By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — While the lead character is being kept away from microphones this week, the Apple Cup saga involving University of Washington freshman tailback Bishop Sankey continued to be a hot topic Tuesday.
On Monday, UW coach Steve Sarkisian defended the recruitment of Sankey, who verbally committed to Washington State but later switched to the Huskies, by saying it’s a common practice to continue calling a recruit who has already chosen a school,
On Tuesday, WSU counterpart Paul Wulff weighed in and sang a different tune.
Wulff was asked during the Pacific-12 Conference media call about the Huskies’ continual recruitment of the WSU commit and he said he believed there was a “gentlemen’s agreement” among Pac-12 coaches.
“I think it’s the wrong message,” said Wulff, whose Cougars play Sarkisian’s Huskies in the 104th Apple Cup on Saturday afternoon.
“I guess I’m old-fashioned in terms of trying to be up-front and clean on all that stuff. But that’s the way it works, and it does happen.”
Sarkisian said Monday that the Huskies continued to recruit Sankey after his verbal commitment because it’s a common practice among college coaches. Until the loophole gets closed up by NCAA rules, Sarkisian added, he’ll keep operating that way “or you get beat” in the recruiting game.
UW freshman wide receiver Kasen Williams admitted Tuesday that he continued to help recruit Sankey well after the Spokane native made his verbal commitment to WSU. Williams, who verbally commitment to the Huskies about the time Sankey publicly announced his devotion to the Cougars, summed up the situation Tuesday with a quick one-liner.
“I think he knew that, after committing to WSU, that he had made the wrong decision,” Williams said, punctuating the comment with a quick grin and a laugh.
WSU cornerback Nolan Washington made no bones about the Cougars’ motivation in Saturday’s game against the Huskies.
“This is our bowl game this year,” he said. “This week is a big week for us. Luckily, it’s Thanksgiving break, so we have the week off and have a lot more time to study film and catch up on sleep. So we’ll be ready.”
The Cougars were still in the hunt for a bowl invitation until losing to Utah last Saturday afternoon.
UW has already clinched bowl eligibility, but the Huskies still have plenty of incentive.
Williams said he has been taught most of his life to dislike the Cougars, having been brought up by a former Husky in father Aaron Williams.
“He didn’t instill hate in the Cougs, but he wanted to make sure I didn’t go there,” said Williams, who has never attended an Apple Cup game despite his UW bloodlines.
“Every time I would say something about the Cougs, he would make sure to let me know that that was the wrong thing to say. I don’t necessarily hate them, but I feel the hatred from this (Huskies) team. And it’s a rivalry that’s going to go down.”
Wearing a brace on his left knee, UW quarterback Keith Price led the Huskies’ first-team offense through a rain-soaked practice early Tuesday evening.
Price is set to return to the starting lineup after sitting out most of Saturday’s loss to Oregon State with a sprained knee.
“I want to play,” he said. “I want to play every week. It was hard for me to sit out last week. But it’s definitely motivation when we’ve got a team like Wazzu coming in.”