Thursday, August 23, 2007

An Open Letter To Alex Brink (and his Fans)

Dear Alex:

I am writing you this letter in regard to my moniker: Brinkhater. As you may know by now, I developed this moniker in jest because I have been your #1 anti-fan since Day One.

As a result of my admittedly over-the-top stance on you as a quarterback, much has been written on this Blog to note how incredibly unfair and unruly I have been toward you over the last couple of years.

Given that sentiment, on the eve of your final season with the program (YESSSS!!!), I feel the need to explain myself a bit.

First and foremost, I want you to know that the Brink that I profess to “hate” is the character of you as a football player. It is not about “you” as a person. Nor is it about you as a competitor. As I have noted on this site numerous times, you have a lot of moxy, Alex. And you not only try to do your best all the time, I believe that you consistently exceed your talents. And that is to your credit.

I also want you to know, Alex, that despite the fact that you are a 20 something year old kid, I do not pity you in the slightest.

As you probably do NOT know, for one season, Brinkhater competed in Division I athletics at a mid-major school before transferring to WSU where my athletic talent was relegated to beer bong Olympic style events. But during my time as a Division I athlete, I started all of ONE—check that—ZERO times. In fact, I played in just enough games to NOT letter.

So, believe me, I more than know that the fact that you have started at a major college program for four years places you in the elite company of athletes. Simply put, no one can ever take that away from you—let alone a near middle age couch potato like myself and the other thousands of die-hards that have frequented or visited this Blog.

Because of your longevity as a starter, you have had the unique privilege of being able to play in front of nearly one million sports fans against some of the most storied programs in some of the most storied venues in our wonderful country. You have played against the greatest of Great USC teams, played a nationally televised night game on the road in the Southeastern Conference, and have played in front of capacity crowds at every Pac-10 venue. That, is an experience that less than 1% of all athletes will ever have. What an experience. What a privilege. So, I don’t pity you one bit.

At the same time that you are experiencing the rush of being a “star” player at a BCS conference school, you are getting an education at a world class, Research I university for NO COST. Moreover, unlike some of your teammates who are unlikely to graduate with a leg to stand-on, you have been an Academic All-American. When your time at WSU is done, you will be able to write your own ticket. Undoubtedly, with your football knowledge and connections, you will be positioned nicely to make a nice living staying close the game you love. Few people get such an opportunity, Alex. And because of that, I don’t feel sorry for you. Not in the slightest.

Of course, all of this is to point out that, without question, you are an exceptional student-athlete, Alex. It is also true that ANY father—including the dads like myself who write on this blog--would beam with pride and joy every single day were we to have a son who accomplished as much both on the field and off the field as you.

There are really no ifs, ands, or buts about that.

That said, this blog and my moniker are not about you as a person. They are directed toward you as the leader of a football program that we all love and there is nothing that I love about you and your legacy to the program. But don't take that personally.

And with that in mind, and for no fault of your own, Alex, it is also true that I hated you (as a football player) at “Hello.”

You see, when you came on board this program had just finished THREE STRAIGHT seasons finishing in the Top 10 in the country. The ONLY thing that this program had not accomplished was a top 5, or dare I say, top 2 finish nationally. As a result, I took high expectations for the program into the start of your tenure.

With that in mind, following the 2003 season, I was absolutely enamored with the new offensive philosophy implemented by Doba’s new staff—particularly by Timm Rosenbach.

Unlike the Price-coached teams that scored in bunches, the Doba-Rosenbach era marked a return to the Dennis Erickson philosophy of running the ball as a chief focus out of the one-back. As a result, following the 2003 year, we all saw the promise of being a high-powered offensive machine that did not sacrifice the ability to play ball-control against Big Teams in Big Games. Our victory over Texas was Exhibit A-Z about what a big-time program we could (and would) become.

For me, the tall, strong-armed QB was built for that system. Given the lack of pass protection afforded in the 1-back, the strong armed, tall QB can quickly see over the blitz to hit the 3 yard slant over the middle. The strong-armed QB can quickly fire the ball outside for a one yard look-in that turns into a 5-8 yard gain. And the strong-armed QB is always capable of hitting the cross-field option (#4) if the first two or three reads aren’t there.

When you add a solid running game to that calculus, and emphasis on the running game, you have the basis for the types of teams that we saw Miami Florida have in the early 90s. And, again, those were the types of teams that I thought we could become.

Hell, just writing about it makes me drool.

But the shorter, more mobile, weaker armed QB can’t throw over the middle as well because he can’t see the middle when the 6 foot 5 trees come blazing up in his face. The weaker armed QB can’t throw the out-pattern for 6 yard gains, but instead struggles to get the ball to the WR in time for a 3 yard effort. Moreover, instead of sitting back in the pocket and letting it fly, the more mobile QB has to throw across his body, off his back foot and so forth (on the run) CONSISTENTLY—making every effort much harder with much smaller room for error. Moreover, when you roll-out and play misdirection all the time, if you don’t have the arm strength, you take half the field out of the picture—when the one back is built to SPREAD the field and put the WHOLE field AS THE PICTURE.

