First of all Cougar Nation, let me apologize for my absence, not that anyone missed me. I have been knee deep in a bottle of whiskey, replaying last week's embarrassment of a game over and over and over again in my head. It is a long, long hill we have to climb, but let me assure you all, when we reach the summit we will all look back at this week and say, wow... look how far we've come. It is going to happen, but it won't be any kind of overnight miracle. How can I be so sure? The answer is, our new coaching staff.
Like a lot of you I looked at this year's roster and saw names like Rogers, Tardy, Mattingly, Ahmu, Trent, Gibson, and well... Gibson, and thought, heck, we can be darn tough this year! Then I listened and read everything the new coaching staff said about this squad intently, desperate to hear them assure us we would stun the world and be a force to be reckoned with this year. But that's not what I heard. Initially I dismissed their lack of outright optimism as just an attempt to lower expectations, but now I understand - they have been telling us quite frankly since day 1 that this team just isn't very good.
First they emphasized the lack of depth and how we just didn't quite have the Pac-10 level talent they were going to need to compete. Then they emphasized the lack of "toughness" and how they just felt too many guys were letting the minor ailments that are a part of playing football keep them out of the action. If there is one thing that will assuredly keep you from overcoming a lack of depth, it is a lack of toughness. Basically the writing was on the wall long before we kicked off and while I am horrified by last weekend's result, I am not surprised. All summer I saw way too many guys who showed no obvious signs of injury, just standing around watching practice in between trips to the training room for massages and a dip in the whirlpool.
A lot of people get upset when you call out a whole team for a lack of effort, or toughness because after all, there are about 100 guys out there and surely they aren't all loafing around with a walking cast for their strained pinkie toe. I agree, we should continue to cheer our hearts out because most of these kids continue to give 110% on the field long after you and I have retreated back to our tailgate to drown our sorrows in gallons of Busch Light. I am not going to call out any individuals here, but the point I want to make is that Coach Wulff and his staff didn't just inherit a football team from the former staff, they inherited a culture, and that culture was not conducive to winning at this level. What was needed from the players was not being asked, plain and simple. What is the remedy for this? Again, coach Wulff and his staff have been telling us all along and for those of you wanting a quick fix, it ain't the answer you want: RECRUITING. They have been saying it loud and clear and they are putting their money where their mouth is. So far their efforts on that front have been mind blowing.
So Coug fans, we've been through this before. Well, 66-3 is something new, but hard times are not. As we huddle round the tailgate this year, drinking our cocoa and schnapps, cringing about all the celebrations we endure as players from the other team streak across our goal line, electrifying their tiny frigid contingent of fans in the East end zone - let these words warm your broken and weary hearts... We will get them. We will get them all. And it will be glorious.
If you were with us in 81, 88, 92, 94, 97, '01, '02, and '03 you know what I'm talking about and you know... it'll all be worth it. So hang in there Cougar Nation. CPW and crew know what they need to do and are going to get it done.
This Saturday... er scratch that... tomorrow... we will officially become the 13th ranked team in the Big 12. Right now we are worse than Baylor, and they are at home. Period. Lets just hope our guys get in and out of there safely and in good shape to lay waste to Portland State next weekend.
Until then, hugs all around and... GO COUGS!!!