Another Gameday, another appearance. Great job as usual, and the tradition lives on for another week. Even in the darkest of times, this WSU flag continues to still get out of bed and show up for work. And thanks again to Will and Stephanie Walker for the screen capture. BRAVO!
I don't want to just throw a bunch of links out there, as we've kind of shied away from doing that of late. But there is a bit of a disturbing story about one of WSU's top verbal commits, Geoff Meinken. We were dancing in the aisle after Meinken committed to WSU back in May. Meinken is an excellent athlete out of Lynnwood, a 6-4, 255 pounder who is big, strong and fast already as a 17-year old. There was a good profile of him in the Seattle Times here back in early September. We wrote about his commitment here, as there were some interesting nuggets about him in regards to track and basketball as well as football. He looks like a real player on the rise, and along with the classroom smarts, is exactly the kind of in-state talent that Wulff and company are counting on to rebuild this program.
But there is a distrubring thing here. Jim Harbaugh has come out of the woodwork and offered the kid a full ride (damn it Jim!). As Cougfan points out, they are basically saying "name your position" as well, telling him he can play anywhere he wants, and oh yeah, at the end of the process he'll earn his degree from Stanford. Yikes.
While Meinken is still listed as a verbal commitment, well, that could change. While I won't highlight anything in the story as it's a premium article, you can read between the lines when it says "Lynnwood athlete who gave oral pledge to WSU earlier this spring says he has some thinking to do".
That's the kicker about verbal commitments. For that is all they are, a non-binding pledge that they will sign with you in February, but this kind of thing happens every year, to almost every program. It just happened to UW, when the top in-state player, Garfield's Deandre Coleman, backed off UW and is now out flirting with Cal. It happened to Bill Doba too, with players such as ASU defensive end Luis Vazquez. He de-committed from WSU and hopped down to ASU when Dennis Erickson was hired, AND Rob Akey went to Idaho.
But that's only a recent example. Heck, Michael Bumpus was a 100% verbal to USC all the way until the last weekend before signing day, when New Jersey phenom Dwayne Jarrett fell into Pete Carroll's lap. Carroll decided to give Bump's scholie to Jarrett while asking Bump to delay his enrollment until January, Bump said no, and suddenly he was a signing day surprise for WSU.
The other issue is the whole recruiting process itself. This is the time of year when the coaches heap praise upon praise on these high school hotshots. And like many 17/18-year olds, a lot of them slurp it up. For it's easy as a human being to start to believe it when everyone, including NCAA football coaches, keep telling you how great you are. It's not hard to think you are a REALLY big deal.
I also used to think that the whole horrible start that this team was off to wasn't going to have that much of an effect on recruiting. Wulff himself has said on his radio show that fans are often surprised when they hear quotes from commits who say that it doesn't matter a whole lot what the current team is doing on the field. Often times the recruit is more worried about playing, and playing early, when they make that step to the next level. And uh, yeah, playing early at WSU? Pretty much WIDE OPEN at this point! If you are young and you are good, you will get a chance to play, and that is the message Wulff and company have been sending out on the recruiting trail. And, while we got hammered on the recruiting trail last year (when the coaches were actually out there recruiting?), it was because of all the Doba speculation. The other coaches like Harbaugh can't use the instability argument against WSU now, because Wulff isn't going anywhere.
But given the monster losses of all-time proportions this year, well, I'm starting to wonder like the rest of you. Watching the team get blown out on TV, week after week, might have more of a detrimental effect on these recruits than we might think. Embarrassing performances on the field can lead to embarrassing feelings off the field for fans, alums and even perspective recruits, so, who knows.
We'll see how it all shakes out. Meinken is a projected defensive lineman, exactly the kind of kid Wulff is after in terms of size, strength and frame, with the "right kind of weight" on his body for his age. Clearly he sees something he can build here, and losing him could really sting. Besides, Meinken is a defensive lineman, an area of severe weakness today, but could be even weaker next year. The door is wide open for an impact talent up front, and losing Meinken from the group could be bad news. That said, there is still a long way to go in recruiting, and Wulff has said repeatedly that the defensive line is the top priority for this year's class. They are out there busting their asses in trying to land talent, and I don't doubt that they will fill this potential hole. My hope right now is that if Meinken does back away, that this isn't the start of a trend? So far it's a solid class, so think good thoughts for Wulff and company to keep it together and ride this thing out.
We'll be back this evening with a game thread before the 7:15 kickoff, so, if you are watching and want to vent, feel free to stop by. GO COUGS!