Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lighten Up, or Get Pissed Off??

I wanted to approach today with a "relax, chill, it's no big deal. We'll be fine, just give Wulff some time" know, "Lighten Up Francis"?? But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like this - I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. I have been behind the Wulff plan, every step of the way. I have preached patience, and that this thing is going to take time. I have tried to remind people of the crap sandwich served on a silver platter to Wulff when he took the job, courtesy of the former coach and his incompetent staff of recruiters who simply blew it on a number of levels. But even I am having a hard time defending the plan after yesterday. I don't know if we could have lost more than we did on Saturday. First the obvious:
  • Scoring streak, something we could at least cling to in the worst of times, is now gone. Never really threatened either. It's hard to score when you don't cross midfield.

  • 52-year home scoring streak, also gone.

  • Another 60+ point loss, the fourth loss of that nature so far this year. Four conference games, four losses, four games where each opponent scored more than 60 points. That isn't just bad, that is not even competing. No pass rush, poor tackling, blown assignments and a complete domination up front by USC's offensive line. You couldn't blame the offense for turning it over like crazy in this one either. Just two turnovers, and that was hardly the reason the defense couldn't hang in there. This wasn't like Cal or Oregon where they were behind so quickly because of turnovers. This was a complete inability to stop them in any way, shape or form.

  • Another miserable day at the office with the football, but this was the most miserable of miserables(?). 116 yards, four first downs, nine pass attempts? There is no other way to say it, but easily one of the worst performances in the modern era. This is back to the days of leather helmets and grainy black-and-white footage. Might as well have put Eric Block in there and run Bellevue High School's wing-T offense. At least you could TRY and fool the opponent that way, instead of running some of the slowest-developing counter plays with a pulling guard who simply cannot block anyone on the outside. Continuing to run wide on one of the fastest defenses around is baffling. Just an awful day.

But enough of the chalk from yesterday. It's over. Now what? Can it get any worse than what we've seen? At least players are griping, and I actually consider that a good thing. Our own Michelle, who frequents Bohler Gym, said last night she "hears consistently players who just don't care about football or winning or their teammates." So good for Andy Mattingly and Kevin Lopina, two juniors who will (probably) be here next year, to vent in the press.

"I think our team — a lot of guys are used to losing," blurted out defensive end Andy Mattingly. "It doesn't piss 'em off that we're losing this bad."

It was inevitable that after one woodshedding after another, some signs of fracture would become apparent in this first-year regime. Mattingly broached it, and quarterback Kevin Lopina reinforced it.

"I'm sure we're going to have a [players] meeting," he said. "We're just going to have to find out who's here to compete and play. If you don't want to play, then just turn in your gear. Players are frustrated, coaches are frustrated.

"People have just got to do something about it."

If guys are dogging it, not giving a damn, giving up with a good chunk left in the season? Then call 'em out. Have some pride. COMPETE. It is what it is at this point, so don't hold back now.

The bigger issue to me anyway is what this is going to do for Wulff. As Brinkhater said last night, this really hurts his supporters. You listen to the radio ads, the "my color is crimson" ads? What does Wulff say, but that they are bringing in an exciting, wide-open, no huddle offense. What did we see yesterday?? Titanic-era football. But at least Lone Star Deitz was successful, and actually won our only Rose Bowl in 1915!

But for a team that is trying to raise money on the next, most crucial phase of all for Martin Stadium, you know, the one with the luxury seats/suites? The phase where the ticket revenue alone will match the rest of the season tickets, combined? The last thing they need right now is a product on the field that is unwatchable. Can you imagine the look on Jim Sterk and Elson Floyd's face right now, asking for big money commitments from long time donors who have seen a lot, but nothing this bad? This can't be what they thought they were getting when they hired this staff back in December. And as a fan/alum, are you ready to write a big check to support this right now?

I also wonder if the coaches just have simply run out of ideas on how to get these guys going. When you are so far into a season now, and you get your junior QB back on the field, yet you scale back so drastically? Something is wrong. Either the players are so clueless they can't walk and chew gum, or the coaches are completely fried in trying to get them motivated, I really don't know. Maybe players are playing scared, as Kevin Lopina suggested yesterday, but maybe the coaches are coaching scared too? Or maybe it's a combination of things so deep that we'll never get the full story.

Meanwhile, I know Wulff-haters are having a field day bashing this former Big Sky coach, but come on. I will still say he's been dealt a bad hand, and I honestly question whether or not any coach on our short list from last year would be doing anything other than what we are seeing right now. They are young, beat up, weak and inexperienced where it counts - on the football field. From the QB injuries, the running backs, the WR's, to yet another new combo of offensive linemen that started yesterday, we are a nightmare. And please, stop saying Wulff is an idiot or doesn't have a clue. Downplay it all you want, but the guy was successful at his prior stop, and has been either a player or a coach since the mid-80's. Yes, he knows more than you, me, or anyone else who reads this incoherent rant. So stop thinking you know more than him. You don't.

