BUD: I think this Cougar football team will be improved over last year's team. Mike Leach and his staff have done a nice job of recruiting bigger and better athletes, and that is very evident when you watch this team practice. They are starting to build the depth that is needed in the Pac-12. The overall team speed is better as well.
2. What do you think are going to be the two biggest keys to success for WSU this year?
BUD: My two keys are basically the same as what others have talked about, getting the secondary up to speed and the offensive line giving Connor Halliday enough time to go through his progressions and find open receivers.
Obviously, having a player the caliber of Deone Bucannon graduating hurts the defense, but good teams face that situation quite often. Who will step up? I don't think you have to expect Taylor Taliulu or Darius Lemora to be Deone, but we do need to see them play together and be "enforcers" when receivers or ball carriers come over the middle. The youngsters in the secondary are good athletes, and will become a solid unit. It will take some time, and the unfortunate thing about playing in the secondary is when they make a mistake, everyone in the stadium knows it. The Cougar front seven is solid, and hopefully they will get enough pressure on the QB so that the defensive backs don't have to cover for a long time on plays.
The offensive line will be bigger, and more athletic than last year, but the right side lacks experience. They have all been around and seen what needs to be done, the question is will they be able to take that from the film room and practice onto the big stage. We've all hit some great shots on the driving range that don't always show up on the golf course! I think the offensive line and secondary will be works in progress, and if they develop as the coaches expect them to, the Cougs will be in good shape.
3. What is your best-case scenario and worst-case scenario for the Cougs' overall record?
BUD: There are so many factors that can affect results. I think the Cougars have a great chance to be 3-0 going into the Oregon game. I'd love to say the Cougs are going to knock off the Ducks, and who knows, it may happen. If you go with the odds, the Cougs will be 3-1, 0-1 heading to Salt Lake City, and in my mind that (Utah) will be a huge game. The Cougs were good on the road in conference play last year. Win at Utah and 4-1, 1-1 looks pretty good. If you are 3-2 and 0-2, the job becomes tougher. I can see this Cougar team at 9-3 on the high side. I would be very surprised if this team doesn't go at least 6-6 again this year. The caveat there is keeping Connor healthy.
4. Attendance for Thursday's game in Seattle looks like it's going to be pretty average for the second straight year. With all the improvements at Martin Stadium, do you think this will be the Cougars' last game at CenturyLink for a while?
BUD: I don't think this will be the last game the Cougars ever play at Century Link, but this will be the last one for a while. With the money invested in Martin Stadium, and the way it can be such a home field advantage I think the Cougs should, and will play their games in Pullman. Teams don't enjoy the trip to Pullman, so let's keep them thinking that way! I'm excited to hear just how loud it can get now, with the sound bouncing off of the press box/suites and now the Football Complex building. The Seattle game has been a nice vehicle for WSU to get more exposure in Seattle, but I think it is time to play all of the games in Pullman.
5. You have covered Cougar football on TV and radio for many years. What is the single-most memorable play in your estimation by the Cougs over the years?
BUD: There are so many, it would be hard to pick out just one. Chris Jackson running over the Husky secondary in Husky Stadium (in 1997) to help get the Cougars to the Rose Bowl has to be up there. There were a number of great plays in the upset win in the Rose Bowl over No. 1 UCLA (in 1988).
My first year of doing Cougar basketball on the radio, a home win at the end of the year over a very good Cal team with Jason Kidd that nailed down a spot in the NCAA Tournament (was very memorable). The players were dancing on the courtside tables, I was trying to make sure the gear didn't bounce off the table so I could stay on the air! . . . Drew Bledsoe completing a touchdown pass to himself against Arizona in Tucson. His pass bounced off of a lineman's helmet, he caught it and carried it in . . . Taylor Rochestie's last second 3-pointer to beat ASU on senior day . . . Dick Bennett guiding the Cougars to their first win ever at Pauley Pavilion.
6. When you first stepped in as the Cougars' play-by-play announcer, was it intimidating to have your living legend predecessor, Bob Robertson (pictured above with Bud), sitting right next to you in the booth doing color commentary?
BUD: It was an honor, and will be again this year, to have Bob in the booth with us. If I was new to Coug Nation and in my first year of stepping in it would have been very difficult. Since I have worked with Bob for over 20 years, it seemed natural. I think it is great for Coug fans to still hear Bob's voice on our broadcasts. I'm in awe of what Bob still does at his age!
7. Last year you introduced the phrase "Touchdown Coug-air" after the Cougs scored on a passing play, but it seemed like you went away from it as the season wore on. Are you retiring that phrase? Any plans for a new signature phrase this season?
BUD: I thought "Touchdown Coug-air" was natural for describing a passing touchdown. I heard from some fans who liked it, but I guess others didn't, and I was asked not to use it anymore. I'm never afraid to try something. Some things will work, some won't.
8. Do you go through the same mental preparation for a football broadcast as you do for basketball or is there a difference in how you gear yourself up for each sport?
BUD: There is more preparation for a football broadcast. More names and numbers to memorize. There is more information to sift through for a football game compared to a basketball game. It used to be difficult to gather information on the opposing team, but the internet has turned that around. Now, there is so much to read, and so much info, you have to filter it. Some of it you won't be able to use, the rest you make a note and wait to see if there is an appropriate spot to use it. There used to be a more leisurely pace to football compared to basketball, but with all of the hurry up, no-huddle offenses football moves just as fast now. I think that was the biggest adjustment for me last year.
9. Jason Gesser joins the Cougar broadcasts this year. He's very unique because he's a WSU quarterbacking legend, a former FBS offensive coordinator and interim head coach, and a former TV analyst. What can listeners expect from him this season? Have you two practiced working together this off season?
BUD: I'm excited to work with Jason this season. I first want to thank Shawn McWashington for his two years in the booth. He worked hard and loves the Cougs.
I can be an "option quarterback" with Jason because of what you mentioned -- I can toss it to the former QB, an offensive coordinator or a head coach! He brings great perspective to the booth. That will be fun to use his expertise to explain why a play worked as well as it did, or why it failed. Jason is so well known, I know we will have plenty of Coug fans tuning in to hear him and Bob Robertson!
Jason and I got together a number of times this summer to practice. We did a couple of sessions doing a Cougar game from last year on a big screen TV, then we were in Lewiston together and in the booth in Martin Stadium while the Cougs were going through their team sessions in practice. I'm anxious to get going Thursday!
10. If you had to choose between broadcasting the Apple Cup or broadcasting the Cougar basketball team playing in the championship game of the Pac-12 Tournament, which would it be and why?
BUD: At first glance, tough question. But since I have never broadcast the Cougars in the championship game of the Pac-12 tournament, I'll go with that. I've had the honor of working every Apple Cup since 1982 (with the exception of being with basketball for a couple), so I've had that experience. Every Apple Cup is a great event, and it's never better than when the Cougars win. I had fun when the Cougars made the Sweet 16, and I'd love to see that happen again!
Thanks for letting me join you today, and Go Cougs!