Monday, October 29, 2007

Last Chance Week

Happy Halloween week, Cougar Nation! Hope you all had a great time watching the Cougs take it to the hapless first place UCLA Bruins.

I'm telling you, why the hell we can't beat those guys in hoops is just beyond me, cuz we sure as hell own them in Football!

Anywho, onward we now march into the "Last Chance" bowl between the Cougs and the from Gold to Brown Bears of CAL. Man, if we thought our season was bad, how about them? One play from #1 and then they lose 3 straight and now sit at 6th in the conference (and potentially 9th after this weekend)?! Amazing.

As far as we're concerned, well, to be honest, we only have ONE team left on the schedule that will pose significant problems for us defensively and that, my friends, is the University of Washington. The rest of the teams that we play pretty much have pocket passers. And, if you look at two out of the last three weeks, you will see that we have stiffened up tremendously on the defensive side of the ball. Moreover, CAL, Stanford, and Oregon State look much more like UCLA and ASU than they do like Oregon--at least from the perspective of Quarterback tendencies.

In short, win this weekend, and I think that there is a really good chance to go into the Apple Cup 6-5. Moreover, if you look at the conference standings and our current tie ins, Brinkhater sees NO WAY that we are not in a bowl even if we go 6-6...

That all said, does Brinkhater think we can win this weekend? I'm really not sure.

One thing that Brinkhater is VERY sure about is the continued worry about this offense's ability to score points. I mean, you hold the ball for 38 minutes, you have an RB with 200+ yards, and you score only 20 points for the first 59 minutes????????

That, dear Crimson Nation, is our achillees heal...Doba has developed the defense sufficiently for us to both compete with and beat the also rans left on our schedule. But once again, can we fricking score?

Time for you to weigh in....

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Football Friday Game 8 - Where's the Running Game??

No truth to the rumor that's actually Bill Doba in the picture above. Quick, Simpson's fans, can you name the scene? In particular, what was the title of the animated short, and who is the actor in the scene??

I went with the picture today to show some simultaneous pain and frustration at this season. I mean getting nailed in the groin by a football both hurts, and is frustrating! But really, the old man fits Doba. Oh, and there's a football in the picture, so what the heck.

Today's Football Friday theme is where the hell is the running game? I wrote about it at AOL today, which will be available later, but the bottom line is this:
  • Since the beginning of 2006, we are 6-3 when we've cracked 100 net yards rushing in a game. When held under 100 yards rushing? Try 2-8. That's no fluke.
  • Our 108.6 rushing yards per game average right now is the worst over the last 10 years. In fact, the second-worst mark is 1999, at 114 yards per game. Those were Poop Island years.
  • UCLA only gives up 2.5 yards per carry and a conference-low 3 rushing TD's on the season. They held Cal, one of the top running teams in the conference, to just 67 yards on 30 carries last week.

It's an ugly combo this week. Get Brink in 2nd or 3rd and forever, and you have our offense right where you want it. UCLA forced 4 turnovers against Cal's offense last week, all the while shutting down their primary weapon, the running game.

But call me crazy, I don't know what it is, but Brinkhater agrees with me via voicemail - for some reason we're going to play well this week. Maybe it's the bye week and we're pretty healthy, including Gibson, our #1 playmaker. Maybe it's the up-and-down Bruins and how they can beat Cal one week, but lose to the likes of Notre Dame or fall flat on their faces, 44-6 style, at Utah. Maybe most of all it's that Andy Mattingly and the defense have to be delighted that they'll see a gimpy QB in Cowan in a pro-set or one-back offense, a similar approach that we saw out of ASU. An approach that led to one of our best showings of the season on defense. In other words, this ain't Oregon or even Arizona's spread shotgun offense that ate us alive. This is a QB under center that we will attack, attack, and attack some more. I would wager that we'll see nearly 50% blitzes from the linebackers this week, and they will try to chase down Cowan and stuff the run, and we'll take our chances.

Maybe more than anything else, we're due to put a scare into somebody. We've done well against UCLA in recent years, and I think that trend will continue. I heard UCLA d-tackle Kevin Brown on the radio this week, and he said, to a man, they HATE COMING TO PULLMAN and it's the worst road trip imaginable coming from LA. So you know they don't want to go up there anyway. And they are talking the talk of "no letdowns this week", but sometimes you hear that out of college kids and what happens? They come out flat as a pancake anyway. They are kids, after all. After a huge home win over Cal and the back-slapping that's been going on down in LA after the 4-0 Pac-10 start, you know those guys are feeling pretty good about themselves. They look really, really vulnerable to me.

But in the end, however, I am going to take the easy way out and go with a UCLA win. But it's going to be a nailbiter, and only a series of running-game failures and a big special teams mistake will be our undoing. I'm going 24-20, UCLA.

