SAN ANTONIO – With the help of an anonymous fan, Gardner Minshew raised the ante on his season-long ode to the 1970s.
For the Cougars’ trip Sunday to San Antonio for this week’s Alamo Bowl, the happy-go-lucky Washington State quarterback donned a garish Cougar-themed disco suit, complete with a large-collared silver shirt, left unbuttoned at the top to expose chest hair.
The suit might have been a bit roomy for him. But it fit the hang-loose mentality he’s been trying to foster all season, expressed chiefly by a Burt Reynolds-inspired mustache, white headband and aviator sunglasses.
“He was meant for that,” WSU receiver Kyle Sweet said of the suit.
It was a gift to the school from an unnamed WSU fan who had worn it to Cougar games and was ready to retire it, a WSU publicist said. He wanted to give it a last hurrah, and Minshew gladly complied.
“That’s kind of a tradition,” WSU coach Mike Leach said. “A guy sent that – he had worn that for years and years and years, every game. I don’t know the whole story. Somebody mailed that in.”
The get-up drew astonished laughter and cheers from a welcoming party as the Cougars arrived at the Hyatt Regency, San Antonio River Walk, where they’ll be lodging this week as they prepare to face Iowa State on Friday (6 p.m., ESPN) in the 26th Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome.
Unsurprisingly, a mariachi band welcomed the Cougars in the hotel lobby. This time, however, it was an all-female trio, representing Soberano Productions, three of the many women who in recent years have broken into the traditionally male-dominated mariachi form. Fittingly, their song selection diverted from bowl tradition – they didn’t lead with “Cielito Lindo.”
Embarking from Pullman amid wintry conditions, the No. 12 Cougars were greeted by sunny 65-degree weather and will stage their first San Antonio practice Monday at the University of the Incarnate Word, about 10 miles north of their hotel. That San Antonio school’s football team is coached by former Leach-era WSU assistant Eric Morris.
“It’s great to be here in sunny weather, and anything above 25 degrees,” Sweet said. “We’re excited to see what San Antonio has to offer.”
As usual, Leach responded to Minshew’s latest ’70s tribute with shrugging bemusement.
“I grew up in the ’70s and was glad when they ended,” Leach said, “because the music improved. It took them about a decade, but it got better a little ways after that.”
But that didn’t stop Leach from posing recently with WSU quarterbacks in a wacky social-media “Christmas card,” featuring ’70s-inspired ugly sweaters and other comic garb. Six of the QBs, including Minshew, stand side-by-side holding a grinning, horizontal Leach, sporting a plain gray Cougars sweatshirt.
“I was happy to be in their picture and felt fortunate I didn’t have to wear a sweater,” Leach said.
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