Vikings coach Mike Zimmer looks back fondly at his time with WSU
If I’m known for anything besides saying “I don’t know” a lot, it’s figuring out a way to work Cougar football into any conversation.
So let’s give it a shot here on the digital side of things. You probably know that Mike Zimmer is the head coach of the Seahawks’ opponent on Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings.
You might also know that he was the defensive coordinator largely responsible for the rise of the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense.
But did you know that he was also Mike Price’s defensive coordinator from 1989-93 at Washington State? The Cougars had some of their best defensive teams under Zimmer, and he spoke fondly of his time there during a conference call with Seattle-area reporters on Wednesday.
“Coach Price was a great mentor,” Zimmer said. “I learned a lot of thing from him, obviously about coaching, but also about the way you treat people and just really all kinds of things. The big memories at Washington State were about when I got there. They weren’t very good defensively, and we kind of turned it around.”
In his first year, the Cougars went 6-5 and came up with 24 interceptions, four by Ron Ricard. Washington State had down years in 1990 and ’91, but it wasn’t because of defensive issues.
In 1992, the Cougars went 9-3 and finished with a No. 15 AP ranking after beating Utah 31-28 in the Copper Bowl. That was also the year of the infamous Snow Bowl when Washington State beat the Dawgs in a whiteout at Martin Stadium.
And in his final year, Zimmer’s defense was ranked eighth in the country in total defense and second in rushing defense. His players went on to become known as “The Palouse Posse” in 1994, a stifling defensive unit that allowed only 39 points in the Cougars’ first six games.
Zimmer left after the 1993 season to become an assistant coach under Barry Switzer with the Dallas Cowboys.
It’s been more than 20 years since he left Pullman, but he hasn’t forgotten his formative seasons as a coach.
“All those young guys that played for me, and (former WSU coach) Bill Doba was a great friend of mine,” he said. “Really all those guys. It was a great time. It was a lot of fun to be there.”
The Go 2 Guy also writes for SeattlePI.com and KitsapSun.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.