Hanging out with a noisy crowd of enthusiastic Cougar fans is the next best thing to seeing a game in Pullman, said Steve Faulk of West Richland at the official Tri-City Sun Bowl party in Richland.
It also was more comfortable than seeing the game in person. The crowd within the Gaslight Bar & Grill in Richland watched snow swirl across multiple TV screens as Washington State University and the University of Miami met in El Paso, Texas.
The parking lot of the Gaslight was filled with cars with WSU decals, special issue crimson license plates and WAZZU bumper stickers Saturday afternoon.
Inside, the crowd cheered on the WSU football team to its first bowl win since 2003.
Fans clapped along to the WSU fight song and hooted as bare-bellied Cougar fans grabbed a few seconds of TV time. Jubilant high fives were exchanged each time the Cougars scored.
“It is not just that it is a bowl game, but they had a great year,” said Jesse Henderson of Benton City, a WSU second-generation alumnus. His parents, Colin and Dana Henderson of Benton City, brainwashed him early, “in a good way,” he said.
He stood by the Cougs in some of the team’s down years around 2010 when he was a WSU student, he said. He never stopped wearing the crimson and gray colors. But now when people see him in the Cougar jersey around the Tri-Cities, he hears “Go Cougs.”
“It’s an exciting time to be a Cougar fan,” he said.
It ends the year on a good note.
Jesse Henderson, WSU alumnus
Tom Arnold, a Kennewick volunteer with the Cougar Athletic Fund, drew winners for crimson polo shirts, basketball game tickets and a Cougar flag signed by the football team during the Sun Bowl.
He rated the team spirit at the Gaslight as “excellent” and rowdiness level at a “10.”
“If it wasn’t, I would bring it to a 10,” he said.
There was no need of that Saturday.
After a “long, dark time of no bowl games,” the 2015 Sun Bowl was a taste of things to come, said Dan Wiley, an alumnus from West Richland, midgame as WSU led 20-7. Miami would score again, but the Cougars held the lead for a 20-14 win.
“It ends the year on a good note,” Henderson said.