Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brinkhater Diaries: Million Dollar Baby

Brinkhater Diaries, Vol 1 (1)

So, how about T-Bone ringing in the second quarter of 2008 with 1 million per? Its hard to know what's more amazing, T-Bone giving up 2.5 times that amount to stay in Pullman or WSU actually ponying up the seven figure donut to keep him? Think about it, its not just 1 million per, its 1 million per for SEVEN YEARS. In Brinkhater math, that's 7 stinking million dollars! Say what you want, but in my book Jimmy Sterk has not only done one helluva job, he just may have earned himself a spot in the WSU Hall of Fame...

Speaking of Sterk, its hard to ignore news this week about Coach Paul losing a couple handful of scholarships this past week. Nice job, Dobes. Yes, I know that Grandpa was loved by many--including yours truly--but as I wrote here on this very blog last season, the ONE thing we could hang our hat on during our sans bowling escapades with Dobes was that our kids were (seemingly) getting an education...

But with the news about the lost schollies, we became even worse than the Bandits that we've bashed here over the years. You know, the thing about Bandit outfits is that they really make no bones about what they are doing. They bring in the 4 or 5 star talent with marginal academics, promise them special treatment and perks (including a free "education" as well as room and board) and give them free football training for two + years in front of 30,000 co-eds auditioning for Girls Gone Wild VXIV. For those who can't make it to the pros after the Jesus Shuttleworth procession, too bad so sad. But at least everyone knows what the proverbial Barack was cookin' in those outfits: Go pro or go home.

But with us, it was supposed to be a different deal. We're walking into homes, promising a chance at the pros, ensuring recruits that if they're good enough, they'll make it. But, what we're really doing in these homes is selling WSU as a place where kids can play with or against great players while they go to a school in an environment where they can get a degree and graduate.

Obviously, the scenario we all hope for is to be great and have a great classroom record like we did at the end of the Price era. But, if you're not going to win football games, then graduate your stinkin' players, coaches!. I mean, Dobes, we loved you, but in spite of your professed caring for "your kids", you failed them.

And you failed them BIG TIME.

And yes, I know it was a tough job, but you got paid some 800k per year to make sure those 70 something kids could do something with their lives when they were done not praticing on weekends during the spring. After all, caring is more than "academic compliance," Dobes, and you should have known better. And because of that, you should have DONE better for them....Bring on Coach Paul!

Speaking of Coach Paul, word down here is that he and his boys are simply tearing up Northern California. In addition to James Montgomery, you may all recongnize Onterrio Smith, Donte Stallworth, and our own Aaron Garcia as some of the familiar names that came out of Sacto to achieve CRAP-10 fame. As you all know, Coach Paul is from Davis--about 10 miles west of Sacto--and his story and origin has given him MAJOR street (farm) cred down here. From the mouths of Sac State coaches, to regional college football boosters and head hunters, word is overwhelming that we have a MAJOR "IN" downhere right now. Next to USC, we have staked our claim as #2b with CAL for winning this region. Stay tuned, but you gotta LOVE the tenacity of Coach Paul and this staff.

Finally, after seeing that the Big Apple got drafted (way to go Alex!!), I immediately went to scour the Houston Chronicle for press and reader reaction. Among the quotes found in relation to Alex (there were hardly any comments regarding B.A. and no positives to report) was "W-T-F?!", "Total Losers--All of Them", "Sixth string material and we only have 4 other QBs on the roster" and my favorite from some Yahoo (I think he is my cousin, Cleetis) from Houston:

Alex Brink was a star athelete in four sports in high school. My bet is that they'll switch him to defensive back since he has a great mind for the game, great durability, and great speed.

I mean, I know that Alex is durable and that he has a great football mind, but the Big Apple as a Defensive Back?

"So you're telling me, that I have a chance....

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Youth Movement Kicks Off for M's

The Brad Wilkerson Era in Seattle has come to a sad conclusion. "Wilky" as he was dubbed by adoring teammates has been handed his walking papers. I'm really going to miss that sub-.200 average with no pop or range in right field.

In all seriousness, too bad it didn't work out. It was a nice idea if he could have hit and played defense, but from opening day he looked like a broken-down horse on his last legs. Sort of like an NFL running back who loses a few steps, when the skills start to go on a power-hitter, they go quick.

But don't fret M's fans. The baby M's are on the way! The M's have recalled not only Wladimir Baltentien from Tacoma, but they have ALSO called up the top catching prospect in baseball right now in Jeff Clement. KJR speculates that at least Balentien will be in the lineup tonight and is basically your new right fielder. Also, Clement is now in the mix for backing up Johjima at catcher, while getting the majority of his hacks from the DH spot. Jose "Turbo" Vidro likely becomes an $8.5 million dollar pinch-hitter for the rest of the way. Given that Turbo has a vesting option on his deal for next season if he gets a certain number of plate appearances, this should be the beginning of the end for the ground ball specialist (which isn't a good thing to be when you are a hitter!).

Clement is a hell of a hitter and is simply on fire right now. He was hitting .397 and an onbase-plus-slugging percentage of 1.200+. That's pretty remarkable. His walk-to-strikeout ratio is almost 2-to-1. He's part of that great 2005 draft class with Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Braun, Jeff Zimmerman, Troy Tulowitzki, and Clay Bucholtz among others. He's done everything he can in the minors and is a perfect fit with his left-handed stick in Safeco. M's scout Roger Hansen said the other day that he could very well be better than Jason Varitek. The kid is ready.

Balentien has shown tremendous progress in the last year and change. He has always had fantastic power, but the strike-zone judgment was an ongoing issue. Something changed last year though, and ever since the 2007 season he's been a different, more mature hitter. The P-I had a nice piece on him today, so give it a look.

The M's also DFA'd Greg Norton, which is a little unusual. I guess he was the cheapest, non-guaranteed guy to dump, which is probably why the corpse of Miguel Cairo and his guaranteed MLB deal is still on this team. At least Norton had some punch from the left side and hit 17 HR's last year. Too bad. But Greg Norton off the bench isn't going to save this team. They desperately need hitting, and they are going to give it a go with their two top hitters that both look ready to go. The M's starting pitching has been simply fantastic this year, in the top 3 in the bigs in terms or starters' ERA. You can't continue to waste such good efforts on the mound with a few runs here or there. It should be an interesting month of May!

Moving on, another day, another good read on Gary Rogers, this time in the Everett Herald. The pride of Kamiak is finally getting his chance. The more I read and hear about Rogers, the more I think we are all going to be walking around next fall muttering "IF ONLY he had more eligibility....."

Finally, Cougfan has a decent take on the WSU hoops revenue. The revenue almost doubled for the '07-'08 season, up to $950K. Nice. But per the article, we have quite a ways to go. Hard to believe that it costs $9,000 at Arizona as the entry-level donation for just the right to buy season tickets, yet at WSU it's a measly $75. WOW. Arizona hoops is a big deal in Tucson, but supply and demand makes you think a bump in our hoops ticket prices is on the way. Given the quality of the product of late, it would be hard to argue against it.

Happy Humpday! Click here for more Comments

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Program Reboot Might Take a While....

We've been saying it since the day Wulff was hired and the initial articles appeared. Wulff went out of his way on more than one occasion to mention the current culture of the team, and how he believes some things need to change. Now that he's had a full spring practice session under his belt, spent time with the players on and off the field, what does he see? In a quote-heavy article with the Evergreen, Wulff opened up on where we are, and where we'd like to be.

When asked about the off-the-field issues of late, Wulff was candid:

“There's improvement, but we're not where we need to be," he said. "We still have players that don't fully understand the responsibility you have of being a college student-athlete, and that it's different than being a college student. They need to be held to a higher standard – whether they like it or not they're going to be – so they might as well accept it. There's a lot of success so far, we're just not where our culture's gonna be yet. We're working on that.”

Culture is a hard thing to peg. It's not as easy as just being introduced at a press conference with a WSU hat on and the WSU banner and glowing quotes from all parts of the state. It's much, much more than that. It's the changes in the way things have been done, from the smallest detail to the actual football game itself, that Wulff and company are trying to correct.

I don't want to throw Doba under the bus here. He did a great service to the school when Mike Price cashed his lottery ticket. He won 10 games his first year, including the Holiday Bowl which rates as one of the biggest wins in school history on his way to co-Pac-10 coach of the year honors. He got his kids ready to go in three out of four Apple Cups, something we will always be thankful for. He suffered a terrible tragedy with his wife that no man should have to go through, no matter the stage in his life or the situation. He was a class act at every step of the way.

But given the poor academics that are starting to show with the loss of scholarships, and the constant things we hear about the general surprise Wulff has felt in regards to the changes that need to be made in regards to depth and culture, well, it's time to say it - Doba was over his head. It's sad, it's unfortunate, it's generally too bad, but it's hard to argue with the results.

We've heard the rumors just like you, about what things were like towards the end of Doba's reign. The lack of organization, attention to detail, the attrition, the failure on the recruiting front on so many levels. Then you have the fake punts, the Brink/Swogger QB mess, etc. We don't need to fully rehash everything. But maybe the biggest problem with Doba was the lack of the CEO mentality, because, well, it's not in his DNA. You can't become something you aren't after doing something a certain way your entire life. The old dog-new trick isn't just some stupid saying that has been around forever without having some substance to it. Doba was an NCAA assistant from 1977 through the 2002 season. To expect him to suddenly become this great head coach after carrying someone else's clubs for over 25 years was just too much.

What the program needed was a no-doubter. You know, the guy who has someone carry his bags all the time? The guy who sits in the front seat, and the rest pile into the back of the van? When there is absolutely NO DOUBT who is in charge? The guy who has an ego, who has wanted to be in charge? Look around at the other successful programs in the conference right now, you'll know what I mean. Dennis Erickson is a coaching nomad who is always looking for the next best thing. He's got a reputation of things being fast and loose and his players reflect that. But when he walks into the room, he's in charge. Period. There's no uncertainty about who the head coach is and what the goals are. He's a prick when he needs to be, a guy who can make big decisions without having each assistant chime in.

Look at Pete Carroll. He's nicknamed High School Harry for a reason. They have a great time down there, but he's also got the ability to reel everyone in when it's time to get some work done. How that guy keeps all that 5-star talent focused in Hollywood every week is just remarkable. There was an amazing stat about Lawrence Jackson, the new Seahawk draftee who was a 4-year starter at USC. He won 46 games in his 4 seasons. 46 WINS!?!? I didn't even know they played 46 GAMES in 4 years, let alone bag 46 victories. And to win that many in one of the best conferences around?? Amazing. We pat ourselves on the back for having three straight 10 win seasons from 01-03, but that is merely a flea on the shoulder to the mighty Trojans. And down in LA, there is, again, zero doubt who is in charge.

You can say the same thing about Mike Bellotti at Oregon, or Mike Riley at Oregon State. Think there is any doubt that Jeff Tedford is in charge at Cal? Neu-weasel might generally be a phony, dishonest, full-of-it clown, but things are very clear down in the land of powder blue as to who's the captain of that ship.

So, the bottom line to this rant? The article opens some eyes to one big thing. This blanket term of "culture" is thrown around a lot, but changing culture is more than just placing someone as the head coach or painting the walls a different color. It's so much more than that. And I am thrilled to hear these things already from Paul Wulff. He hasn't even been in charge for 6 months and there is already a strong emphasis on changing the way things are done at WSU. No beating around the bush or hiding from the truth. And to that, there is NO DOUBT who is in charge! We have a head coach who knows the drill, and it's in his DNA to be a head coach. But with that, we have to give it some time, have some patience. Understand that this isn't going to simply turn over in the blink of an eye, but it will happen.

