Thursday, November 29, 2007

Listen, do you Smell Something?

Greetings Cougar Nation...On the eve of a real who cares Football Friday (when our season is over, so is everyone else's), can you smell what the Cougar Athletic Department is cookin?

Yep, they're cookin' up Price Stew.

So, don't even spend your time thinking any more about it, barring HUGE changes in developments, just put this in the bank:

MIKE PRICE IS THE NEXT FOOTBALL COACH AT WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY

Just Bank on it.

The reason is simple:

Price has already been contacted and has NOT said that he is NOT interested following that conversation. In other words, he IS interested.

Moreover, after "talking" or "feeling out" Price, WSU has NOT said anything about taking him off of the list.

Furthermore, do you think that Sterk and Moos are idiots regarding the potential controversy surrounding MPs hiring? There HAS to be a process--otherwise this winds up being the whole shot-gun job that was done the last time.

So, this time they will "talk" to some other candidates before settling on the obvious: If you want to rebuilt this program, you do it with the guy that can go into living rooms and talk Rose Bowls and conference championships because HE HAS DONE IT WITH US TWICE!!!!!!! Moreover, as I said here earlier in the week: IF you want to name the last school other than USC to win the conference title you get none other than the Mike Price coached WSU Cougars..

And, like I've said to the nation before:

PRICE PUT US IN TWO ROSE BOWLS WITH THE POOP ISLAND YEARS IN THE MIDDLE.

Meaning, he rebuilt us for the 30 win over 3 season run after being in the basement of the conference following our first Rose Bowl. He's already "re-built" us twice!!! So don't think he can't or won't do it again.

And sure, we can all be mad about the Rose Bowl stuff, but the dude paid dearly for that 4 month period of insanity (where he briefly and allegedly met his 'Destiny').

And again, let's not be too harsh about his (in)ability to build a "power" at a Conference USA school with the HORRIBLE resources of UTEP which has NOTHING (including the Sun Bowl) other than an NCAA title when they were called something else.

So, sit back and enjoy the ride as we got through "the process."

And mark my words: IF its someone other than Price, I GUARANTEE it will be someone who is NOT on the current list.

My bet: we'll have a coach by 12/20. Read more ...plus comments

This May Take a While

If you are on the edge of your seat, waiting for what you think is a foregone conclusion that Mike Price is the next head coach? You might want to cool it. Jim Sterk went on KJR last night with Elise and Ian, and he did in fact acknowledge that Bill Moos has talked to Mike. But Sterk said that he himself had not yet talked to Mike, at all. When asked if Price was interested in the job, Sterk wouldn't elaborate, saying that was up to Price on however he wanted to talk about the situation. But Sterk did say that Price was NOT THE GO-TO-GUY ON THE LIST, and this search is not about Mike Price.


Here's the link to the interview. It's a really interesting listen, and I encourage you all to check it out.


If you heard Sterk last night, you might want to dig in for the long haul. The impression he gave was that this is, in no way, going to be a rush job. Despite what you may have heard from whatever sources you may have, Sterk flat-out said that this is going to be a thorough, detailed process leaving no stone unturned. He even mentioned that they won't set a true deadline, but that the end of the year the new coach should be in place (!?!). End of the year?? I don't think we like the sound of that, not when December is such an important month for all recruiting efforts, but especially one that Doba had stead-fastly decided that we would be different and we would wait things out, jumping in late on a lot of kids. Not such a swell idea now, is it??


And one more thing from Sterk on Price. Let's just say if Sterk wanted Price and he was the clear-cut #1 choice. Would there be talk of this long process with Moos and Floyd all actively involved? Sterk also said that there is really a committee, including a few team captains, and they are all going to have input on what they are hoping for in a new coach. Sterk admitted himself that he loves to get input from many different people before he makes the decision, so it's not as if he's sprinting to the podium with his arm around Price. But if they wanted Price that badly, this thing would already be over, ala Houston Nutt at Ole Miss. This is not going to be a quick process.


Maybe that's actually the best news of all. Moos and Sterk and Floyd are extremely confident in their situation, and it was hard not to listen to Sterk and feel nothing but good feelings that they are going to do EVERYTHING THEY CAN to get us the perfect fit. They are smart guys who know what they are looking for, and Sterk himself has shown he can think "outside the box". To this day, nobody saw the Bennett's coming, yet here we are #6 in the country and a team with legit Final Four aspirations. The June Daugherty hire is still considered a major get, and in a few years they could be a factor in the conference. So let's just see what they come up with. Maybe it will be a name that nobody saw and we'll be absolutely blindsided. But I know this. We should feel great about the guys leading this search, because I don't think we could be in better hands.


Price did speak to (who else) Howie Stalwick, and more or less danced around the topic. Moos said they talked but it was a "feeling out" process and that was the extent of the details. In the same article, John L. Smith said he was interested and Moos had contacted him already as well. And the Cal guys, Gregory and Michalzcik, both admitted interest as well. Again, not a surprise.

Meanwhile, Moos does say that things are moving fast. At least as far as the preliminary call list, Moos is basically done according to the TNT. I imagine that he's been glued to the phone the last couple of days, and that they are ready to dig deeper after the initial contact phase.

For the rumor-monger, Pat Hill at Fresno State is mentioned in Howie's article. While he didn't come out and say he wants the job, a "source with Fresno State ties" admitted that Hill is very interested in WSU, but Hill said Wednesday that he hadn't talked to anyone. And if you really want to dig rumors, how about the one that said Rick Neuheisel had been spotted in Pullman Wednesday?? Nah. I don't think we can fathom going there, even if the Go-2-Guy sure can.


Finally, Jim Walden - if anyone thinks he is cool with Price returning??? Think again. He went out of his way to push Wulff in the P-I yesterday, and he was just getting started. He also went out of his way to piss on Price's candidacy, both in print and on the radio. I heard him last night with Jeff Aaron, and he said Price "won't happen", for many reasons, including age, the circumstances with how he left and his poor record the last couple of years which shows that he really hasn't built much of anything at UTEP. Here's a link to the story, although you may have trouble getting to it. Reading some of these quotes from Walden, and hearing him last night, I don't think he'll go out of his way to buy Price a beer if he returns to Pullman:

"If they're beating up Doba (in recruiting) because of his age now," said Jim Walden, one of Price's predecessors and now the Cougars' extremely colorful commentator on radio, "why wouldn't they beat up Price for the same thing?"

"I don't think a coach that leaves a school when he's got them in the Rose Bowl and goes to another place is what you want," said Walden, as usual holding back not at all. "I'm not thinking that's a serious move for a school.

"We didn't divorce him. He left us. The Cougar in me says, 'No.' Maybe it's emotional. Or maybe I have a deeper feel for the school that says we've got to get better."


"What is he doing for UTEP that we would get excited about?" Walden said. "Has he been to four bowls in four years? Won 50 games? What makes us think he's a great prospect? I'm not trying to knock the guy, but let's move on."

Finally, on the air last night, Walden said not only "it won't happen" but that he doesn't think Price wants the job or really cares to get it. According to Walden, the only reason he would do it is if he can get Eric the head coaching job down the line, just like everyone has speculated. And that Price doesn't need the money or the new challenge at his age, and that he'd likely just take the job and spend more time at his lake place than out on the road recruiting or doing the extra work it's going to take to get this thing back to where we want it to be. Safe to say, Walden IS NOT IN THE PRICE CAMP! Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Coaching News Round-up; Jack Thompson Hearts Mike Price

Just a day or so into the post-Doba era, and Crimson faithful are starting to basically endorse their guys. And Paul Wulff is getting a lot of buzz. Cougfan had a story yesterday that highlighted the early chatter as Wulff, Mike Price and Bobby Hauck as the most prominent names in the rumor mill thus far.


  • One of the loudest endorsements thus far is coming from Jim Walden in the P-I, who 1) thinks Wulff is not only a perfect fit with his former Coug ties and success at EWU, but 2) even more prepared for the job than Dennis Erickson was in 1987, or even Tony Bennett was when he took the job (come on Jim! Comparing Paul Wulff to Tony Bennett? I love Walden but I doubt he knows if a basketball is stuffed or filled with air.).
It's hard not to be impressed with Wulff. Strong run of success, WSU ties, 40 years old, regarded as a class act and was a really good player at WSU. He fits the bill, and he's right there in Eastern WA already.


