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Looking for a little attitude before Apple Cup

The WSU band turns its back to UW as they exit the tunnel. (AP Photo)

By Bill Swartz
710 ESPN Seattle

Q: How do you get a Cougar football player out of your back yard?

A: Put up goal posts!

Q: What do you call a Husky football player wearing a suit and tie?

A: Defendant!

Those corny and sometimes creative jokes used to be the norm during Apple Cup rivalry week. Thanks to the average-to-lousy state of both football programs, it appears the fans just aren’t into the Washington-Washington State game like they used to be.

Part of the problem this year is the timing and location of the game. Thanks to the Pac-12’s new television contract, the Huskies and Cougs were arm-twisted into playing on the day after Thanksgiving at 12:00 p.m.

Oh, and Washington State University is on holiday break in Pullman.

Despite those obstacles, the Apple Cup is nearly a sell-out in newly renovated Martin Stadium. By the way Huskies, there is NO snow in the Friday weather forecast.
During their Monday press conferences, both UW’s Steve Sarkisian and WSU’s Mike Leach were flat out flat-line about what is to some, the most important game of the season.

Said the ‘Palouse Pirate’, Leach of his first Apple Cup, “I’m kind of looking forward to it. You know, I’ve seen it on TV for years. It’s a really impressive rivalry and has been for decades. I know it means a lot to the state and both programs, and we’re excited to be in it.”

C’mon coach, swing your pirate sword from the lip.

Former WSU coach Jim Walden always beat the “Dawgfather” when it came to Apple Cup quote and UW’s Don James used to say he was at a 10,000 word disadvantage against Walden.

“Nothing in my job, not the Rose Bowls, not the Holiday Bowls, nothing is more important than beating the University of Washington,” said coach Walden.

Then he would tell you his favorite Husky joke.

“You know what you get when you cross a pig and a Husky? You get nothing, because that’s something even a pig won’t do.”

Paul Wulff recalled playing in several Apple Cups when he was hired as WASSU’s head coach.

“Dawgs bark and bite. Cougars hunt and kill,” said Wulff. “I really don’t like purple. It’s been 22 years since I played, and I still really don’t like purple.”

Obviously, no coach wants his players to give the enemy any bulletin board material. Even in this era of social media, Husky and Coug athletes are prohibited from ‘tweet-dissing’ the other guys.

The best verbal jab of all time was 1998 when Husky’s receiver Andre DeSaussure said, “I think Pullman is a bunch of crap. It’s a place where you can go and have a good time, as far as there being a lot of drunk people….I’d never take a trip there, even if they strangled me. I’d die first.”

While Coach Jim Lambright didn’t appreciate the statement, part of what Andre said was accurate. I had a good time during my three year academic and extra-curricular career at Washington State University. Unfortunately, I never experienced a football win over the Huskies.

Then, as the radio sideline announcer for the UW radio network, I had to be ‘Mr. Neutrality’, or the Switzerland of the Apple Cup. I just rooted for a well-played, entertaining contest. I also wanted to hear some great player quotes, and even better jokes from both schools.

Q: What has 20 legs and three teeth?
A: The first row of fans at Martin Stadium

Q: Why were the Huskies late for last year’s Apple Cup in Pullman?
A: Every time they saw a sign that said “Clean Restroom”, they did.