When Washington State faces Idaho Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Martin Stadium, former Cougars receiver Mansel Simmons won’t be in uniform. In fact, he won’t ever play again.
In March, Simmons and a group of teammates were involved in a fight with a group of Idaho football players outside a house party in Pullman. One of those from Idaho, Roman Runner, allegedly brandished a knife, then put it away.
Simmons took the disarmament as an opportunity to charge Runner, according to the Pullman police report. But Runner landed a punch and knocked out Simmons. A few players involved in the scrum eventually fell on top of him. He was found unconscious hours later in an empty parking lot where the fight took place.
The end result was harrowing: Simmons suffered facial fractures and a severe concussion, injuries from which he’s been slow to recover from mentally and physically. In the hope of helping him finish his business degree, WSU coach Mike Leach placed him on a medical scholarship prior to what would have been his junior season.
The incident will serve as the backdrop for an otherwise bland WSU Homecoming game against an opponent so bad it should be in the FCS. The Vandals are 0-3 under first-year coach Paul Petrino after a 45-35 loss to Northern Illinois Saturday at the Kibbie Dome.
Whitman County prosecutors eventually determined that Runner acted in self-defense, so charges were never filed. He still plays for Idaho, and has two receptions for eight yards as a senior.
“We’re just worried about winning the game,” quarterback Connor Halliday said Monday. “That’s the only thing on our mind.”
Leach was similarly dismissive when asked about the altercation.
“I didn’t even pay attention to it hardly when it happened,” he said.
Seattle game will be on ESPN or ESPN 2
Per a WSU release, the annual Seattle Game, which this year pits the Cougars against No. 5 Stanford Sept. 28 at CenturyLink Field, will either be televised on ESPN at 7 p.m. or ESPN2 at 7:30. The final announcement regarding the exact time and channel will be rendered Sept. 22.
Saturday’s game will air on the Pac-12 Networks. For sure.