The movie, a riveting three-volume DVD treasure, will debut with sneak previews
around the state in September and go on sale at www.LegendsOfThePalouse.com at the same time.
For the last four years, McQuarrie, a Washington State graduate, has
devoted the better part of his life to researching, writing, interviewing,
filming and editing -- all in the name of the colorful history, characters
and games of Cougar football. His film includes marvelous old game footage,
the best of Bob Robertson, original music, dramatic reenactments, and interviews
with everyone from Jim Sweeney and Keith Jackson to Drew Bledsoe and Marcus Trufant.
McQuarrie also enlisted an expert panel of judges, plus nearly 800 readers
of Cougfan.com who participated in a poll, to help him with one of the film's
subplots: ranking the 15 greatest Cougar teams in the 111 years football
has been played on the Palouse.
McQuarrie weighed the vote equally, 50/50, between the experts, led by WSU
sports historian Dick Fry and legendary baseball coach Bobo Brayton, and
the fans who voted online.
"The thing that struck me most was how closely the fans mirorred the experts.
I think that says a lot about how astute Cougar fans are," McQuarrie said.
"But there was definitely some divergence when it came to picking No. 1.
The experts were unanimous in who it should be and the fans spoke clearly
in another direction."
Mix it all together, he says, and you have the closest election this side
of Bush and Gore.
"We have no hanging chads, but we do have a cliffhanger," he quips.
LONE STAR DIETZ
McQuarrie won't give a hint as to the outcome. Doing his best to take a
page from Hollywood, however, he offers up a teaser. "Five teams stand out
from the rest," he discloses. "In chronological order, they are 1915, 1930,
1997, 2002 and 2003. That's all I'm going to say until the film comes out."
Each of those clubs brings sterling credentials to the claim of No. 1:
Coached by storied Lone Star Dietz, this is the only undefeated and
untied team in WSU's history. It's also the school's sole Rose Bowl winner.
The team played in an era before polls, but research shows the club has
a legitimate claim to the 1915 national championship. Outscored opponents
204 to 10.
Coached by legendary Babe Hollingbery and anchored by two of the
greatest linemen in college football history, Mel Hein and Turk Edwards,
these Cougars put together a perfect 9-0 regular season, which included
big wins over USC and UW. Played played Alabama in the Rose Bowl.
WSU's first Rose Bowl team since Hollingbery, the Mike Price-coached
unit opened the year with dramatic wins over UCLA and USC and then clinched
the Pac-10 title in a nailbiter at Washington. Quaterback Ryan Leaf and
the Fab Five receiving corps of Chris Jackson & Co. paced the record-setting offense while linemen
Leon Bender and Dorian Boose led the stingy D. Finished 10-2, losing a conroversial
Rose Bowl heartbreaker to national champion Michigan.
The Cougars' third 10-win team under Price, they climbed as high
as No. 3 in the nation late in the season. An o - vertime win over Carson Palmer and USC proved the difference maker in getting WSU to another Rose
Bowl. Quarterback Jason Gesser, a top 10 finisher for the Heisman Trophy,
and All-American lineman Derrick Roche starred on offense, while the D was
anchored by All-Americans Rien Long and Marcus Trufant.
In Bill Doba's inaaugural year as head coach, the Cougars put together
their third consecutive 10-win season, capped by a thunderous upset of Texas
in the Holiday Bowl. Led by a tenacious defense featuring Will Derting,
Erik Coleman and D.D. Acholonu, they won six straight after a heartbreaker
at Notre Dame.
BOTTOM LINE, THESE five contenders make for a showdown of the ages.
"This was more challenging than I imagined," said CF.C managing editor John
Witter, who was part of the expert panel. "It's tough to compare teams from
different eras because the game has changed so much. You also want to make
sure you're not dismissing the older teams because your mind is so full
of the techni-color moments of the last 25 or 30 years.
"By the same token,
you have to guard against the possibility you're canonizing the older teams
because of all the lore surrounding them --- think about the 1930 team,
for instance. Hollingbery, the head coach, is in the College Hall of Fame
and its two biggest stars (Hein and Edwards) are in the College and Pro
Football halls of fame."
McQuarrie's film runs close to four hours. He'll count down to the top 15
team of all time with profiles on each, starting with No. 15 and concluding
at film's end with No. 1.
Mike Monahan, a Cougar defensive back and punter in the late 60s and early
70s, knows McQuarrie's work well. The two collaborated last year on a video
salute to WSU's 1965 Cardiac Kids (a team, by the way, that is rated among the 15 greatest in school history).
"I've seen several segments of 'Legends of the Palouse,' and all I can say
is that it'll give you goosebumps," Monohan said. "This idea of ranking
the top 15 teams in history is a fun twist. For that reason alone, I can
hardly wait for the movie to come out."
The three-set DVD -- which will be sold in three phases starting next month -- contains bonus features, including an interview with
McQuarrie and Cougar-related music videos. To watch clips and to
pre-order a copy,
click to LegendsOfThePalouse.com. Sneak preview events are planned for
Seattle, Tri-Cities and Portland and will soon be posted on the
The silver screen isn't the only place where the glory of the Cougars will be featured this fall. A fascinating new book about the life and times of Lone Star Dietz is hot off the presses. The author, Tom Benjey, will be holding a series of talks about the legendary Cougar coach throughout the state of Washington from Sept. 5-11. The book is called Keep A Goin'.
His schedule is as follows:
10 a.m. - September 5, WSU Spokane's Bookie
7 p.m. - September 7, Book and Game, 38 E Main, Walla Walla
3 p.m. - September 8, The
Bookie, Too!, in Pullman
10 a.m. - September 9, The Bookie in Pullman
4 p.m. - September 10, Elliott Bay Book Company, Pioneer Square, Seattle