Happy Tuesday! Click here for more Comments

Monday, April 28, 2008

Trouble Finds Roof, Again

Say it ain't so Andy! Yep, apparently the anger demons have once again taken down Andy Roof. Per the Evergreen, Roof assaulted THREE MEN outside a house party on Saturday night, where one was left unconscious. Yikes. I guess those 28 days in rehab didn't do the trick. I think we all would be pretty shocked if he puts on a WSU uniform again. You don't want to kick a kid when he's down, but man, Andy, you need some help. Good luck to you.

One more piece of bad news. Looks like Doba left a "phantom" on his way out the door to the lake place. While the WSU athletic department overall is doing well in the classroom, graduating 92 % of players who exhaust their eligibility which is good for second only to Stanford in the conference, well, the football program failed to come through. As a result of poor academics, the football program will lose six scholarships, down to 79 from the standard 85. This isn't good news for any football program in America, but for WSU, where depth is always an issue, this is not a happy deal. At least Wulff wasn't surprised by this:

“When I got the job we knew we were going to take a hit this upcoming year,” Wulff said. "We have to go in with a mindset that this next year we're going to play with 79 instead of 85."

Sigh. We've heard all along that Wulff has been taken aback by the rebuilding job in front of him, and that was mainly due to depth on the field. But it's clear there is heavy lifting ahead off the field as well. Just remember Cougar Nation, if/when we hit some rough spots over the next few seasons, think about the condition of the program when it was handed off before you complain about what you see on the field. This thing is going to take a while to get it into the shape Wulff needs it in order to be successful. Let's give it some time.

Finally, some good news - Brink's draft revisited. Even though Houston recently released QB Craig Nall, the Texans will still have five QB's on the roster, including Brink. Given that teams usually have two QB's active on gameday, plus a third emergency QB, that leaves Brink at the back of the line. But stranger things have happened. And given that he's now an official draftee, he's going to get a shot. Gary Kubiak comes from a west coast offense background, so not having a Bledsoe-like arm might be OK for the Texans. Again, good luck Alex.

But the news is good for our draft hopefuls as well, as many are finding free-agent homes. As many have already heard, Michael Bumpus is a Seahawk signee. Who knows, given the Deion Branch injury, there may be a real shot at making the roster. He'll have to fight for table scraps with UW WR Anthony Russo, who also signed.

At least Bump can learn from Bobby Engram, who is a pretty good role model in terms of playing the slot and how to get open. And the west coast offense might be a great fit for a guy like Bump, a system designed for the intermediate passing game and doesn't require a bunch of burners running 4.3 40's every play. I know it's a stretch, but if Bumpus has any hope at the next level, that's a system that could work and a guy in Engram that he could emulate pretty well.

But others have signed, including Husain Abdullah in Minnesota, Jed Collins in Philly, and even Charles Dillon ended up in Indianapolis. The odds are long for each, but again, undrafted free agents make it every year for one reason or another. Anything can happen. Click here for more Comments

Sunday, April 27, 2008


With the 16th pick of the 7th round of the NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select......

Nice goin' kid. Regardless of all the poison over the years, you did it. So you aren't perfect, but who is? Who knows, maybe an NFL QB coach can improve those mechanics, and suddenly you can hit that 15-yard out with enough velocity.

Thanks again for the 10,000+ yards and three Apple Cup victories. We are all proud of you at WSU Football Blog (well, almost all of us are!) and now go make the club. Hey, even if it's just the practice squad or whatever, at least you could collect an NFL paycheck. The dream can continue.

For WSU purposes, that's now 14 straight years we've had a player drafted. What an NFL FACTORY! :) Click here for more Comments

Friday, April 25, 2008

Abdullah, Collins Our Best NFL Hope

What's up with Tim Tebow and buxom young women?? Every time you turn around there's something new. It is what it is. He'll probably have a good day tomorrow and he's not even eligible for the draft. Tim Tebow, we continue to salute you.

Anyway, happy Friday. Hopefully tomorrow is happy for Husain Abdullah and Jed Collins, our two best hopes for playing on Sundays.

As Brinhater "opined" yesterday (much to the chagrin of few of you), Alex is looking at 7th round/undrafted free agency. Brink has been getting some good vibes from various teams, and is hopeful for the call this weekend. But no, I'm not going to pile on. Too much has been said about Brink over the years, some of it completely not his fault. Enough. And I will always counter the anti-Brink rhetoric with "yeah, but those Apple Cups..." and in Forrest Gump style, that's all I have to say about that. UW has struggled, to be kind, over the last 3-4 years. But still, those games were pretty important at the time. In other words, I'll TAKE IT. And so will Brink.

Now for some WSU draft history. Our last ten drafts are actually OK. Not great, but not the end of the world (although you can see it from here). Check it out:

WR Jason Hill, 3rd round, #76 overall - San Francisco
SS Eric Frampton, 5th round, #165 overall - Oakland

RB Jerome Harrison, 5th round, #145 overall - Cleveland

CB Karl Paymah, 3rd round, #76 overall - Denver
OT Calvin Armstrong, 6th round, #211 overall - Philly
DB Hamza Abdullah, 7th round, #231 overall - Tampa Bay

WR Devard Darling, 3rd round, #82 overall - Baltimore
CB Jason David, 4th round, #125 overall - Indy
SS Erik Coleman, 5th round, #143 overall - NY Jets

CB Marcus Trufant, 1st round, #11 overall - Seattle
DT Rien Long, 4th round, #126 overall - Tennessee

LB Raonall Smith, 2nd round, #38 overall - Minnesota
FS Lamont Thompson, 2nd round, #41 overall - Cincinnati

WR Milton Wynn, 4th round, #116 overall - St. Louis

DT Rob Meier, 7th round, #241 overall - Jacksonville

CB Dee Moronkola, 7th round, #242 overall - Jacksonville

QB Ryan Leaf, 1st round, #2 overall - San Diego
DT Leon Bender, 2nd round, #31 overall - Oakland
DE Dorian Boose, 2nd round, #56 overall - NY Jets
C Jason McEndoo, 7th round, #197 overall - Seattle

Some WSU draft tidbits: For the last thirteen drafts overall, we've had at least one player selected. Even the King of Poop Island years produced at least one guy the NFL wanted bad enough to spend a draft choice on. Nothing wrong with that! That said, in the last 10 drafts, we've had a total of 20 players selected. That's "good" for MRS. LAST in the Pac-10. 10 out of 10. OUCH. However, maybe our recent draft history bodes well for Husain Abdullah. 7 of the last 13 WSU draft picks have been DB's. And since 1998, 13 out of our 20 total draft picks have been defensive players.

Anyway, here's the takes on our top two kids, Abdullah and Collins. Note - Abdullah and Collins are the two best prospects we have. Bumpus, Ropati and Brink are all projected as undrafted free-agents, at best, so we won't go into detail there. Click on their names if you want the NFL poop on them :

Husain Abdullah: 6-0, 204, 4.67-40 time. Grades out at 3.28 in SI's grading system. That basically means a late-rounder/practice squad/special teams fence-sitter.

BIOGRAPHY: Three-year starter who posted career-high totals of 84/4/5 as a senior after 66/3/4 the previous year.

POSITIVES: Athletic defensive back with marginal ball skills. Diagnoses the action, flashes the ability to play sideline-to-sideline, and has a nice first move to the ball. Aggressively defends the run and puts his shoulders into ball-carriers. Displays a sense of timing, quickly closes to the action, and displays good hands for the pick.

NEGATIVES: Wastes a lot of motion, not efficient, and must learn to play within himself. Average footwork and skill moving in reverse.

ANALYSIS: Abdullah is a competitive safety who's best suited for a zone system where the action is in front of him.

PROJECTION: Early Seventh Round

WSU Football Blog Says: Interesting how much ink Abdullah has picked up this week. Vince at mentioned it early, how there was very little out there, then suddenly there were a few different stories in different NFL markets that popped up. Could it be teams are suddenly interested in him more than the experts thought? Maybe his agent is pumping their guy this week? Whatever the case, he's on the radar. I think we'll see him go on Sunday, but I think he is definitely going to be drafted. Could be a decent special teams guy early. He needs to get stronger though. Anyone remember that TD against Idaho, where the Idaho WR literally ripped the ball right out of Abdullah's hands in the end zone? An average WR from Idaho shouldn't be able to rip the ball out of Abdullah's hands for a TD. He had a heck of a year though and with our recent track record of putting DB's in the NFL, he's got a shot.

Jed Collins: 6-1 1/2, 255, 4.85-40 time. SI grade of 3.25. Late rounder/practice squad/special teams guy.

BIOGRAPHY: All-Conference selection as a senior when he became a full-time starter and posted career-high numbers of 52/512/3.

POSITIVES: Sure-handed pass-catching tight end with an improving game. Quickly gets into routes, nicely adjusts to the errant throw, and uses his frame to shield away opponents. Gives effort blocking, stays with assignments, and works hard to produce.

NEGATIVES: Mostly a short-yardage pass-catcher and lacks the speed to break free downfield. Lacks footwork in pass protection, bends at the waist, and possesses marginal playing strength.

ANALYSIS: Collins did a terrific job in his first season as a starter and he could find a spot in the NFL as a backup.

PROJECTION: Late Seventh Round

WSU Football Blog Says: Moxie, moxie, and more moxie. Jed is full of it. He's not a top-shelf NFL talent in terms of measurables, but there are teams out there that value character, intelligence, and team-first guys in a big way. Collins can catch the ball, he can block, and he's played well in a pass-happy offense. I will always remember him from the Oregon game and UCLA game in '06, and also the UCLA game in '07. The '06 games for his receiving, but the '07 game for his blocking. We had an outstanding game running the ball on UCLA's D in '07, and Collins was basically an H-back for the entire game, motioning across the line and becoming the lead blocker on counters or sweeps. Then he would motion across and then at the snap reverse his direction and block on inside dive plays. I could see a team like New England or Seattle, organizations that value character, taking a shot with Collins. Go get 'em Jedzilla!

Hey, what do you know, VIDEO of Collins!

Finally, what would a day be without an update on the best soap opera going? Another day, more damaging e-mails. Even the national media is in on it now, with ESPN's latest headline "Newly revealed e-mails could cause headaches for Sonics owner". And now, Clay's favorite human being, David Stern, might be deposed, under oath??

Momentum is on the Seattle side of the ledger and you have to wonder how much longer Bennett and the rest will want to deal with this hornet's nest. Because, uh, it's only going to get worse from here on out. The city and Howard's attorney are going to keep piling on. Ultimately you have to wonder when enough is enough and Bennett's group pulls the plug. Click here for more Comments

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Keep on Running

Just keep goin' baby...

Just keep runnin', runnin', runnin', runnin', and runnin' til you're WAY out of town.

Honestly, Cougar Nation, I have never looked more forward to an NFL draft in me entire life.

I mean, I am simply BEYOND flabbergasted that the Big Apple is anywhere near someone's draft board. It simply is beyond me. WWWWWWWAAAAAYYYYY beyond me.

I thought long and hard about a wager that I could make with the Cougar faithful about Alex getting drafted, but couldn't come up with anything.

That said, I am more than open to a friendly wager about his prospects of being on an opening day roster. So, if you have any good ideas, go ahead and post-away. I'm ready and willing to put up a weekend of manlove with Stl_Glenn for anyone who beats me.