  • The Go-2-Guy floats a trial balloon in the name of Rick Neuheisel. Uh, no. Sure, he's a young-ish coach who's played in the Pac-10, coached in the Pac-10, knows the northwest, etc. But he's not what they are looking for. And besides, even if the money and all the other stuff could be worked out, AND he was interested enough to look at Pullman and he took the job? The guy would be looking to leave after his introductory press-conference. Look how hard he was looking around and mentioned in all the rumor mill columns when he as at UW. Why would he do anything other than use WSU as a place to show he can coach in college and then just bolt at the next opportunity? No thanks.


  • Today's Times says John L. Smith is definitely interested. I don't know about you, but I'm decidedly split on Smith. I know he's got a good career record, but he was run out of East Lansing after a 22-26 record in his last job. And his exit from Louisville was one of the ugliest things I've seen on live TV. Does anyone remember how, during Louisville's bowl game, rumors leaked that Smith had taken the Michigan State job? TV crews asked him about it at halftime and he sort of stammered around the question, and then denied it. But suddenly players started getting word on the bench via friends and relatives. Talk about awkward. Smith doesn't exactly have age on is side either, at 59 years old. And Michigan State had some terrible losses towards the end of his reign, including that famous come-from-ahead loss to Notre Dame when they lost a 16-pt 4th quarter lead.


  • Bud Withers also writes about Mike Price and the overall situation there. As of yesterday Price isn't confirming or denying anything, at least not yet. But Withers endorses the idea, yet there are fences that need to be mended over the divorce. Let's face it, when a coach bails it's not usually a back-slapping good time, and Price's was pretty ugly. He burned some bridges and some will never forgive the Rose Bowl situation. But time has a way to heal wounds. Brinkhater is more dug in on Price than I am, but I would be OK with it if there was also some sort of succession plan behind him. I mean you usually don't go out and hire a 61-year old coach thinking that it's going to be the long-term answer, do you? Unless he brings Eric Price with him and grooms him to take over, or some other plan is in place, I don't like it. I don't want to see us in this same situation in 5 years, where everyone is killing us again in recruiting because it's clear that Price is ready to retire.


  • UW offensive coordinator Tim Lappano has been mentioned on some lists as well. He did spend some time in Pullman in the late 80's under Erickson and then a few years under Price, plus he coached at Idaho and grew up in Spokane, so he knows the lay of the land. He's really coached all over the place, from Ferris High School to the San Francisco 49ers, so his background is extremely dynamic. Oh yeah, he's also regarded as one hell of an offensive coordinator. He said on KJR that he's been wanting to be a head coach ever since he broke into the business. When asked about the WSU job, he said he "didn't want to talk about that right now" and that he was focused on beating Hawaii. It wouldn't be that big of a stretch to think he's interested?

  • Finally, Jack Thompson was on Elise and Ian last night on KJR, and gave a 10-minute out-pouring about how Mike Price IS the perfect fit. There is absolutely zero doubt who he believes should be the coach. He really gets into it, and you can hear Jack's passion oozing out as he talks about Price. Give it a listen. (go to the bottom-right of the KJR page, under Elise and Ian, and click on Jack Thompson - 11/29).
Read more ...plus comments

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hooray for Bill Moos!

No matter what happens, all I can say is THANK YOU OREGON for giving Moos the boot and promoting some prominent "yahoo" booster to be your A.D. With quotes like this, how can we not feel fortunate that Moos is acting as the headhunter in all this?? From Blanchette's column today:

By Monday evening, Moos had been in contact with nearly a dozen potential candidates.

"I honestly feel this is a prime opportunity to seize the moment and get a jump on the Huskies," Moos said. "Both programs are down. At Oregon, when we went after the Huskies, they were winning and it was a major challenge. This is maybe a time to step in with the right person who has charisma and energy, both for recruiting and to help get the stadium finished."

This is, Moos insisted, Sterk's process and decision.

"But I've had first-hand experience – from Jim Sweeney to Jackie Sherrill to Warren Powers to Jim Walden to Mike Price," said Moos, who after his playing days, rose to become assistant athletic director at WSU. "I think I've got a pretty good feel for those who might want to be one-year wonders or someone who has an interest in the place, can adapt to it or has been there before and won't look down his nose at Pullman or eastern Washington. Because he's got to make a good, solid sell to recruits and fans."

We are, officially, not screwing around here. I trust Sterk and Floyd, rightly so, as the hirings of the Bennett's plus June Daugherty have been strong. And it's hard to really call Doba Sterk's hire, really. The program needed a "Steward" at the point that Price quit on us, and at the time it was the perfect marriage that just didn't work out long-term. Short term, perfect, long term, not so good. But to have Moos come out and say that not only is he going to filter through the coach-speak bullsh*t on who will want be here long-term, but to come out and say "we're trying to seize the opportunity to jump on a down Washington program"?? WOW! That's music to our ears, wouldn't you say? Why not come out and say something like that? Let's get after this thing and make a hire that will get the buzz overflowing again.

There's tons of links today, including lists of candidates, etc. For that stuff, go to Vince's latest blog entry. As far as what we're up to? Hey, we're full of speculation too and we're hearing crazy rumors just like anyone else. But for now, we'll let the dust settle a little bit and we'll see who emerges, and then we'll post more thoughts on what could be considered the true candidates. Let's also not forget one other big thing. There's some really, really prime-time jobs out there right now - Michigan, Nebraska, Arkansas among others - and there's likely more to come, including right here in the Pac-10 if UCLA pulls the plug on Dorrell, or if villagers burn down Montlake in protest to another last-place finish at UW. So while we've got wild lists and ideas, so do a lot of other schools, with quite frankly, better jobs available. But hey, again, Moos is showing some onions already in this, so HOORAY for Bill Moos and thank you Oregon! Read more ...plus comments

Monday, November 26, 2007

PLEASE STOP

Alright, Cougar Nation, I know its been a long day.

I know its been an emotional ride following the season, the Apple Cup victory, and now Doba's departure.

And I know, dear Big Apple, that losing your coach was hard on you today, and I'm glad you stood up for him, but do you think you could allow Brinkhater to forever rest? In other words, would you stop with your news conference stuff and just go away?

Sorry, I digress.

Now, speaking of Mr. Price, there are good reasons why he should not be the man. The BIGGEST of the reasons pertains to the same issues surrounding Doba. Namely, what is the succession plan? Given Price's age, how long would he want to do it? And who would he hand the program off to when he left?

Those, dear Crimson faithful are good questions.

But, can we spare the other comments about needing new blood?

I mean, DID YOU ALL FORGET THAT WE WENT TO TWO ROSE BOWLS WITH PRICE?

DID YOU ALL FORGET THAT BEFORE PRICE THERE WERE ZERO ROSE BOWLS IN 67 YEARS?

My god, we wanted Doba gone cuz he couldn't lead us to a bowl, and we don't want Price back because he went 4-8 at a second rate school in the middle of the Sun Bowl? Come on.

So, please, lets be a bit more heady than what we've been so far. If there's a dynamite guy out there that can:

A) Win

and

B) Stay

Then I am ALL FOR IT.

But don't, Cougar Nation, look a gift horse in the mouth.

We are WSU and what we don't need is to forget what Price did here: The Unthinkable. Read more ...plus comments

Buh-Bye

Before we get to all the blather, first and foremost, a big thank you and shout out to Ole Bill.



Without question, the guy put his heart and soul into the program. Moreover, when you think about how he handled his wife's illness during a gut-wrenching 4-7 campain (that was ssssssooo close to a 9-2 season), and you have to tip your hat to the man. He really is a class act.

But today was about standing up and saying that 11-23 (or whatever it was in the conference over the past four years) was not acceptable--especially coming off three consecutive 10 win seasons. And so, in that way, you can say that WSU can no longer be considered a doormat program.

From the continuous academic casualties, to the lack of recruiting, to the fall of the D (before he took it back), to the relentless defense of the Big Apple, Doba put loyalty before Ws. And that is why he lost his job. In this case, the nice guy finished last.

What IS surprising is the apperant news that ALL of the Assistants are gone. WOW!

And because of that, you can expect that the announcement of a new Head Coach will be days away (not weeks). NO ONE cleans house completely unless someone else is coming in right quick. They have someone in mind, no doubt about it.

So, give us your comments and thoughts, but here's mine:



We've come full circle.

Read more ...plus comments

Source: Doba Will Return; Gibson to the NFL?

Barring something unforseen, it appears the Bill Doba era is going to continue. The TNT's Todd Miles reported today that a source close to the program had this to say:

"A source close to the program said while athletic director Jim Sterk and Doba have maintained an amicable relationship, it is “president (Elson S. Floyd) who wants (the coaches) gone … but when he asked about it in the middle of the (season) and found out it would cost $2.8 million, he backed off.”