Other games:

AZ 27, UW 24 - Arizona is a complete mess. But weren't they a mess last year when they came up north and ruined our season? Weird feeling on this one too, but UW was so terrible defensively last week that I don't know if they'll be able to turn it around so quickly. They are sure talking like they are thrilled to see Arizona coming to town, but I think that Husky defense is shell-shocked. How could they have confidence they could stop anyone right now after one of the worst performances in school history last week? Meanwhile Locker's 4 TD's were nice, but 12-for-31 through the air?? He still has the lowest completion percentage in the conference, and that's not a one or two-game trend.

Oregon State 33, Stanford 17 - Stanford is beaten up, losing another running back this week for the season. Oregon State has one of the best rushing defenses in the nation, and without a running game Stanford is doomed on the road.

ASU 34, Cal 30 - Even though ASU lost Torain, I still like Dennis the liar and Rudy at home. ASU is always tough as nails in Tempe. I also think Cal is now officially reeling without a healthy Longshore. Watching them last week, they look nothing like the team that sprinted by Tennessee earlier in the season. They'll score some points on ASU, but the Sun Devils keep things rolling.

Finally, the whopper - USC 32, Oregon 28 - This is just the type of game that USC lives for. They love the idea that people are doubting on them. Carroll will have their focus on laser-beam levels this week. I see a very similar game that we saw with Cal and Oregon earlier this year. USC has the size, strength and experience on defense to keep Dixon and Stewart under control. Oregon's really beat up on offense right now, losing WR's Cameron Colvin, Brian Paysinger and backup RB Jeremiah Johnson. That's too much firepower against a team like USC, and it will catch up to them this week. In the end, the Trojans will simply wait for the inevitable mistakes out of Dixon when he starts forcing things that aren't there. Don't believe me? Go watch the 4th quarter of Oregon and Cal and those two gigantic picks from Dixon.

Enjoy the weekend, and GO COUGS!

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Breaking the Code

Happy Monday to you, Cougar Nation!

Despite rumours to the contrary, Sir Brinkhater is back in action--at least for today anyway..So, before we get to the upcoming gloom fest known as game week, I wanted to take a second to speak toward Sterk's comments from this last wee.

First and foremost, for many, his comments are deeply troubling because they signal possible support for the return of Bill Doba as Head Coach next season.
But as Lee Corso says, "not so fast my friends."
What Sterk has intimated in these comments when you read between the lines is support for the existing STAFF.
So, here's the broken code for you all to chew on:
With that in mind, there are two real candidates for the position given those restrictions. The first is the obvious and best choice irrespective of the bridges burned upon exit #1:

Yep, Bring him back and as a part of the sweetheart deal, you promise to name the new Stadium after him...and honestly, why the hell not? He's only associated with the only real success that we've ever had, right?

But, of course, that ain't the way, we are going to, with the preceding restrictions in mind, I now introduce to you the next Football coach at the Washington State University:

Bank on it. I just hope that Alex Brink isn't the new offensive coordinator..

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Proverbial "Wet Blanket" on Coaching Change??

So we had a little fun yesterday, beginning a series of potential coaching replacements for Bill Doba. But guess what? Today's a new day, and Sterk told the Spokesman that it isn't such a slam-dunk that Doba will be replaced. Sterk talked about a variety of issues, and to me at least, it seems like a bunch of contradictions. Let's break it down:

"Now is not the time to make a decision for something like that," Sterk said in a recent interview. "I've always (felt) you sit down at the end of the season and see where we are. There's a lot of football to be played yet."

Ok, fair enough. I don't think anyone gains anything right now with letting Doba go at midseason. The season is already a mess, but why sink it even more by removing the coach? We've been advocating a weeks now, but I've never believed doing it now would do any good.

"We've been through the toughest part," of the schedule Sterk said, noting this year's schedule is almost a flip of last season's. "We have more home games than away games coming up. Who's to say whether we are going to win or lose each of those … they are winnable games over the next five.

"So how the team responds, how they play, who knows, but I expect them to be competitive and to come roaring back after this break."

Ok, so, it's at least mathematically possible that the Cougar offense can suddenly turn it around, and that the offense can start scoring 30+ a game, and that the special teams will suddenly be average. Likely? No. Possible? Yes. It's also possible the sun won't rise tomorrow. But I'd bet the mortgage payment that it will.

For his part, Doba, 67 and in his 19th year in Pullman, isn't worried.

"I'm getting great support (overall), and great support from Jim Sterk," Doba said.

Doba's getting great support? How is that? Maybe the golf outing donors or the ones that he sees face-to-face at dinners, etc, are just fine with the guy. Look, nobody has ever argued against Doba the human being. Everyone loves him, inside and outside Pullman. So of course it's going to appear that he's getting support. WE LIKE BILL. But it's not working as our head coach.

But Sterk won't give Doba a public vote of confidence.

"That's why I'm not going to make a statement like that, because those can be the death knell," Sterk said with a laugh. "I've seen it too many times."

Ok, now we're talking. No WAY could Sterk give him a public vote of confidence right now, because it would be a flat-out lie if he said Doba is totally safe.

