Monday, April 21, 2008

Hang in There Mr. Mayor

A sad story might be taking a turn for the better about Glenn Johnson, the voice of your Cougars. He was hospitalized on Sunday with stroke-like symptoms and very little was known. Now, however, the news is heading in the right direction. He's now doing much better per his wife, and the diagnosis sounds as though it was merely a severe blood-pressure spike with some short-term memory loss.

Aside from him improving, here's the best part from the article:

"Johnson's wife, Kathy, told the Associated Press his prognosis is good. Johnson's speech apparently has not been affected." SWEET!

I can't wait to hear "and that's another....Cougar....FIRST DOWN!" And of course....."HERE....COME......THE COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOGS!" A crisp fall Saturday in Pullman just wouldn't be the same without the Mayor, so, get well soon, rest up, and we'll see you in early September.

Did you all see the article and video about the current state of Martin Stadium? This latest phase is really coming together. I really enjoyed the first phase last fall, as I know many of you felt the same, but this next phase is really doing to make things look different. Mix in the Cub renovation and man, the gameday experience could be a lot different this fall. I'm thrilled with the eye-candy talk, re: scoreboard. $2.5 million, including a new sound system? Very nice. Still no pics of the actual scoreboard, but most of you have seen the powerpoint.

Finally, Cougfan has an article about recruiting in the state of Washington and how the new WSU staff is going to go after it. It's a premium article so you know the drill, we won't link to it here. But it goes in line with something I've been thinking about and have discussed with my UW brother-in-law for a while now. The bottom line is the state of Washington is a HUGE factor, for our success and UW's.

Think about this. Go look at the rosters from our glory 01-03 run. Yes, Gesser was a huge part of that, the MVP in school history. But remember the offensive line? Tyler Hunt, Derrick Roche, etc, all in-state guys. How about on the other side of the ball? Acholonu, Jeremy Williams, Marcus Trufant, Rien Long, Erik Coleman, Will Derting, etc. All guys from in-state, all major factors in our best of times.

Now think back to the last few seasons. Who were our better players? Jason Hill, Michael Bumpus, Jerome Harrison? How about Alex Brink or Josh Swogger? All out-of-state guys. Now you do have to add Mkristo Bruce and Scott Davis in there, both in-state guys. But in truth, they were part of the Price era. Bruce was a redshirt in '02, and Davis was part of the '03 class but was fully committed to WSU in '02, when Price recruited him.

It's as if the struggles of our program didn't just happen because Price left. We were suddenly losing out on the in-state guys, the gems that were discovered by turning over rocks. It's as if our tough times of late have coincided when the absolute core of the team came from out of the state. Now, one could argue that Doba did a better job on in-state kids the last few years.

It's easy to look at our roster right now and realize that Brandon Gibson is our best player and if he stays healthy, he will most likely be a first-day NFL draft pick in '09. How about Andy Mattingly? He's got the look of a defensive MVP for '08. Kenny Alfred is an excellent center and some have pegged him as having an NFL future since his true frosh season. And Gary Rogers, if things keep going in the right direction, in this new offense could simply EXPLODE next year. All four kids, all probably regarded as our best players, all from Washington.

Maybe it makes a lot more sense about how Wulff has talked so strongly about recruiting the state, how important that is. That isn't just chatter for press releases or message boards. It's as though he totally "gets it" in how important Washington is to the program. And the best part for that effort is how well regarded Wulff is among high school coaches in Washington. Remember, the press release when Wulff was hired had quotes from an in-state high school football coach. His reputation while recruiting for EWU is outstanding, and clearly an asset for the future of this program. It might not happen overnight, but it WILL happen with Wulff! Just have some patience and enjoy the steps in the rebuilding effort.


kaddy said...

I thought the most interesting part about the latest stadium renovation talk was that we actually HAD the money raised for Phase III already. It was originally estimated for $13 million, and we have over $14 mil raised. However, construction costs have since risen dramatically, and now $13 million has turned into $22 million, so we have another $7-8 mil to raise.

Sedihawk said...

True that! I know we are way, way behind in terms of the $40 million needed to complete the whole deal, but that was very good to hear about the phase III progress. Makes you realize that we've come a long way. And I wouldn't hesitate to say that the Wulff hire has something to do with it, but Floyd's energy and commitment to the whole thing have been a major boost!

atlantacoug said...

Hope GJ is OK.
I am not sure where I place the value of in State recruiting. The basketball team did just fine without it. But I do understand that if you get home grown kids to want to play at WSU it is good for everyone. And our coaches can drive all over the state and not spend $$ flying to CA or TX for the same kids that live in Seattle. I hear Wulff has great relationships with in State High School coaches, so hopefully that pays off.

Sedihawk said...

I think it's bigger than we might realize, especially when you focus on our best run ever and the foundation of those teams. When you look at when we slipped, I believe it's because we didn't get the Trufant's and Long's, you know, those in-state kids that turned into all-conference guys. It's as if Doba turned their focus too much towards TX or CA, trying to get guys that we normally didn't get, ala cashing in on the unprecedented success and in the meantime forgetting what got you there? I distinctly remember hearing Price after our 1997 breakthrough with Leaf and how he said top recruits from around the country were interested in being Cougars, but we whiffed on a lot of nationally rated guys. That was before the Cougfan's of the world, but Price himself would go on KJR and talk about how well received WSU football was around the country, yet things didn't exactly work out! I do believe in the last year or two under Doba the focus on in-state guys returned. Mattingly and Kooyman were both all-state, blue-chip types in the last couple of years. And it's clear now that Wulff's going to use those relationships he built up.

Speaking of those relationships with high school coaches, I really believe it's a bigger deal than it's given credit. Our Kent Coug could probably comment on it, but winning over the high school coach can be almost as important as the kids family! High school coaches can have a huge impact on where a kid ends up. Look at the Skyline head coach suddenly landing at UW? Think that was a coincidence? UW is ramping up their in-state focus too. Look at how well they did this last year. How many top in-state guys got away? Almost none. It's going to be this way from now on.

kaddy said...

Another thing about in-state recruiting is that it grows the fan base. When you get in-state kids, their parents become Cougar fans, their siblings do, and many of their relatives do, too. All of a sudden, you have more potential donors, ala Taylor Rochestie's dad (even though he wasn't in-state). And, you have more people going to the games, since they're closer than CA and CO families.

Sedihawk said...

EXACTLY man. And think about this - the true ELITE of the elite in kids SoCal, Colorado, Arizona, Texas. Do we really ever have a shot at those guys anyway? Do they grow up dreaming of playing for WSU? Cold reality is no. They grow up wanting to play for SC or UCLA or Texas or the Arizona schools. Let's face it, the state of Texas has a lot of talent. But Greg Trent, Demaundry Woolridge, those guys weren't at the top of the heap and chose WSU over Texas, A & M, Oklahoma, etc!

But you think about kids growing up in Washington, they do in fact dream of becoming Cougars or Huskies from the moment they start watching college football, going to Martin Stadium or Husky Stadium. We will always have a better shot at the elite in our own backyard vs. other states, and I don't think there is any doubt that Wulff gets that. Price admitted in '98, '99 and '00 that he went after the big fish nationally and missed. Doba did roughly the same thing. This won't happen again with Wulff.