Not a shock. Might as well say it now, but the WSU Football Blog staff heard the exact same thing about 5 or so weeks ago, in regards to president Floyd. But I guess they decided to keep things as they are. Who knows, though, they can always change their mind if they can figure out the payout structure as something that we've speculated on all along in terms of taking several years to pay it off, but I don't know if that's going to happen now.

Doba also said that as of Sunday night, he HAD NOT SPOKEN TO STERK OR FLOYD, and was still scheduled to hit the recruiting trail on Monday. If they were going to let him go, wouldn't they say "Hey Bill, why don't you delay that trip of yours and swing by the office on Monday for a little chat."

Meanwhile, Howie Stalwick keeps it up, this time writing a long pro/con story on retaining Doba. Give it a read, it's worth your while.

Finally, the TNT's Todd Miles reports that Brandon Gibson has already submitted his name for the NFL draft. Great. I've been fearful of this for the entire season, and you can clearly see the NFL talent on that kid. Not so much the TD catch to win the game, but the slant that he took to the house on Saturday, where he split the safeties and just ran away from everyone, now that is a play that NFL scouts will drool over. He's already speculated as a 3rd-rounder by Rob Rang, and that's good for Gibson, bad for the Cougs. I wonder what sort of advice Jason Hill would give him right about now?? How about "GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!!!?!?"

I'm very interested to see how they spin this as a positive move towards the future. We'll be back after the Doba announcement for reaction/spinning/complaining/whatever. Happy Monday! Read more ...plus comments

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Doba's Future Decided Tomorrow.....or Not

There's no question what Doba's thinking right now. He clearly has the cat-ate-canary look on his mug, and can you blame him? But you have to wonder what's going through Willingham's mind at that moment. "What do I say to the media after this one? Why the hell can't our defense stop anyone in the 4th quarter? How in the world have we lost 2 of the 3 Apple Cups that I've been a part of?" More than likely, "F*CK EVERYONE!!"

Ok, not really "f*ck everyone". He's too classy for that. Maybe something like "to heck with all of you" as he retreated for some post-game chocolate milk?

So now that you've digested what's happened and slept on it, today is a new day. And it's time to fire up the elephant in the corner of the room that will not go away - the Bill Doba speculation. Jim Sterk was cornered by the Seattle Times and FINALLY said something, both before and after the game. Among some of the notable quotes:

  • Sterk said the dramatic 42-35 victory Apple Cup victory will be taken into consideration but said, "You want to take a full body of work before you make a decision on something like this."
  • Sterk said he will be making the decision whether to keep or fire Doba but that new WSU president Elson Floyd will be "involved as the leader of Washington State University." Involved? Yeah, you could say that.
  • Sterk acknowledged Saturday before kickoff that if a change is made, former Cougars coach Mike Price is a potential candidate. "He would be somebody on a list of coaches that I would obviously consider but by no means is he the guy," Sterk said. Wow. That's somewhat of a bomb-shell if you ask me. All along, Price has been asked and has basically not commented on it, and/or danced around the question altogether. The rumors have been there since mid-season of a Price reunion, and some of those rumors grew some legs a few weeks ago when the idea of a "Bennett" situation arose, where Price would come for something like a 4-year deal, and would bring Eric Price with him. Then when Price retired (at 67, same age as Doba right now), Eric would get the job as a mid-40's head coach. Not that this is all going to happen, but, to think that with all the no-comments out of Sterk lately, to actually say that Price would be on the list?? Wow. It should also be acknowledged that Price's UTEP Miners just finished the season at 4-8 after last night's defeat. Do you really want to run out and trumpet the return of a 4-8 head coach?
  • On the idea of IF Price comes back, would Doba stay as the DC and all would be right in the world? "I seriously doubt that," Sterk said. That's not a shock, really, when you consider everything. In fact, it could be a very uncomfortable situation if the two were to try and co-exist again. Yes, Doba oozes class from every pore, but hey, he's got an ego too. And to think he'd be basically fired and to think he'd accept a demotion when he's got a golden parachute waiting for him in retirement, where the good folks and family of the Midwest beckon to him with beautiful music?? I don't see it happening either.
  • In Bud Withers' Seattle Times column:

    "15 minutes after the game in a stadium mostly deserted, I found Sterk in the end zone and asked him if he could fire a guy who has won three out of five Apple Cups.
    Big belly laugh. And he said, "That's a very good stat. I like that stat." And he said there's been no decision made, adding, "I think we'll talk next week. We'll make a statement of the time-line, or give an indication what our process might be. Right now, we'll just enjoy the victory."

  • John Blanchette also weighed in, and basically says that one game in another post-season-less campaign shouldn't be the thing that decides Doba's fate. Blanchette also threw cold water on the idea that things are fine, when looking at 4 games in which the Cougars lost by at least 4 touchdowns. A team with a senior QB, deep receiving corps, etc, and they lost 4 games this year by at least 4 touchdowns? And a 5th game by 3 TD's, at Wisconsin?
  • What's interesting to me is what Doba said to Blanchette, again digging in his heels about the coaching staff and defiantly stating that no changes need to be made. He also claims that "It's recruiting – you give those guys the talent that USC has, we're going to be pretty good, too. That's the thing. We're making strides there." Really? So a wild swing from getting blown out and embarrassed one week, only to come back and be competitive and even win the next week, isn't something that should be hung on the coaching staff? Ooooo-kee-dokie.
  • Here's maybe the strongest hint from Sterk that status-quo will win out here:

    "It's had its ups and downs," he said, when asked about how the football program is positioned. "Bill over the years has gone through some adversity. I think there's an uptick, if you will, on the recruiting class last year and the players involved in the program."

Doesn't sound like an AD who is ready to throw his coach under the bus.

I think, as WSU fans, we ask this of the athletic department and President Floyd - PLEASE MAKE A DECISION AND DON'T LOOK BACK! A Monday announcement to give details on Doba's future.....or not? Maybe it'll just be a statement that they are "continuning to evaluate the situation" or something along those lines? That's a really BAD idea. Recruiting is in the hottest part of the year, and even Doba mentioned that recruits are due in to visit Pullman next weekend. Either do your business and fire him, or get off the pot and say he's back for the remainder of his contract, including the assistants. But you can't let a guy, OR THE PROGRAM, twist in the November winds while recruiting is in full-swing. If they let this linger for any amount of time, it will potentially destroy any hope of even a solid recruiting class, and as we all know, recruiting classes are the absolute backbone of your program. Particularly a program like WSU, where depth is always an issue, even in the best of times. Please, Sterk and Floyd, make your decision and live with it, whatever it is.

(hat tip to Cougfan for an unforgettable picture!) Read more ...plus comments

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Big Apple


Well, after taking his due for not taking us to the post-season, Alex Brink came through in spades tonight. Congrats to him, to Bill Doba, and to the entire team for bucking up and playing one hell of a game.

As a result, Brinkhater undeservedly just won his first National Championship.

But, this night belongs squarely to #10. And as a result, he will be known as the quarterback who could beat the Huskies--and could do so in a clutch fashion. He is truly the "Big Apple."

And since our careers are forever intertwined, this is the last post of the mighty Brinkhater. Starting tomorrow and forever after, you will see my post as the "Big Apple," "BA" for short.

Congrats to Alex for going out in style. B.A. will miss you, B.A.

Huck the Fuskies, we RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!
Read more ...plus comments

Friday, November 23, 2007

Football Friday, Week Apple Cup

Happy Football Friday, post Thanksgiving Style. Don’t know about you all, but Brinkhater feels an awful lot like the coach of Kansas after yesterday’s spread.

Time to fire up the fat pants:





As for our Cougars, well, if this was the traditional Apple Cup week (you know, the one that happens the week BEFORE Thanksgiving), you could automatically mail this one in as a big fat, stinkin’ loss. Instead, this team has spent the week together with no student distractions or without the normal ability to “get away” from this failure of a program. Instead, they’ve all been fed a long week of serious introspection (plus, they've shared Thanksgiving and all that other stuff).

Plus, you have to think that with all of the rumors about Doba’s departure as well as the senior class’ overwhelming failure to get to a bowl game, that this group is really circling the wagons.

To add to all that, you have a Westside press that is doing their utmost to convince the world that the Puppies are something other than 4-7. Honestly, you would think that this group was 8-3 or better based on the press coverage.