"I was just at Pac-10 meetings, and (USC athletic director) Mike Garrett, who can be pretty critical of things, he said he loves Bill Doba," Sterk said. "(Doba) gets the most out of his kids that he's ever seen with any coach. And Mike knows football. He thinks we have a great staff. He just hates to come up here and play because he knows they may have the superior talent, but our coaching staff will prepare (our players) pretty well and they know how to coach.

"People in the business, football coaches, A.D.s, they know we have a pretty good staff."

This is the BIGGEST JOKE in the whole article. Mike Garrett likes Bill Doba? WELL DUH. Why wouldn't he like Bill Doba? Doba's the nicest guy in the Pac-10, and his team isn't good. Who wouldn't like to play WSU right now? Kick their asses, and then shake hands and hug and joke and talk about where to go have dinner afterwards, or go have a drink or whatever. Every program in the Pac-10 LOVES BILL DOBA for that very reason - great guy, and you can kick the crap out of his team in the process.

"At that time our weight room was probably one of the top five in the country," Doba said of the end of the Mike Price era. "I know Jason Gesser for one, because I walked him in there, he walked in and said, 'Man, I've got to lift weights here.' That sold him and sold several kids.

"Now that weight room is probably one of the top five in the Pac-10."

Let me get this straight - Bill Doba is saying that the WEIGHT ROOM is the reason we went 30-8 over a 3-year span? A weight room?? Hey Bill, if it's all about facilities, wouldn't Oregon be winning 10 games every year? I know Oregon is hot-n-sexy right now, but did you know that they haven't won a bowl game since 2001? And that they've lost at least 5 games in 4 of the last 5 seasons? What a cop-out, blaming what he considers a mediocre weight room on a sinking program.

Then Doba says this: "Our facilities are very adequate," Doba said. "They are good enough to win, they are good enough to train kids, they are good enough for everything. But they aren't flashy, they aren't new."

Please. You can't have it both ways. First he blames the success on a great weight room and alludes to the sinking program because it's not flashy anymore. But he also then says the facilities are good enough to win?? WELL IF THEY ARE GOOD ENOUGH TO WIN, then you and your staff must be the problem!

Finally, money (and at the end of the day, isn't it always about money??):

Sterk also admitted money plays a factor in every decision about coaches. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't," Sterk said. It would cost WSU around $2.8 million to make a change at the end of the season, according to staff contracts examined for this story. The nine WSU assistant position coaches have contracts that run through the 2008 season with total guaranteed money of more than $1 million. Doba, who received a five-year contract when he was hired in 2003, had his contract extended through the 2009 season two years ago. If he is let go at the end of this season, he is due in the neighborhood of $1.8 million. There would also be an additional cost of bringing in a new staff. The going rate for a head coach and staff is at least $3 million a season. Doba is 10th among Pac-10 coaches in salary and is the only conference coach who doesn't make a million dollars in base salary and other compensation.

Yikes. That's a lot of dough to oust old Dobes and staff. A LOT of dough that quite frankly, the football program doesn't have lying around in big piles. One wonders if Sterk isn't trying to soften the blow of keeping Doba around with this next part:

Beyond the won-loss mark, Sterk notes some broader achievements for the football team.
"Some things people don't see," Sterk said. "I think we are second (in the Pac-10) to Stanford in our exhaustive graduation rate over a 10-year period and Bill's been a big part of that. (Grade-point average) is the highest ever with our student athletes in football.
"So those are things that people don't see that you think there is a solid base (the football program) is on, it's just the wins and losses that you see on Saturday, there's more exposure to that." There are other variables Sterk said he would take into account, including some personal ones. "(You have to consider) the 40 individuals that are impacted along with our 120 student athletes," he said. "You are talking 10 coaches along with their families and all that, it adds up really quick. It's not something you take very lightly." "In the end," he said, "when you make a decision, you try to balance fact and fiction. Fact is, there are a lot of things with Bill and the staff that have gone very well. Bill was Pac-10 coach of the year his first year and it's not like Bill (is a) different (person)."

Interesting how Sterk points to graduation rates, but fails to mention the 50% attrition rate of recruits signed to letters-of-intent since 2004. Do the kids that flunk out of school count in determing the grades? I doubt it.

So, what do you think? You hate to read too much into an article. Sterk didn't say it's slam dunk that Doba will be retained, but he also didn't say it's s slam dunk he'll be fired or retire either. I guess overall, he pretty much said what he needs to say right now - that Doba and staff will be fully evaluated at the end of the year, that there is still some support for Doba out there, and if we have these dreams of firing him and turning things over to a brand new staff, we might have to realize how hard - and expensive - that proposition may ultimately turn out. But I also believe that this move is paramount to the future of the program. Sterk has another round of renovations to sell, and I truly question how many will reach for their check books if Sterk announces that Doba and staff will get another chance in 2008. Ask yourself this - would YOU happily donate your hard-earned money in this down-turning economy for status quo??? Neither would I.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Hot Assistant Coach Profile #1 - Bob Gregory

In keeping with the blogger style writing, let's throw speculation out the window and flat-out say that Bill Doba is finished at WSU. In that thinking, it's time to look ahead and who we might want to see as our next head coach. I mean what the heck is there to write about otherwise? How bad the defense is? How poor our special teams are? How is it we can lead the conference in passing yards yet still only score about 15 points per game in conference games???

