Cougar Notebook -- WSU Football In Kingdome? Ad Studies Possibility

Cougar football at the Kingdome?

It happened once, in 1976, when Washington State played a "home game" against USC during the first year of the stadium's existence. If it's up to Rick Dickson, the Cougars' new athletic director, it will happen again.

But not soon. And not by moving a game out of Pullman.

Dickson said he has discussed with WSU President Sam Smith the possibility of scheduling a sixth home game - one more than the current five - in Seattle in the future. Apparently the earliest it could be done would be 1997, a year when enough holes still exist in the schedule.

"I've suggested we make it a `WSU weekend,' " Dickson said, "by scheduling not only a football game but a volleyball game and other events in Seattle."

Dickson, who built a reputation as a sound promoter while he was athletic director at Tulsa, said a game in Seattle makes sense because 35,000 WSU graduates live in Western Washington.

The 1976 game against USC, which the Trojans won, 23-14, when the late Ricky Bell ran for 347 yards (an NCAA record at the time), attracted 37,268 fans. Since then, the Cougars have played only eight home games in Pullman that attracted larger crowds, and seven of them were against Washington.

The Cougars attracted an average of 27,186 fans to Martin Stadium last year, when WSU ranked last in Pac-10 attendance. However, it was WSU's second highest attendance average for a year no Apple Cup was scheduled in Pullman. The highest - and highest overall, for that matter - was the post-Aloha Bowl season of 1989, when the average was 31,898. Doug Wollard, assistant athletic director who is involved in coordinating promotion, thinks the 1990 record could be bettered this year because of the quality of opponents (after Saturday's home opener against Fresno State, Arizona, Oregon, USC and Washington will visit Pullman), traditional promotions (Homecoming, Dad's Day, Apple Cup) and new, menu-based, ticket-selling devices of the type Dickson said he had success with at Tulsa.

"Two-pack" purchasers receive a ticket for the Apple Cup game against Washington and a ticket for one other game of their choice. "Five-pack" purchasers get two football games (Apple Cup and one other) plus three Saturday men's basketball games (Arizona, UCLA and Washington).

By yesterday, more than 1,200 "two-pack" packages had been sold, said ticket manager Janet Johnson. Only about 45 "five packs" had been bought, she said. Season-ticket sales total about 15,000, an increase of about 1,000 over last year.

Sweeney's return (Part 3)

In the past four months, Fresno State Coach Jim Sweeney has had back surgery and prostate surgery and undergone an angioplasty procedure, but the former WSU coach says he feels great going into Saturday's game against his former team.

"I'm in the MBWA phase of my career - Management By Walking Around," Sweeney said yesterday.

"I watch Leon Burtnett (defensive coordinator) teaching the young assistants and then I tell a joke. Then I leave and watch Jeff Tedford (offensive coordinator) and I slip in and give them a couple of trick plays that they throw out."

Sweeney, 65, seems to have lost none of the affable attitude that characterized his eight-year career (1968-75) as WSU's head coach.

"I lost 19 games in a row at Washington State and they gave me a new five-year contract," Sweeney said with a laugh. "So they must have loved me or else they couldn't get anybody else to take the job."

Actually, the Cougars didn't lose 19 games in a row with Sweeney as coach. From the second game of the 1969 season through the second game of 1971, they went 1-21.

Sweeney resigned in 1975, after the Cougars blew a two-touchdown lead in the last four minutes and lost 28-27 to Washington. He was coach at Fresno State in 1976 and 1977 and an NFL assistant in 1978 and 1979. He returned to Fresno State in 1980.

This year, Fresno State is 1-1 after losing 34-10 to Ohio State in the Pigskin Classic and beating San Jose State 45-13. The latter was the 190th win of Sweeney's career.

"You can't be too much of a genius when it takes you 29,000 years to win 190 games and when you try to schedule Nebraska in the Pigskin Classic," Sweeney said. "And when you can't get Nebraska you look around and get Ohio State. Nobody can accuse a guy of being smart for that."


-- WSU linebacker Mark Fields, who returned a fumble recovery 71 yards for a touchdown in the win over Illinois, was one of three players named Pac-10 players of the week.