In short, when I read columns that suggested that Gesser was the new “prototype” for the one-back I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “Gesser was the exception, not the rule.” And so, when they talked about you being the “next Gesser” my answer was “huh?” I mean, why start in the direction of trying to recruit and employ over-achievers when the program is known for recruiting, training, and producing prototype, top 5 NFL draft picks???? Put another way, why try to amp up a Corsica when you have consistent access to buy and drive a Porsche???

And so, in my view, the past three years has been an exercise is proving that Gesser was, in fact, the exception to the rule in our 20 year old system. After all, everyone knows you know the offense like no other. Everyone can see that you make smart plays with negligible mistakes. You aren’t throwing picks, and when you do, it isn’t because you couldn’t figure out what a defense was doing.

In short, it isn’t like you haven’t hit your upside. You have. You’ve done everything that you can do with your talent to help this team. But, in my view, your best simply has not been good enough to make us an upper division team. Period.

So, on we go to your senior season. And, as I’ve said before, this season really isn’t about you anymore—although if WSU lands a winning season it will be ALL because of you (that and Doba’s return to Defensive Coordinator)

But, since this gloomer doesn’t think we’re going to be any good, playing you seems like a lack-of-investment in the future. Unfortunately, your head coach’s job security is such that he will keep his best option of winning NOW (you) on the field until hell boils over. And I think that pot will boileth over around Week 9.

In the meantime, I will be rooting for you each week even if I rail against you if and when you continue to be the same quarterback that you’ve always been: a good guy, with great heart, who doesn’t make mistakes, but doesn’t make too many plays that change and decide games (favorably) either.

And if you win, I will gladly eat crow with both hands and feet. But that won’t stop me from dreaming of a future with a Rogers-Leaf-Bledsoe-esque body standing behind center and restoring us to an upper-division program. Because, in my view, it is THAT type of quarterback, dear Alex, that will take us back to the Rose Bowl once again.

And that is truly where we belong (but I’ll take San Diego too!).

Best Wishes and Good Luck on Your Senior Season.

Sincerely,

Brinkhater

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you should really send this to him. Might provide some motivation.

Anonymous said...

good synopsis....but you ain't ever gonna convince the followers....they see the stats and just can't imagine why the team has been so bad for 3 yrs....

but I see it....I see that he throws short little passes when we need 10 yds...I see that he leaves Bumpus close to the line of scrimmage and then people wonder why Bumpus can't just barge thru the entire defense.....I see that we can't sustain drives,and if we could have only had 5 more first downs all of last year, we might have been to that bowl game...just about 5 more would have changed the complexion....

I think not getting critical first downs and having to kick the ball away put the defense in a deep hole...one that they couldn't get out of....

this is nothing personal, and any human being would push to be the starter ..but the coaches should have done more to expand "our" game....they could have had Rogers...or any other qb...in there more consistantly to keep the defenses honest....

I think WSU has been more than generous to AB......he has had his time and I think he should start this year, but he should be on the bench when the games are out of hand...either way....we've given SO much time to AB, now its time either to win in an outstanding fashion or let the new guys get in there and prepare for next year and the years after that....

Ben Million said...

Nice job putting the whole issue in perspective here. I have to say, you're right that Brink is the WRONG kind of quarterback for our program. We've always been a school that banked on undersized over-achievers at pretty much every position EXCEPT quarterback. Our best seasons have come with a statuesque hurler behind center. Or Jason Gesser.

But personally I don't blame the QB. While he's far from perfect, I fault the coaching staff. Bill Doba's a nice guy, and excellent defensive coordinator, but he's your classic head-coach fraud. Win big in your first season with the last coach's leavings, sharp decline from there.

I also think that Doba has inexctricably entwined his career with Brink's, and it will cost him. He has staked his reputation on Alex, and this season will decide what that reputation will be. If Brink is great, and the defense is passable, then we could be getting somewhere, and Doba can hang onto his job.

And I think Alex will be very, very good this year, thanks to Rosenbach and the sheer weight of experience. All signs point to improved mechanics and poise. But, deep down, is he a winner? If you're going to be a Gesser-like quarterback, you have to be a born winner. I've seen no evidence of it, from Brink or Doba.

I could see us having a winning season, I could see us not. After all, this is WSU, losing seasons are kind of our thing. I know the stats will be there for Brink, and I know that Doba will stand by him to the end (meaning 1 drive/week for Rogers, and we might never know if he's got that Bledsoe/Leaf-type mojo).

I'm ever the optimist, and am predicting a winning season and a lower-tier bowl berth. That will be enough to see Doba around for another year. But, to be honest, I'm ready for Doba to go. If he can stand the humiliation of being busted back down to Defensive Coordinator, that'd be great. If not, then maybe a whole new regime should come in. The trick will be to not screw up THAT coaching hire...but that's another essay for another day.

Wow, this is long. I'll stop.

Keep up the good work,
Ben

Brinkhater said...

Check out ESPN.com's bowl forecast..

Marky S. has us picked to play in the Sun Bowl against ND.

A national guy giving us some props?

Wouldn't that be a coup..

(By the way, in the same article, Maisel picks the pups to steal our coveted slot in the (Something) Tires Armed Forces Bowl.....)

There's no way the pups get to that many wins...no way..