Why I am a Cougar

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This is the least politically charged letter I could think of (well, except maybe to a couple Huskies out there).

Jim Sweeney died Feb 8. I had the privilege of attending Washington State University during much of Jim Sweeney’s tenure as football coach. Even though the football team was not very good during most of his time at WSU, I can tell you that it was an exciting time to be a Cougar.

Jim Sweeney did more with nothing than perhaps any coach in WSU history. Poor, or non existent, equipment and facilities made it very difficult to recruit. Did you know that nearly every home game I attended was played in Spokane? The thing that made Coach Sweeney so popular with students was that he had a way of getting his team ready to play.

I don’t remember too many games that weren’t exciting and close. I can tell you that none of the rest of the PAC, wanted to play WSU in raunchy, noisy, old, Joe Albi Stadium. The games were always close, and once in a while we actually won.

I remember the Wednesday after the game “Quarterback Club” held in a room at the CUB. There were days when only a dozen people were there.

That didn’t make any difference to Coach Sweeney. He showed up with a smile on his face and ready to answer any question you had. I remember two funny stories. His defensive coordinator is talking to his offensive coordinator just before a USC game. The defense asks the offense, “Can you score 45 points, because I am sure we can hold them to 40?”

Jim Sweeney’s son’s ambition was to play quarterback for Alabama. Now, Coach Sweeney being the realist that he was and also quite outspoken, had to tell his son, “Son there are only two people in the world who think you are good enough to play quarterback at Alabama, that would be you and your mother.”

Jim Sweeney was a great coach. He proved that at Fresno State.

I cried as I am sure many old Cougars cried when they heard the news.

God bless you and yours, Jim Sweeney. You made my time at WSU something I will cherish forever I hope to see you again some time.

Steve Reiff

Walla Walla

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