Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Program Reboot Might Take a While....

We've been saying it since the day Wulff was hired and the initial articles appeared. Wulff went out of his way on more than one occasion to mention the current culture of the team, and how he believes some things need to change. Now that he's had a full spring practice session under his belt, spent time with the players on and off the field, what does he see? In a quote-heavy article with the Evergreen, Wulff opened up on where we are, and where we'd like to be.

When asked about the off-the-field issues of late, Wulff was candid:

“There's improvement, but we're not where we need to be," he said. "We still have players that don't fully understand the responsibility you have of being a college student-athlete, and that it's different than being a college student. They need to be held to a higher standard – whether they like it or not they're going to be – so they might as well accept it. There's a lot of success so far, we're just not where our culture's gonna be yet. We're working on that.”

Culture is a hard thing to peg. It's not as easy as just being introduced at a press conference with a WSU hat on and the WSU banner and glowing quotes from all parts of the state. It's much, much more than that. It's the changes in the way things have been done, from the smallest detail to the actual football game itself, that Wulff and company are trying to correct.

I don't want to throw Doba under the bus here. He did a great service to the school when Mike Price cashed his lottery ticket. He won 10 games his first year, including the Holiday Bowl which rates as one of the biggest wins in school history on his way to co-Pac-10 coach of the year honors. He got his kids ready to go in three out of four Apple Cups, something we will always be thankful for. He suffered a terrible tragedy with his wife that no man should have to go through, no matter the stage in his life or the situation. He was a class act at every step of the way.

But given the poor academics that are starting to show with the loss of scholarships, and the constant things we hear about the general surprise Wulff has felt in regards to the changes that need to be made in regards to depth and culture, well, it's time to say it - Doba was over his head. It's sad, it's unfortunate, it's generally too bad, but it's hard to argue with the results.

We've heard the rumors just like you, about what things were like towards the end of Doba's reign. The lack of organization, attention to detail, the attrition, the failure on the recruiting front on so many levels. Then you have the fake punts, the Brink/Swogger QB mess, etc. We don't need to fully rehash everything. But maybe the biggest problem with Doba was the lack of the CEO mentality, because, well, it's not in his DNA. You can't become something you aren't after doing something a certain way your entire life. The old dog-new trick isn't just some stupid saying that has been around forever without having some substance to it. Doba was an NCAA assistant from 1977 through the 2002 season. To expect him to suddenly become this great head coach after carrying someone else's clubs for over 25 years was just too much.

What the program needed was a no-doubter. You know, the guy who has someone carry his bags all the time? The guy who sits in the front seat, and the rest pile into the back of the van? When there is absolutely NO DOUBT who is in charge? The guy who has an ego, who has wanted to be in charge? Look around at the other successful programs in the conference right now, you'll know what I mean. Dennis Erickson is a coaching nomad who is always looking for the next best thing. He's got a reputation of things being fast and loose and his players reflect that. But when he walks into the room, he's in charge. Period. There's no uncertainty about who the head coach is and what the goals are. He's a prick when he needs to be, a guy who can make big decisions without having each assistant chime in.

Look at Pete Carroll. He's nicknamed High School Harry for a reason. They have a great time down there, but he's also got the ability to reel everyone in when it's time to get some work done. How that guy keeps all that 5-star talent focused in Hollywood every week is just remarkable. There was an amazing stat about Lawrence Jackson, the new Seahawk draftee who was a 4-year starter at USC. He won 46 games in his 4 seasons. 46 WINS!?!? I didn't even know they played 46 GAMES in 4 years, let alone bag 46 victories. And to win that many in one of the best conferences around?? Amazing. We pat ourselves on the back for having three straight 10 win seasons from 01-03, but that is merely a flea on the shoulder to the mighty Trojans. And down in LA, there is, again, zero doubt who is in charge.

You can say the same thing about Mike Bellotti at Oregon, or Mike Riley at Oregon State. Think there is any doubt that Jeff Tedford is in charge at Cal? Neu-weasel might generally be a phony, dishonest, full-of-it clown, but things are very clear down in the land of powder blue as to who's the captain of that ship.

