The Columbia River Cougar Club dinner & auction has a history of being the single biggest annual fundraiser for WSU Athletics, and this year was no different. I had the privilege of attending this event for the third straight year, and it might have been the best one so far. Last year, the highlight of the evening came during the live auction, when honorary guest Drew Bledsoe was auctioned off to the higher bidder as a gold partner the following day. When his price tag reaced $6000, I didn't think anything could top that this year. Well, I was wrong.
As you might have guessed, this year's highlight quickly turned into the Tony Bennett show, as he got the party started with a few comments to the crowd. The questions came up surrounding his decision to stay at WSU, naturally. Tony said he felt obligated to interview with LSU, since his wife was from there, but he had zero interest. He also told President Floyd that he wanted to stay at WSU, but ONLY if Jim Sterk was still there - more on that later. He even ended his time on stage with the punchline of a joke aimed squarely at Ty Willingham! This really warmed up the crowd for Paul Wulff, who spoke next. Wulff started out explaining how the APR system worked, and how the end-result is a little misleading. He pointedly stated that it was by no means a death sentence, and that he and his staff have already addressed it and moved on. You can tell how far CPW has come...he was very comfortable in front of the crowd. He brought all the coaches to the event, and lined them up on stage - Bruiser is still the shortest, but coach Todd Sturdy isn't much taller.
As usual, I got caught up in the Cougar love fest, and went home the proud owner of some nice Cougar memorabilia, including (but not limited to) a football helmet, an autographed Bledsoe jersey, and yes, a much lighter checkbook.
A note of interest: KJR's Ian Furness, the MC for the evening, went through a Q&A session with Jim Sterk on stage, and it quickly became apparent that Sterk is now a hot commodity amongst the Athletic Director community. Furness asked him straight up if he planned to stick around Pullman, since it was clear that he had suitors after him, and Sterk said he wasn’t going anywhere. I personally believe that we have one of the best AD’s around.
The Cougar Celebrity Classic was the next day, with somewhat crummy weather. I golfed with one of the Grad Assistants who works with the linebackers. He said that Cory Evans helps with all the other linebackers with their assignments....he's a really sharp kid. Stripling is the first substitute, and while he doesn't know many of the plays, he's such a great playmaker that he always seems to find the ball.
There were a couple of updated photos of the stadium remodel - the north side in particular (I don't believe you can see these anywhere else??):
(Editor note - let me just say, BEAUTIFUL renderings. That north side of the stadium is going to be something we can be proud of. I wish the interior shot would have included the new scoreboard rendering, but man, when this little stadium renovation is done, we are going to have a very cool, intimate, on-campus gameday experience that will be nothing but an asset to the university!)
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the organizer of the event, Todd Thrasher, who did a wonderful job. He was hung over as hell the next day at the golf course, but managed to keep a smile on his face in between trips to the can!
Last but not least, a picture of our table guests with the most handsome coach our wives have ever seen (note the positioning of the female guests in regards to coach handsome?).
Great job Kaddy!