SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -The Apple Cup football game has always spawned legends, and Washington State coach Paul Wulff was the star of one of the bigger ones.
Wulff played center for the Cougars in the late 1980s, but had to have his appendix removed about three weeks before the 1989 game. Somehow, he recovered in time to play in WSU's 20-9 loss in Seattle.
On Saturday, he returns to the Apple Cup, this time as coach of his alma mater against a team he has publicly professed to despise.
At his introductory news conference in December, Wulff recalled that when he arrived on the WSU campus in 1985, he was instructed to dislike purple, the UW color.
``It's 22 years later and I really don't like purple,'' Wulff said.
He added this bit of wildlife observation: ``Huskies bark and bite. Cougars hunt and kill.''
That fired up Cougar Nation, although Wulff could not have known at the time that his team would be 1-10 going into this game, while the Huskies would be 0-10. Neither team has a Pac-10 victory this season.
the Apple Cup since Phil Sarboe, who played on the team from 1931-33, and then coached from 1945-49. The Cougars won the Apple Cup in 1933, and Sarboe was 2-3 in the big game as the head coach.
Wulff has a personal record of 3-2 against the Huskies as a player from 1985-1989, including his redshirt season.
Several members of Wulff's staff also played in the Apple Cup, including Steve Broussard, Mike Levenseller, Malik Roberson, Jody Sears and Shawn Deeds.
This week, Wulff said playing in the game is different from coaching.
``Obviously, as a player your mind-set is a little different,'' he said. ``There's a lot more of the physical part that you are demanding yourself to do as a player.
``As a coach it is all truly mental.''
He can offer some perspective to his players.
``This game is a lot of fun,'' he said.
Wulff feels a special urgency to win because the season has been such a disappointment.
``We have an opportunity to do that and feel a little better about ourselves in the offseason,'' Wulff said.
But he doesn't think this one game will change the future of either team, because rebuilding programs is a long, hard task.
``It will not make a program worse or better,'' he said. ``You can't go from A to Z. You go to B, C, D. ...''
Wulff also doesn't expect to see much effect on recruiting, win or lose.
gton statistically, and that having the game in Pullman should be an advantage for the Cougars.
He isn't one of those coaches who does something special every day to prepare for beating the big rival.
``We've tried to get better as a football team,'' he said when asked if he was doing something different to prepare for the Huskies.
But don't expect the Cougars to present a staid game plan.
``We don't have anything to lose and neither do they,'' Wulff said. ``We're not going to be conservative, let's just say that.''
Wary of the bulletin board, he declined to reveal any favorite Husky jokes.
Most of Wulff's energy is focused on keeping enough players healthy to field a team. The Cougars have fielded five different quarterbacks this season, and are banged up in many other positions.
But no one had an appendix removed recently.

NCAAF Team Pages

Recent NCAAF Discussions