Today, we'll profile a guy who is regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in the Pac-10, and has to be one of the first guys Jim Sterk talks to once this is all said and done.....or has he already made a phone call!?!? Hmmm.....

Bob Gregory - D-coordinator - CAL

Regarded as one of the top assistants in the conference, Gregory's defenses have been very good at Cal. He won a national assistant coach award last year for his defense against Oregon, and this year again his D held the Quack Attack to only 24 points in the Cal victory at Autzen. Just 44 years old, he's already coached in nine bowl games. He cut his teeth in the Pac-10, at Oregon's DB coach from 1998 - 2000 before being the DC at Boise State for a year in 2001. He was hand-picked by Tedford when he took the job in 2002, and they haven't looked back. He's got one hell of a track record already. Consider:

In 2006, Gregory's defense allowed just 19.3 points per game while forcing 28 turnovers, including 21 interceptions (fifth in the nation).

• The Bears held Texas A&M to a Holiday Bowl-low 10 points, including just 349 yards of total offense (146 in the second half).

• Cal's 2005 defense led the Pac-10 in pass efficiency defense, while ranking second in the league in scoring defense (21.2 ppg), rushing defense (119.2 ypg) and total defense (359.6 ypg).

• Finalist for the 2004 Frank Broyles Award, which is given to the nation's top assistant coach.

• His 2004 defense ranked in the Top 25 nationally in three categories: rushing defense (2nd, 82.5 ypg), scoring defense (8th, 16.0 ppg) and total defense (24th, 320.9 ypg).

• Cal's 2004 defense blanked Arizona (38-0) and Arizona State (27-0) in back-to-back games - a first for the Bears since the 1968 season.

• In 2002, Cal ranked second in the country in fumble recoveries (21) and seventh in both turnover margin (+21) and total takeaways (36).

• His 2001 Boise State team finished second in the WAC in both scoring defense and rushing defense.

• As defensive backs coach at Oregon, the 2000 Ducks led the NCAA in pass efficiency defense.

• In 11 seasons as a Division I-A coach, Gregory's teams have never had a losing record and have participated in nine bowl games.

• Named the American Football Quarterly Defensive Coordinator of the Year after the 1997 season when his Willamette squad led the NAIA in scoring defense and total defense.

Oh yeah, HE'S ALSO A COUGAR. That's right, he played DB and linebacker for our Cougs back in the mid-80's under Jim Walden, graduating in 1987. He's a Spokane boy, graduating from Gonzaga Prep. In the absolute prime of his coaching life, with Pac-10/NW/WSU roots, I can't imagine a better candidate for WSU!

The question is, can we get him? How much would it take to hire him away? You'd think he would be interested in coming home to be the head coach and lead the Cougs into a new era. And maybe he'd bring a few offensive assistants with him and we could run a version of the Cal offense. But what other schools will be after him once the season is over? There might be a line of suitors when the hiring season begins, but Jim Sterk sure as hell better have him at the top of the short list immediately.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Even the Media Agrees

Even mainstream media is now starting to say it - coach Doba must go. Howie Stalwick, who is carrying the mail for the WSU coverage these days in the P-I, says it plain as day today in Sport Tri-Cities. By the way, Howie is a good writer and better than anything else the P-I can do, so it's working out. And I'd put him right above Vince of the SR, who in his first year on the beat has a very difficult time doing anything editorial (read: he seems afraid to say what's so painfully obvious!).

But Stalwick is right on many levels. They aren't getting it done, from recruiting to everything else that has been examined ad nauseum. But the most dangerous thing right now is the level of blowouts that we are seeing. Not only is that talent level issues, but, it's also becoming an effort issue. In other words, Doba and staff seem to have lost this team, and we've still got five games left. I can't imagine it getting any worse than 40-0 at the half or 47-7 early in the third, but with the way this year is going, anything is possible.

I just wish we were part of the party this year, a year with more parity than ever in college football. All the upsets that happen every week, it would have been fun to be competitive this year. But oh well. Personally I'm glad the bye is here. I think we ALL need a break from this slow-motion train wreck.

Brutal weekend for Washington football. Cougs get their pants pulled down at Autzen, UW lays down again in the 3rd quarter in a 44-20 embarrassment, and the Hawks dig a 21-0 hole that they can't dig out of. WHHEEEEEE!

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Time to Go

Yep, Mr. Bill Doba, it is time for you to go...

And its time for Mr. Sterk to show him the door.

Simply put, the MOMENT that the scoreless streak was kept in tact, Mr. Brink should have sat his butt on the pine...

But no, despite being blown out, Captain Unhappy, sits his backup QB until the last drive..

If you're not building toward the future when you can in this lost season, then you are lost...

And Bill Doba is clearly lost.

Time to show him the door.