So, here's my prediction for any of you "takers" out there: NONE. There is NO CHANCE King Klipboard has of making a roster. NONE.

In terms of our other brethren, I give Bumpus the All-Arena endorsement. Enjoy your career in Albany, Bump. After that, I think that Bump may have a broadcasting career. He's a good looking kid and despite his academic struggles, he seems to be a real articulate kid. Get your masters, Bump!

Meanwhile, Byrd has a good chance at being all world at eating Brats at tailgate parties, but not much more. I think the move to guard hurt him a lot last year.

But, I really like the chance of Abdullah and Jedzilla making a team. I like A's prospect as a nickel guy as well as a special teams player. And I think that Jedzilla has special teams and/or practice team written all over him. He may not be fast enough for combine drills, but his game speed is solid and his hands and blocking make him a legit threat to make a roster. I really like that kid and actually like him to land in Miami as a Free Agent (did someone say that Brinkhater has sources? Hmmmmmm)

The big question, of course, is what players the "big purple" may land in the pros. Pretty amazing, but they are looking at the real chance of having a goose egg year in the draft.

Imagine that: The Huskies with NO ONE in the pros? Man, has big brother gotten fat or what?

Also: stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for a weekly segment to be called the "Brinkhater Diaries." I am modeling it after Larry King's columns in USA today. Just a bunch of rambling without the burden of having to complete any sentences (I call it Ditka-eeze).....

Like Hooty promised earlier last fall, I plan on drinking somewhat heavily before each post...we'll see if you all can tell any difference between that work and the other schumlch I've dealt over the last four years...

Until then... Click here for more Comments

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Howard's End Game More Than We Thought?

So Howard Schultz's lawsuit news a little over a week ago was met with the usual rhetoric of this is just a PR stunt. I even spoke to a family member who knows Schultz personally over the weekend, and he said among many things that if he ever does file it, it's only a publicity stunt to try to win back a region that has, for lack of better words, HATES HIS GUTS for "selling out".

Well, breaking news tonight has Schultz filing the lawsuit. And guess what? It's got some real teeth. Not just little candy-corn sized baby teeth either. We're talking "WOW" teeth. Think John Elway.

Somehow, Schultz and his lawyer, Richard "I'm going to DESTROY YOU" Yarmuth, has unearthed some pretty damaging e-mails. One floated thus far has an exchange from Clay to his boys, saying two days BEFORE the sale was announced, that they could simply buy the team and then do a "sweet flip" all the way to OKC when the arena fails! Whoops. Um, yeah, you see, that's not EXACTLY good faith. Schultz has already given some information for the suit under oath that this thing was a fraudulent deal from day one, and the interesting part of all is that Schultz isn't even claiming that he wants back in to NBA ownership! In reality, Schultz and his legal team are asking that the Bennett group simply be removed as owners, and they get their money back. Then, the team is turned over to an independent party, which would then seek out LOCAL ownership in Seattle (Ballmer...Steve Ballmer).

But hey, what the heck do I know? Don't take my word for it. Check out what a legal analyst at had to say about it in a very quick, yet informative, read that will outline exactly why Schultz could have Bennett on the run in a major way. Maybe the best part of the ESPN piece has that they at least believe that this is very, very serious for Bennett and the words "historic" were mentioned. And that most of all, you haven't seen Schultz giving a press conference/talk show tour on this thing. In fact Schultz and his attorney refused to comment for ESPN. If it's a PR move, you make the rounds. If it isn't, you keep your mouth shut and let the suit do the talking.

Just keep piling it on. Back this scumbag and the NBA into a corner and see what they offer. This is knee-buckling stuff here. The NBA and Bennett in particular are going to have absolutely no choice but to offer the ultimate sweetheart deal to make this go away. They cannot allow Bennett and his morons to testify under oath.

I think it was Conan the Barbarian who said it best:

Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?
Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.
Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

CRUSH these guys! Click here for more Comments

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hang in There Mr. Mayor

A sad story might be taking a turn for the better about Glenn Johnson, the voice of your Cougars. He was hospitalized on Sunday with stroke-like symptoms and very little was known. Now, however, the news is heading in the right direction. He's now doing much better per his wife, and the diagnosis sounds as though it was merely a severe blood-pressure spike with some short-term memory loss.

Aside from him improving, here's the best part from the article:

"Johnson's wife, Kathy, told the Associated Press his prognosis is good. Johnson's speech apparently has not been affected." SWEET!

I can't wait to hear "and that's another....Cougar....FIRST DOWN!" And of course....."HERE....COME......THE COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOGS!" A crisp fall Saturday in Pullman just wouldn't be the same without the Mayor, so, get well soon, rest up, and we'll see you in early September.

Did you all see the article and video about the current state of Martin Stadium? This latest phase is really coming together. I really enjoyed the first phase last fall, as I know many of you felt the same, but this next phase is really doing to make things look different. Mix in the Cub renovation and man, the gameday experience could be a lot different this fall. I'm thrilled with the eye-candy talk, re: scoreboard. $2.5 million, including a new sound system? Very nice. Still no pics of the actual scoreboard, but most of you have seen the powerpoint.

Finally, Cougfan has an article about recruiting in the state of Washington and how the new WSU staff is going to go after it. It's a premium article so you know the drill, we won't link to it here. But it goes in line with something I've been thinking about and have discussed with my UW brother-in-law for a while now. The bottom line is the state of Washington is a HUGE factor, for our success and UW's.

Think about this. Go look at the rosters from our glory 01-03 run. Yes, Gesser was a huge part of that, the MVP in school history. But remember the offensive line? Tyler Hunt, Derrick Roche, etc, all in-state guys. How about on the other side of the ball? Acholonu, Jeremy Williams, Marcus Trufant, Rien Long, Erik Coleman, Will Derting, etc. All guys from in-state, all major factors in our best of times.

Now think back to the last few seasons. Who were our better players? Jason Hill, Michael Bumpus, Jerome Harrison? How about Alex Brink or Josh Swogger? All out-of-state guys. Now you do have to add Mkristo Bruce and Scott Davis in there, both in-state guys. But in truth, they were part of the Price era. Bruce was a redshirt in '02, and Davis was part of the '03 class but was fully committed to WSU in '02, when Price recruited him.

It's as if the struggles of our program didn't just happen because Price left. We were suddenly losing out on the in-state guys, the gems that were discovered by turning over rocks. It's as if our tough times of late have coincided when the absolute core of the team came from out of the state. Now, one could argue that Doba did a better job on in-state kids the last few years.

It's easy to look at our roster right now and realize that Brandon Gibson is our best player and if he stays healthy, he will most likely be a first-day NFL draft pick in '09. How about Andy Mattingly? He's got the look of a defensive MVP for '08. Kenny Alfred is an excellent center and some have pegged him as having an NFL future since his true frosh season. And Gary Rogers, if things keep going in the right direction, in this new offense could simply EXPLODE next year. All four kids, all probably regarded as our best players, all from Washington.

Maybe it makes a lot more sense about how Wulff has talked so strongly about recruiting the state, how important that is. That isn't just chatter for press releases or message boards. It's as though he totally "gets it" in how important Washington is to the program. And the best part for that effort is how well regarded Wulff is among high school coaches in Washington. Remember, the press release when Wulff was hired had quotes from an in-state high school football coach. His reputation while recruiting for EWU is outstanding, and clearly an asset for the future of this program. It might not happen overnight, but it WILL happen with Wulff! Just have some patience and enjoy the steps in the rebuilding effort.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Bad Day for Seattle...or is it?

So David Stern helped his glutenous, disgusting, lying friend out and he has the NBA approval to take his team home. No surprise. And the state leaders are ripping the decision, from the mayor to the governor to the US senators, to Oklahoma City.

Hang on a second. Oklahoma City? Didn't they just WIN the NBA, in one way or another? Well, be careful what you wish for. As Deadspin reported yesterday, Clay Bennett is an equal opportunity A-HOLE, including to his own homies:

"Rep. Charlie Joyner, R-Midwest City, who also voted against the bill, said he received an e-mail from Bennett that said the team might not come to Oklahoma City unless the House passes the tax incentive. "I just don't think this thing has been handled right. That's kind of holding legislators hostage," Joyner said."

He's quite a guy, that Bennett. The definition of crap with feet. Simultaneously trying to screw two cities at the same time? That's pretty unbelievable. Be careful what you wish for, Okies, because you are getting ALL Clay-Clay, 24/7.

I know, this thing isn't over obviously. The courts will have the final say, and the mayor and others sound pretty determined to fight like hell. But overall, I guess I'm just sad with today's news. Why? Well, the NBA has said Seattle is no longer good enough to be in the club. That just kind of hurts more than anything else. What's also sad is that the NBA owners are simply looking out for their own asses. For some strange reason, I hoped they would come to their senses and realize how dumb this is, and either delay the vote or pipe-dream city, turn down the request. At least Paul Allen and Mark Cuban didn't follow along like the rest of the sheep. But they voted for this because they want to have the ability to move themselves if/WHEN things get even worse in their own situations. They don't care about how great a city Seattle really is for the NBA. The media market, the gateway to Asia, the wealth and high level of education, the 41 years of NBA history, they just don't care. They only want the threat to play hardball with their own politicians. Having the Sonics leave Seattle does more to help their own cause.

We'll see what happens. But let's not kid ourselves. Everyone and everything has a price. If the right number is floated to the mayor, who knows? A dollar figure that would pay off the remaining Key debt and ease the pain of a tenant bailing out might be pretty hard to turn down. They do have leverage here, and Bennett and the league are going to be chomping at the bit to get a settlement that allows them to leave. If that settlement includes a promise of an expansion team and helps pay for the cost to redo the Key? That would be hard to ignore.

But bottom line, if the league is this stupid and arrogant, willing to bail on a city like this? Willing to inflict this much damage on the ticket-buying fans? Good riddance. If the relationship has to end, there might not be a better time to pull the plug! The NBA has some serious issues right now, with teams losing money, the league is still haunted by the Pistons-Pacers brawl, an NBA ref was possibly fixing games, on and on it goes. And we still have a lot to care about around here in the fantasy world of sports. The Cougs are our Cougs, on the hardwood and the football field, and we have a lot to feel good about in the coming years with Wulff and Bennett. The Seahawks and M's are thriving franchises with excellent ownership and great stadiums. We'll live without the NBA. Click here for more Comments

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cougs Land Casto

I guess the sweet call of Big-Time Georgetown just wasn't sweet enough. There was some speculation that this could happen yesterday, but today is a new day. Vince at has broken the story this afternoon that Washington 4-A State Player of the Year DeAngelo Casto is headed for Pullman!

Now, he still has to become eligible. Casto says things are cool and he's on target to be able to join the team next year, but stay tuned there.

If you haven't seen him, Casto is a wonderfully talented 6-8 power forward who has really evolved. His offensive game needs some improvement, but he's got all the tools you look for at a young age. Regarded as a tremendous leaper, he's also known for a soft touch around the perimeter. He's got a very strong frame, and you can see that once he gets into an NCAA lifting program, he could really pack on the muscle. He's a nice addition to next year's team and who knows, perhaps he'll break through and see some court time as a true frosh?

The exciting thing about Casto is how well he performed when the lights were the brightest over the last couple of seasons. He averaged a double-double the last two years combined, but just in hte state tourney alone this year, he averaged nearly 19 points per game on a deep, talented championship team. Casto also set a tournament record with 25 blocked shots in four games, including a dominating EIGHT in the title game!