So, the tables are turned and you have a Husky team with all of the expectations and a Cougar team that is all-but forgotten. Usually, when the talent gap is not that wide (as in the case this year), the underdog pounces on the opportunity.

Moreover, as Brinkhater has noted here and elsewhere on the W-W-W, the Huskies are the one Pac-10 team other than UCLA that little Alex has a lot of confidence against. You have to think that with both receivers ready to go + Collins that he is poised to have a big day.

But what this game comes down to is three simple, simple points. And they are thus:

1) Can the offensive line help establish a BIT of a running game, AND can they protect Alex Brink for his swan song performance? For the past few years, our O-Line has been VERY poor against the Dawgs. At the same time, the Dawgs’ D line has played WAY above their heads in this game. This trench battle will be particularly huge.

2) Can Jake establish a deep passing game? Our game plan this week will be to pressure Jake while trying to keep the game in front..If Jake can strike over the top early, this game could get ugly. But, when he can’t, the Dawgs become predictable. Watch the deep pass early in this game.
3) Can the Cougs make a couple of Big Plays? As we’ve noted all season long, this team moves the football, but somehow struggles to score points. A couple of big plays early may help this group finish drives in a way that has eluded this group all season.

The prediction: All week long I’ve been going with the same Brinkhater, soothsayer instincts that have guided me to an amazing 11-0 season. Despite how much I hate the puppies, I keep seeing a quick 14-0 Husky lead turn into a classic 34-17 drubbing. I really can't imagine a different outcome on so many different levels.

But, in the end, I can’t hide my Crimson colors. My gut says that the defense will find a way to keep it close and Alex and company will come up with a deciding play late.

Cougs win 25-23 in a who-cares Apple Cup classic (but fellas, do yourselves a favor, PLEASE jump up and down on that purple W once again, it may be a lllllllloooonggg time before we win against the Dawgs again!).

Elsewhere:

Oregon 31 UCLA 17. UCLA has no firepower, Oregon’s D will be mad, and the world will see that Brady Leaf plays okay when he’s in a different set. Sets up a nice loss to the Beavs next week.

Notre Dame 31 Stanford 17. Charlie Weiss shows that the Pac-10 is the worst major conference next to the Big 10.

Kansas 31 Mizzou 30...Kansas secures a spot in the National Championship game no matter what.

Enjoy the games. Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Day Q & A; 2002 Rose Bowl Clincher Vid


First of all, it's good to be Tim Tebow. I would imagine he's got a lot to be thankful for today. And I'm not talking about the Heisman front-running status either.

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled WSU blogger ramblings. We did a quick Q & A with UW blogger John Berkowitz of the UW Football Blog. He does a fine job of covering his team and has a lot of passion for his Huskies, even while living in Illinois. Check it out here (Brinkhater was especially funny). It eventually morphs into a hoops discussion and how we've topped them 5 straight...and counting....but give it a read anyway.

Second, I don't normally do this kind of thing, but I couldn't resist - my 6-year old proudly donned the colors at school yesterday, and he told me he got a lot of "Go Cougs!", even here in Mill Creek. But I loved the picture that the teacher took of him yesterday, so I just had to share:

"Ahhhhh, yeah. One on each arm, and dressed in the colors. That's how I ROLL Daddy." He's got something to be thankful for this year too. Not quite Tebow, but hey, you have to start somewhere. Nice work son.

More coaching change chatter going on. The Go-2-Guy was on KJR yesterday afternoon, and while he didn't specify a source on the matter, he concludes that it's his belief that it's "basically a done deal with Doba" and that we'll see a change. Meanwhile Sterk gave another no-comment on Doba in today's P-I, only to say that it will be addressed after Saturday's game. And again, the silence is deafening among the WSU Football Blog "sources", so you can sort of connect the dots here. Personally I'm leaning heavily towards a Monday morning presser to announce a change, but we'll see.

Finally, I've been feeling some memory lane type-stuff this week with all the Apple Cup highlights and stories. I thought I'd put up some video of when we blew out UCLA 48-27 to clinch the 2002 Rose Bowl bid (I'm trying to use Blogger's video feature, so I don't know if it'll look good or not compared to AOL Uncut of Youtube, but I thought I'd give it a shot.).

It's just the last minute of the game, but there are some Gesser highlights mixed in and of course, post-game comments from Price and Gesser. I love the true emotion in Price after that game, after witnessing Gesser step up on one leg and take us home, it's just fantastic. He really is at a loss for words, like many of us were after watching that game unfold. I also like Keith Jackson talking about Bill Doba and how he's "a pretty damn good defensive football coach" after Dobes got the Gatorade shower. I also like listening to Bob Toledo hugging Gesser and saying "you're a hell of a Warrior" a few times. The MVP of the history of WSU, hands down.

Hmmm, how about a Price - Gesser coaching combo in Pullman? Maybe Price is the head guy, Gesser can be an offensive/QB coach, Doba stays as the DC and when Price steps down, Gesser gets the "dream" job?

Nah. It makes too much sense.


video

Brinkhater will come out swinging tomorrow with the final Football Friday of 2007, complete with a prediction (note that unlike our Cougs, Brinkhater is a perfect 11-0 in picking WSU football games in 2007. The perfect season is on the line tomorrow!). So, to all, Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Doba Denies Resignation Rumor; 2003 Video (Including Holiday Bowl)

Not a shocker by any stretch, but, Doba has denied the resignation rumor to the Times today:

"I don't plan to resign" Doba, 67, said Tuesday.

Even if he's already cleaned out his office and has the motor home idling in the driveway, what is he going to say 3 days before the game? Yep, I can't wait to blow out of this one-horse town and get back to Indy with some serious coin in the bank and 19 grandchildren waiting for me with open arms?? But seriously.....Doba's just not the type and we've been saying it since midseason - it's not in his DNA to simply quit at anything. But once again, Sterk says that his job will be evaluated at the end of the season, with no further comment.

Other points of interest on Hump-day:

  • The Times also has a story about that pesky Internet and how the different schools do - or do not - read this garbage. The thing is, the message boards or comments, it's "safe haven" so to speak, where fans can unload with some sense of maintaining their anonymity. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it's better that someone unleash their frustration online vs. kicking the dog, punching the walls, or much, much worse.
  • Tony Harris is dead, and we may not ever really get the cause. Some claim suicide, some have no idea. What is known is that he basically disappeared for a few weeks and witnesses claim he was asking for food or money on the street. What a sad story. Sad for him, but especially his wife with their first baby due next month. Damn.
  • Howie has a good notebook in the P-I. Specifically the margin of loss for us this year is staggering. 24 points, and that INCLUDES a pair of 3-point losses? My God that is really bad. I don't know who said it, maybe it was Jim Walden on a post-game radio segment, but someone said that a sign of a poorly coached team is complete inconsistency from week to week. That's a pretty hard thing to define, because often in college football the talent is wildly different from program to program, and when a thin team like our Cougs are also inexperienced in a lot of positions, the results can be pretty frightening!

Finally, to help ease the sting of the Oregon State mess on Saturday, here's some video goodness. This is from the 2003 season, a game in which we came back from a big deficit to win 36-30. That was the game that Scott Lunde kept catching slants over the middle, remember?

That 2003 team, easily one my all-time favorite teams to watch. Boy, that defense, man oh man could they play. The swagger, the speed on the edges with Acholonu and Brown, the power up the middle with Williams and Tupai, the linebackers fly around, the DB's were fast and aggressive and many of them are in the NFL right now (Coleman, David, Paymah and Frampton), etc, etc, etc! But pay special attention to when the Beavers have the ball and not only listen to the crowd noise, which is great, but just watch the aggressive d. Those were the days. Check it out:

The next one is the final minute, plus some post-game, of the 2003 Holiday Bowl. The video is from the broadcast, but the audio is none other than the Jim-n-Bob show! Enjoy:


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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Not Feeling it? You will.


I know some of you aren't really "feeling it" this year. It is, after all, as many are saying, a pillow fight between two 4-win teams. But you know what? By the time Saturday gets here, you WILL feel it. Just like you do every year when these two get it on.
Here's the end of the 2005 AC in Seattle that I just ripped from a DVD and uploaded. That win capped a 4-7 season, but so what! They wanted it in a huge way. I've got more video to upload and I will do so in the next few days.
Especially pay attention at the 2:50 mark, as Willingham "big-times" Harrison, who crushed the Husky D for 206 yards that day, at the end of the game by barely raising his hand to shake it. Then he brushes by Trandon Harvey, the guy who took the bubble screen 40 yards to the house for the game-winner, as if he was invisible. I had forgotten how ugly that game ended and how it could have really turned into a bad scene, but luckily cooler heads prevailed:

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Doba Relaxed for Being on Hot Seat?