BUT, all that said, the biggest thing I wonder is if Wulff truly understood what he was getting into. No, I don't mean the overall mess that Doba left him, we all knew that. But while I will tout Wulff's experience in football, well, he's never had to do THIS type of job before, know what I mean? Coming into a situation where he is the new boss, where the players already in place have no idea who he is, and had to change the culture? Remember, when he got the EWU head coaching job, he was an assistant there for several years. The players, all of them, knew him and his style. There was a system in place, a system he was part of, and so the culture shock wasn't much of a shock at all. He was able to simply continue things there, making some changes of course, and everyone, from the newest recruits to the fifth-year senior, KNEW what he was all about.

Compare that to what he's just walked into? There couldn't be a more different, difficult situation to take ownership of than this one. They have gone from Club Doba to Wulff's Platoon, and it's changed completely. Wulff and company have asked things of these players that they have never had to do before, so it's human nature to resist change, no matter how positive it might appear on the surface. Maybe we harp on the players for resisting the change, but maybe it's also the coaches who should also shoulder a lot of this blame as well? Maybe they need to look into the mirror right now and think about how they've handled this situation? Wulff has never been charged with the task of coming in and changing things over from a lazy, half-assed approach from before, with a losing mentality to boot. Maybe he hasn't done the right things himself, and force-feeding this change isn't the way to go about it?

So there you have it. The bye week is here, and it's time for everyone to recharge. Most of all, time to figure out what's next. Do they keep falling down the hole, deeper and deeper? Or do they decide enough is enough, and it's time to take pride with what happens on Saturdays? WE feel embarrassed to wear the colors in times like this, imagine what some of those players and coaches are feeling right now? It's time to decide if you are ready to quit, or ready to fight.

Happy Sunday, and yes, GO COUGS.


Anonymous said...

I have been reading the comments as to whether Wulff is the problem, or the players, or a combination of the two. It would be nice to think of these young men as mature adults, but the fact remains, these are developing 'young' men who are looking for guidance. To this one has to wonder. Are Wulff and and the other coaches he has selected the ones to help these players develop the character to rise to the level everyone wants, expects, and demands(?).
Does Wulff himself have the character to teach character? And do his assistants? This is, for me the question that should be asked. Has anyone questioned his past players? What do they think of him? Go to Eastern and ask them. Were they impressed that he, and those coaches he selected to follow him to WSU, skipped the end of the season banquet last year. Does this show character? I don't think so. He used them to get to the next level and didn't even have the decency to go to the banquet to honor the very people who made it possible for him to land his dream job.
Sorry, but he is not the person I want my son to play for. I too, along with an earlier writer, am not going to any more games to watch the humiliation and blame game placed upon the wrong people. Blaming these kids is going down the wrong path, and Wulff is smart enough to figure this out. Unfortunately he will hang a couple of his assistants out to dry in order to protect himself and place the blame far enough away from himself in order to keep his job for another miserable season. This is what people who lack character do. Just watch.

Anonymous said...

well, we found out this week WSU has a problem of not checking people's references. Perhaps that got lost in the shuffle when Sterk got excited that he could get a marginally qualified coach on the cheap. i echo your sentiments, anonymous.

maybe if wulff showed a shred of humility. or if Sturdy wouldn't keep talking about how important it is that they stick with this system. Christ Sturdy. It's not working.

Anonymous said...

I for one agree that CPW is over his head right now. But who in the universe outside the most brilliant minds knows everything there is to know? CPW is still a young person humself and he still might know a lot sedi, but he has so much yet to be learned. Maybe he thought it would be easier than this. Maybe he needs some slack to learn himself of how to handle this. It is his first time of trying to do a full rebuild. How could he possibly know all the answers? How about you, when you first started a job. Did you know everything right away? Don't we need to fail as part of the learning process?

This season is his mulligan. this is the wicked slice off the first tee. I will not judge him yet, but he better pick it up and fast. The real question is what was said in the job interviews that made Sterk and prez believe this was the right choice. Maybe they should have dug deeper to see if ok, he has done well at podunk state. But does that mean he is the right guy to completely change things? They took a major leap of faith with this hire, but no matter what, you can bet they never dreaned it would fall so fast.

all hail caesar said...

It is an end result business. Did the sales guy meet hui quota or not? If he says every week that he isnt and then blames everyone else for his failings then you have an arrogance issue. Said salesman gets a warning that he better improve. If it is still a failure, you thank him for his time and move on to someone else. Nothing personal it is just business.

Those of you crying about the scoring streak just stop. Would you feel better if it was 69-3? I dont care about the score right now just show me improvement.
Otherwise I stop caring. You guys had a great article before with gladiator, asking if we were entertained. Color this old coug thoroughly bored. I am bored of watching the lions eat slaves so now I retreat to my humble abode where I will dine on fine meats, cheeses, wine and several female servants. WIN THE CROWD MAXIMUS.

Hooty McBoob said...

Frankly, I'm tired of all the talk about not competing. I think they're competing for the most part, as best as they can. The problem is - and the thing that's so difficult to wrap our brains around - is the fact that the quality of players that we've managed to recruit over the Doba years and this last class is D2 quality at best. I'm not saying there aren't ANY guys on the team who don't deserve to compete in the Pac-10 - but the cold, hard truth is that there are MAYBE 4-5 guys on the entire roster who will even get consideration to play at the next level - not just this year - but ever.

