PRIME TIME FOR COUGAR UNIS
SPOKANE -- Bill Moos is trying to revive the love affair between Spokane and the Washington State Cougars, and Monday night’s “first date” came off splendidly.WSU fans, athletes, coaches, cheerleaders and athletic department personnel jammed into a ballroom at the historic Davenport Hotel to watch Moos join with Nike representatives in unveiling new Cougars uniforms in five sports,
Football, basketball (men’s and women’s), baseball and volleyball players jumped up on center stage to show off the new home and away uniforms.
Moos said soccer and track and field uniforms will be updated after the 2012 Olympics.
“This, folks, is part of the sizzle,” Moos told the crowd. “To have a top-notch athletic program, you’ve got to have the steak, and you have to have the sizzle.”,BR>
Monday’s affairs was part of a week-long series of public and private events designed to attract more interest in Spokane for WSU sports. The spring football game will be held Saturday at 3 p.m. at Spokane’s Albi Stadium, following a 1 p.m. autograph session with players. Food, a beer garden and a children’s play area will be available.
Fans cheered loudly with approval of all the new uniforms, including a third football uniform for “special” games. That uniform is primarily gray, from the helmet and the faceguard down to the dark gray pants. Numbers and lettering are crimson.
TUEL LIKES THE DUDS.
“Our athletes wanted black (for the alternative football uniforms),” Moos said. “I said, ‘We’re not quite good enough to wear black yet, OK? We’re going to be.’”Athletes praised the design and lightweight material of the uniforms.
“I love ’em,” quarterback Jeff Tuel said. “The fabric is great.“I’m excited to wear them when we’re sweating and wet. They’ll dry up real quick.“They’re light, they’re stretchy and they’re real comfortable. Nike did a great job."
Home football uniforms consist of gray helmets, faceguards and pants and crimson jerseys with white numbers and lettering. On the road, the Cougars will wear white pants and jerseys -- gray pants on natural grass because of problems with grass stains for white pants -- with crimson helmets, numbers and lettering. Faceguards will be white.
The crimson and gray in current WSU uniforms vary widely in shades. Now the colors will be the same; lettering and numbers are more uniform; and the WSU logo is featured.,BR>
“I’m hopeful and truly believe we’re going to move Cougar athletics into a position to be consistently competitive in the new Pac-12 Conference,” Moos said. “In order to do that, we need to be proud of how our appearance is, how we represent the university.”
Longtime WSU supporters Ken Olson of Spokane and Gary Schneidmiller of Coeur d’Alene gave their approval to the new uniforms.“Change always feels good,” Olson said, “so we’ll see how it wears. Most people seemed to react very well to it.”
“I think they’re awesome,” said Schneidmiller, chairman of the WSU Foundation. “I think they just make a real bold statement for WSU.”
Athletes praised the appearance, lightweight material and fit of the new uniforms. “We’ve already been playing in Nike,” baseball pitcher Chad Arnold said. “I like how it breathes real well.”,BR>
“They’re cool,” basketball guard Marcus Capers said. “I like the tops better, because last year (this past season), the tops were kind of tight.”,BR>
Moos and football coach Paul Wulff, who both starred on the gridiron at WSU, said they are pleased that the uniforms provide a new look while featuring the familiar WSU logo.“We want to appeal to that 17-year-old prospective student-athlete as well as pay tribute to those who competed before them,” Moos said.
“I know the players really like them (the new football uniforms),” Wulff said. “To me, that’s the most important thing.,br>
“I wish it made them run faster and hit harder. I’m assuming it’s gonna. Mr. Moos has assured me of that!”
Football uniforms drew most of the attention Monday. White home uniforms and gray road uniforms were also designed for the basketball, baseball and volleyball teams. Although they were not on display Monday, Arnold and teammate Derek Jones said the Cougars will wear pinstripes for Sunday baseball games. The Cougars currently wear pinstripes only for Sunday home games.
Moos invited fans to go outside to admire the new 18-wheeler that will haul football uniforms and equipment to road games. Moos noted that the truck will spread the word about WSU athletics when traveling to six road games next season.,br>
“Seven with the bowl game,” Moos added dryly to thunderous cheers.
Check out CF.C's front page photo essay for more shots of the new look, and tune in a little later for another, 30-shot photo gallery of the new uniforms.
Wulff said media reports of a season-ending knee injury for redshirt freshman wide receiver-kick returner Blair Bomber may be premature. Wulff said the Cougars are waiting for MRI results.
Wulff and other WSU representatives, citing privacy issues, declined to confirm or deny a WSUFootballBlog.com report that cornerback Aire Justin failed an NCAA test for performance-enhancing drugs. Barring a successful appeal, a failed drug test results in a one-year suspension from the date of the testing. Justin, a redshirt senior, continues to practice with the Cougars and is competing for a starting job.
KARSTETTER, WULFF, TUEL AND TOOMER.