It will be a busy couple of weeks, but Doba needs to announce that he won't be back.

Brink deserves one more start and if we don't win, then he needs to finish his career on the bench.

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It's Going to be a Roughie Today

We'll keep this short and sweet. I think we're all feeling the same thing about today, and even though it won't be on TV, in the end that might be a good thing. I think I am encouraged by our defense last week, as I watched some of it again last night. Andy Mattingly was a monster, he really was, and that wasn't just a "stats" game. Even when he didn't get to Carpenter, he was knocking him on his ass. If you can, watch the first play of the game where Rudy throws a deep ball in a post-corner route that was dropped by the WR out of bounds. From the first play of that game, Mattingly blitzed the middle with little hesitation and just drilled Rudy. That set the done for the defense, and we really haven't seen a player like this since Derting.

Wanna get crazy? How about this comparison - BRIAN URLACKER. Seriously. Remember Urlacker in college? He was like some kind of tall, hybrid linebacker-safety that made plays all over the field, before settling in as an all-pro MLB in the NFL. I saw Mattingly last week and I see the same kind of player, I really do. I can't tell you how excited I am to watch this kid play. We might finally have that gamebreaker we've been dying for all along, that defensive player that the opposing QB has to point out every single play. I can't wait to see him star.......what? What was that you say?? Bill Doba is removing him from the lineup??? Well, he must be hurt or something, right???'s because Dunn is back healthy this week that Doba isn't starting Mattingly?? The same Mattingly who had the 17 tackles, four sacks, and five TFL's, a school record???? And it's not because of injury???..........................Oh.
As much as I want to be excited about an upset bid today, we're going to get steamrolled. I love what we did vs. ASU last week, but the offense dictated that approach. ASU runs the same offense we've been running since 1987, so we knew what to expect. I look at today's game and I think about the Arizona game, where we're going to play almost in prevent-mode all afternoon and they will still run wild on us. Stewart is going to have a gigantic game, and we'll get our usual 21 points, but that's it. What the heck, let's go 47-26, Oregon.
Other quick hits:
ASU 30, UW 20 - UW has slowly morphed into the worst offensive team in the conference. Locker has absolutely no help and he can't do everything.
CAL 38, OSU 23 - Canfield plays giveaway and you can't do that against the #2 team in the nation on the road.
USC 27, Arizona 20 - New starter at QB, team still in a daze after the Stanford game, spread offense with Tuitama might make this one interesting.
TCU 35, Stanford 13 - THUD!
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Yes, Recruiting DOES Matter

We at the WSU Football Blog staff are first and foremost die-hard Coug fans. You know this when you read this stuff. So the following comes at you with the idea that this isn't to rip on WSU, but to simply help further explain an angle as to why we are where WE are right now.
It's a normal human reaction to play the blame-game. It happens in every sport, at every level. Joe Torre is likely out of his job this week after the Yanks came up short, again. Is it his fault that his starting pitching was so poor? Is it his fault Roger Clemens got $28 million pro-rated in one of the biggest wastes of money of all-time? Probably not, but Joe will get the axe. I'm not comparing the Cougars to the Yankees, but I am using it as an example that people want to blame someone for failure to succeed. And, obviously Alex Brink and Bill Doba get the brunt of the blame for where we are.
The thing I've been harping on, and something that some of you have downplayed, is recruiting. The hype and the 4-and-5 stars are overrated, you said. The Cougars are better off getting the lower-rated guys and developing them, and that there are a lot of highly-rated players that never pan out. But ask anyone that involved with this sport, at any level, and they will tell you flat-out that recruiting is THE LIFEBLOOD of a program. It's a fun experience to win with a bunch of scrappy kids that the other big programs passed on for whatever reason, but it's becoming painfully obvious that it's harder than ever to actually pull it off with lesser talent. Things have changed drastically since our big run in 01-03, and diamonds in the rough are harder than ever to find. Not only do you need a lot of luck, but you also need a coaching staff that can coach 'em up better than the average bear. Beano Cook always said that Mike Price had to be one of the best coaches in the nation, period, because he always did more with less, and we always tout Price for finding guys that others overlooked, such as Rien Long, Jason Gesser, etc. You know the list.

Anyway, we said a few weeks ago to go back in time, and look at the recruiting classes under the Doba era. Go look at the first few years, especially 2004 and 2005, and then look at where we are today. I'm sure none of you actually did it. But Bud Withers did, and wrote an excellent article about how we got into this position. Among the highlights:
  1. 2003 - 16 signees, including Brink and Jason Hill. But only 7 are even in the program anymore.
  2. 2004 - Collins, Harrison, Bumpus and Brackenridge. But out of 28, only 13 are still in the program(!). That 2004 class is this year's true senior class.
  3. 2005 - 21 signees, but only 10 are left. This is the biggest failure of any of them. Just 10 players left from a class signed two-plus years ago? BRUTAL.

