The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

TAYLOR: Welcome home Gardner Minshew

Pro Bowl Cougar Quarterback back in Pullman for spring football game
Quarterback Gardner Minshew II smiles for photos after fans storm the field following the Cougars victory over Oregon on Oct. 20 at Martin Stadium.

The man, the myth, the legend Gardner Minshew II is returning to the Palouse.

Minshew, the folk hero and face of Cougar football’s most successful season in recent memory, the 11-win 2018 season, is back in Pullman for WSU football’s 2024 Spring Game. He will also participate in the Coug First Golf Tournament at Palouse Ridge Golf Club Friday.

Minshew will serve as a guest coach for Team Crimson, facing off against two Cougar greats. Former WSU QB Jack Thompson, who lives in Spokane, will co-coach Team Gray alongside Rueben Mayes, WSU’s all-time rushing yards leader and Pullman resident.

Minshew is on a short list of Pro Cougs actively playing in the NFL. Over the offseason, he signed with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Minshew began last season as the Indianapolis Colts’ backup QB but was quickly thrown into action after rookie Anthony Richardson saw his season end with an injury. Minshew led the Colts to a winning record, but one errant throw against the Houston Texans drew the end of the line for Indy.

Minshew has the chance to contend for the starting job in the entertainment capital of the world. After dawning the black, yellow and green for Duval County as a Jacksonville Jaguar, making it to the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles and shaking hands with Peyton Manning as a Pro Bowl Colts QB, Las Vegas is where Minshew belongs.

His Las Vegas arrival reunites him with Maxx Crosby, one of the best defensive linemen in the league and a player responsible for several of Minshew’s turf tumbles.

When Minshew’s Colts faced Crosby’s Raiders in 2023, Minshew was mic’d up for this game and a clip of him saying that Crosby kept calling him “a Lil Ass Boy’ went viral.

“I’m like ‘I’m little out here, but not always, ya know?’” Minshew said to teammates during the game.

In an appearance on Crosby’s podcast in April, Crosby asked for clarification on the “not little all the time” comment.

“That is what it is,” Minshew said to a chorus of chuckles.

Those kinds of natural moments are exactly what endeared Minshew to the Cougar faithful, not to mention his underdog mentality.

“And it was just one of those things where it was like ‘Okay, this guy’s a little funky, like what’s going on with the mustache?’ And then, when I learned that he, you know, chose us over Bama, Why would you come here over Alabama?,” Kat Roley, WSU class of 2022 said. “Like if you had a chance to go be a part of the best program in the country and you’re gonna come here, but obviously he made the right decision because he’s a Cougar staple.”

Minshew was not a D-I recruit out of high school. He walked on to Troy, did not get a spot and went the JUCO route. After he won a JUCO National Championship, he transferred to East Carolina. For his graduate year, he had an offer from Nick Saban to go to Alabama, where he would essentially be the backup’s backup and then he got a call from WSU head coach Mike Leach.

Leach gave him the line that Cougs know and love.

“Do you want to hold a f—ing clipboard? Or do you want to come to Washington State and lead the nation in passing?”

Needless to say, Minshew chose the latter and the rest is history.

The 2018 season was full of memorable moments from upsetting USC to winning the Alamo Bowl, to, of course, ESPN College GameDay coming to Pullman. A group of WSU alumni had flown the same crimson WSU Cougar flag, known as ‘Ol Crimson’ to every College GameDay show since 2003 in an attempt to gain national recognition and get the show to Pullman. After 15 years, it finally worked.

College GameDay does not come to Pullman without Minshew.

Roley joined thousands of Cougs in watching each of Minshew’s games in 2018 and loving every second of it. Walker Brooks, a Murrow College Class of 2023 graduate first came to be aware of Minshew the day after he was accepted to WSU.

Brooks watched Minshew complete 38 throws for 319 yards in WSU’s 41-19 win over Wyoming. He not only saw a great QB, but an amazing person. Brooks is a graduate student at University of Washington (but still a proud Coug who wears WSU gear to school.) Brooks said seeing Minshew in the NFL is gratifying.

“We have the most important position in this sport, and he is killing it. And he’s doing wonders and everyone loves him. He’s universally known and he’s a Coug through and through,” Brooks said.

This is only the tip of the Iceberg of memorable Minshew moments. Although he was in Pullman for a year, his impact was incredible, and as WSU has found itself marginalized by conference realignment, Minshew’s guiding light of an NFL career has given Cougs hope.

Minshew represents exactly what being a Coug is all about. He’s an underdog who worked for everything he got. He is true to himself and found success.

“Everything he does just fits him to a tee and I don’t know if I can actually describe him as a person. But when you see him doing something, you go ‘Oh, that fits, that completely describes Minshew.’ The jorts I don’t know what that has to do, but he wears the jorts. The living out of a van, that tracks. He is such a strange human being but he just is consistent,” Brooks said. “There’s nothing disingenuous about the man. He’s not posing for social. He’s not doing it for endorsement deals. Everything about him is the purest form of Gardener Minshew.”

We love Gardner Minshew because he is a Gardner Minshew. He is a Coug in the purest form of the word.

Thank you, Gardner Minshew. Welcome home!

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About the Contributor
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the sports editor for spring 2024. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year and managing editor for the summer and fall 2023. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves sports and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.

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  • F. Patrick BuckleyApr 26, 2024 at 9:58 am

    I’m a Jax. Jaguar fan from Orlando,Florida, I did not know who he was, but I heard about his background and was impressed – he was a throwback and a fighter, with some old school swagger , which was refreshing! I became a Minshew Maniac, and pull for him regardless of where he plays!

  • Laurens RollerApr 26, 2024 at 9:08 am

    Im.a raiders fan and I think that Gardner Minshew is a great asset for my Raiders! And the Raiders drafted Brock Bowers from Georgia, and Raiders have Davate Adam’s. I’m very excited for the Raiders future because of Gardner addition and other additions.

  • Michael GouldApr 26, 2024 at 6:28 am

    I have watched him since his rookie year. He has gotten better each year and the enthusiasm he exerts is overwhelming for his teammates. Is he the best QB in the league, no. He works his butt of all the time. I hope is very successful for the Raiders.

  • John WahlborgApr 26, 2024 at 12:41 am

    I love the fact that Gardener Minshew has come back to hang out at WSU with some of the old & young Cougar football players. I have to smile whenever I picture him sticking that fake Minshew Moustache on coach Leach (on camera).
    I was hoping that maybe the Seahawks would pick him up for their new team…

    • Markus HauckApr 26, 2024 at 9:55 pm

      I got to see Gardener today and s photo with him great guy hope he does well with the raiders and miss him as a cougar but happy for him go cougs