Friday, October 31, 2008

Polls Open, Jackson Makes Announcement

Pullman, WA--On Thursday, the venerable Keith Jackson held a news conference on the campus of Washington State University to announce his endorsement of Vincent Grippi and John Blanchette for Washington State College Sportswriter of the year.

In making his decision, Mr. Jackson cited Grippi's loyalty to "old school journalism" as the primary tipping point in his decision.

The news appeared to overwhelm Grippi, who upon hearing the news, promptly stormed the podium and ran out of the room with the 2001 Sears trophy that accompanied Mr. Jackson to the event.

Elsewhere, Mike Price declared his support for Bud Withers on Thursday.

In his statement, Price described Withers as a "Great Coug" who "you can always count on for well-researched, straight stories that never include my drunken binges at the Sports Page."

Neither the Moore-Yanity ticket or the WSU Football Blog picked up any major endorsements.

Both declined to offer any public comment, although a person close to the WSU Football Blog called the day's events "crushing."

Meanwhile, the final Gallup Poll showed a two-way race emerging as the Polls open:

Grippi-Blanchette polled at 35%, followed by Condotta-Withers at 25%, Moore-Yanity at 22%, and the WSU Football Blog at 18%.

Polls are open through Tuesday. Click here for more Comments

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Football Friday Week X: Here We Go Again

Greetings Cougar Nation and Brinkhater Army. Hope you all are having a great week.

Well, before we get to this week's contest against the mighty Trees, I thought I'd give my rejoinder to posts on this Blog regarding the future of Washington Husky Football.

First, for my favorite Puppy in our comments, "Medina Booster", I'll start off by stating the (obvious) positives regarding the now vacant position of Head Coach at U-Dubya:

1) Its a good job (thanks, Woody)

2) It pays a lot (thanks, Woody again)

3) The job is located in a very nice city in the beautiful Pacific Northwest (thanks, Woody three times)

4) The University of Washington is a top 20 University nationally and therefore gives recruits confidence that their (general studies) degree would involve a certain amount of prestige.

5) The Stadium holds nearly 72,000 crazies even when the team sucks.

6) The school is on the quarters system which gives players the first two months of the season (training camp in August and the month of September) to focus on nothing but football.

7) The school has a CO-National Championship that they can market to kids who were in uetero when it happened.

So, there you have it, the seven positives that you and the Tyee brass will offer anyone of formidable football stature that is willing to listen... Word has it, that if you repeat those seven things while being held down under running water for 14 hours, you may actually believe it..

Of course, every Husky fan in the universe is drinking that Kool-Aid.

And, as Medina showed, they are not only looking to, they are also EXPECTING, a return to the glory days of the Dawg Father with this next hire.

Unfortunately for Dawg fans everywhere, it simply isn't going to happen.

Between 1975 and 1993 which includes all of the Rose Bowls of the Don James era, do you know how many Pac-8 and/or Pac-10 schools played in Pasadena on New Years day?


They were USC, UCLA, and the UW.

When you look at the rosters of ANY of those teams during that era, you will notice that USC, UCLA, and the Puppies made the vast majority of their football hey by recruiting the living Ba-Jesus out of both So Cal and No Cal and complementing that base with talent from everywhere and anywhere else.

Of course, if you look behind those obvious facts, there are a few more hidden gems for Husky Fans to consider as chief components of their previous success:

1) After 1978 when the two Arizona schools entered the PAC, over 1/2 of the Pac-10 went on probation over a period of two seasons. During that same span, the Huskies were able to take advantage by recruiting layers of depth from California that helped lead the Dawgs to back-to-back Rose Bowls as well as the venerable Orange Bowl winning team.

Of course, two years later, the Dub took a major step back when they got THRASHED by Alabama in the 1986 Sun Bowl. Roll Tide Roll.

2) Few Dawg fans want to admit anything differently, but the trashing by the Tide in El Paso caused the Dawgfather to change his approach to recruiting. Obviously, he changed his approach to focus on the fast and furious. But, in so doing, he also went illegal. And the BLATANT lack of institutional control occurred whether he was "explicitly" aware of it or not.