Withers also points out the dreadful special teams - zero touchbacks this year, while the rest of the Pac-10 has 34. I was touting Drew Dunning's excellence for bailing us out, time and again, and a huge part of our successful run (does anyone shudder at the thought of trotting Romeen out there, trying to make field goals against USC in that amazing 2002 game?? How frustrating would that have been??). Did you know that WSU kickers are 34 for 60 since Dunning graduated!?!? DOH.

This is the most powerful statement yet: "So of the 65 players added from 2003-05, only 30 remain. Of those who left, 12 were JC recruits who yielded mixed results, leaving 23 who simply washed out of the program."

We're a program that's traditionally thin anyway, even under Price. But to have less than 50% of the players you signed from 2003-2005 that are still even on the roster?? Is there any doubt now as to why we are where we are!??

We are exhibit A of why recruiting makes you - or breaks you. I challenge anyone to argue against this point. Before you want to throw Brink under the bus, yet again, for "just not being clutch" or whatever else you can come up with, you must consider that less than half the players signed from 2003-2005 are even in the program.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The problem with Lofa Tatupu

Hey Hawk,

Let's just say - hypothetically speaking - that on some random weeknight, I just happened to be a little boozy and I got this random thought in my head that I just HAD to get off my chest. Would it be OK if I blogged about it?

Thanks, Buddy!

OK, if you're a Seahawks fan, you probably love Lofa Tatupu (or at least appreciate the USC scum) for the way he plays the game. We Cougs, have grown to revere the under-sized, mile-a-minute head-knockers in the middle of a defense. (Take your pick: Childs, Gleason, Davis, et al...)

Lofa waltzed into the NFL with a nasty case of small-man's disease and immediately started making plays. It takes a lot for a rookie middle linebacker to make the Pro Bowl - probably in part because not many teams turn that position over to a rookie - he did it and is now working on his third Pro Bowl in a row to start his career. Dude's a flat-out stud.

So here's the problem with Lofa Tatupu. Okay, hold on. There are actually two problems with him if you count the fact that every time I hear his name I think of Mrs. Smails in the shower..."Elihu, will you come loofah my stretch marks?"

But the REAL problem with Lofa Tatupu is that he has no facial hair. Seriously, there are kids on Mini McBoob's Tiny Mites team that look meaner than him. He needs some whiskers - and I mean more than just a 5 o'clock shadow.

With my superior graphic design skills I have taken it upon myself to offer up a few suggestions. Feel free to vote on your favorite and perhaps offer up some suggestions of your own.

1: The JJ Putz

2: The Franco Harris

3: The Al Hrabosky

4: The Adam Morrison

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

You Better, You Bet

None of us REALLY expected the game to be close, so why the sour grapes? This was a giant step in the right direction and it was actually kind of fun to sit in the stands as the true underdogs again. I loved seeing the great team effort and it truly felt like we had nothing to lose. I'm sure there were many fans in the stadium who lived and died with every snap yesterday but I was not one of them.

That said, here's my take on this game... First and foremost, I am absolutely sick of all the Brink bashing. The pick was definitely a tough blow but on a play like that the blame is shared by the receiver. They made different reads and it resulted in a pick. Two possessions later, Brink passed for the go-ahead score.

Let's not make light of the fact or completely overlook a HUGE game by our defense. THANK YOU Dobes, for finally taking off the training wheels!

I really don't enjoy dissecting every drive and every play of the game, but... In my eyes, the deciding play of the game was the 4th down screen to Collins at the beginning of the 4th quarter. It was a well-executed play that was sniffed out by one ASU lineman, forcing Collins to cut it back inside where he was stopped by a solo tackle. A great play by WSU, stopped by an even better effort by ASU, putting an end to a nice 10-play, 57-yard drive that could have put the Cougs up by four. Those four points would have changed the game.

In the end, it was a great team effort, and a tough game to lose. It was NOT lost by the interception and it was not lost by the missed kick. The problems this time were penalties (11 for 90 yards) and the continued inability of our O line to run-block. We all know that a passing game plays off of an adequate running game and we have none right now. 19 running plays netted only 58 yards on the ground and Brink was responsible for another 24 on scrambles.

19 true running plays and 50 pass attempts = a 10-minute difference in time of possession. You expect this kind of a run/pass ratio if you're playing from behind - NOT if you're trying to control the clock and protect a lead. As well as our line has protected Brink this year, they could do more for him and our offensive production by opening up a few more holes for the running game.

So Brinkhater, et al, there's your problem with the offense.

I've been a pretty staunch supporter of Alex Brink over the years not so much because I think he's a great quarterback, but because I think he has been largely undeserving of much of the criticism he's received. Yesterday was no exception. He again played very well, despite the fact that the opposing team was allowed to key on him and the passing game. Week in and week out, he is facing defensive game plans that treat our running game as an afterthought - remember that the next time you start bitching about Alex Brink.

