Recounting the Legends of Cougar Football
May 11, 2007
For further information about the "Legends of the Palouse" DVD series please click Here
By Jason Krump
Junior Tupuola has lived a life from playing in the trenches for Washington State University football in the early `80s to digging himself out of real life trenches after WSU.
His story is told.
Babe Hollingbery coached at Washington State College from 1926 to 1942 leading the Cougars to the 1930 Rose Bowl and 93 victories in his career, the most of any Washington State coach.
His story is also told.
Fifty-one years after the 1931 Rose Bowl team, the Cougars earned their first bowl berth since that time when the 1981 squad advanced to the Holiday Bowl.
The '81 Cougars' story, along with all the great teams in Washington State football history, is told as well.
All of these stories have become legendary so it is only fitting that they, in addition to numerous other tales of Cougar lore, are recounted in "Legends of the Palouse" a three-part DVD series chronicling the history of the Washington State football program.
The "Legends" films are the brainchild of WSU alumnus Jeff McQuarrie who, in addition to documenting the history of the program and its greatest teams (through video clips and pictures, some dating back to the beginning of the 20th Century), attempted to answer this question: What makes being a Washington State Cougar so special?
For McQuarrie, it was a question whose answer was a driving force to a project to which he has devoted the last three years.
"The reason I wanted to make the movie was because of the love affair that our alums have with this school and football team," McQuarrie said.
"I don't think the football team deserves all the credit for why people love Washington State; however, the football stadium is the only place where we all come together at one time," McQuarrie added. "It is like a family reunion."
McQuarrie, who attended WSU in the mid-80s, left school a class short of graduating (he would fulfill this requirement through correspondence and receive his WSU degree in communication a decade later) to work for his fraternity headquarters. Part of his job involved traveling to universities across the nation.
"I've been to numerous places where the people loved their school and football team, but it is a lot easier to love your football team and school when you are rolling in the dough and winning 10 games every single year," McQuarrie said. "I have never seen the unconditional type of love that alums have for a school than at WSU."
Originally, McQuarrie intended to do a film on the Rose Bowl teams. But since all but one of the Rose Bowl games ended in a WSU loss, the possibility for a happy ending was nonexistent.
With the Rose Bowl idea off the table, McQuarrie next planned to shoot a film about Hollingbery, but there was not enough film of Hollingbery in existence to create a movie specifically about the coach.
What McQuarrie soon realized, however, that the history of WSU was as rich in substance as it was content. What originally was intended to be a film about a specific instance in that history soon became a picture of the entire narrative of Cougar football.
The first part of the series documents the first 80 years of the program. In addition, the DVD features inspirational player stories and greatest coaches in Cougar football history.
One inspirational story, about Tupuola, especially affected McQuarrie.
"The Junior Tupuola story really hit home to me," he said. "I attended WSU around the same time as Junior. We were both huge partiers and pretty much out of control. I told him I wasn't judging him for all the stuff he had done because I was out of control too. I don't think he would have told me all the mistakes he made had I not told him that I was also a screw up."
"It was kind of therapeutic," McQuarrie added. "Even though I wasn't a football player it was funny to see how many similarities we had right down to the fact we both had naval officers for fathers. We have since become really good friends."
Becoming a filmmaker was a challenge McQuarrie had to meet when making his movie. Most people attend film school to be a filmmaker. McQuarrie had no such background.
To learn the craft, McQuarrie hired a couple of filmmakers in the Olympia area, where McQuarrie lives, to tutor him, but most of McQuarrie's lessons came from learning on the job.
"I looked at it like I could pay a small fortune, go to USC, and learn filmmaking, or I could go on the road and learn by the school of hard knocks," McQuarrie said. "At least if I did it that way, I could start right away instead of waiting until I get done with school."
McQuarrie did experience some "hard knocks" as he had to re-do some initial interviews because he deemed that the camera work was so shoddy that he had to go back and re-shoot them.
Through his experiences McQuarrie not only learned the art of filmmaking, he also confirmed what he had already known about the University.
"I traveled all over North America and never saw the type of school loyalty and the fondness that the alums have for their schools as they do for Washington State," he said.
"I knew it was a special place going in, but the experience of making these films backed this up," he added. "The movie series is a little celebration of that."
McQuarrie received assistance from numerous people at WSU including Director of Sports Video Scott Vik, who provided McQuarrie modern day video footage; Dick Fry, longtime former SID at WSU, who served as a consultant from the beginning; and Bud Nameck, who was McQuarrie's contact at KXLY and donated highlight footage for the film.
The first two DVDs -- "The First 80 Years and "Learning to Bowl" -- of the series are out and on sale to the public. The third DVD, "Raising the Bar" is set to be released this August. Partial proceeds from the sale of the films go to the Gray "W" Club. For more information on the "Legends of the Palouse" film, please go to www.jeffmcquarrie.com.
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