about a player like Brink, someone we think we know so well. You don’t always hear about the GPA, or the senior thesis on racism, or so much charity work that the school can’t even keep track of it all. Stuff like that helps you see the forest as well as the trees, and sometimes an outside perspective is important in the grand scheme.

Meanwhile, Doba and Sterk are quoted today as saying 1) yes, Doba’s on thin ice, and 2) No WAY will Doba quit. I’m just glad that Sterk came out and said publically that yes, we are concerned, and he’ll be evaluated after the season (translation – a 2 or 3-win season and he’s out of here). And how can anyone be surprised that Doba would say no way would he quit? What’s he going to say at this point? Yes, I’m sick of this too and I want to quit?? Not only not is it in his DNA to quit when the going gets tough, but if he said something to the effect that he is going to quit now, the lid is sealed on a 2-win season. Let’s face it, the damage is already done, he’s lost this team and they are likely going to lose out, but for him to actually admit he’s thinking about stepping aside would make this train wreck of a season even harder on the eyes.