It's absolutely mind-blowing to me how Doba and company could have been so incredibly negligent in their recruiting "efforts" over the years without any accountability. If you really want to point a finger at somebody who still wears Crimson and Gray, point it at Sterk. This happened on HIS watch.

Even the most optimistic of Cougs - and I'd count myself among that group - knew...KNEW(!) this was going to be a bad year. The problem is that none of us realized that it would be THIS bad. It's completely unbelievable, incomprehensible and inconceivable and that the previous staff - most of them old Cougs themselves - could completely burn down the program from the inside out and walk away from the scene of the crime scott-free.

The fact that there are people suggesting that we'd be better off with the old staff right now is absolutely shameful. That's like suggesting that a meth addict is better off on the drug than going through withdrawls because it makes him feel better.

The quality of our roster is simply NOT acceptable for the Pac-10. THAT is entirely on the old staff and as I suggested earlier, perhaps their boss, Jim Sterk.

Allow Wulff and company a fair amount of time to get THEIR system in place with the athletes THEY recruit (in 2-3 FULL recruiting cycles) and let's see what happens. In the meantime, calm down and get your fill of humble pie.

Anonymous said...

I still don't get how any of you can use his "qualifications" from coaching at Eastern in your arguments. He isn't ready. We gave the guy a chance. He sucks. Stop the bleeding. The problems I see with Wulff can't be attributed to the recruited players. No way. It's way bigger than that. Like the other guy said, I'm not paying to go to pullman anymore.

Anonymous said...

Look up Price's record from the Big Sky before he got the WSU job. 46-44, never above 2nd place, and four losing seasons out of eight. Was he ready? He was worse than Wulff in the same training ground. Look up Erickson's record prior to WSU, just 1 conference title at Idaho and a 6-6 year at Wyoming. Was he ready? Using your logic we never would have hired Erickson or Price.

san francisco coug said...

"Wulff's platoon" - that is such a great turn of phrase.

aw285 said...

I wrestled in college at a D1 university for four years.

the first two years, we were terrible. The was a culture of losing, and that was acceptable.

We got a new coach prior to my Junior year, and it changed everything for us. Morale, record, intensity in our workouts, everything.

I firmly believe that one guy can, make a difference...but that's not the case here.

The regular beat downs we are receiving are not solely on the players.

They wouldn't have made it into the program (under Doba or anyone else), if they didn't have talent.

It's not all on the coaches either...but giving Wulff a free pass and blaming it on youth, injuries, inexperience doesn't paint a full picture.

I would submit that a bad situation was made worse by Wulff's hiring. We were bad with Doba...but not this bad...

One man can make a difference. This one isn't.

Hooty McBoob said...


"They wouldn't have made it into the program (under Doba or anyone else), if they didn't have talent."

Capitol Hill Coug said...

For the record, I wore my WSU shirt today (Sunday) after suffering the worst loss in school history.

I'll keep my post short and sweet.

The entire staff oughta be fired after yesterday.

You mean to tell me that Wulff couldn't muster up the balls to put one point on the board? To cross midfield? To pass the ball a few times?

We have two great wide receivers, one who could be playing in the NFL this year. I'm not saying that he would have won the game for us, or even made it competitive. But he could have gotten us inside the thirty yard line if we passed the ball his way a few times, setting us up for a kick.

Wulff oughta be embarrassed. I've supported his hiring and coaching from the beginning, but no more my friends.

Every person that draws a paycheck for WSU Football oughta be canned after that performance. Never in my life have I been so disgusted to watch a game.

ptowncoug said...

This will be my final post for the year. After sitting through the entire performance yesterday live in total and utter shock, this was an intentional forfeit. We have seen Doba play conservative to avoid a blow out. This was not the case. They simply had no intent on playing against SC. There was no attempt to even try offensively.
I wish some reporter would just ask the question, wouldn't it have been simpler just to call the Pac-10 and request a forfeit? Maybe it was the tv revenues preventing us from doing just that, but that was an intentional forfeit, and if you think otherwise, you are a complete idiot (sorry) and didn't sit and take in the entire game.
Am I okay with the manner they carried this out, no. I would have rather had them call the game off.

Evan said...

Don't get me wrong, I've been a coug my whole life and have no intention of just giving in, but this has got to be the most miserable team I've ever seen. Thank god we didn't schedule Idaho this year, I think they could easily give us a run for a money with they way we've been playing. That would've just heaped additional embarrassment onto the program. Is there anyone left who thinks we stand a chance to win a single game the rest of the season??
I'd say maybe Washington, in what is already being dubbed the Crapple Cup. Also, we could have a shot against Hawaii. I dunno tho, with what we saw on Saturday, it's good we got Portland State out of the way a few weeks ago. This team is getting progressively worse and the coaching staff is quickly losing steam.
Giving up more than 60 points 4 times!!!! Are you kidding me!!! Absolutely pathetic.