Think about that for a moment. Between his work at FSN and Eastside Catholic High (where he is head coach and assistant athletic director) and his role as director of a hugely popular football camp each summer, the guy is well into the six figures. Add in the challenges of being away from his family, which will stay in the Seattle area this first season, and Gesser’s move back to Pullman is nothing less than monumental.
He truly bleeds crimson. And his once-stated desire to be the head coach of the Cougars by the time he's 45 is dead-solid serious.
My hat is off to the guy.
Gesser’s move back to Pullman got me to thinking whether he is the most famous Cougar player to return to the football program. A quick glance at the record book suggests there’s serious competition for the honor. Three of the greatest players in school history -- Hugh Campbell, Keith Lincoln and Lauri Niemi -- all returned at one point as assistant football coaches. And don’t forget Mike Levenseller, Ken Greene, George Yarno or 1940s All-American Dale Gentry.
In addition, three outstanding quarterbacks from the '40s and '50s all came back as coaches -- Billy Sewell, Phil Sarboe and Bob Gambold -- and early '70s standout QB Ty Paine was on staff as a graduate assistant in ’74. Sarboe, by the way, didn’t return as an assistant coach but as the head man after WSU reinstated its program following World War II.
WHEN DAVID BUCANNON, THE younger brother of WSU’s 2010 defensive player of the year Deone Bucannon, committed verbally to the Cougs last month, a friend wondered aloud about all the siblings who have suited up in crimson. The most famous have to be the Abdullah brothers, Hamza and Husain, each of whom has turned his Cougar career into a long NFL tenure. The Lynch brothers of Spokane, Dan and Pat, were multi-year starters for the Cougs in the 1980s, with Dan earning first-team AP All-America honors. Around that same era there were the Leighton brothers, Vince and Chris, from Liberty High near Spangle, and the Dreyer brothers, Mike and John, from Coeur d’Alene.
Dick and Roy Hanley, another Spokane combo, were both stars on WSU’s 1916 Rose Bowl-winning team. In the 1970s, three of the Busch brothers from nearby Colton lettered for the Cougars: Steve, Sam and Tony. Steve was a first-team all-conference and all-coast offensive lineman in 1971. In the late-90s/early 2000s, Cougar special teams performers included the Hawkins brothers of Pendleton, Ore., Adam and Blair. I’m confident we’re missing some obvious ones, so please fire them up on the Cougfan.com football message boards.
COUGAR GREAT ERIK COLEMAN barely had time to introduce himself to his new teammates on the Detroit Lions when NFL owners implemented the player lockout. Coleman signed a one-year free-agent deal with the club shortly before things went south on the labor front. Rest assured, Coleman should feel right at home in Detroit when the lockout ends. The place is crawling with Cougars. Jason Hanson of course is the ageless kicking wonder for the Lions and the coaching staff includes former WSU player and assistant coach George Yarno and former assistant coach Tim Lappano. Ironically, all four of those guys – Coleman, Hanson, Yarno and Lappano – are Spokane natives.
Coleman, who enters his eighth NFL season, spent the last three years with the Falcons. Prior to that he was with the Jets for four campaigns. He is expected to compete for a starting spot at safety.
IN THE COVERAGE OF Drew Bledsoe’s recent election to the New England Patriots’ Hall of Fame was a stat I found truly amazing. In 1994, in his second year in the NFL, Drew led the Pats back from a 20-point deficit to an overtime win over Warren Moon and the Vikings by completing 45 of 70 passes with no interceptions. Seventy passes. In one game. Without an INT. That is nothing less than astounding.
Speaking of halls of fame, I noticed during hoops season that the Pac-10’s Basketball Hall of Honor doesn’t include UCLA great Bill Walton. Since each school gets to pick which of its former players is inducted each year, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that ol’ Bill has ticked off someone at his alma mater. Based on the guy’s loopy commentary when he’s on the radio, it’s not hard to understand.
LAST MONTH WHEN THE Cougar baseball team was hosting its series with Washington, about 25 former WSU players came to town for the weekend. One of them was Jim Lauer, a star outfielder for the Cougs in the late 1970s and one of the player’s immortalized on the “Bobo’s Best” lithograph. What’s notable about this former New York Mets prospect being in Pullman is that he and his son drove 15 hours from their home in Chico, Calif., to be on hand. Jim is the long-time golf coach and former head baseball coach at Butte College in Oroville, Calif. A tip of the hat to Cougar baseball coach Donnie Marbut and WSU Athletics’ Justin Felker. The two have worked hard in recent years to reconnect the program with former players.
FROM THE VAULT OF REVISIONIST history comes the Mother of All We Didn't Want Him Anyway stories. During Softy's show on KJR Radio in Seattle last week, a source close to the UW program said Steve Sarkisian really didn't want to sign former Skyline phenom Jake Heaps, that Sark only had eyes for Nick Montana. Heaps, (the No. 1 rated QB plus the No. 1 rated overall prospect in the entire 2010 class by Scout.com), of course became the starter as a true freshman last season at BYU and is now being touted in some circles as an outside contender for All-America honors. Montana redshirted last season and recently lost out on the starter's job to Keith Price. Fast forward to the 7:40 mark after clicking here to listen.