That said, Alex has the record and for all intents and purposes, this season is lost. Doba and perhaps much of the staff could very well be lame ducks but they are loyal to WSU. Is it time to start looking to building for the future? Do we need to start seeing more of Gary Rodgers, Cole Morgan and/or Kevin Lopina? (I imagine Lobbestahl will keep his redshirt but if it were up to me, just to spite all the Brink-haters out there, I'd send the 6'2", 195-pounder out there just so you'd BEG me to put Brink back in!)
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Saturday, October 06, 2007


Your turn to comment on today's horrible defeat to the Sun Devils...

Brinkhater's bottom line is this:

Through THREE conference games, we're still averaging under 20 points per game.

Who or what is at fault? Who is to blame? How can it get better?

Clearly, the defense looked like a Doba type D today....what should be done about the O???

One things for sure, you can't win many Pac-10 games if you score under 21 points. Click here for more Comments


Okay Alex, this is it!

Time to shut up Brinkhater once and for all.

Down 20-17 with the season and program on the line...we've got 98 yards to the zone with 10:40 something left..

How about leading the team right now for a touch, showing your mettle, and SHUTTING up the Brinkhater Army forever?

How about it??? Click here for more Comments

At the Half: Make Or Break Time

Well, the Coug defense has totally caught the flat Sun Devils off guard. Had the O been able to muster anything in the first quarter, we might be really feeling good right now.

That said, in a few moments we face a real breaking point of the season:

We're gonna get the ball to start the half, if we get a touch, we go up 17-7 early in the third--which will give us enough momentum to win this game and perhaps save both the season and the coach.

But, if we don't score, you can bet that Denny is going to make some adjustments which could really send things the other way....

Its on you Brinkster, Rosey, and Levy...Lets see what you guys are made of! Click here for more Comments

Friday, October 05, 2007

Football Friday WEEK 6: Doba's Last Stand

Greetings Cougah Nation. Welcome to the half-way point in what looks like a lost season.


For one, the basketball team starts practice next week!

For two, while this represents the hugest of huge games for us, this game represents one of the biggest let down games in the history of ever for the Sun Devils. Why?

For starters, the ASU offense must be suffering from an acute case of the laugh-drools after watching film of us this week. They will be laughing because our D has made Stanford's D look like USC. And of course, they will be drooling because visions of 70 points will be alive in their heads.

On the other side of the ball, while the Devil staff is probably trying to talk us up, the bottom line is that our offense has averaged a paltry 17.5 points a game in conference play. Moreover, this same Sun Devil D dismantled us last year in Tempe..Simply put, they CAN NOT be taking us seriously. For that reason, there really should be room for hope that if we can get out of the gates quickly, we can really make this a horror show for Erickson's crew.

So, in order to win, we must score on our first drive (like we always do) and score on our second drive (which we almost do). The key, of course, is getting lucky and getting a couple stops early in the game. IF this team can jump out to a 21-7 or 14-0 lead, I think we have enough to win a shootout. BUT, if we don't get a stop early, we'll NEVER get one late. So, 1st Quarter D is going to be key for us.

Will we do it? Brinkhater thinks that it is possible.

But, what is THE MOST important aspect of this game is the development of this offense. Simply put, lose tomorrow and the pipe-dream of a 7 win season is done. That said, we can still DREAM of a 6 win campain IF the offense can start scoring some points!

Thus, a 42-38 loss tomorrow would not be the end of the world for us, because it would show that we do, in fact, have a chance at outscoring UCLA, Oregon State, Stanford, and UW as we close out the season. In Brinkhater's view, that type of a loss would take significant heat off of Bill Doba and this football team as a whole. Lose big tomorrow, with only a handful of points scored, and you'll have a boo and gloom fest not seen in a long, long time.

ASU 45 WSU 24 --Brink WILL become the all-time passing leader in this game; the table will be set for Doba to resign...

AZ 34-17: Battle of Brinkhater darkhorses. AZ may be coming out of the early season hole, Beavs seem to be just starting their digging.

USC 56 Stanford 0: Welcome to the Pac-10, nephew of Jack Thompson. This one is going to be REAL ugly.

UCLA 41 ND 10: Charlie Weiss is feeling the heat. The question is: Is he too fat to get out of the Sauna?

Enjoy the games. Click here for more Comments

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Walk Down Memory Lane...with Brinkhater

When I was a kid I used to love fall mornings. The neighborhood kids would gather in front of our house and play two-hand touch with a Nerf football in the street for hours. Back then, we looked forward to playing the game on weekends instead of watching it on TV - and obsessing about it during the rest of the week.

For a couple hours every Saturday and Sunday in the fall, we became our heroes. I used to throw lobs to the sideline for my buddy Scott, who would fall into the yard with his tiptoes still "inbounds" on the curb. We used to practice these throws and "circus catches" that we saw on NFL Sundays. Despite the fact that we grew up in the 'burbs of Seattle, in our eyes no two players had a better knack for this kind of play than Dan Fouts and John Jefferson. Playing street football, the game usually ended as soon as one kid tripped and scraped up his hands on the asphalt. If the game ended early, we went right back to practicing those diving catches into the yard - Fouts to Jefferson.