So, the bottom line to this rant? The article opens some eyes to one big thing. This blanket term of "culture" is thrown around a lot, but changing culture is more than just placing someone as the head coach or painting the walls a different color. It's so much more than that. And I am thrilled to hear these things already from Paul Wulff. He hasn't even been in charge for 6 months and there is already a strong emphasis on changing the way things are done at WSU. No beating around the bush or hiding from the truth. And to that, there is NO DOUBT who is in charge! We have a head coach who knows the drill, and it's in his DNA to be a head coach. But with that, we have to give it some time, have some patience. Understand that this isn't going to simply turn over in the blink of an eye, but it will happen.

Happy Tuesday!


duxsux said...

Good article. You cougars have a ways to go but maybe ask some UW fans about changing culture. Ty is still at it in year 4. I see similar things from you.

ptowncoug said...

The funny thing is I don't think Ty is actually changing the culture at UW into a winning program. Sure he is more strict with his players, but it isn't translating onto the field.
Ty will be fired at the end of the season you can trust this guarantee.
I think Doba allowed too many chiefs in the room. He permitted too many decision makers. I do not believe for one second that it was his decision to put Brink back in the game against Auburn. HC 101is that you don't bench the hot hand. Someone else was pulling the cords and readily could because HC is the fall guy.
I feel the Doba firing/resigning was a year too late. He should have never got the contract extension that he was given. He should have been given a 4-year deal at the start of 2003, which would have allowed us to let him go after 2006.

wsuhoops said...

The reduction of scholarships is the biggest hurdle yet. For a coach to allow that to happen on his watch -- and it's a four-year cycle, so it was most definitely on his watch -- is inexcusable.

At a school such as USC, losing six scholarship puts a dent in the depth. But to a school like WSU, those scholarships are really important. This is a program that regularly has to mine for projects that can develop into contributors. Six fewer shots at that just reduces the margin for error even more.

I'm sad it turned out like this for Dobes. He truly was one of the nicest guys you ever would want to meet. But it's funny that we were talking about whether keeping him on one more year would be one year too long. It looks like it was one year too long already.


Sedihawk said...

Great points, all. Duxsux, UW might be changing the culture, but ultimately wins and losses will sink Ty. Unless they roll out a bowl season this year, even though you have to admit their in-state recruiting has really picked up in the last year, it might be too little, too late. But even Ty's culture isn't perfect today. They've had issues, plus the Bellevue guys in Hasty and Savannah were suspended from spring ball for a really stupid reason I won't repeat here.

Ptown, excellent point on Rogers and Brink at Auburn. I still remember turning to a few friends after seeing Brink go back in that game, with a "WHAT IS HE DOING!?!?" look on our faces! You could even argue that it goes all the way back to the whole 2004 debacle with Brink and Swogger, a debate that fractured the team (and the fans).

Anyway, I didn't want the post today to be about Doba. It's all water under the bridge and it's truly a new era. But I do think it was important to reflect on how we got here in the first place. Nobody can control what happened, and thank God it didn't get any worse than it did. As good as I feel about Wulff, the thing I fear is what is to come. BH and I have discussed this quite a bit, but not so much about '08, but what is '09 going to look like? Even old-school, optimistic Vince Grippi has said that '09 could be really tough. Maybe that is where we will see the true extent of the damage on various levels.

But at least we're headed in the right direction. Just look at the hoops program. It took two years of absolute brutal labor pains, but the baby these last few years sure was pretty! Maybe we have to realize that we are going to pay the price in the coming years for what happened, but we're also in great hands to get things in the right direction!

And Nuss, no doubt, he's a great guy. I only met him a few times so I didn't know him very well, but we have a guy who dealt with him regularly and said he is exactly who you think he is. But the loss of scholies can't be swept under the rug. It could really, really hurt. The trickle-down could be pretty unpleasant. I think the timing is what it was, and the reality is the financial hit would have been much more difficult coming off the '06 season. They did have a bowl-eligible season after a few losing years in '04 and '05, so it might have been a harder sell to the public and donors who wanted him to get another shake. I think a majority of people thought another season wasn't a bad idea. Tack another million or so on to the buyout and it hurts a program with limited resources and a stadium renovation in mid-fundraising phase.

Anonymous said...

