All eyes on spring football as WSU launches Spokane Week


Redshirt senior wide receiver Rickey Galvin (left) and senior linebacker Cyrus Coen compete in a drill during a spring practice at Martin Stadium, Saturday, April 19.

The Cougars don’t play against another university for 128 days, but WSU football is still heavy on the mind of Athletic Director Bill Moos. Rather than the Aug. 28 showdown against Rutgers in the Seattle Game, Moos took to his weekly radio show yesterday to discuss the headlining event of Spokane Week, which concludes Saturday with the Crimson and Gray game at Joe Albi Stadium.   

Spokane Week, which Moos said is an effort to reach a vast group of WSU fans that are critical to the program’s fan base, began Monday featuring a luncheon with Head Coach Mike Leach. The attempt to connect with Cougar fans away from home is a step toward a bigger plan Moos has for WSU athletics.  

“I’d like to see a program where there is some urgency among the fans when buying tickets,” Moos said. “We’re going to expand Martin Stadium, but we can’t do it before we have three, maybe four consecutive sellout seasons.”

Unlike most college football teams, the spring game is not the final practice of the season for the Cougars. Leach likes to have a chance to review the film from the game with his staff and correct some of the things they see before the players start their summer classes.

Leach’s primary focus at the game will not necessarily be which team wins or whether the offense or the defense dominates the game. Instead, he will be looking at which individual players are causing their unit to get beat and work to fix the problems the units have, Moos said.

While the Spokane crowd gets its football fix for the year, Moos said he hopes the hype of Cougar basketball and its new Head Coach Ernie Kent carries into the fall as well. The hoops program recently made headlines when news broke that WSU and Gonzaga agreed to a 2-for-1 deal that will see the Cougars play in Spokane for a second-straight year.

Moos said the recent departures from the roster, Royce Woolridge and James Hunter, are “great young men,” but the new faces to replace them will illustrate the up-tempo identity he wants the program to establish.

With Kent on board with a five-year contract and several vacancies to fill on the roster, Moos thinks the Cougs are two or three years away from being annual contenders for the Pac-12 championship.

The direction of both the football and men’s basketball teams represent the movement Moos wants to see across all Cougar athletics. He wants WSU’s programs to consistently finish in the top half of the Pac-12 and, should the breaks go their way, have chances to win conference championships.

Moos expects Spokane Week to serve as a starting point for the 2014 Cougar football team to reach a similar level of success, and expects nothing but positives from the next few days in Spokane.

The Crimson and Gray Game festivities start at 10 a.m. Saturday with the Youth Skills Combine on the field at Joe Alibi Stadium that leads up to the 1 p.m. Crimson and Gray Game.

“It’s going to be a great week,” Moos said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun and look forward to seeing a lot of fans out waving the flag for the Cougars.”

Some NCAA rule changes that took place this week caused Cougar Calls co-host Bud Nameck and Moos to reminisce in some of the odder, now non-existent bylaws in collegiate athletics.

One in particular, referred to by the show’s hosts as the “Cream Cheese Rule,” governed what constituted a legal snack the school could give to a student athlete. Apparently, before the rule change last week, the school could give an athlete a bagel, but if it had cream cheese on it, it was an NCAA rules violation. Other rule changes lifted certain bans on training and nutrition rooms to walk-on athletes.