For a guy who would be fired by pretty much any other BCS school in America for going 19-26 over the last 4 seasons, old Dobes is pretty relaxed this week. In his typical, whimsical hee-hawing that makes Doba such a fav among the local scribes, when asked about his shaky job status and subsequent "hot-seat" perch, he reacted with, well, humor:

"It is? Well I'll be danged" he said, politely chuckling.

That's part of the beauty of Doba. He's always quick to point out that hey, it's just a game at a college institution. There's a war going on, the housing market is crashing, a cyclone just killed at least 3,000 people (and perhaps closer to 10,000 when it's all said and done - brutal story)...etc, etc, etc. There's always more important things going on, so what if we just lost 52-17?

It's a healthy outlook for a man that's had some serious personal tragedy, losing his wife to cancer a year and a half ago. And it's easy to make too much of a game, especially during a rivalry week showdown of 4-win teams. But I have one question - if Doba really IS on the proverbial hot seat, he sure doesn't seem concerned. In the same article he said he doesn't think about it, but of course he must at some point. If you had under-performed for four straight years at your job, and you know a review is coming in the next week, wouldn't you be thinking about it, maybe just a LITTLE bit?? How couldn't he wonder about his job status after another unsuccessful season?

The article also examined his contract, and the clause specifically related to competing successfully against other division 1-A programs, and that hasn't been the case these last few seasons. Yet here he is, relaxed and calm as ever and waxing on about the big picture. Hmmm....maybe he's too relaxed. Maybe he knows something that we don't know?

I had a good conversation with a friend of mine last night, about Doba and everything going on. We both kind of were surprised about how tight-lipped things have become around the program these last few weeks, where earlier we were hearing whispers but now, it's almost like a cone of silence has enveloped the program. I think you can read that one of two ways - 1) they really don't know what they are going to do until this season is put to bed and they can see if they can do a "cash call" to some of the fatter donors. Or, 2) the decision has already been made, and Doba knows it and no matter the decision, he's already accepted it and is at peace with what will happen.

One more thing on the contract. This number of $2.8 million keeps getting thrown out there in the media. But that's not entirely true. Sure, it would ULTIMATELY cost 2.8 large to make this whole group disappear on Monday, but we know that isn't likely to happen. What some of these articles are overlooking is that the reality is that when you make a change like this, the odds are very good that the WSU staff will hang on to many of these assistants. In fact, I'd guess at the very least, 3 of them will be back, for sure, regardless of who the head coach will be. So not only is that less money they'd have to find to fire some of these guys, but it's also less money that is projected or an entirely new staff. And does anyone think it's a stretch that Levy, Yarno and probably Burtnett would stick around for a new head coach? Wouldn't Sterk want to keep those guys in the system, as Levy with all his experience and general WSU greatness, Yarno for being regarded as a damn good O-line coach, and Burtnett has done pretty well as well as his recruiting ties to Texas?

The other side to the finances is that it's very, very, very unlikely that if Doba is asked to step aside that they would need to write a fat check. There were rumors to this at least a month ago, but there are certainly buyout provisions that allow for the settlement to be paid out over several years, and not just a big check. In other words, in the American way, hey, take your time in paying it off! Spread it out over the long haul. For a program with a cash-flow issue as well as a $55 million dollar stadium renovation that is right in the middle of the process, every penny is sacred. So you know they'll spread out the hit for as long as it's possible.





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Sunday, November 18, 2007

LAYING EGGS

First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving to All Cougar Faithful! Hope you all have a safe and enjoyable start to this Holiday Season!

As a part of our Holiday season kick-off, we are going to give thanks to those who made headlines this last week by Laying some Big Fat Stinkin’ Eggs!





My first award goes to the RAVING die-hards of the University of Oregon who were kind enough to show once again their true Ducky spirit and intellect following the nice oval, brown one they laid in Tucson on Thursday Night. In fact, because of their thoughtful comments and questioning, Brinkhater decided to dedicate much of this post to providing a quick Q&A with his new Duck Fan Club!

(In case you were wondering, here’s a photo of my new (and only) Best Friends):



Quacker-Baby #1 (that’s Brinkhater-ese for Anonymous): I'm loving the crow pie the writers of this blog get to eat for a while, after the drubbing by the Beavs, and for saying the Ducks are being babies for losing to Arizona without our QB. Nice.


Quaker-Baby: Hard (chomp! chomp!) to write (chomp! Chomp!) when my mouth (gulp of suds, Chomp! Chomp!) is full of:



ELEVEN AND O!!!



You see, my new good buddy, Brinkhater is 11-0 on picking the Coug’s fortunes this year... But, hey, even though you were wrong about my need to eat Crow, no hard feelings, right?! Hell, now that I think of it, give me a call sometime. At the very least, I’d love to talk to someone from a different school who is also about to lose their rivalry game!

Quacker-Baby Sid Wicks: Brinkhater, How old are you? You are as bad as AZ fans cheering for the injury. Are you kidding me? I am not going to make excuses for how poorly UO played after the injury - it was horrible. But to joke about it is pathetic.Plus, do some research, realize that DD was not our only injury. Try this:Starting RB, WR's #1,2,3..I'm wasting my time. try to be mature, edit your previous post.

Sid (which amazingly is “Dis” spelled backwards): Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Many people have asked me about my age over the past couple of years on this Blog. Truth be told, I started this blog with my Uncle Sedihawk when I was fourteen years old. Now, I’m 19—although people think I’m pretty mature for my age. Here’s my picture. Maybe we can start a page together on Myspace.com in the near future?






Quacker-Baby #3: First of all Brady Leaf does not have a ton of big starts "BrinkHater." Way, off there. To make fun of a team that has been injured beyond recognition is classless and sad. WSU whould know what it is like to have a season blown by injury say 2006? I am disappointed and you should be embarrassed and ashamed by your actions. And Enjoy losing to the lowly Beavers, you are already losing don'tyaknow?


First of all, new buddy, why “WHOULD” I do anything at this point BUT apologize? And you are right, I am totally 110% ashamed of myself. Even though it’s hard to say I’m sorry, I really am sorry. Terribly sorry. Boy, am I sorry.

I mean, how could I make fun of a team that has suffered as much as the Ducks? And what suffering! I mean, when I watched that first College GameDay from Eugene, I cried harder than a soccer mom watching “Terms of Endearment.” Then, when I had to sit through the sequel when GameDay came to Eugene for the second time, I cried even harder! What pain! What suffering! What agony!


Truthfully, if I were to do it all again, I wouldn’t have made a joke about Dennis Dixon looking like Lamar in Revenge of the Nerds.. I mean, if I had known how sensitive your little downy feathers were, I would have NEVER done something like that. I’m also sorry about exaggerating about Brady Leaf. Because, after all, you are absolutely right, he never has played very much. For some reason, I thought that Leaf had gotten SIGNIFICANT playing time for the past three seasons. I’m sorry I was wrong…Can we still be friends?????


Also: I’m terribly sorry about the comment/post where I said something like “when things are good, you act as if you’re the greatest program ever, but when things are bad, it’s fire up the excuse machine.” Totally wrong, my mistake, I’ll make sure to make some edits on that cuz you and your coach NEVER do that….


Also, Also: I totally forgot that after your win against USC, ALL of your fans, players, and coaches were saying that the win didn’t mean much because it came against their second string QB. In fact, now that I think about it, it was really remarkable that NO Oregon fans taunted USC at all following that one. I mean, how weird was that?


And you know, it’s pretty sad that USC didn’t blame that loss on the fact that John David Booty couldn’t play. I mean, thank GOD that those Conquest-Drubbing-Losers aren’t my friends.
I like you guys SO MUCH better!


NOW, TO THE OTHER BIG EGG LAYING MACHING OF THE WEEK (and this one NEVER gets hurt!):




Wow! Before 4:00 on Saturday, I thought Lloyd Carr would occupy that spot. But man, little Alex, SIX PICKS?

But lest you fret about it, little Alex, look at it this way. If Gary Rogers had the same number of attempts as you in this game, he damn near would have thrown 45 picks on Saturday! So, you alright!