During this same time, down I-5 in Seattle, a young Brinkhater began what developed over time into a full-fledged man-crush on another NFL football player. Steve Largent you'd probably guess? Even young Hooty had a #80 Seahawks jersey... but not Brinkhater. No, back in the 80's Brinkhater was then known as Mudbonelover. Yes, the object of his affection was none other than Dave Krieg - or DAVID Krieg as I'm sure Brinkhater would correct me.

I can only imagine what the street football games were like in front of Mudbonelover's house. I bet he proudly donned his #17 and sent one of his buddies on a deep post to the streetlight on the first play of the game. He'd drop back and throw a picture-perfect bomb for a score, a-la Krieg to Daryl "Deep Heat" Turner. He'd close his eyes and hear the roar of the Kingdome crowd as they did the "wave" in his honor. On the the next possession he'd get distracted by a passing VW bug and the Nerf would slip out of his little hands and get scooped up and returned for a score the other way.

Indeed, Brinkhater's admiration for Mudbone has endured to this day as can be witnessed here, writing under his pen name, Tammy Tokas.

Ol' Mudbone - the epitome of NFL mediocrity. Consistent, if unspectacular. Good enough to play 18 years in the NFL but retired having never led his team to the Super Bowl. It might surprise you to know that when he retired, his 38,147 yards placed him in the top-ten all time, despite a pedestrian 81.5 QB Rating.

Does this resume sound a little like the one being compiled by somebody else we know? Indeed, if you calculate Alex Brink's numbers in NFL terms, his rating of 89.6 looks pretty good next to Mudbone's...and get this: according to statistics on, Alex Brink has NEVER fumbled.

So Brinkhater, what happened to you? How could you have embraced one quarterback for his workman-like, over-achieving, underdog persona as a kid, only to turn your back on those same qualities 20 years later?

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Will You Boo When Brink Breaks the Record?

Ready or not, Alex Brink is going to break Jason Gesser's passing record, and there's a real chance he'll do it this weekend. He's now a mere 276 yards away from Gesser. Talk about a surreal scene if, say, sometime in the 4th quarter when we're down 42-16, an announcement comes over the PA that Alex Brink has now passed the Cougar legend. What do you think the crowd will do when that happens?

Personally, to save the embarrassment for Brink, I hope he doesn't break it this weekend. I hope he does it the following week at Oregon, and it's merely a footnote from the game story. For reasons that would take weeks to explain, Brink has been the whipping boy for the program, period. He's been ripped to shreds since he became the starter over Swogger, and while it occasionally faded, it always comes back into the debate after yet another disappointing loss.

Here's a kid that was recruited by Boise State and Eastern WA, and was ignored in his own backyard in Oregon and all other Pac-10 schools for that matter. He's not a tools guy, never has been and never will be, but he's tough, efficient and smart. But even as he's set to break all the school records, he's just not "big-time" enough. I think it's as simple as that. And to be a winner in the Pac-10, eventually the rubber hits the road and the elite talent separates from the mediocre. While Brink's tools have been closer to Jason Gesser than Leaf, Bledsoe or even Rosie, let's be honest - our homecoming fans are fed-up, tired of losing and downright pissed at the current state of affairs of the football team. And yeah, what fans that actually go to the game this weekend will be pretty drunk on Saturday, as is typical for a homecoming crowd (not that there's anything wrong with that!). What do YOU THINK they'll do when that record falls?? It could be a very, very embarrassing moment for our program when about 3/4th's of the crowd rains down boos when that record falls. Of course, they'll probably just spin it and say they weren't booing, they were chanting "Brink, Brink, Brink". Well, ok, not Brink, maybe "Frank Madu, Frank Madu, Frank Madu....."

Brink isn't such a bad guy. I know I wrote earlier this year something about why he's never endeared himself to our hearts, and that something was just missing. Whether it's his personality, or the blandness of his quotes or the lack of the signature win, something has been missing. But the Arizona Star ran a story last week about Brink that's interesting. Actually I always find it a good read when a reporter from another school provides an outside-looking-in story about a player like Brink, someone we think we know so well. You don't always hear about the GPA, or the senior thesis on racism, or so much charity work that the school can't even keep track of it all. Stuff like that helps you see the forest as well as the trees, and sometimes an outside perspective is important in the grand scheme.

Meanwhile, Doba and Sterk are quoted today as saying 1) yes, Doba's on thin ice, and 2) No WAY will Doba quit. I'm just glad that Sterk came out and said publically that yes, we are concerned, and he'll be evaluated after the season (translation - a 2 or 3-win season and he's out of here). And how can anyone be surprised that Doba would say no way would he quit? What's he going to say at this point? Yes, I'm sick of this too and I want to quit?? Not only not is it in his DNA to quit when the going gets tough, but if he said something to the effect that he is going to quit now, the lid is sealed on a 2-win season. Let's face it, the damage is already done, he's lost this team and they are likely going to lose out, but for him to actually admit he's thinking about stepping aside would make this train wreck of a season even harder on the eyes. Click here for more Comments