I think this basically solidifies this year's recruiting class as the greatest in school history, at least in regards to pre-season hype. Marcus Capers, James Watson, Klay Thompson, Michael Harthun, Nick Witherill, and now DeAngelo Casto makes this a class that we could be talking about for a long, long time. Nice "get" Tony, and welcome to the family DeAngelo!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Top 10 Most Unsportsman-Like Plays

In honor of Clay Bennett's underhandedness, your top-10 most unsportsmanlike plays in recent times:

And in honor of our favorite Ohio State fan, check out #1 on the list....Meanwhile I was disappointed they didn't put the Jerramy Stevens-Tyler Brayton knee to the groin in the mix. Remember?

Moving on, some of the lads have run afoul of the law. Xavier Hicks pleaded guilty to a lessor charge and will now serve 45 days in jail. You may remember Hicks as the rising big-hitter sophomore safety who made a bunch of highlight-reel shots on receivers last year (including this one vs. UCLA):

But you may also remember Hicks from that whole rubbing alcohol in the contact lens case incident with his roomie last year. NOT SMART. Luckily Grady Maxwell didn't actually try to put in the contacts as he realized pretty quickly something was wrong. Hicks will start serving time on July 1, and with a 45-day sentence will surely be out in time for the start of August practices.

Andrew Roxas was arrested early Sunday in connection with an alcohol-related driving offense on College Hill. Perhaps he was busy celebrating the end of a long spring practice session? Boys will be boys, but getting behind the wheel when you've had a few is never a good idea. Interesting angle is Roxas is just 19, and he wasn't what you would term as officially being intoxicated. He was cited for a “baby DUI,” given to minors who are found to be driving with a blood-alcohol content between .02 and .08. We'll see how it shakes out in regards to punishment and/or if the charges stick.

Finally, yes, more Sonics stuff. We'll keep it brief. You've had a day to digest the news. Late yesterday the governor chimed in with a letter to the NBA's board of governors. A lot of people were disappointed that the letter didn't include the bridge funding for the final $75 million to renovate the publicly-owned Key Arena. Well, I was disappointed too, but this letter is actually stronger than you might think. Why? Because according to a legal expert I heard on KIRO last night, it is littered with "legalese" that hints at a lawsuit against the ENTIRE NBA if they approve this move with all the lawsuit stuff that is going on right now. It's a lot more of powerful message that they are sending below the surface. And not only when you consider it's signed by the governor. but other parties signing the letter include house speaker Frank Chopp, senate majority leader Lisa Brown, KC exec Ron Sims and Seattle city council president Richard Conlin. Frank Chopp?? REMEMBER, FRANK CHOPP, WHO HATES THE NBA, PRO SPORTS IN GENERAL AND IS ANTI-ARENA FUNDING, signed this letter! That's no easy task.

My disappointment was that I, like many fans, wanted the commitment to the arena so it was strong enough to send in Slade Gorton to the NBA meetings Thursday and Friday. He could stand there, wave the lawsuits in their faces, and oh yeah, not only do we have potentially the richest ownership group in pro sports led by Ballmer (yes, overall they would be ahead of Paul Allen), they also have a $300 million dollar renovation deal in place. But Gregoire did what she could do right now. She couldn't guarantee the money because even though this is a strong deal, there is still a lot of opposition to giving public money to Key Arena, and certainly didn't have enough votes lined up to call a special session. So it will have to do. Anyway, according to the KIRO interview, don't be surprised if there is yet another lawsuit thrown on the pile, this time the state of WA vs. David Stern and the NBA owners, all of which are named in the letter (including Clay Bennett!). Sue EVERYBODY!

Will the letter do anything? No. The NBA won't follow this letter and will probably just give it a glance, at best. But there IS at least some talk right now that the NBA COULD in fact postpone their vote on Friday until some of this craziness is sorted out. However, there is also a report from an NBA spokesman that says mid-week last week the Board of Governors has already finished their report and that they are giving the 100% recommendation to vote YES for the move. Then again, that was done before the Howard Schultz news broke that he was going to sue to unwind the transaction on the basis that Bennett is full of you-know-what. But don't think this thing is over once Friday comes and the NBA rubber-stamps the move with a yes based on the completion of the lease. This thing has many chapters left. Stay tuned! Click here for more Comments

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


In a word.....WOW. So THAT is what that letter was all about when they agreed to the sale. This is a complete stunner that Howard Schultz is pissed and wants the Sonics back from that lying scumbag thief.

"It's not money damage. It's to have the team returned. The theory of the suit is that when the team was sold, the Basketball Club of Seattle, our team here, relied on promises made by Clay Bennett and his ownership that they desired to keep the team in Seattle and intended to make a good-faith effort to accomplish that."

OH SNAP, it's on now! But will it work? Who knows. Maybe this is simply a PR stunt to try and get back in good graces around the NW. If you haven't followed it much, Howard Schultz has avoided the whole Sonics issue like the plague. The only thing he's said over last year or so is "NO COMMENT". He's been vilified as the biggest reason this team was/is headed out of town. And nobody besides Bennett's group and Howard's group has laid eyes on this letter from the beginning, and it could be very difficult to actually define in court what "good faith effort" really means. But we do already know that e-mails have surfaced claiming that Bennett never wanted to keep the team here and clearly was trying to get the wheels in motion for the move well before the mandated deadline agreed to from the beginning.

Does Schultz really want to own the team again? He's been raked over the coals, but let's face it, Schultz isn't a moron. He built Starbucks from nothing, and somehow convinced millions that $4.00 for a cup of coffee and steamed milk is a good thing to do every day. The early speculation is probably that he'll attempt to win this thing, and if he does ultimately pull it off, immediately sell it to Ballmer and Stanton's group to go with the Key Arena remodel. So this could be just a pure save-face move in an attempt to right the wrong. But if it means keeping the team here, SO WHO CARES what his motives actually are??

The other thing to consider here is maybe, just maybe, Schultz has some current NBA owners that are friends from when he owned the team? Maybe, just maybe, they will be upset with Bennett's antics and lying and being so eager to run from a great market? Maybe they'll see what's happening here and realize if they vote against the move, Schultz and local ownership could very well get the team back and Bennett could go away? Questions, on top of questions, on top of questions.

The other angle here is that, back in early 2006, Howard Schultz, Wally Walker and David Stern went to Olympia to campaign for a $200-million dollar renovation of Key Arena. Stern was 100% behind the renovation at the time. It was perfectly acceptable just 2+ years ago. Now there is a $300-million dollar renovation of the same building on the table. I wonder what Stern would say under oath as to why that suddenly isn't good enough?

If anything, it's yet another fly in the ointment for Bennett to try to take his toy and go home. If the NBA has any sense whatsoever, they will at the very least delay their vote later this week on the move until they get all the litigation straightened out. Good lord, what a freakin' MESS the NBA has on their hands right now. And they'll get zero sympathy from me, you, and a ton of others! At least it's another chance to expose Bennett for the liar that he is and get that dirty laundry in full public view.

The real beauty of Schultz’s lawsuit is that it focuses on keeping this Sonics team, here and now. None of the promises of expansion in x amount of years, none of the talk of trying to steal a team from Memphis or New Orleans or Charlotte or wherever else. As bad as they were to watch this year, they are still our team, the only team we’ve ever had, or ever cared about, with our history and our tradition. As Brinkhater has said all along about this, the NBA sucks when you are really bad and your owner is trying to get the hell out of town! But when you are winning and competitive, it can be a great thing to watch. Look at how the western conference has been this year. You have teams with 50 wins that are on the edge of even making the playoffs. Think any of those cities hate the NBA right now? Neither do I.

Kudos to Howard for recognizing the situation.

Moving on, we are about to enter the dog days of WSU stuff. There will be some recruiting news for hoops and football, of course, mainly premium content at other sites. We'll chime in where we can on that. But this is really the end of steady news that we will see for the next several months. So obviously the content around here will taper off a bit.

We'll have a few more things coming up, including a post-spring look at the defense and offense, among other things. So stay tuned. Click here for more Comments

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

Greeting, Cougies. Happy Mom's Weekend...

Speaking of which, let's start this post off with a little game. See if you can guess which one is the Mom?

OK - That was an easy one just to get you warmed up. How about this one? The first correct response wins an autographed June Daugherty jockstrap.

Speaking of Daugherty, she was one of several hundred spectators on hand to watch the Cougs close out Spring practice at Martin stadium this afternoon, on an absolutely beautiful day. Here she is giving another spectator a big hug behind the west endzone.
The little arms wrapped around Big June's waist belong to none other than Keith Gilbertson. Disturbing, I know.

It was an absolutely glorious day in Pullman - the first day of legitimate "shorts weather", Cougar Football and twice the number of women in town as usual.

I arrived in town early for some fraternity business and made my way to the Coug at about 10:15 for my blind date with Longball. To my dismay, the Coug was closed(?!) so I decided to make my way to the Bookie. As I looked up the sidewalk I saw a young guy hobbling around with a cane and knew it must be Longball. (It was good to meet you buddy. Hopefully you'll be back in fighting shape soon.) We walked up to the Bookie for some caffeine and then headed for Martin.

With the scrimmage having been canceled, I wasn't expecting a big turnout but there was an easy 1000+ people in the stands and on the sidelines. There were a few die-hards there, including "The 20-Yardline Crew" (above), as well as one guy that I'm sure most of you would prefer to see nowhere near Martin Stadium. Hopefully, the fact that he was wearing shorts and top-siders, instead of a crimson #10 is good enough - but yes, even Alex Brink took in the action.

So Alex (in the baby blue polo), what did you think of Gary Rogers' arm?

Observation #1 (of actual football stuff): Gary Rogers is big and strong. I've known that all along I guess, but I've never had the chance to see him throw this much. He looked great in drills, making all the throws - and I honestly didn't see a single pass with a wobble on it. Toward the end of the practice, the first team O ran the 2-minute drill against the first team D and Rogers drove them down for a score with ease.

Somebody had to catch those passes and on this day, the guy who stood out was Michael Willis. Without hesitation, I would say that Willis was the star of the day. After all his injuries and the move from safety to wide receiver, I would not have been surprised if we never actually heard from this guy - but he was incredible today. Gibson didn't play much (when he did, he was money), and Blackledge didn't make much noise, so it was Willis' day and he made the most of it. He caught a beautiful 40-yard seam between a corner and a safety for the biggest play of that 2-minute drill and then capped off the drive with a nice catch for a TD on a ball that was thrown a bit behind him. Proving that there was a reason he started out as a safety, he also laid some hat, with a crushing block on a nice run around the left side. If Willis can stay healthy, look for big things out of him this fall.

Contrary to what we were lead to believe, several running backs played today and all showed flashes. Mitz and Jace Perry looked good, as did Chris Ivory - who broke a long run down the sideline for a score - and pulled up with a hamstring as he crossed the goal line. He watched the rest of practice on crutches from the sideline. Marcus Richmond and Joe (unfortunately, no relation to Earl) Campbell also saw action.

Rogers clearly outshone the other QB's in drills and frankly, I was disappointed by Lopina. That is, until he ran the offense. He really didn't look sharp in drills, but once he started running plays, he looked great. His arm strength is not nearly that of Rogers but he threw several nice balls down the sideline with great trajectory and touch. There were a lot of roll-outs and even some options - but curiously, none of those with Rogers. With Lopina, Lobbestael and Morgan, there was a lot of ball-faking and then either moving the pocket or straight options. With Rogers, it was mostly throws from the pocket. Kind of makes you wonder if we'll see some rotation at the QB spot this fall. Most of the offense was run from the shotgun but we did see QB's under center inside the red zone. Lobbestael and Morgan clearly lack the strength needed to make all the throws and I thought Morgan was slow with his reads.