So, we’re down to ONE MORE GAME with you kid. And I can’t lie, come Saturday at 7:00, I’ll have many tears in my eyes.
After all, who “WHOULDA” thought that time could fly………..so fast…

Have a great week!
P.S. Enjoy eating the “Jake” (the male turkey) on Thursday, cuz he’s gonna run all over us on Saturday…
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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Control - Alt - Delete


So that happened. Yowza, what an ass-whoopin'. So much for Senior day, last home game of the season, bowl eligibility on the line, a team playing better vs. a team coming off an emotional home win, blah, blah, BLAH. I didn't see this coming, nor did virtually any of the prognosticators out there. Hey, not that losing to OSU is any shame! Now a 7-win team and one that very likely could beat the yucks in a few weeks. Then watch them win their bowl game for another miraculous 9-win, turnaround season that is fast becoming a Mike Riley specialty.

One more thing on Oregon State - they have become the model program that we should strive for. Think about it. They compete for at least a bowl bid every season now, and they threaten an upper-division finish when things go right. They play fast, hard, aggressive defense and they preach a strong running game with an outstanding offensive line that will kick your ass if you don't bring it that day. They have a beautifully renovated stadium in Corvallis, which isn't exactly Seattle if you follow my drift. They sell out their season ticket allotments, they pack the house and they make a hell of a lot of noise. They are, today, exactly where I hope our program can be, sooner rather than later. A sugar-daddy donor like Reser would sure be nice right now. Anyone know if Uncle Paul Allen has $25 million in the couch cushions to throw at the Martin Stadium remodel?? Didn't think so. They've already gone to that well, and it was dry as a bone.

But I digress. Wouldn't it be great to just hit the old control-alt-delete and start all over? No, I don't mean this game. I don't even mean this season. I mean for this PROGRAM. The system has slowed to a crawl and it's highly unlikely performance is going to improve on this current session. So, just do the old, faithful, Bill Gates three-fingered salute - control-alt-delete - and reboot this sucker!

That's right, reboot the program. Clear the cache, delete useless "temp" files, empty the recycle bin, the whole 9. Clean house. Do what now, clearly, must be done. The wins over UCLA and Stanford were, for lack of a better term, fools-gold. UCLA has folded their tents and we just got them started on packing up the car. Stanford is the least talented team in the Pac-10, and they simply weren't up to the task. So, in the end it's wins over Idaho, SD State, UCLA and Stanford. Give it another week or two and it's doubtful you'll find a bowl team in the bunch. Great. And even the ASU game was a mirage, basically the Devils first game north of Palo Alto and there was a fired-up homecoming crowd to greet them. And the 3-point loss to Cal only came with a TD with 12 seconds to go, in a game that really never was in doubt. Now we see what a disaster Cal has become, including a humiliating blowout today at the hands of a suddenly-dangerous UW team that probably can't WAIT to face our beleaguered defense next week! And again, Cal, whoa. I hyped up the idea of Bob Gregory coming back to Pullman, but those guys were just awful today.

I talked to Brinkhater right before halftime, when it was 31-3, and the first thing I said was "has any coach ever retired at halftime?" To which he replied "there's a first time for everything. Let's see if he comes out of the tunnel for the 2nd half." Ok, that didn't happen. But it should have. In all seriousness, I declared that after witnessing Alex Brink's complete meltdown in what is one of his worst-ever games, that they absolutely cannot continue with Brink at QB in the 2nd half. Could they really keep running him out there to fail in front of the worst crowd in the Bill Doba era? But Brinkhater set me straight. Nope, he said, they're going to play him at least until the 4th quarter. I laughed, thinking NO WAY will that happen. So what did we see for the whole third quarter, only to watch him throw 6 INT's? Brink. Gary Rogers didn't even take the field until 11 mintues were left in the game and it was 52-17. Brutal.

So, now what? Maybe Doba and Sterk call a presser for Monday to announce that he'll be stepping down after the season (no, we haven't heard anything definitive - yet). Or maybe Doba pulls a Lloyd Carr and stays in denial until after his team lays an egg in the rivalry game next week, and, uh, the presser will be called FOR him by those above him. However it's done, whether he retires back to Indiana, whether he's fired in an ugly divorce, whether the payout from the contract is a big fat check or deferred until the end of the world, they have to make a change now.

At least we still have this guy. Any chance he'll coach next week? He'll probably be too busy coaching up his 9th-ranked hoops team. But still...at this point, why NOT?

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Crimson Flag Still Proudly Waves

Nothing like a Saturday morning and seeing old Crimson waving in the Gameday breeze! See it right next to Lee Corso? Hats off to Will Walker, by the way. He's been capturing the flag shots on Gameday and posting the pics forever, and even from Florida he never relents. Keep it up Will.

A few Gameday ramblings in bullet-point style.......

  • The weather looks like it is going to be an issue today, as the forecast is now calling for showers early, then turning to a steady rain. Will that hurt our aerial hopes? I kind of doubt it. Brink has thrown in bad weather before, so I don't think it will matter that much. Maybe the rain will just give the Beavs' another reason to not want to be there today?
  • I have a feeling that Brandon Gibson is going to have a really big game today. I know we get criticized for not stretching the field much, but Gibson is our home-run guy. Did you know he's got 14 catches of 20 or more yards? With the secondary thinner than normal for the OSU D in the first half, I would keep my eye on Gibson.
  • Collins is going to give it a go after all, but there's no telling if he'll have much of an impact. Turns out he only practiced on Thursday and was limited at best, and hasn't done much running or anything on that sore ankle. Thankfully it's not a high ankle sprain, but he's going to be slowed down today. Might be a chance for Woodard or the big JC guy, Frischknecht, to step up?
  • Getting up on OSU early is important today, but espeically when you look at how OSU's season has gone. They have outscored their opponents by an amazing 92-9 in the first quarter of games this year (!). But with OSU's outstanding O-line and running game, if they get up by a couple of scores early, we're in REAL TROUBLE today.
  • Don't forget, OSU is a different team on the road, just 1-4 this year. Their lone win was impressive, at #2 Cal to start their tailspin of a season, but otherwise they've struggled. This will be Moevao's first ever road start, and even at home he was less-than-stellar against one of the worst defenses in the country. He's a tough SOB though. Check out his "decleater" on UW defensive end Greyson Gunheim last week:

  • Meanwhile, Dennis Dixon's career is over, but it wasn't exactly on that play vs. Arizona. I was shocked to see that he actually tore his ACL back on 11/3, but tried to play on it? That's pretty amazing if you ask me. The Ducks were dominating and he even ripped a 39-yd TD run early in that AZ game. That's what Heisman candidate QB's do when the season is on the line (no, that's NOT a shot at Brink!). We might have made fun of the Ducks and Dixon, but that's some serious guts if you ask me.
  • It sounds like Locker is out for UW today. Again, to even risk him right now, in what is guaranteed to be ANOTHER losing season for UW? It would be 100% insane to let that kid play today, period, end of story, no matter what he says. Now next week, that's a different deal and I'm actually expecting him to at the very least share time at QB with Bonnell, if not play the whole game.
  • Speaking of UW - they've now gone 5 straight seasons without a bowl. Our drought sucks, but hey, at least we've gone to and won a few bowls this decade. UW won the 2000 Rose Bowl, but their last bowl appearance was a loss to Purdue in the 2002 Sun Bowl, and it's been home for the holidays ever since. I have a feeling that Willingham is coaching these last three games like his job is on the line. Our friend John over at UW Football Blog noticed that UW has "delayed" their stadium expansion plan, which was due this week. Might they be delaying things so they could replace the head coach and maybe even the A.D.? Interesting goings-on over there.
  • Back to what we really care about. The overriding theme today is that it's Senior day, and there's a lot of emotion for many of these guys. Personally I feel for this group. They've been through a lot, including the heightened expectations after the best run in school history. The pressure to win in Pullman was probably never higher than it's been the last few years, and sometimes that's easy to overlook. But maybe most of all, this group was never going to live up to those that came before them, and maybe the criticisms have been generally unfair? I know this ain't intramural flag football, this is a BCS conference team and it's a cutthroat league, but sometimes I know it's easy to get carried away by over-analyzing every flippin' thing these guys do on a weekly basis. So to the 20 Seniors who will play their last game in Martin Stadium, we salute you:
Romeen Abdollmohammadi, Husain Abdullah, Chris Baltzer, Christian Bass, Alex Brink, Lance Broadus, Michael Bumpus, Bobby Byrd, Jed Collins, Charles Dillon, Aaron Johnson, Ryan Kensok, Loren Langley, Kevin McCall, Matt Mullennix Read more ...plus comments

Friday, November 16, 2007

Football Friday, Week "WHAAAAAAA! WHAAA!"

