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November 25, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Apple Cup flashback: When Bob Gregory was a ‘glaring weak spot’ on the Washington State defense

Going through The Seattle Times archives today, I found this gem from the great Craig Smith in a story printed on Nov. 19, 1986, three days before legendary WSU coach Jim Walden would coach the Cougars for the final time. The 12th-ranked Huskies beat the Cougars, 44-23, in Pullman.

“I don’t lie to my players,” Walden said after the game. “I told them Washington was bigger, stronger, deeper. I wasn’t going to tell them the Huskies were slow and couldn’t move. They would have gotten their brains knocked out. I told them that if the Huskies didn’t give us anything, we would get stoned.”

You’ll notice a cameo in this Smith preview story by UW’s current linebackers coach Bob Gregory, then Washington State’s starting outside linebacker.

Headline: Hate the Huskies? ‘It’s easy.’ Says Walden

Bob Gregory, a Washington State graduate, is in his first season as UW's assistant head coach and linebackers coach. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

Bob Gregory, a Washington State graduate, is in his first season as UW’s assistant head coach and linebackers coach. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

PULLMAN — It’s a faded clipping, but it remains Exhibit A in Jim Walden‘s mental museum of Husky arrogance.

In 1982, when the Washington State Cougars upset the Washington Huskies 24-20, UW lineman Don Dow said in a post-game interview, “I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime.”

Speaking before a weekly gathering of Cougar fans on campus yesterday, Walden fumed, “Can you imagine that! . . . This guy is 22 years old . . . He has been told you will always be superior, that this will never happen. Can you imagine a 22-year-old in anything saying, ‘I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime.’

Walden added with a smile: “At least he got to see it.”

Walden continued: “Husky people believe they are the best, believe they are the smartest, believe they are the richest and believe they are everything. And they train their people to think that way. It hasn’t changed. I don’t have anything against that. But I don’t have to accept it. You aren’t smarter or meaner or anything by association.”

Walden told the fans, “Everybody needs something to hate, and the Huskies make it nice. They are easy. I like Don James. I just hate their system. I admire them, I respect them, but I hate them.”

The Cougars will try to make it four victories in five years over the Huskies here Saturday. Walden said, “In my heart, I’d be lying to you if I thought we had much of a chance.”

Walden cited two reasons for pessimism: (1) WSU quarterback Ed Blount has been slowed by an injured ankle since the first quarter of the UCLA game Oct. 25, and (2) the Cougar defense has a glaring weak spot in 175-pound outside linebacker Bob Gregory, a converted defensive back.

Walden said Blount has been unable to stretch a defense by running wide option and keeper plays with the same speed he exhibited before he was injured.

“He can’t admit it to himself, but what he was doing for five weeks, he just can’t do any longer,” Walden said.

Of Gregory, Walden said: “I feel sorry for him. I’m not mad at him. He’s thrown his body at more fullbacks than I’ve seen in my life.”

Walden said trying other players at the position and switching to other defensive formations just hasn’t worked.

“What it boils down to is we have no linebackers,” Walden said.

Despite the problems, Walden said, “Getting ready for the Apple Cup is the most exciting thing I get to do. It’s next to waiting for one of your kids to be born.”

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