Of course, the result of those shannanigans was a run nearly as impressive as USC's most recent set of titles:

A) Three straight Pac-10 titles (and Rose Bowls)
B) A national championship, and--
C) If not for a colossal let-down against UCLA, the Dawgs could have won back-to-back
National titles!

But alas, they CHEATED to get there (and they'll have to cheat again to get back)

3) Also, during the 1990's the NCAA reduced the maximum number of scholarships available to each program. As a result, the big three could no longer sit there and stock pile All-Americans five deep. And, not surprisingly, the rest of the Pac-10 began to catch up.

Of course, it sure did help the rest of the Pac that Washington went on probation

and USC took a temporary nose dive.

But, when you combine those transitions with the changes in scholarship regulations, you get this amazing, amazing fact.

While there were THREE teams to capture a conference title between 75 and 93, do you know how many Pac-10 teams have won or shared a conference title since 1996?

1996:ASU - 8-0
1997: WSU/UCLA - 7-1
1998: UCLA - 8-0
1999: Stanford - 7-1
2000: Oregon/Oregon State/Washington - 7-1
2001: Oregon - 7-1
2002: WSU/USC - 7-1
2003: USC - 7-1
2004: USC - 8-0
2005: USC - 8-0
2006: USC/Cal - 7-2
2007: USC/ASU - 7-2


That's right, Nine.

Since that time, WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY--a team that many of us thought would never go to one Rose Bowl--appeared in two and had three straight Top 10 finishes.

Even more shocking, the doormat Oregon State Beavers have a top 3 record in the conference over the last decade and are now a near lock for bowl play each year.

Moreover, the University of Oregon--once only meddlesome to other Pac-10 foes-- is now considered a major national player and recruits top talent each and every year--especially from the California hotbeds that the Huskies used to call their own.

The University of California-Berkeley --which is a better academic institution that the University of Washington--is recruiting All-American talent out of both Northern and Southern California and has high quality talent three or four deep.

Stanford University currently has the #2 rated recruiting class in the conference and holds as many conference titles as the UW over the past decade and offers THE premier academic experience in America.

On top of that, both Arizona schools also have top 3 finishes nationally in the last ten years. And while Arizona is having a good season and ASU is not, still, both easily have a deeper talent base and broader recruiting reach (Texas and California) than UW right now.

Despite our woes, we have a coach that has deep recruiting ties in this state, has a gimmicky offensive system, and will probably win the recruiting battle for the 3 star, high character guys in the Washington for the years to come.

So, where does that leave the U-Dub?

In my view, I would be SHOCKED if the next coach did not restore the UW to regular mid-tiered bowls.

But, given the strength of the rest of the conference, the way that scholarships are allocated equally across schools, as well as the DEEP hole that the UW program is currently in, making THAT climb is going to be extremely, extremely difficult. Making an ascent to the TOP of the mountain, just ain't gonna happen.

In Brinkhater's mind, its going to be hard to provide a case that a player is going to win more games at UW than Oregon State.

Its going to be difficult to convince a recruit that they're going to get more flash, better facilities, or a better educational experience than the University of Oregon.

And its going to be very, very difficult for any coach to provide a more motivating and inspirational story than what they will hear from Paul Wulff and company--who happens to also be an alum of his school that has a distinct, but potentially profound appeal to urban students.

Now, add Tedford, Tricky Ricky Neu, Captain Comeback, and Pistol Pete to that mix as well the Big 12 schools that are still pulling at California's top shelf talent?? What you get is a very, very difficult challenge ahead.

And sorry, no amount of "Cougar, Homer Bias" can obscure that hard dose of reality that sits on your 0-8 backsides.

Now, back to our stinking game.

Cougar Nation, I really think that there's a chance that the rest of this season could witness some positive, if not victorious moments.

But it just is not going to happen this week.

Stanford is a team that doesn't have many significant strengths.