Overall, it was exciting to see us playing this hurry-up brand of football - although there's still a long way to go. Aside from the one really nice two-minute drill drive, the offense looked confused at times and was derailed by several penalties that prevented them from getting into a good rhythm. Summer conditioning is going to be huge this year - especially for the linemen, I would think.

On D, we saw a lot of 3-4 with a nickel back up near the line. The front 3 was Kooyman on the left, Ahmu and Mattingly. We did go with a 4-3 at times as well, but as promised, there was usually another DB up in the box. I thought both ends played really well, each getting to the QB a couple times as I recall. Dunn and Evans made several nice plays from their 'backer spots and the nickel back with the first team seemed to be Myron Beck most of the time. Evans may take this defense over as their emotional leader. He was really fired up and made a few nice plays. Beck is new and unproven but made at least one really nice hit; on Perry after a (late) pitch from Lobbestael on an option left. We crowded the box on almost every play and were sending blitzes from all over the place. Sometimes, we'd drop back but it really seemed like someone was blitzing more often than not. Creating confusion seems to be a big part of this scheme. Generally speaking, we did a nice job of getting guys to the quarterback. Lots of pressure with guys flying all over the place. Pellum and Jackson manned the corner spots with Chima and Hicks at safety. I like that combo of thunder and lightning with those two. With his speed, Chima should be able to be an effective centerfielder this year.

Special teams was a bit of a mixed bag. Each of the three kickers on the roster made attempts between 40 and 53. Newly anointed 1st string kicker Patrick Rooney was horrid. I think he missed all of his attempts including a couple that barely cleared the heads of the linemen. At least one kick was blocked (can't recall who's). Penner actually made all three of his attempts from 53, though I believe he missed at least once from 40. Myers looks to have a strong leg - maybe strongest of the three - but was very inconsistent with his accuracy. Penner definitely won this competition for the day.

(Speaking of accuracy, I'm sorry about the lack of definitive information here. I don't get paid to do this, so I don't feel obligated to take notes...)

There was a kickoff returned for a touchdown, which is both good and bad, I suppose; the aforementioned blocked kick; and some pretty nice punting by Reid Forrest. All the punting was done east to west, with the wind at his back - but he looked very good. One real nice tail-wagger downed inside the 5 by Gibson.
I'd have to say that this team is definitely a work in progress but there was a real sense of excitement in the air. The energy on the field was good (not great) and it was great to see it from both players and coaches. I thought Todd Sturdy really stood out among all the coaches - he has tremendous enthusiasm. It was also in the stands. You can tell that there's a lot of interest in what's going on with the new system.

It's going to take a lot more repetitions before this offense really takes off but once all our guys are healthy and clicking, it's going to be a lot of fun to watch. Definitely a breath of fresh air from what had become a very predictable brand of football. As big of a changeup as we'll be throwing at the Pac-10 this year, I can definitely see us taking a couple games that we "shouldn't".

That's all I got, Cougs. If I didn't cover anything that you're curious about, please feel free to ask and I'll be happy to let you know what I saw.

Go Cougs!
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Friday, April 11, 2008

Blackledge the Surprise of Spring?

UPDATE 10:00 AM 4/11 - Tony has told Oklahoma State to bleep off, BEFORE they went after Self!?!? WOW. Nice job Tony, a Bennett we will always love.

He's been talked about all spring for how far he's come, and now there is no doubt he will make his mark next year. The TNT today writes about WR Daniel Blackledge and how he's doing his best Michael Bumpus impression right now. Blackledge had a big scrimmage a week ago, with 70 yards receiving and showing some great hands. Next to probably Gary Rogers, Blackledge is going to be this spring's offensive breakout player (photo courtesy of Cougfan).

We're written about Blackledge before, but the kid has a real upside and the coaches are liking what they see. Levy has some good quotes about him in the story, and if we know anything, we know Levy knows how to coach up the WR's! It's hard to argue with his track record. Then again, you don't want to get too crazy about a good set of spring practices. Blackledge had a total of ONE catch last year, and that came in the 52-17 embarrassment vs. the Beavs in one of the most forgettable games in the modern era. But again, this is what spring ball is all about, and that is there are always some surprises that you just didn't see coming when it all got started.

The Spokesman last night had a write-up about the kicking game. It sounds as though it's a tight race, with Patrick Rooney edging ahead of Wade Penner and Matt Myers. Steve Broussard said it's still wide open so not to read too much into it right now, but we'll see how it shakes out after things wrap up tomorrow. The good part of this is that there is a good competition, so they are hopefully pushing each other. The other part is that they are actually doing well. All three kickers nailed 48 and 49-yarders to wind down practice yesterday. We still have the mystery JC transfer that coach Wulff talked about this year, who reportedly drills kickoffs repeatedly into the end-zone (sounds good to me!).

Moving on, the Bigger Dance - WHO YA GOT? The brackets are out and it's an intriguing field. I've got Megan Fox from the Transformers movie making a darkhorse run, but with Scarlet Johansson lurking in the other pod, I don't know if she'll get past the sweet 16. It will be an interesting match-up! But you could also see Johansson cutting down the nets when it's all said and done.

I know, it's a male pig-fest or whatever you want to call it, but it's all in good fun. And it's all about the prizes. Have you seen what they are giving away? Imagine winning the grand prize - A trip for two, to any sporting event in the world, including airfare, hotel and tickets to the event? Just for picking the hottest female around in a bracket of 64? Why not. I actually knew a guy who won the whole thing 3 years ago, and if I remember correctly I think they went to Monoco for the grand prix or something like that. Pretty amazing.

I won't waste time talking about the Sonics, because I know a lot of you don't care. But wow, those e-mails. I imagine many people reading those things yesterday thought twice about e-mails they may have sent in their own working environment?? If anything it's a good lesson that yes, anything you send can and WILL be used against you, if necessary! And right now, Clay Bennett looks like the biggest lying, idiotic, embarrassing fool on the face of the earth. The arrogance to think they could just waltz in and steal the team away is one thing. That's fine if that is what they wanted to do all along. But to flat-out lie to the Mayor of Seattle, the Governor of Washington, the NBA owners and David Stern himself? And to be caught red-handed doing it? What a disgrace. How will it play out? The Save Our Sonics guys think things have changed. There are a lot of very angry people now, madder than ever. But I still think at the end of the day, this is just the tip of the ice-berg and the NBA, Clay Bennett included, does NOT want to go through a court case where many, many more things are going to come to the public forefront. It's an official mess for a league that doesn't really need any more bad press after the last few years, does it??

And, imagine this - Howard Schultz and/or Wally Walker COULD be a hero in the end of this? Seth Koellen, a blogger and a guy who occasionally writes for the P-I, writes that Schultz and the prior ownership group could possibly file a legit suit against Bennett for not engaging in a good-faith effort to keep the team here. They now have tangible proof with these e-mails that they were full of crap from day 1. And Shultzie could sure use some good pub.

Anyway, that's it for today. Hooty will take in the open practice tomorrow. Look for a first-hand account tomorrow evening.

ENJOY YOUR FRIDAY, and GO COUGS! Click here for more Comments

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sauls Out, Casto In?; Spring Game Called Off

So it got weird with Kevin Love and Darren Collison. First the LA Times says they are gone, then Ben Howland later in the day says mmmm, not so fast. They aren't gone...yet. What will today bring? Who knows. But when you think about it, why, EXACTLY, would you bolt UCLA early if given the choice? You could probably come up with a few reasons to stick it out??

Moving on, in one of the worst-kept secrets around, Stephen Sauls got his release from the hoops program. It's been speculated for months since he suffered his concussion and returned home to Texas. It's too bad, because he's reportedly a good kid and did some things that warranted playing time early on in Tony's system. When you think about losing Low and Weaver from next year's team, you could see how Sauls would fit in. Hopefully he gets healthy and finds something closer to home.

Which brings us to DeAngelo Casto. Rumored since the 4-A state tourney that he was a hard lean to WSU, Casto has been claiming to all who will listen that he wants to be a Coug. Well, not so fast. First of all, he hasn't qualified yet academically with test scores below the eligibility line. Then there's another player out there that we are interested in, and that is Paul McCoy, the highly-touted point guard from Oregon. McCoy was headed for Pepperdine, but was let out of his LOI after their coach left the program. McCoy is now back out there and the recruiting is really heating up for him. He just had a visit to Kentucky, and WSU is one of about eight schools on his list. So it might be a long shot to get him anyway, but one could argue that if we did get him, he might better fit a need for next year vs. a low-post presence in Casto?

Another fly in the Casto ointment? Georgetown. The Hoyas have started calling him, and it sounds according to Cougfan that he's starting to get a little starry-eyed. His quote to Cougfan was "if he could do it real BIG" he could head to Georgetown. BIG? Hmm, maybe he's not the fit we thought? That isn't exactly music to Tony's ears, wouldn't you say? Casto did talk to the Spokesman yesterday, and sounded much more certain to be a Coug. We'll see how it plays out. We will probably find out quick, with the spring signing period kicking off on April 16th.

Big day in the Pac-10 hoops scene yesterday. OJ Mayo is gone, and he's hiring an agent so forget about him coming back. And why should he? has him as the #3 pick right now. If you are projected as a lottery pick, you probably should go (as Love is #13 right now). But a top-3 pick? BUH-BYE! Chase Budinger also declared his NBA intentions. However he hasn't yet decided on hiring an agent or not, so the door could stay open for his return. Personally? Good riddance. He can't leave fast enough for me.

Trent Johnson jumped to Baton Rouge. He was part of the article earlier in the week, one of many coaches that LSU spoke with at the Final Four. But he wasn't exactly rumored to be THE guy. I heard a writer from LSU on the radio late yesterday, and the general feeling was one of shock. He thought Pernell of Clemson was the top choice. He also said that he heard Tony was in the top-3, for sure, but he basically told them in a one-sided conversation that he was very happy in Pullman so you should move on to someone else. SO why would Johnson leave? It sounds as though there was a lot going on down there, from not seeing eye-to-eye with the AD, not being happy with his contract that still wasn't officially renewed, etc. The incident vs. Marquette probably didn't help things with the Stanford brass either?? There is already a list of candidates for the Stanford job, and NO, Tony isn't on the list. One name that is interesting though? Mark Few. The Seattle Times posted a story from a few years back that said Few could be a really good fit down there and that "sources close to Few speculate he could be interested in Stanford." Interesting.

Back to WSU football (that is what we do around here?). The TNT had a strong write-up of QB Kevin Lopina and his progress this spring. We wrote about him after the last scrimmage, and even though we have heard good information about Marshall Lobbestael, the buzz has been the strongest about Lopina locking up the #2 spot in the QB rotation. If he stays healthy and things continue, he will really push Rogers for PT this fall.

