Washington State players and coaches ended a tough practice Wednesday by slipping and sliding 50 feet on a water-soaked tarp. "This kind of shows a work-hard, play-hard deal," said offensive lineman Andrew Roxas.

PULLMAN — The Junction Boys, it ain’t.

After Washington State finished an afternoon practice Wednesday in temperatures pushing 90 degrees, the Cougars got a surprise from coach Paul Wulff.

He had his equipment staff set up a tarpaulin simulating a Slip ‘N Slide, just beyond a practice-field end zone, and WSU spent about 10 minutes with players and coaches careening some 50 feet on the water-soaked plastic.

“It’s nice to get a reward for working so hard,” said freshman receiver Marquess Wilson.

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It was a sight. In one moment, 315-pound guard B.J. Guerra stalled a few feet from the end of the tarp and was overrun by 304-pound guard-tackle Wade Jacobson.

There were races, and there were players trying to negotiate the distance standing up. Wulff splashed down, as did some of his assistant coaches.

“It made the day awesome,” said Jacobson, a JC transfer expected to start for the Cougars.

It’s a long way from the days of the Junction Boys, the book/movie that told the story of coach Paul “Bear” Bryant brutalizing his first Texas A&M team in 1954 in a wicked Texas drought during fall camp.

In recent times, coaches have surprised players with ice cream. Former Washington coach Rick Neuheisel was known for post-practice diversions, as was ex-USC coach Pete Carroll. Oregon’s practices are now accompanied by a variety of music throughout.

“We’ve been grinding,” said offensive lineman Andrew Roxas. “This kind of shows a work-hard, play-hard deal.”

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com