WSU Cougars

Judge clears way for Barber to return to WSU

Washington State nose tackle Robert Barber (92) gestures after the Cougars beat Idaho in Pullman in September.
Washington State nose tackle Robert Barber (92) gestures after the Cougars beat Idaho in Pullman in September. AP

A judge has cleared the way for suspended Washington State nose tackle Robert Barber to resume playing football. Whitman County Superior Judge David Frazier on Wednesday in Colfax granted Barber’s request for a temporary stay of his suspension from the university for a fight last summer.

The stay is granted on the condition that Barber not attempt to contact the student who he injured at a house party this summer, use drugs or attend parties where drugs and alcohol are present.

Frazier’s ruling was centered on the fact that WSU’s student conduct board destroyed original questions to witnesses submitted to the board by Barber. Barber and his attorney, Steve Graham, stated that the board asked paraphrased versions of those questions.

“We were able to raise these technical arguments, but it’s really more than that,” Graham said. “The school is held to a high standard, just like they hold their athletes. They’ve got to follow their rules and the judge concluded that they did not.”

After the ruling, Barber spent about half an hour thanking his friends and family, about 20 of whom showed up to support him during the hearing. Then, he got in Thompson’s car and drove to WSU’s football offices to tell coach Mike Leach his starting nose tackle is back.

“We certainly respect today’s decision by the Whitman County Superior Court,” WSU athletice director Bill Moos said in a statement released by the school. “With Robert being reinstated as a student in good standing, he will be afforded all the privileges as his fellow students, including the opportunity to complete his degree and participate with the Cougar football team. As for his playing status, that will be determined by Coach Leach.

“As there is still a legal matter pending, I will have no further comment on this situation.”

Pullman police are still investigating the incident and no criminal charges have been filed.

DERIDER’S BIG DAY

Before Saturday, the majority of junior linebacker Nate DeRider’s career had been spent making an impact during scrimmages and on special teams.

But DeRider played a key role in the Cougars defense’s impressive effort against the California offense, which ranked No. 3 in the Pac-12 in scoring entering the game at Washington State.

In the second quarter, the Golden Bears were on the brink of cutting into WSU’s 21-7 lead. Cal had third-and-3 at the WSU 5-yard line. But DeRider stepped in front of Davis Webb’s pass, making an interception in the end zone and returning the ball out to the WSU 21-yard line.

On Cal’s first drive of the second half, he leveled Webb on a sack with such force that both players struggled to get up. The play came on second-and-4, and his sack made it third-and-13 for the Golden Bears, who were unable to convert and forced to punt.

“It was really fun. That’s what I kept telling guys when I came off the field, once I started getting reps,” DeRider said. “I just kept telling the guys, ‘I’m having a blast out there.’ I wasn’t nervous, wasn’t scared, it was just routine. We do it during practice during the week and it was just putting it on the game field.”

DeRider was a four-year letterman and four-time state champion at Bellevue High.

HOLIDAY BOWL INTEREST

The college football postseason picture was thrown into chaos on Saturday as the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the country all lost. But the bowl game executives are already in process of vetting teams and figuring out which programs they should prepare to host in the coming weeks.

On Saturday, a representative of the Holiday Bowl was in the Martin Stadium press box checking out the Cougars.

“We’re very impressed with their season so far,” said Harry Melkerson, who is on the Holiday Bowl Board of Directors. “We’re glad to see them back. They were in town in 2003 and brought us one of the best finishes we’ve ever seen when they beat Vince Young and Texas.”

The Holiday Bowl is the third-ranked bowl affiliated with the Pac-12. The Rose Bowl takes the winner of the Pac-12 championship game, provided that team is not invited to the College Football Playoff. Then the Alamo Bowl takes the loser, or the team with the next-best conference record.

The Holiday Bowl will select among the teams with the best conference record in the Pac-12, or with one more conference loss. Melkerson said that the primary consideration his committee will use when selecting a team is the economic impact on San Diego, the host city.

So, athletic director Bill Moos has been lobbying Melkerson and other bowl executives to convince them that the WSU fan base will travel well.

“There’s a hunger to go to a good bowl game here,” Melkerson said. “(Moos) says there would be a great turnout.”

In addition to turnout, Melkerson said the bowl considers the national interest in various matchups when making its selection.

The Holiday Bowl takes place on December 27th, and kicks off at 4 p.m.

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