The Washington Huskies had Sonny Sixkiller, but the Washington State Cougars had Jack Thompson known also as the Throwin Samoan.
Jack Thompson was born in American Samoa, but his family moved to the States and he attended Evergreen High School.
Evergreen High School is located just south of Seattle and I don’t know why Thompson chose to play for the Washington State Cougars over the home town Washington Huskies. Both were bad in 1974 and the Huskies had just brought in Don James from Kent State who would become a legend at
Washington. Thompson may have fallen through the cracks because it’s tough on a brand new coach to get a staff together and recruit in a two month period.
The situation at Washington State was not better. The Huskies had gone 5-6 in 1974, but the Cougars of Washington State were miserable in 1974 and only won 2 out of 11 games.
But, Thompson signed with Jim Sweeney and the Washington State Cougars.
John Hopkins was a returning Quarterback for the Cougars, but he split time with Chuck Peck in 1974 on the 2-9 team.
But, he did have some game experience and Jack Thompson was a brand new freshman. The team finished 3-8 and Sweeney was fired. Thompson did gain a little experience and he threw for 351 yards and 3 Touchdowns.
Jackie Sherrill, of later Pittsburgh fame, was hired to replace Jim Sweeney. Sherrill promptly made Jack Thompson his starting Quarterback and the legend of the Throwin Samoan was born.
Thompson threw for 2,762 yards and 20 Touchdowns in his sophomore year which was a big improvement over anything that the Cougars had seen lately. But, the Cougars still finished with a pathetic 3-8 record.
Jackie Sherrill left to take over the Pittsburgh Panther program that had just won a national title under Johnny Majors.
In spite of the better record, Thompson did not have as good of a season as he had as a sophomore. He threw for 2,372 yards and his Touchdowns decreased down to 13 on the season.
He threw as many Interceptions as he did Touchdowns. But, the team was better.
Warren Powers was hired by the Missouri Tigers, and Washington State was looking for another coach yet again.
Jim Walden was hired to take Powers place and the Washington State Cougar football recruiting class of 1975 had seen it’s 4th coach in 4 seasons.
The Cougars record tumbled to 3-7-1.
Thompson’s senior year was not what he had hoped for and maybe expected. He threw for 2,333 yards and 17 Touchdowns. But, he also threw 2 Interceptions.
Thompson threw for 7,818 yards which was an NCAA career passing yardage record at the time.
Last season, Washington State Quarterback Luke Falk threw for 4,561 yards. The game has come a long way since 1978.
Thompson was about 6-3, 220 and his arm was strong which made him a highly desirable NFL prospect.
As a rookie, Thompson backed up long time Bengal, Ken Anderson. They tried to work Thompson into the lineup during his second season, but he didn’t play that well. The next season was 1981 and Quarterback Ken Anderson had an incredible season and led the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl.
Joe Montana led the 49ers from behind to beat the Bengals with time running out.
Ken Anderson stayed the Quarterback at Cincinnati and the coaches apparently liked Turk Schonert better and Thompson found himself starting over in Tampa Bay.
That didn’t work out so well either and after 6 total seasons, Thompson was out of football. As the 3rd player picked in the entire draft, many consider Jack Thompson a bust.
After football, Thompson moved back to the Northwest and became a Mortgage Banker.