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

MOE: “Minshew Mania” is bigger than just one man

Gardner Minshew’s homecoming is a restoration of faith
Gardner Minshew talking with WSU S.I.D. Bill Stevens before throwing out the first pitch, April 26, in Pullman, Wash.

Gardner Minshew II stopped and stared.

It was the end of the first quarter of the Crimson and Gray football game and, per tradition, the jumbotron lit up with a supercut of Cougar football greatness, backed by Andy Grammer’s “Back Home.”

From the 40-yard line, the video held Minshew captive, with his chin tilted up and eyes transfixed on the screen. Before fading to black, the montage ended with a shot of the black-and-white Mike Leach flag.

Minshew, donning crimson and gray for a sole season under Leach’s reign in 2018, has undeniably written himself into Coug mythos. 

On Saturday, over 3,000 fans filled Martin Stadium’s lower bowl for WSU football’s annual Crimson and Gray game, getting their Cougar football fix a few months ahead of the season’s official start. Many fans were vying for a chance to catch a glimpse at the NFL quarterback and Wazzu great.

Following the game, fans were allowed onto the field to meet with and ask for autographs from the team. 

“There’s about a thousand people out there,” head coach Jake Dickert said, gesturing to the crowd that had gathered on the field. “They don’t want my autograph.”

Throughout the weekend, Minshew’s patience and grace was palpable. Wherever he went, crowds followed, vying for an autograph or selfie. And he took his time, grinning from ear to ear, and granted hundreds of Cougs their wishes.

Minshew also made appearances at the CougsFirst! QB Classic (where a line of fans waiting for autographs wrapped around the Palouse Ridge Clubhouse) and Bailey-Brayton Field to throw the first pitch of the Cougs’ series opener against Fresno State.

And – even though fans followed him in droves, even though it seemed he couldn’t get a moment’s rest – Minshew kept smiling.

“It’s so good, man, just to be back [here] and feel this energy again,” Minshew said after the spring game. “[It’s] what makes this place so special.”

Perhaps Minshew’s magnetism is so strong because everything about him screams nostalgia. To Cougs, young and old, he is a byproduct of an era of greatness. He’s almost ‘80s incarnate, with the classic mustache and the remnants of his infamous mullet. (Butch, who appeared on the Crimson sideline wearing a pair of blue denim cut-offs and a No. 16 jersey, also donned a ‘stache). Timeless, classy, and red-blooded, he’s Americana to a T.

À la Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ‘69,” those were the best days of my life.

Ahead of an untraditional, uncertain season, Minshew’s return to the Palouse came at the perfect time. You could feel it in the air. In any given year, the spring game serves as a reminder of what Cougar football brings to the community. This year, Minshew reminded us what it means to be a Coug.

Former WSU QB Gardner Minshew fist bumps Butch after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, April 26, in Pullman, Wash.

“I told him just how appreciative I am…and what it means to Washington State that he would invest his time to come back here,” Dickert said

There’s a lot on the line next fall. Heading into their first season as Mountain West affiliates, the Wazzu football crew has got a lot to prove. The opportunity to rebuild the Pac is tangible, but the Cougs must pull out the stops to see it through.

But that’s what Cougs do.

“I think this place is blue-collar, man. I think everybody’s going to try to work,” Minshew said.

Minshew’s belief is not only inspiring, it’s restorative. His word proved to be as good as gospel last weekend, as demonstrated through the crowds, the passion and the spirit that followed him across Pullman.

 “He just had an amazing message for the team this morning about his really short experience here, about how it shaped, really, the rest of his life,” Dickert said.

You could tell Minshew felt it, too.

“I think everybody understands the challenge. We’re going to face it head on, man. Just being around this team, these coaches, the last couple of days, you can tell their commitment to it, their commitment to each other,” Minshew said. 

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About the Contributors
KEDZIE MOE, Editor-in-chief
Kedzie is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Evergreen for the summer and fall of 2024. She began working at the Evergreen as a sportswriter in the fall of '23 and took on the additional role of copy editor in the spring of '24. She is a junior public relations major from Seattle, Washington.
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.