Football notebook: Wulff decides on helmets

Football notebook: Wulff decides on helmets

BACK IN MARCH, at the annual Cougar football coaches dinner in Seattle, first-year head man Paul Wulff, when asked about helmet logos, said he was torn between the iconic Cougar head WSU has worn since 2000 and the scripted "Cougars" that adorned WSU's headgear from 1976-1999 and now resurfaces for Apple Cups. With the Cougs' season-opener less than 60 days away, Wulff has made his decal decision.

Like any good coach with two great options at one position, Wulff is going to get ‘em both on the field.

That's right. The first-year boss tells CF.C that his troops will sport the scripted "Cougars" on their silver-gray home helmets and the Cougar-head logo on their crimson road hats.

But don't look for any changes in the Cougars' jerseys and pants -- at least not this season. The team's contract with Russell Athletic ends this year and then Nike will step in as the Cougs' new wardrobe provider. With one season left on the Russell contract it was deemed pointless to redesign the unis now when that exercise can more naturally take place once Nike is on board.

Rest easy. Wulff characterizes himself as a traditionalist when it comes to uniforms, so don't worry that the hideous styles of Oregon will be coming north.

TICKET SALES FOR THE Cougars' August 30 opener at Qwest Field against Oklahoma State continue to run far ahead of the pace of last year's WSU-San Diego State contest at Qwest, which drew 46,290. As of Monday, nearly 21,000 tickets had been sold –- 7,000 more than at the same juncture last year.

It wasn't until late August that sales for the San Diego State game breached just the 16,000 mark. Add in the 5,600 tickets that will be allocated to WSU students next month and the early sales total climbs to nearly 27,000 tickets.

Given the Cougar Nation's history of buying tickets late for almost all games, as well as the advantages that this game has -– Labor Day Weekend, new head coach and no-huddle offense, solid opponent, no competition from Huskies or Mariners –- and it becomes easy to understand why WSU officials are cautiously optimistic they'll crack 60,000 in attendance and perhaps break their Seattle game record of 63,588, set in the inaugural Qwest contest in 2002.

Kickoff is set for 12:30, with live TV coverage on FSN.

Hundreds of $7 tickets to last year's Qwest game were donated to youth charities in Western Washington by Cougfan.com and others. If you'd like to help out with that effort this year, contact WSU's Dan Meyer at meyerd@wsu.edu. He reports that the desire for these seats from the Boys & Girls Clubs around the state is very high and that tickets donated so far fill just a fraction of the need.

SEASON-TICKET SALES for the upcoming campaign are running slightly behind last year, Meyer reports. As of Monday, WSU had sold 10,580 season tickets for the Cougars' six games in Pullman. That's 319 seats fewer than at the same point a year ago

Aside from the lack of recent bowl invitations, a couple of factors could be working against the Cougs this season. For one, they're playing six home games rather than five like last season -- and one of those six is the Apple Cup, which carries a higher price per seat than other games. As a result, the total cost of a season ticket is quite a bit larger this season. In addition, the soaring cost of gasoline could be dampening demand, especially among those living on the west side of the state.

To order season tickets, call 1-800-GO-COUGS or click to wsucougars.com.

The six Pullman games commence Sept. 6 when the Cal Bears come to town. It'll be a memorable day -– and not just because it marks Paul Wulff's return to Martin Stadium, where he starred as an offensive lineman from 1986-89. It'll also be the day when Cougar fans can experience the fully completed phases I and II of the stadium renovation project. Among the most visible improvements will be the giant, $2.4 million scoreboard, which we believe may be nicknamed "Cougzillatron."

Phase III of the Martin Stadium upgrade -- the $40 million construction of 2,200 premium seats -– is tentatively set to begin in January, with completion targeted for the start of the 2010 season. Timing hinges on funding, which in turn rests on how quickly fans pre-order those premium seats.

Since public fundraising phase for phase III kicked off on May 14, WSU has secured signed commitments to fill roughly 40 percent of the 2,200 suite, loge and club seats, which will be located on the north side of the stadium.

Washington State needs to increase sales of those seats to 60 percent of the total number by the beginning of August in order to proceed with the January start date for construction. That would allow WSU to use the revenue from those early sales to secure critically needed bonded financing.

For more information on contributing to the Martin Stadium upgrade and/or to secure premium seats, contact Justin Felker of the WSU Athletic Foundation at jfelker@wsu.edu.

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