Happy Football Friday, Cougar Nation!......

And how about the game last night, Duck Nation?

Maybe if Dixon was on the field more and doing less of the "Lamar from Revenge of the Nerds Doin' the Limp Wristed Javelin Toss Thing" then things would have been different for you. But, even with the Bye week, you did EXACTLY what Belotti coached teams do: YOU GOT TIGHT. Sorry little Duckies, despite your purported greatness, you now sit with two FAT L's to teams that have a combined TEN losses..Too bad, so sad. "Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh OVER-RATED..duh-duh-duh-duh-dun OVER-RATED"

In regards to Cougar Bowl hopes, have no worries Cougar faithful. As of right now, we have the following teams bowl eligible: Oregon, USC, ASU, CAL, and Oregon State. That's it. If the Beavs lose out, they are 6-6. UCLA WILL lose out and won't be eligible. Arizona becomes bowl eligible with a win against ASU, but that ain't gonna happen either. So the bottom line is that we have six bowl slots AND even if the Quack hadn't choked last night, they weren't going to the National Championship anyway.....Now, will that cost us an extra BCS slot? Maybe, but it won't matter for us.

So, let's focus on this weekend's constest with the Chipmunks, er, Beavers. And perhaps it won't surprise you that this is a tough call.

Similar to the Ducks, Brinkhater has been staring all week at Week 11, with a PERFECT 10-0 mark in predicting the fortunes of this year's Cougar football team. Can I hang on? Can I have the perfect season of Cougar prognostications?? (Sedihawk is also perfect, I believe, and his pick diverges from mine).

Here's Brinkhater's take:

1) The Beavs will NOT be able to muster much offense in this game. If you compare the Beavs to Stanford offensively, you can see that OSU is MUCH better with the run game and not as good in the passing game (although the line is GREAT). For that reason, with the improved play of the defense, you have to think that the max that the Beav offense will muster in regard to touchdowns is two: That's 14 points in Brinkhater math.

2) SPECIAL teams will be huge. For Brinkhater, Serna is one BIG key to the game--as well as how we play kickoffs. If we put the Beavs on the 40 or 45 after each score of ours, we will make it easy for them to chip at us because Serna's range is so fantastic. For Brinkhater, I am thinking two to three fieldgoals from Serna are probable. So, add 9 to the 14, and you have the MAX number of points that OSU will score on Saturday: 23.

3) So, the key to the game will be the offense. OSU's D is pretty stout against he run, and they love to GAMBLE against the pass. That means that the quick hitch to the TE and pass protection for the long ball will be key for us (and Alex, do you think you could hit a deep ball for six ONCE in conference play this year?). Simply put, we need three touches and a field goal. 24 points wins it plain and simple.

Can we do it?

Without sounding lame, either we will or we won't. Brinkhater has waited all season for little Alex to have the type of breakout game that he had against Oregon and UCLA last year. You know, the kind of game that four year starters are supposed to have.

That said, a big part of Brinkhater "the fan" is feeling a BIG day four the Cougar Nation tomorrow: Like a 38-17 ROUT that will set up a very nerve-filled Apple Cup week.

But, with a 10-0 record in tow, Brinkhater can't be a fan. I have to go with the same pea brain instincts that have yielded this perfect campaign:

Cougs lose a close one: 20-17 as Romeen finishes another episode of 20 feet wide left.

Other game:

CAL 28 UW 17. But nobody cares, right?

Enjoy the game.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mike Price Can't Confirm, Deny Interest in WSU?

So the old Riverboat Gambler dropped by KJR today. Here's a link to the interview, if you wish. It's not bad (that is, if you can stomach "Softy" Mohler. I even know Husky fans that can only roll their eyes at the very mention of his name).

There's a lot about the state of the UTEP football program, but you can skip past that. The thing to get your attention is what he said as the interview came to a close. I'll paraphrase a little for you:

Mahler: "If things don't work out with Dobes, will Mike Price ever go back to Pullman to coach the Cougars?"

Price: "Well we love Pullman, we love WSU and we're, well, you know, we have property in Washington and lake property in Coeur D' Alene. So we'll be going back there sometime, and we'll always be fans of WSU. All 3 of my kids were born there."

Mahler: "That's the politically correct answer isn't it?"

Price: "Hey, I'm cheering for Bill all the way. The best thing in the world would to beat OSU and UW and get to a bowl game, and hopefully it'll be for the Sun Bowl in El Paso. I'm not giving up on the Cougars, and the Cougars aren't giving up on themselves and I know Cougar fans aren't giving up on Bill Doba, so, he's the right man for the job."

Not exactly strong words to either side of the fence. I guess he could have said NO WAY, I'm thrilled to be in El Paso and this is home now, blah blah blah...but he didn't. But I guess the question is, what SHOULD he say in that situation? Yes I want the job if/when Bill is fired? No, I have no interest at all? He's just playing his cards right. In this business it seems, you never really say never!

There will be plenty of time to speculate on a replacement, provided there is a need after the season. There are already rumors that Doba is safe. Howie Stalwick (who is EVERYWHERE lately!) wrote a column today at Cougfan and dropped in the little morsel that Doba's buyout as well as the assistants would be spread out over the coming years, so, just like we've speculated, you don't need $2.8 large in a pile to make these guys disappear. But like Howie says, we can't imagine they'll be replacing Doba if they can go 6-6 and get to a bowl.....but at 4-8 or even 5-7?.....who knows.


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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Jed-Zilla Now Probable?

It's never a good thing to see your starting TE on crutches. Especially a TE who happens to lead all Pac-10 TE's in catches with 52 (did you know Collins ranks 6th in the entire conference in catches per game? Not bad for a guy who ran a "wind-aided 5-flat 40"!). But things are looking up for Collins, as Doba says he is now probable for Saturday.

But not only is Collins a productive guy in the passing game, but his blocking on running plays as sort of an H-back is crucial to the ground game. He was excellent against UCLA when Dwight Tardy ran for 200+ on what was one of the best rushing defenses in the conference. The offense introduced a new wrinkle with Collins in that game, where he would motion across the line before the snap in what looked like he would be a lead blocker on a sweep, only to come hard back across the line after the snap and help on some trap plays up the middle. It certainly caught UCLA off-guard that day. But if the Cougs' have any hope of keeping things balanced this Saturday, and we know how important a good running game is to Brink's success, they are going to need Collins out there, maybe more than any other game this year. You have to remember that the Beaver D is flat-out nasty against the run, now ranking number one IN THE NATION against the rush, allowing a mere 62.1 yards per game, and under 2 yards a carry.

With three DB's suspended for the first half, and a passing defense that is in the middle of the pack anyway in regards to Pac-10 rankings, it's pretty obvious that we'll see the ball in the air quite a bit, especially early on.

Some other points of interest for today:
  • Mike Riley hopes you don't go to the game on Saturday. Just go home and enjoy that quality time with the family.
  • But Doba wants you there. He even mentioned advertising in the Evergreen to get students to the game. Early feel: if the over/under on attendance is 30K, what do you take? I'm leaning strongly towards the under, but I hope I'm wrong.
  • Husain Abdullah, your Pac-10 defensive player of the week! Hard to argue against 14 tackles, 1.5 TFL's, 2 pass-breakups and a 55-yard INT return for a TD. He just seems to get better and better every week for a team that has seen an incredible turnaround this year. What's odd is that he's the first weekly Pac-10 award winner WSU has had this year. Last year they had someone win the award on six different occasions, and that was a 6-6 team.

Abdullah and the rest of the secondary will need to be at their run-stopping best on Saturday. OSU's o-line is simply loaded, in fact their entire starting 5 has had some sort of all-Pac-10 recognition at some point in their career. They are a tough, cohesive unit that plays with a major attitude, and there is no doubt that they are going to do everything they can to run the ball, early and often.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday Morning Buzz

So what's gotten in to Husain Abdullah? Another pick, another 14-tackle game, and
doing a heck of a job in an improving secondary that gets better every week. Now 4 picks on the year, good for second in the conference, and 81 tackles. This is what we expected out of him, and he's been huge to the improving defense. The pick-6 was wonderful, but his biggest contribution might have been after the BRUTAL kickoff fumble by Charles Dillon (Charles - dude - just fall on the frickin' ball at the 4-yard line! What the heck was that??). Abdullah had the 3-yard TFL on first down, then nearly had a pick on a pass attempt on 3rd down to force the field goal attempt. That was maybe the most impressive part of Saturday's win, because I don't know about you, but earlier in the season and Stanford walks into the endzone, they take a 14-13 lead at that point and momentum is 100% Stanford's. Stopping them there was just huge.

