By Jason Krump
During our phone conversation last Friday I asked Coach Raveling what was his favorite memory during his Washington State coaching career?
It didn't take long for him to come up with one
"My favorite memory is when we beat UCLA (in 1980)," Raveling remembered. "The place went wild."
The Cougars beat UCLA decisively at Beasley Coliseum, 80-64. It was the first win for the Cougars against UCLA since 1966, a string of 27 games.
What was memorable for Raveling was not the game itself, but what happened afterward.
"I remember we were in the locker room and the players were crying. It was such an emotional scene," said Raveling. "(Athletic Director) Sam Jankovich came in and said 'George, you got to go back out on the floor.'"
When Raveling asked why, Jankovich said nobody had left the coliseum.
"And they're calling for you," Raveling remembered Jankovich telling him.
The Evergreen story recounted that the fans were chanting, "We want George!"
"I went back out to the floor and I was stunned," Raveling remembered. "They were cheering and yelling. I didn't know how to react. I just broke down and started crying. I was just overcome with emotion."
According to the game recap by the school’s newspaper, The Evergreen, Raveling addressed the crowd with tears in his eyes. He told the crowd, "On behalf of the players, thanks to the students - I know you're in finals. It might have been 27 games since we beat them, but when we did it was a hell of a game."
Raveling went on to submit a letter to The Evergreen titled "Thanks to the Fans." An excerpt from it reads:
"...While I was happy with our win over UCLA, the most touching moment in my career came after the game when I was called back on the court to speak. That has to go down as one of the most emotional times in my life: I was truly at a loss for words."
When he left WSU in 1983, Raveling moved on to Iowa and them concluded his career at USC. But it is his time at WSU that stands out for him.
"People will ask me time and time again, where did you enjoy coaching the most and I always say Washington State," Raveling said. "That's no disrespect to Iowa or USC but the 11 years I spent at WSU was priceless.”
And as our phone conversation ended, Raveling wanted to add one more comment.
"Please let all the Cougar fans know how much I appreciate having the opportunity to coach there."