You probably already know what you need to about Lopina and his back-story, but one thing that jumped out was his rushing ability at De La Salle. Did you know he logged 750 rushing yards and 10 TD's as a senior? You can understand why he would be a fit in Wulff's offense, which while not completely necessary, hey, an athletic QB in this shotgun, spread offense? What an asset! Lopina could be that "hold your breath" kind of guy, who you just never know if he could tuck it and run or pull it back and wing it. We haven't seen a legit dual-threat like that in many years. Gesser could scramble, but he wasn't a guy who scared defenses with his legs. Brink? No. Kegel was a decent athlete, but again, not like this. I guess you could go all the way back to Rosey and his running ability? I would bet that no matter how well Rogers does, we ARE going to see Lopina get a few series, especially early on, to get a better handle on where he is.

Anyone notice Jeshua Anderson's accomplishments away from the football program right now? Yeah, he's just been named Pac-10 track athlete of the week! You already know this, but Anderson really is big-time in the hurdles. How big? Well, his latest time of 49.68 seconds in the 400m hurdles not only leads the NCAA's this year, it's the second-fastest time in THE COUNTRY. It's the 10th-best time in the world right now. Have we seen the last of Anderson in a football uniform? There's big money in track and field, bigger than we probably realize. When you are one of the best on the face of the earth in an event, can you blame him if he does go the pro route? Too bad for the football team if he is done, but great for the young man!

Finally, the spring game has been called off. As Wulff said in the TNT article, they are just too low on healthy bodies and the alarming lack of depth is too much to overcome this spring. Now they will have an open scrimmage at 11, followed by an autograph session at 12:30. Our own Hooty McBoob will be in Pullman to take it all in, so look for a recap later on Saturday.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Jackson, Chima Secondary Swap Permanent?

Per today's TNT, that's the deal. Alfonso Jackson and Chima Nwachukwu switched positions early in camp, and things have gone so well according to coach Ball that it will stay this way into the '08 season.

At first glance, this was puzzling. Chima was picked on early and often last year, but really showed improvement as the season wore on. I remember seeing him against Idaho in the first home game, and I was really impressed by things like his footwork and instincts. He looked like a natural corner and given a few seasons to get experience and put on weight, he was going to be a good player in the system. Doba was always high on Chima. Jackson, on the other hand, struggled with injuries (concussions) and he seemed to be a little lost early on. I think part of it was the overall choice made by Doba to play SUPER SOFT cover-2, with the safeties and corners so far off the ball in pure fear of getting beat over the top, that it was designed to make anyone look bad. Remember the USC game, where all Booty would do was take the snap and throw 8-yard quick hooks or outs or whatever, and the defensive backs weren't even on the TV screen after the catch was initially made? Talk about soft. Jackson also had a really insane personal foul in the Apple Cup that COULD have blown that entire game! Ugh.

Anyway, what's interesting is how pleased Chima sounds with this move. I didn't know this, but he had 3 years of starting safety experience in high school before moving to corner as a senior:

"I like playing safety a lot. It's really different from playing cornerback. You get to play in the open field," Nwachukwu said. "My body size, I'm growing (at 5-11 and 195 pounds) and my weight has been going up. This is what spring ball is for. I can get used to the learning curve before fall camp."

What's also interesting is how Chima says he's growing. If you remember last year, he was about 175 and looked skinnier than that. He really looked like a kid right out of high school. But if he's already at 195 right now, he may end up well into the 2-bills area. Jackson doesn't sound quite as happy with it, but has eventually come around to the idea. Hey, if he wants to start, and as he said, "they've put a lot of dudes out to the next level", then sign on to the idea. He's a senior so this is his last shot to make in impact, and better yet, an impression on what he could do if the NFL takes a look. We'll see how it goes once things get real. Worst-case scenario is they could always switch them back!

Moving on, the Spokesman's Nick Eason writes about how thin the running backs are right now. How thin? Well, there's redshirt-frosh Joe Campbell......that's it. Seriously. Tardy we know is out with the knee, Ivory is out with academics, Marcus Richmond has a sore hammy, and now Logwone Mitz has come up lame with a bad toe. At this point it's probably not a bad thing that spring ball winds down this Saturday??

Eason goes on to write about the role the running backs will play next year, and how important it is for them to learn this new offense. OC Todd Sturdy has said repeatedly on the banquet scene that they are committed to running the football and will do everything they can to be a 50-50 run/pass ratio offense. But you can only do so much with the talent that's available. The good news is of course Montgomery coming in, but that's for 2009. JC transfer Chantz Staden has looked good on film, per Steve Broussard, but uh, that's just on film. Let's see how things go when he straps it on in August!

So Tony is staying. Yaaaawwwwnnnn. Actually I'm glad he finally put the rumors to rest. Why did it take so long? That's a good question and a point of a lot of speculation. Personally, I think he didn't say anything over these last two weeks because he's just so honest and a man of his word. And I think, as much as it hurts, that it was in his best interests to listen to Indiana, and also speak with LSU at the Final Four. The last thing he was going to do was sit at a press conference immediately after the season ended and say that he was happy in Pullman and going on the record as saying he was staying, but then also turn around and talk to Indiana and/or LSU. What if word got out that he spoke to these schools after he affirmed his desire to stay? His best move was to keep quiet until he was sure he was coming back. I do believe the odds were always strong that he was coming back anyway, and like you, we heard from some "sources" that said he was staying, but still, the door was open a tad.

Now we can focus on next year and, hopefully, a few years after that as well. We have our top recruiting class, maybe ever, coming in, and possibly some more surprises after the upcoming signing period (Casto??). It will be a lot of fun to watch things grow, on and off the court. The encouraging part is that the program is going to evolve along with this incoming class. Sterk said as much today, talking about the facility improvements, charter flights or some arrangement with Horizon Air, etc.

Finally, the Sonics are another step closer to the dust bowl. The city couldn't find the extra $75m in the couch cushions, and in an election year the governor or house speaker weren't about to do anything that could be a lightning rod this November. The mayor pledges to keep fighting, and Slade Gorton, never to be under-estimated, is chomping at the bit to get these A-HOLES into court this June. The last hope appears to be a combination of forcing them to honor the lease in court, and also for that 1.2 BILLION dollar facility to somehow happen with private funds (don't hold your breath). The Times has a good write-up today on the 5 stages of grief, and part 1 is Denial. I think personally I'm past denial at this point. I'm more towards the depression stage. This has been in the works for so long that denial disappeared a long time ago. It's just the point of sadness right now. At least we'll always have Youtube clips of super-freak Shawn Kemp and GP back in the glory days! And believe me, those were wonderful times to be a fan of basketball. That's life though. Things change.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Wulff Lands Cal RB Montgomery; Bennett Talks to LSU After All?

Nice job coach Wulff. Heralded stud RB James Montgomery was in Pullman over the weekend on a transfer/recruiting visit, and early word was that things went really well. Guess what? It went so well he's now headed to the Palouse! Montgomery's high school coach gave the word to the Sac Bee last night, and now the P-I, Cougfan and Vince at have it as well.

No mention of the Pac-10 rule that used to penalize an extra year if a player went Pac-10 to Pac-10, but, Cougfan's story stated that he will probably sit out this year, then have two years to play two, ready for action in the 2009 season.

Maybe the most impressive thing is that Montgomery chose WSU over Florida and South Carolina. You mean to tell me an all-everything RB took a look at SEC power Florida and also Steve Superior in South Carolina and decided to cast his lot with Wulff?? WOW. You never want to over-react to something like this, but it's hard not to be excited. This is a top-shelf talent, a Parade All-American. And despite what it might look like on the surface, he doesn't have a lot of baggage. Sometimes with transfers you just sort of roll your eyes and say "we'll see" and then when the transfer is a 4-or-5 star talent showing up in Pullman, you wonder what gives. But Montgomery is legit and the fit just wasn't there in Berkeley. He admits now that he originally went to Cal to be close to his ailing mother, but now she's healthy and they believed a change was the best for everyone. By the way, hat tip to our own Brinkhater who had this story a few weeks ago from his "Cal insider" who said from day 1 that he was a huge lean to WSU.

There is no way around it, getting him is just a huge statement. We've said it before, and we'll say it again - I can't wait to see what Wulff can do with some time to build this program in his own image. There are going to be growing pains, but given the depths that we were headed, Wulff deserves all the time he needs to turn this thing into something that gets you bouncing off the walls every Saturday!

Speaking of coach Wulff, he sat down with Jim Moore of the P-I and basically stoked the UW rivalry flames a bit. Yes, he doesn't like UW. No, he's not backing off those remarks he made the day he took the job. And, YES, he has passion about it. As Rooster and I commented the night of the football dinner, these guys, from Wulff on down, "get it" as far as the rivalry goes. This staff is going to have that team tearing the locker room apart before the Apple Cup. Yes, it will be handled with class, but YES, the rivalry is going to turn up a few notches. You also have to like what Wulff has to say about how in-state recruiting is going. Of course he can't get overly specific at this point, and it's still just April. But there is no doubt, this is a new era!

Wulff was also on KJR with Mitch yesterday. A good interview and you can check it out here. Not one of Mitch's best interviews, but I liked what I heard from Wulff. If you've listened to him speak much since he's been hired, he really sounds more and more comfortable every time I hear him. I think deep down he might have been a little overwhelmed with the situation itself, I mean here he is as the head coach of his alma mater, but lately he just sounds a lot more ready to handle the extra media that comes with this job.

This seemed to be way under the radar, but the Times today says Tony DID talk to LSU. The article speculates that LSU's primary target is Clemson coach Oliver Purnell. Interesting part of that story is that they also talked to Trent Johnson of Stanford. And before you get too worried, also realize the story states that they talked "to several coaches" over the weekend. So it's not like they flew him in, wined and dined him and whispered sweet nothings into his ear like he is their #1 guy. Hey, Tony, how about doing your season wrap-up press conference? How about proclaiming to Cougar Nation that you are happy in Pullman and looking forward to the future? We've heard you are happy and staying in Pullman from everyone, to your AD to your President to several media outlets.....except you.

Quite a game last night, eh? Memphis is going to lament that game for the rest of their lives. 9-point lead with 2:12 to go, and then they brick free throws, get a little sloppy with the ball, and Chalmers hits a miracle 3. Here's the question of the day - do YOU foul Chalmers before he gets that shot off to tie the game? There were 4 seconds left in the game when he was starting to take that shot. If you foul him with 5 seconds left, he's forced to go to the line without a chance to tie the game. Even if he makes both, you have just a few ticks of the clock left and you are still getting the ball back up 1. It reminded me a lot of UW's loss to U-Conn in '06, when they were up 3 but chose not to foul Denham Brown, who cooly drained a 3 at the buzzer to force OT. Not that I wept for them that night (I didn't), but once again we see the same scenario play out. The team chooses not to foul, and the player nails the shot. Memphis was dead after that, losing Dorsey to fouls late in regulation, but the momentum was officially gone at that point. Great job by Kansas, but make no mistake, Memphis kicked this one.

I was a little concerned hearing about Bill Self's Okie State ready to throw the moon at him. Why would that worry WSU nation? Because that means if he bolts, Kansas opens up. It's major connect-the-dots stuff, but would Kansas call Tony Bennett? Brinkhater thinks absolutely not, and Kansas would look to the major rock-star coaching tree, guys who have been to Final Four's, guys who have won their conferences, guys who have been winning for several years. I wasn't so sure, but after thinking about it a little more, I have to agree with him. Tony wouldn't be to Kansas what he was to Indiana. IU is living off Bobby Knight at this point, and they are in a major mess right now with NCAA sanctions. While it's still a great job, it isn't Kansas.