What was your headline, trouble finds Roof? You ain't kiddin:

More details on Roof allegations

I heard some rumors last night about the alleged Andy Roof assaults this weekend, so I checked them out this morning. It's sounding like the pending charges could be more serious than the alleged fourth-degree assault he was arrested for. And by more serious, I mean jail serious.

Read on for an unedited story I'm sure I will be updating periodically all day.


PULLMAN - Police anticipate recommending felony charges against Washington State defensive tackle Andy Roof for multiple alleged assaults over the weekend.

One man suffered broken facial bones in the fight outside a private party early Saturday on College Hill, said Pullman police Cmdr. Chris Tennant. The victim, who later checked himself into Pullman Regional Hospital, told police he went unconscious after Roof allegedly punched him unprovoked.

“(Monday) night, the guy that went unconscious went in and interviewed with our officers,” Tennant said, “and provided medical records and X-rays that showed broken bones.”

Tennant confirmed that the fight moved down the 400 block of N. Colorado St., where Roof allegedly smashed a man's face into the sharp edge of a stop sign. That incident accounts for one of the pending felony recommendations, Tennant said.

Pullman Police officers arrested Roof on suspicion of fourth-degree assault and noted he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, though he was not given a breathalyzer test, Tennant said. Roof was kept in a holding cell for several hours to sober up, then was released.

But the police investigation is pointing to alleged crimes more serious than misdemeanor fourth-degree assault. An assault that results in broken bones usually merits a felony second-degree charge, Tennant said.

“Our investigation is criminal in the fact, 'Did Andy Roof hit this person and how much damage did he cause this person?' ” Tennant said.

Police hope to wrap up their investigation by Friday before WSU students leave town for summer vacation, but Tennant said it could take longer.

Roof, 22, was trying to get into a private party before 1:30 a.m. Saturday, police allege, but the partygoers would not let in the 6-foot-5, 300-pound football player.

A fight broke out when Roof allegedly head-butted the door bouncer, Tennant said.

WSU redshirt senior Roof was suspended from the university for fall semester after he committed three alcohol offenses. He returned to Pullman in January after going through rehab and working at a Bally's Total Fitness in Auburn, a suburb of Tacoma.

"Now that I get that second chance, I just want to show everyone that I'm not a screw-up," Roof told The Spokesman-Review early this month. "That I am serious, that I want to be here, I want to be a part of this team and I want to play football.

"You know, I think the best way to do that is to keep that sober lifestyle."

Cougars football spokesman Bill Stevens said the coaches are aware of the weekend's incident and are in the process of gathering enough information to decide an appropriate discipline for Roof.

Then there's the WSU Office of Student Conduct, which would most likely take on the case.

“For any offense that a student might find him or herself in,” said Chris Wuthrich, the office's associate director, “the seriousness of the allegation dictates ... it can be resolved.”

Speaking hypothetically, Wuthrich said more serious offenses - “I think what you would consider felony crimes” - would go before a student conduct board, which would then decide how to sanction a student.

Roof was unavailable for comment through WSU athletics.

ptowncoug said...

The problem is that in basketball, you can really dictate things and create a situation where the athletic superiority of the other team is neutralized or at least downgraded (e.g., Cougs or Princeton).
That's difficult to do in football. The switch to hurry up will lead to higher scoring affairs and if we can be perfect offensively then we may pull off a few upsets. But if you are weak in an area it is hard to cover up, especially if the weakness is on defense.
We simply need to out recruit with the schollies we have!
Sad to see the Roof fella get into trouble. I will be praying for the guy. Let's not forget that we all make stupid mistakes, and often repeat those stupid mistakes time and again, but escape public humiliation because we don't have much talent!

Sedihawk said...

Head-butting a bouncer, smashing a guy's face into a stop sign and breaking bones in the process? Right now Andy Roof and football can't even be in the same universe of thought. Jail may be the humble pie he needs right now.

joakland77 said...

I've been told Roof only showed up at the party to pick up a drunk friend who needed a ride. The bouncer pushed him when he told him he couldn't get in. Roof then headbutted the bouncer and was then jumped by his two friends. At some point the woman who came to the party with roof got punched by one of the accusers. When roof tried to leave the bouncers chased him out to the street and then got their face smashed into the stop sign. If a guy is trying to walk away from the fight and you chase him down, you deserve whatever you get!