May 16, 2012
By Jason Krump
When asked what his memories are from that New Year's Eve in 2003, Bill Doba remembers the feeling of elation during the postgame celebration on the Qualcomm Stadium field.
And the feeling of how heavy the trophy was.
"They handed me the trophy and it must have weighed 150 pounds, I about dropped it," he recalls with a smile. "I said Captains get up here!
"That was a lot of fun."
On this mid-April night, Doba once again was having fun, returning to Spokane from his Michigan home to reflect back on the 2003 Holiday Bowl.
As part of Spokane Week festivities, the quartet gathered at Northern Quest Resort and Casino, April 16, to reflect back on the 28-20 victory over Texas.
"We had a great team," Kegel recalls. "We competed in every game we played in."
The Longhorns apparently thought otherwise.
Despite the Cougars No. 15 national ranking, Texas, ranked No. 5, was dismissive at a banquet two days earlier.
"They stood up there and said we were just mediocre," Derting says. "You just wondered what those guys were thinking. It was motivation. We were not happy about it."
"We were looked at as an underdog but we were not really feeling like an underdog though," Kegel says.
Compounding the lack of respect from their opponents, the Cougars had to deal with an oversight by the bowl committee.
"Somehow the committee did not schedule an escort for our busses to get to the stadium," Doba recalls. "We left 15 minutes early and while we're waiting to go in the stadium, here comes Texas and their four busses with motorcycle cops and sirens going. They go right by us and our kids are looking out the window.
"I think by the time they got off the bus they could have beat the Green Bay Packers. They were pumped."
Pumped to the point that the defense blitzed Texas all night, registering a season-high tying seven sacks and scoring a touchdown when Jason David returned a fumble 18 yards to cap a 19-point third quarter outburst.
"Coach Akey pretty much let us loose," Derting recalls. "He wasn't holding back. We blitzed left and right."
"Defensively we were flying around," Doba says."We had a good scheme and mixed the calls up pretty well. Our kids played their hearts out."
Not to be overlooked by the defense, the offense began the third quarter scoring barrage when Kegel connected with offensive MVP Sammy Moore for a 54-yard touchdown pass that put the Cougars up for good.
"They did a lot of bump and run," Kegel remembers of the Texas secondary. "We took some chances and Sammy broke free on that one."
The win punctuated a 10-3 season for WSU, the program's third straight 10-win season.
"The 10 wins were very important to us because we had accomplished it the last two years," Kegel says. "We came in, competed, and put it to them. It was a great group of guys."
What Does it Mean to be a Coug?
"Pretty much everything. There's something very special that happens when you get to Pullman, whether it's on a recruiting trip or your first week of school. It changes you for life. That's commitment, and honor, and respect for the program. I couldn't be prouder to be a Coug."
"A lot. It's something that nobody can ever take from me. It's a pride that I have. I don't have any other school. I have WSU. It is my school and will be my school until the day I die."
"It means a lot. The people, the community, the alums, support and patience they've had over the year, you'll find no place like it. When the realtor asked me for the keys to the house, I had no idea where they were. I never locked the door; I've never locked the truck. There aren't 10 places in the country you can live like that and still get a great education. I've always told the recruits parents you could go to the grocery store, gas station, post office and be home in 15 minutes and still see USC, UCLA, Oregon, Washington come to your place. It's a great place. Once a Coug. Always a Coug."