That said, I heard Dickie V say today that it's highly unlikely Self will leave. He has the most leverage you could possibly dream of right now, and he'll get everything he wants at Kansas. So it's probably much ado about nothing.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Gary Rogers Ink Just Part of the Gig

Somehow I missed this yesterday, but a strong write-up of our 6-7 power pitcher in yesterday's TNT. It's a quick read, but a strong one nonetheless. And Rogers better get used to the feature stories, because it will come with the territory this year.

What are your expectations or Rogers? I think he could have a big year, but it might come after a slow start. And, overall he's in a tough spot. Here's a tremendously talented guy with NFL size and arm strength who never got his shot for reasons we are all too familiar with. The thing that bowled me over is that Brink made 40 STRAIGHT STARTS?!? That's Favre-like in durability, because we all saw Alex take a beating in his years. I still can't get over how he continued to come back, week after week. A tip of the hat to him for that, but in the end it might really be a spur in Rogers' saddle this season. A new system, key pass-catchers in Bumpus, Collins and Dillon are gone, and a lack of playing experience? Hopefully he'll continue to work his butt off and have a GOD-like senior year. Would that piss you off, by the way, if Gary was just a GOD this year? Not mad about the present, but would you be mad about the prior staff's belief in Brink, no matter what??

The sad part is injuries did in Rogers in '06, or we might be talking about an experienced starter. If you remember, in the 3rd quarter of the Cal loss at home, the staff actually pulled Brink for Rogers. He suffered a shoulder injury, Brink came back into the game, and afterwards there were some ominous quotes from coaches, including Rosey who basically hinted that this was a change they were looking to make. Meanwhile, they beat Oregon the next week and that was it. I think with Rogers, no matter what he does this year we're always going to wonder what could have been.

Jerry Brewer wrote about Tony on Sunday. A good, honest look at the situation, but it's reality - every year, unless the program falls off the face of the earth (highly unlikely), Tony is going to be a candidate at Anywhere U. It's all based on perception of WSU being a nothing program. But is it? We're preaching to the choir here, but just because there are less TV sets in eastern WA doesn't make WSU a bad job. Get the travel stuff straightened out, and if you are pulling in a cool $1m per year in the Pac-10, with very little pressure to win? It's a GREAT job! Plus we get around 9 - 10,000 a game, and that's just as good as many other Pac-10 schools. Beasley actually has more seats than UW's BOFA arena. Did you know that? But remember, this isn't the 1990's anymore. You are coaching in a major conference in a unique college town experience that nobody can match, everyone is on TV, the internet has made the world smaller. You can be a coaching star basically anywhere.

So the M's kick another great Felix start. So far this year, 15 IP, 0 ER, 0 wins. Damn. So THAT'S why it's important to have a closer. You almost forgot what it felt like to blow late leads with Putz being such a dominant force. Well, thanks for the reminder. It sucks. Hurry back JJ.

Finally, quite a night at the Key last night. Sure, revenge on the Nuggets for the Harlem Globetrotter-like performance from a few weeks ago, in maybe the worst Sonics showing ever. And 72 points from Durant-Green was pretty special. But best of all, George Karl and that Space Needle tie! Talk about memories. I know he only wore it late in his Sonics career, but it really brought back thoughts of glory days gone by. I think George Karl and his era is the #1 reason I give a rip about the Sonics or the NBA. It's so easy to forget what it felt like back then, how much everyone cared, how much the Seattle sports landscape changed so much. Just seeing him in that tie made me remember my younger single days living in Seattle, and the Sonics were just so damn important. The clock is just about winding down on their days here, and barring a miracle they will be gone. What a shame.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

QB's Improve in Latest Scrimmage

What, no Tony-Bennett-to-insert-team-name-here stories?? One whole day and no new rumors. WOW. No news is good news. Well, ok, there is this from the TNT. Basically no new contract extension as being 100% official as of a statement from Sterk, but things are moving in a positive direction. As "Vanilla Ice" told me yesterday, he got some first-hand info to ignore the rumors, Tony is here to stay. Hooray Tony.

Anyway, several football-related stories floating around about the scrimmage yesterday, so we'll get right to it. Note - we HAD HOPED to have some eyes at the deal yesterday, but Hooty McBoob's actual life got in the way. Hopefully we can get some first-hand stuff for next Saturday's spring game.

  1. It at least sounds promising on the QB side of things. Gary Rogers had decent passing numbers, 11-of-17 for 129 and a TD with zero INT's. This in stark contrast to the first scrimmage where Rogers and the rest were really out of synch and dominated by the D. Vince wrote in a quick-hitter recap that Rogers looks better in terms of mechanics and accuracy, and showed off his mobility as well.

    It also sounds as though Kevin Lopina is solidifying his spot as the #2 QB. Nick Eason wrote about it today as the feature to the scrimmage, but Lopina ran the 2's to the tune of 8-of-12 for for 107 and a TD, and also ran for a 7-YD TD. I have to say, Lopina is a really intriguing prospect. You probably know the back story, but he was highly touted out of Cali and went to K-State. The coaching staff went through a major change, so he transfered out to Pullman. He is touted for his feet as much as his arm, and he might fit like a glove in this new offense. At this point Rogers is the starter, and that will likely stay that way into the season. But keep your eye on Lopina! As for the other QB's, don't ask. Morgan and Marshall both only had one series and didn't really do anything worth noting. Marshall did have a 4-yard completion, but also fumbled a snap. Of course things can change in a hurry, but right now it's clearly Rogers and Lopina.

  2. Matt Eichelberger got some mention, notching a couple of sacks. Eichelberger was singled out earlier in the week by coach Wulff, and it sounds as though he's going to be a decent solution at defensive tackle. Perhaps he's responding well to this new coaching staff?

    Mattingly had a sack as well at D-End. Mattingly has an offseason goal of gaining weight in the weight room and getting more martial arts training. I can't wait to see how he plays next fall after more reps on the d-line! We know the kid flat-out makes plays. He's already a thick 6-4, 245, but get him up around 260 and with his strength and quickness off the edge? We could be talking about a major force.

  3. Wade Penner kicked pretty well, drilling a pair of long ones, 47 and 50-yarders. We still don't know the identity of the secret JC kicker that coach Wulff has mentioned, and that likely won't change until fall camp opens. But Penner has the lead this spring.

  4. WR Daniel Blackledge continues to look good. He had 4 balls for 70 yards, including a 30-yard reception on 4th and long. Blackledge is an interesting young player who was all-everything out of Colorado, with decent size at 6-2, 180. But he could probably project out to the starter opposite Gibson at this point, and based on the pre-spring depth chart he was listed as starting flanker. Nice to see the improvement out of the young guy. This is what spring ball is all about, and I would bet he's going to emerge as one of the surprise players going into next year.

  5. Finally, non-scrimmage related but Jim Moore wrote a long piece on Andy Roof. We all know he had issues last year, but wow, 28 days in a rehab facility? We heard rumors like that, but it's admirable that he would come out and admit it. Now he's sober and ready to contribute at the already-thin d-tackle spot. Who knows if it will work out, and being away from football as well as changing positions might be too much to expect anything. I sure would love to see him mixing it up in the middle and occupying a couple of blockers, freeing up the absolute strength of the defense, the LB's, to flow to the ball and make plays!

That's it for today. I would imagine we'll see more football stories next week, right through the final scrimmage. Enjoy your Saturday! Click here for more Comments

Friday, April 04, 2008

Cal Hippies Abduct Mike Montgomery

I guess the lure of Berkeley was overwhelming. Per Andy Katz this AM, Mike Montgomery is back in the Pac-10, taking the helm at Cal. Are you nervous? He was a heck of a coach at Stanford and the rivalry there should grow new legs because of this one. If you've seen him lately, he's looked tanned, rested and ready for the grind that is the Pac-10.

I know, the hippies thing is a shot at Berkeley. I guess it's because of my lone experience there. A few years back, a bunch of us went down to take in the Cougs getting blown out in Strawberry Canyon. The game was forgettable. But after the game was what I'll remember. First we went to some bar with a sun deck and all the Cal fans walked by after the game. Of course it was full of Cougs, and we were, well, getting our drink say the least. I'll never forget the shocked look on Cal fans as they walked by, and they would try to say stuff like "you guys lost, why are you celebrating?" I won't repeat here what we said in response, but you can probably imagine what the response was.

I'll also never forget Fat Slices. Great pizza. But I'll also never forget the teenage burn-outs flipping over garbage cans, looking for pizza crust. I saw three of them right on the sidewalk devour half-eaten crusts. Gotta love Berkeley.

Then again...Cal can't be THAT bad. They did land pole-vaulting sensation Allison Stokke.

Moving on, links are everywhere on our own coach handsome.

I won't link everything, as you can see to the right of the page the latest. But the P-I was the strongest yet, stating Tony has agreed to some sort of restructuring. Raises for Tony, raises for the assistants, charter travel, the whole deal sounds as though it's in motion. KJR has been reporting it as well, per favorite son Ian Furness. It really sounds like President Floyd stepped up huge to make it known his commitment to building a program, and that has to be a big factor to Tony. Beyond the usual things you hear, I think President Floyd is a huge asset to WSU athletics. Time will tell, but we're in pretty damn good shape. Also, I don't know how many have heard, but President Floyd was reportedly wooed by his alma mater, UNC, to become Chancellor. He said no, of course. It shows his desire to make our situation special. We couldn't be in better hands!

Next, ESPN had a great write-up of coach Wulff. I would imagine if you are reading this you already know the back story on Wulff, which is remarkable. But this is a chance to get some national exposure for what he's all about. Thanks to Ted Miller and his NW ties for getting after this story.

Speaking of coach Wulff, he sounded a little cranky in today's story. He makes it very clear that these guys better bust their humps between the end of spring and fall camp, because there is SO FAR TO GO before they are good enough! I don't want to get too down on things now, and it's easy to over-react during spring ball. We know things are going to look a lot different by the opening kickoff at Qwest Field. But man, is it just me or do things not sound all that hot? Our own Hooty McBoob is possibly going to take in the scrimmage, so, we'll see what his eyes tell us. But right now? Not feeling full of Cougar optimism.

Finally, Snap Shots. It's that little preview window that pops up over links to give you a sneak peek at what follows the link. Do you like it? Hate it? Don't care? I admit it, I stole it from Nuss and his hoops blog. I like it myself, but it can be killed easy enough. Let me know what you think.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

X'd Out

Greetings Cougar Nation.

Last time we spoke, we had just finished spanking the hapless lads from the land of Touchdown Jesus the day before Easter.

And now, well, we’re waiting in the throws of yet another batch of “Where’s Waldo?” Tony Bennett style.

But before we go there, I thought I’d finish off my wonderful season of stating the obvious:

First and foremost, HAD I internet reception at my $400 a night hotel in NYC, you would have seen the following predictions from me before our game with Big Blue:

71-52 Heels


65-62 Cougs.

It all came down to shooting.

What was amazing to these eyes was that we were able to hold Carolina “down” to under 70 points in that damn game despite shooting less than 33% from the field. I found that stat to be absolutely astonishing.

What those numbers should have shown all of us was something very simple, but nonetheless profound: IF we had hit our shots, we would have won that stinking game. Its that simple, we really would have won if we had shot 45% or better.

But, we didn’t, and the simple reason that we didn’t was because our X factors simply did not show up.

Rochestie was a non-factor. Cowgill couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn despite being SPECTACULAR the weekend before. And Harmeling was nothing short of awful.

If two of those three shot well, we would have shocked the world. (But kudos to Mr. Baynes who really played well and for Low and Weaver who played hard and aggressive).

