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Originally published September 20, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 20, 2007 at 2:05 AM

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UW Football | Cowans hope to hook up on fly pattern

Patrick and Joe Cowan have not played together at UCLA. That may change against their father Tim's alma mater, UW.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Saturday

UW @ UCLA, 7:15 p.m., FSN

It's not surprising that Joe and Patrick Cowan -- football-playing brothers at UCLA born 18 months apart -- have an unusually tight connection.

How much alike they think, however, became apparent last summer when each went searching for a new apartment in Westwood (each lives with a teammate in their academic class standing) and happened to find virtually the same one.

"They ended up right across the hallway from one another," said their father, Tim, who played quarterback at Washington from 1978 to 1982.

"Just a fluky thing," said Joe, a senior and the oldest of the two. Pat is a junior.

Funny thing is, the two have never found a way to connect quite as well on the field for the Bruins despite playing the positions of receiver (Joe) and quarterback (Pat).

When Joe was emerging as a regular member of the receiving rotation in 2004 and 2005, Pat stepped on the field only once in the late-going of a blowout, never attempting a pass. When Pat started the final eight games last season in place of injured Ben Olson -- including the memorable upset of USC -- Joe was out with a knee injury.

"We were on the field together when we were in high school [at St. John Bosco in Pico Rivera, Calif.]," said Joe. "But the timing hasn't been right here."

It will be this week, however.

With Olson again ailing -- he sat out of practice Tuesday and Wednesday with "headaches" -- Patrick Cowan will start Saturday against the Huskies.

"It would be kind of poetic justice," said Tim of the possibility of his two sons playing a college game together for the first time against the Huskies. "It would be kind of funny, teaming up to beat Dad's alma mater."

For quite a while, however, the two figured they'd team up to play for Dad's alma mater, and not against it.

Tim Cowan started six games for the Huskies in 1981-82, scoring a touchdown in the 1982 Rose Bowl win over Iowa, and throwing for 350 yards in a 21-20 win over a Boomer Esiason-led Maryland team in the 1982 Aloha Bowl, which remains the most passing yards by a Husky in a bowl game.

The sons grew up as fans of the Huskies, even after they moved to Southern California to live with their mother after Tim Cowan and his wife divorced.

When Joe became a highly-sought receiver in 2002 -- he received seven votes on the Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West List -- he seriously considered the Huskies and took a recruiting trip to Seattle. That was the year the Huskies signed seven receivers. Tim Cowan says Joe was ready to commit but that coach Rick Neuheisel wavered on an offer, telling Tim that Joe "didn't seem passionate about being a Husky." Tim says Neuheisel misread his son's quiet demeanor for a lack of enthusiasm. "He was trying to resell a program to a kid who had been around it all his life," Tim said.

Tim said Neuheisel said he would call back later that week. But the call never came, and when UCLA offered shortly afterward, Joe Cowan decided to become a Bruin.

Joe Cowan says simply that "UW was another school I considered" and that "it was the best decision of my life" to become a Bruin.

Patrick Cowan was recruited by UW and coach Keith Gilbertson the following fall. Tim Cowan said Gilbertson told the family up front that Matt Tuiasosopo was first on the list of quarterbacks that UW wanted, however, and when Tuiasosopo committed there was no room for Patrick Cowan. Tim Cowan said Gilbertson then gave a recommendation of Patrick Cowan to UCLA coaches, which helped reignite UCLA's interest and led to an eventual scholarship offer.

Like his brother, Patrick expresses no regrets about how things turned out, especially after he earned a spot in UCLA lore forever by quarterbacking the win over USC last Dec. 1, running for the Bruins' only touchdown.

When Olson returned in the spring, however, he was handed the starting job again and Patrick Cowan returned to backup status. Cowan hasn't played yet this season while nursing a hamstring injury, but returned to practice this week.

Cowan was interviewed by The Times on Tuesday before the news of Olson's potential unavailability spread. Asked about the possibility of playing this week, Patrick Cowan said only that "I feel good."

Whatever happens, Tim Cowan will be there. He usually attends all UCLA games, though he stayed home to take in the UW-Ohio State game Saturday as a proud Huskies alumnus. This week he'll again don his Bruins colors.

"I've got two years left to root against the Dawgs," he said.

And two reasons to on Saturday, as well.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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