Some other tidbits:



  • Cougs got another commit. This time an unheralded, 1-star offensive guard from the OC. He was all-OC as a junior and reportedly "nasty", whatever that means. Tim Hodgdon picked the Cougars over Arizona, Cal, Oregon and ASU among many on his list....but in this day and age of early offers, WSU was the only school to actually extend a scholie? Hmmm. He is a good student, reportedly a 3.8 gpa, so at least he'll get in. Welcome to the family Tim!
  • I'm a little worried about what the crowd is going to look like this Saturday. Doba alluded to it on the post-game show on Saturday night, basically pleading to the students to please stay for the game! Traditionally our attendance of the last home game before the AC in Seattle can be an issue....until you consider the best crowd of all time at WSU was the Stanford game in 1997, which came BEFORE the AC in Seattle the following week! But that was a special circumstance, as that team would have sold out anywhere at that point of the season. In 2003, we hosted ASU the week before the AC and we drew something like 28,000. The game was on TV and from the looks of it, there were probably more like 22,000 in the stands. And that was a top-10 team at the time! This year? Not so much. I don't get the feeling that the pull of seeing Brink's last home start is going to keep the kids from heading home early on Saturday with the idea that they'll just watch the game on TV at 3:30. Hopefully we'll get 30K, but that might be a stretch.
  • Our worst defense of all-time is starting to creep up the Pac-10 rankings. Did you know we're now 8th in the conference in total D, and not that far from Oregon's gang green at #7? We now give up 415 yard per game, which is a lot, but still an improvement from where we were after the Oregon debacle. We've also now given up 44 points in the last 3 games. Not too shabby, but when you consider what we gave up vs. Wisconsin (42), Arizona (48), USC (48) and Oregon (53), well, 44 in a 3-game in-conference stretch is something to celebrate!
  • We're still giving up 52% conversion rate on 3rd down. That's good for last in the conference. But a big improvement on Saturday, holding Stanford to 5-for-18 on 3rd down. And 52% sucks, but it's up from 57% just a few weeks ago, which was last in the universe. Baby steps.
  • I know we only punted once, but it went for 46 yards, no return yards, and it was inside the 20. Suddenly this rugby-thing is becoming a weapon! Who would have thought? Does anyone miss Blunt? Neither do I. Maybe after the season we'll break the story about what really happened with his suspension. What a meat-head.
  • The kickoffs were TERRIBLE. How many times did Stanford field it at like the 25 and next thing you know they were at the 40? Stanford averaged over 21 yards per kickoff return, and when they are fielding it at the 20 or so, that's just plain bad. Sometimes I think we'd be better off to just kick the thing out of bounds every time and let them set up shop on the 40. At least there wouldn't be a threat of them taking it to the house! Or maybe instead of the squib, they should just kick it pop-fly style and make them fair-catch it at the 25 or 30, or better yet, see if they try to field it and maybe we can force a fumble by a return non-hands guy? I don't know the answer, but against Oregon State, giving them a short field is not a good idea.
  • Andy Mattingly is slowly looking like an all-conference linebacker and when the season is over, I wouldn't be surprised to see him at LEAST honorable mention all-conference, if not 2nd-team. 10 tackles vs. Stanford, including another sack, plus a QB hurry. 74 tackles and 8 sacks from a sophomore who only started what, 4 games ago?? Amazing. He could finish at 90 tackles and 10 sacks when it's all said and done. He'll be the face of the Cougar defense next year and I'd bet anything he'll be a captain.
  • Speaking of the Cougar defense - notice how many underclassmen are out there making plays? All four starting LB's are juniors or sophomores (Evans, Trent, Dunn and Mattingly) and they fit that 3-4 like a glove. Both starting corners will be back next year, as well as one safety at Jackson, plus another safety with Hicks who is basically a starter out there. Hicks, man, that kid can lay the wood. With hitting ability like that, I bet we see Hicks as the starter at strong safety and Jackson will slide back to free safety after Husain graduates. Suddenly our back 8 in the 3-4 defense looks like it's going to be pretty salty next year!
  • Happy Veterans Day. Watched Saving Private Ryan on TNT HD last night, what a fantastic movie. But just one more reminder of how brutal things were back then and how hard those guys fought for what we have today. Tom Hanks' last line to Matt Damon in that movie, as he sits dying, has to be one of the best and most underrated lines ever: "Earn this." Wow! Lump in my throat, every time.

Enjoy your week, and as always - GO COUGS!

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Win is a Win is a Win

I'll take it, and so will you. So it was ugly at times, so what? A conference win is a conference win. Brink Haters can continue to rail on the inability to get the ball into the endzone, and continue to rip on Brink's lack of arm-strength or continually rolling out for no apparent reason...but the kid did just go 32-for-47 for 449 and a TD.

Oh yeah, just one of six Pac-10 QB's EVER to go over 10,000 career yards (that, in and of itself, is AMAZING to me). And sadly, Jason Gesser has been passed yet again, this time in TD passes as Brink now has 71. Overall they rolled up over 500 yards of offense and 33 points, including a pick-6 by Abdullah, but the offense continues to sputter when it comes to scoring TD's. Just think, if Romeen doesn't nail those field goals (and earlier in the year, he wouldn't have!) and if Abdullah doesn't run that pick back, this one could have been one scary game.


Some other things to like today:

  • Chris Ivory was strong with 15 carries, 104 yards. We're now 8-3 since the beginning of 2006 in which we've gone over 100 net yards. Alex Brink MUST have a running game to be successful! It was close though, as we only had a net of 112, but hey, it counts. Anyway, I really like what we've seen of Ivory....just hang on the damn ball kid! Two fumbles, that's something he better work on for next week as Oregon State's D will rip the hell out of that ball.
  • The receivers were great. Gibson and Collins both over 100 yards, and Bump was nearly there. Nice to see Bump become the #1 all-time WR too. Kind of an under-appreciated guy if you ask me, probably because he never gets in the end-zone and doesn't have the flashy tools. But when he's been healthy, he's never been afraid to go over the middle and take a wallop. We'll miss his toughness next year.
  • The defense was pretty good, but I admit we looked a little flat early on. But once we settled in we looked good. Nice to see Giles grab an INT that hit him between the 3 and the 2, and the pick-6 was wonderful. Overall our DB's played well, and they were physical again. Xavier Hicks with ANOTHER whopper, this time drilling Evan Moore and knocking him out of the game! Yet Doba continues to start Jackson at safety!?!? DUMB.
  • I guess we officially have a kicker now? What, exactly, has gotten into Romeen? Do they need to start checking his milk for HGH? 4-for-4 tonight, and I believe they said on the broadcast that he's now hit 8 of his last 10 or something like that? Impressive. We would have been in a much tighter game tonight if he wasn't hitting FG's, so let's hope he keeps it going these last two games.
  • Boy the FSN crew was bad. Actually I liked listening to Todd Husak, the former Cardinal QB. He was pretty good and broke things down fairly well. But Brian Davis, yeesh. And the camera crew, wow, that's not the B-team, that's the A/V department from Pullman High School out there!
  • Looks like "Pirate Girl" has updated the wardrobe. Now she's a construction worker. Whatever will she be next week? Say what you want, but she's not afraid to show a little skin in 45-degree weather. Pirate Girl, we salute you.

So, I guess we could complain about the 0-for-3 on 4th downs, the 3 turnovers, how empty the yards feel when compared to the struggles to score points, etc. But at this stage of the season? It doesn't matter how. It's too late in the year to wring your hands over issues that have plagued the team all year long. Things are as they are and nothing will change. I'm not going to bitch about a 16-point win at home over a team we haven't beaten in Pullman since 1997! So hoist a cold one and enjoy a victory. Here we are, now 4-6, and the bowl-bid heartbeat goes on another week.

One more thing - VERY glad to see Jake Locker walk back onto the field at the end of the game. When they first showed the hit it didn't look that bad, but then the end-zone replay in slo-mo, when you see the helmet-to-helmet shot, it was an "oh my God!" moment. Who knows how bad the injury is in regards to him playing again this year, and he was wearing a neck brace so it's not just a little bruise, but he may be done for the season. Should be interesting to see how UW handles him the rest of the year. But I'm very, very glad that he's ok! He may be a Husky, but he's a special, special talent and everything you hear is that he's a class act in every sense of the word, so you hate to see someone like that get hurt. Read more ...plus comments