But what can you do?

I think, as we look back on this incredible group of kids, we will REALLY lament that CAL loss and both losses to Stanford pre-tournament. In hindsight, those losses really cost us a #3 seed in the tourney—a seed that, in my view, would have given us a really, really good chance at making the Elite 8. As is, we were able to make the Sweet 16 which makes this group an historic success.

Now, in regard to Mr. Bennett, let me say this: I would bet my bottom dollar that he is using this week to get some major things done IN WRITING surrounding changes to program travel, staff salaries and what have you. The fact that he is not negotiating those details in the paper is yet another tribute to the true character of the man.
I also think that our win over Notre Dame is THE reason why he is staying at WSU. With that win, he has something tangible to build on: Two top bracket seedings in two consecutive tournaments, a Sweet 16 bid, and a thrashing of a top 15 team in the tournament against a physical team from a physical conference. THAT is something coaches can really sell and build on. Check that against a second year in a row, first weekend exit, and you have a guy that might not have the chips to continue to recruit the way he needs to to keep this Cougar engine running.

That said, when this upcoming weekend is past, Tony really needs to start making statements about his intentions to be here. Simply put, while all coaches leave, Tony’s ability to really build something in the Palouse will be contingent upon his ability to sell stability to recruits, to the media, and to the fan base. Obviously, passing on IU is a MAJOR statement (for those who haven't been there, Bloomington is beautiful), but once he passes on these other great opportunities, a nice formal statement or four would go a long way to chilling everyone out. Including yours truly.

As for next year, well, I think its going to be intriguing. Baynes has a chance to be really special especially in view of the pending departures of the Lopez Twins, Love, as well as dudes like Marty L. that could really pull him away from the basket. Rochestie has a chance to really become the prodigal snake in the grass in a really exciting way, and Nicky Boy, if healthy could become a really nice slasher type for a team that will need to continue to establish the baseline.

But, the rest is all really a crap shoot. Caleb is going to be a nice midrange guy that has a ton of moxy and heart as we saw this year. Harmeling could be a star or a scrub depending on his confidence and health. I would bet on the former if he starts, but if Bennett uses him off the bench again, I think we’re all likely to be disappointed.

Abercrombie looks like he can jump out of the gym, but it’s hard to know if he can play. We really know nothing about the Lobrick kid. Ditto Fabian Bok-bok. Then, we have the new kids coming in.

Thompson is really special from what I've seen (and I mean SPECIAL), and my sense is that the kid from Florida is also going to get a bunch of time as a 6 foot 4 cross between Derrick Low and Rochestie. I look for him to get a lot of time once conference play starts because of his size and reputation as a defender (note: He also shot 44% from 3pt range this year, which is GREAT at any level).

So, by the end of the year, we’re going to have a team with Baynes, Harmeling, Caleb, Thompson, Rochestie, Lobrick, and Bok-Bok, plus the Florida Kid (and throw Abercrombie in there as well). That’s a thin group, but potentially one that can really light it up. The question is who will be able to distribute with Weaver gone?

Think we’re gonna miss him? (P.S. See Washington post Brandon Roy).

BUT, its also a group that should hold promise in what should be a weakened league.

So, here’s Brinkhater’s pre-season special for 2009:

UCLA (yes, I know they’re losing a lot but see SC in football for a refresher)
Arizona State
Washington (gulp)
Washington State
Oregon State

We’re gonna have to go 10-8 to get back to the dance and find a way to go 9-3 or so out of conference.

But in some ways, this group feels a little like the team that came in a few decades ago with a young Ike Fountaine who lit up Puerto Rico with 33 points and brought the then NCAA bound Cougs home with a nice little Holiday Tournament.

This team could provide similar havoc for other teams.

It will be fun watching them do it.
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ATLCoug & Kaddy's Sweet 16 Adventure

Thanks to the power of these here "internets", our own prolific posters ATLCoug & Kaddy are able to share their experience in lovely Charlotte for the Sweet 16. Joining ATL and Kaddy are "Moley" and "Vanilla Ice". Note the real names are withheld due to future political aspirations. From left: AtlantaCoug, Vanilla Ice, Moley, and Kaddy. Here are their words, as well as some good-fun pics.

We had a great time in Charlotte. Vanilla and Kaddy took a red eye flight that arrived at 8 AM in Charlotte on Thursday. They immediately went to Hotel and took nap till 12 noon. ATLCoug and Moley drove up from Atlanta and arrived at 12 noon and all 4 of us took a train downtown.

Charlotte downtown is pretty cool, and our first task was to find the right bar. After walking a few blocks and asking several people we settled on the 'Fox and Hound' Sports bar. Vanilla kept wanting to take pictures, but we were sober and thought that was lame. Few beers later, we thought it was great a great idea. We saw some Cougs downtown…but not many. 5 hours from game time, and we are just hoping for a good showing.

Next stop we went to the Pre game rally at the ‘Brixx’ restaurant. It was teaming with Cougs. Unfortunately, all Cougs were either early 20’s or upper 40’s and higher and we really did not know anyone from when we were in school. But it was still awesome to see all that Crimson in Tar Heel Country.

We ran into this nice Cougar MILF with her Tar-Heel son. Note that the kid was not a fan of the Cougs or us. He appears to have a problem with drunken idiots flirting with his Mom. Can you blame him?

The Derrick Low family was there in full force. We counted about 15 members of the family in attendance. This photo is of Derrick’s Girlfriend. I forget her name, but she was very nice and this is also as close as we got to meeting any players on our trip. 2 and ½ hours 'til game time….and we think we have a shot at winning.

A picture with a pretty Cougar (pun intended). Mmmmm, Cougar boobies.

Picture with a Tar Heel. Had to get one for the record books.

1 hour 'til game time....and we are telling ANYONE who will listen that the Cougs are shocking the world tonight!

D-Low shaking hands with Psycho-T.

Team huddles up before tip-off.

**Actual Game Happens** I had Tivo’d the game in High Def and called the wife to delete before I got home. Did not want to see it. If you would have told me that we ‘held’ the Tar Heels to 68 points and that Hansbrough would only have 2 points in first half, I would say the Cougs won. What I did not know was that someone left the lid on our basket and we could not make any shots. We all know NC is a great team, but if we just shot 40% in that game it would have been very competitive. I am sure this is how Notre Dame felt after playing us. Nothing was falling. Oh, well. Time to get our drink on.

If anybody made the trip to the Auburn football game in '06, you probably remember how nice the Auburn fans were. Well, the same can be said about the NC Tar Heel fans. Of course it is easy to be gracious when you win by 20.

All in all it was a great trip. Who knows when the Cougs will make the Sweet 16 again. We sold our Saturday tickets for a 300% profit and used our proceeds for several rounds of Irish Car Bombs. Vanilla and Kaddy had to get up at 4 AM Friday morning to catch a flight home so they win the ‘worst itinerary ever’ award for this trip.

Go Cougs!!

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Big Week for Wulff

So while we divert our attention away from Tony Bennett for the moment (and if you noticed, the story still isn't 100% dead, as Howie Stalwick wrote today), lo and behold the FOOTBALL team is on the 3rd week of practice already?? How did that happen? I have no idea. Maybe because coverage has been so sparse, what with the Bennett's run into Sweet-16-ness coinciding with 2/3rds of spring ball?

Whatever the reason, it's a new week and spring ball is in the home stretch. While spring has been "OK", according to some, Wulff weighs in today in the Spokesman about how important this week really is. For a quick recap, here's where we are with one week left:

  1. The defense is ahead of the offense. BIG-time. Proof is in the pudding, and the defense allowed only 2 TD's in 90 minutes of action last week. Both were rushing TD's, and the D racked up 4 sacks and a couple of picks.

  2. The QB's have been OK, but there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of separation at this point. There weren't any TD passes in the last scrimmage, and the yards and completions were pretty low across the board. (here's a full recap of the scrimmage) Rogers is still the #1, and most likely things will stay that way once spring wraps up. But there are rumors that another young QB has done pretty well, and might really make a case for the job this fall (think RS-frosh young). None other than Marshall L has looked pretty good. Who knows, maybe we'll have the first QB controversy in the Wulff era before the first game?

  3. This team is thin, thin, thin. Wulff has mentioned it all along, from the first couple of weeks after he took the job, to interviews prior to spring ball. That view hasn't changed in any way. Based on some hints Wulff dropped at the Seattle football dinner, we may see new recruits pressed into action immediately this year, and not necessarily by choice. I can't tell you how many times Wulff would talk about a prospect during the video clips, and then drop in "we'd like to redshirt him this year and get him to gain some weight, but..."

  4. Someone on the blog asked Vince today what he thought about this year's team. In a nutshell, he thought we would be OK. Check it out (*but here's the quote): "Paul Wulff is trying to change the program in his image, which would be a rebuilding job even if 50 good players were returning. His philosophy is just different than Bill Doba's. Whether it's better or not is up for others to decide, but it is different.

    As for next year, the cupboard isn't all that bare with a good offensive line, strong receivers and experienced linebackers returning, along with some possible stars at other positions. But there is no depth, a new quarterback is taking over a new system and 2009? Watch out. That could be tough one as the upperclassmen move on and most of Wulff's guys will be young."

That's about it for now. You can get more from the Cougfan premium stuff, but they are the only ones that are really giving much on the football team at this point. Players are still getting to know the coaches, and still trying to learn new offensive and defensive playbooks in the process. No matter the situation, it can't be easy. The important thing to remember is that no matter how rough the edges are right now, there's still a long way to go until the opener vs. Okie State.

Moving on, some weirdness on the Sonics front. A group is going to announce at 11 AM a potential new arena option in Seattle, possibly down on the pier area across from Qwest Field and Safeco. A very strange press release was issued yesterday that the press conference would be today, the Governor knows about it, even the NBA has been briefed on it and it's been in the works for months. That is all that is known at this time. More to come on that. Otherwise, the Key Arena renovation plan seems to have hit the wall in trying to get the last $75 million needed. With the deadline just 10 days away or else the Ballmer deal evaporates, it really does appear the franchise is yet another step closer to the dust bowl.

M's notch a solid 5-2 win. Bedard struggled with his command and a wicked-tight strike zone, but he kept busting guys inside and never gave in. He battled through 5 innings and kept the damage to just a solo homer in the first inning. Not a great beginning, but still, not bad. And before you get uptight about Bedard? Don't. Just remember the Jeff Weaver/Horacio Ramirez train-wreck of starting pitching last year before you complain why he didn't throw a complete-game shutout! Personally I think opening day is beyond overrated, so it really doesn't matter. The good news is 1 game in, 1 game lead in the AL West over the Angels! Better than the other way around I guess.

Good riddance Lopez twins. You'll be taking your chest-thumping show to the NBA next year. No, we won't miss you. And speaking of the NBA, a quick glance of and you realize the Pac-10 landscape could be drastically different next year. Lopez (the good one) is already rated as the #3 pick in the draft. But look at the rest - Jerryd Bayless of Arizona #4? OJ Mayo of USC #5? Russell Westbrook of UCLA #10? Kevin Love, also of UCLA, #13? Darren Collison at #14? The other Lopez at #18? Even guys like Taj Gibson of USC are listed as 2nd rounders/underclassmen. Pretty remarkable at how the Pac-10 is going to show this year.

Also does you proud to see both Weaver AND Low listed as draft picks! Weaver as a late first-rounder, Low a mid/late 2nd rounder. Nice job. Click here for more Comments