But, the Trees are a team that has strengths in the areas that exploit our significant, if not historic, weaknesses.

For instance, they have a good pass rush, we have a weak offensive line.

They can run the football, we can't stop the run.

They're pretty healthy, we aren't.

Moreover, our starting QB (Lopina) is lousy and offers no hope for our beleagured defense to stay off the field--which is our only hope to stay competitive not only in this game--but for the rest of the year.

And, while JT offers the sole glimmer of hope for the rest of the year, we should ALL know by now that freshmen QBs seldom play well in their first few games.

And they tend to play even worse in their debuts on the road.

In the end, the Tress walk in this one 48-6. We almost cover, though, so that should mean something.

And lets pray that JT does enough to get more PT in the coming weeks.

Having a chance at winning the Apple Cup depends on it.


Oregon 41 California 31. Quack is good despite fold job at USC a few weeks back.

USC 51 Washington 3. USC will pay attention to final scores now that Penn State has inside track to title game appearance.

Oregon State 31 ASU 21. Beavs continue their roll toward first Rose Bowl in 40 years.

National Game:

Texas 41 Texas Tech 40. Big12 may be one of the most talented conferences of all time.

Enjoy the game!


Wow Brinkhater, that's one hell of a take on all-things-UW. A UW Football Blog in your future?? In all seriousness, an excellent analysis. I think we all can agree that for everyone to assume that UW will regain the top spot simply by throwing a lot of money at their next guy isn't paying attention to the rest of the world. Then again, let's be honest - Seattleites can often be guilty of thinking that life ends at Mount Rainier. There really is a whole big world out there.

Better said, this ain't exactly your "big brother" Huskies. But let them worry about themselves. I prefer to worry about what's in my own back yard instead of yukking it up over the neighbor who hasn't mowed their lawn in four score and seven years ago.....but that's another story.

I think facilities are going to be a huge deal for them. If they eventually get that dream renovation done, as well as the rock-star head coach, I think they can start taking back what they've lost from Oregon and Oregon State, the biggest monkeys in the wrench. A great place to live with a rabid fan base and dynamic coach can be a good sell to 18-year olds. Just please don't make me pay for it!

Enough of this Husky honking. But first of all, a moment of silence for the official death of the NBA in Seattle.

At least Oklahoma City gets to pay $2000 a game to sit court-side and watch a horrible basketball team 41 nights a year. Congrats. There's a good read in the P-I today about how people, and businesses, in Seattle are dealing with it. But put me in the "I'm done with the NBA" camp for now. Just tap me on the shoulder when they return to Seattle as the Sonics, and I MIGHT be interested again.

Now on to our game.

We have touched on Stanford earlier this week, and it's pretty basic - they run the ball on offense and rush the passer on defense, about as well as anyone in the conference. And that tells you one very big thing - they are good up front, on both sides of the ball. And if you've been paying attention this year, you KNOW that isn't a good thing for Cougar Nation. We've been outnumbered and over-matched up front, due to injuries, suspension (Mike Graise is now out from the defensive line rotation, thanks for the tip Kaddy). The damage that the weaknesses up front has caused the entire team is staggering. They have been pushed around at will by the opponent, and it's a pretty helpless feeling to watch on a weekly basis.

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Now I won't bore you with deep analysis here, but just know that we are averaging 13.9 points per game.....and we're giving up 48.1 points per game. When you are AVERAGING a loss by 35 points, or five touchdowns?? And that INCLUDES the 48-9 win over Portland State in those averages!?!?


Sprinkle in a still-recovering Lopina at QB and a dash of young J.T. Levy running for his life on every snap, and you get the idea. HOWEVER, I am going against the grain here, and I will predict that we will play fairly well. I believe the bye week was a good thing for this team, and they are gearing up for a better than expected finish these last five games of the year. I am going to lean hard towards a UCLA-style of game here, where we'll put eight in the box to try and slow down the running game. I don't think Stanford has the big-play ability to score quickly enough to light up the scoreboard. They will do what they always do, and that is based on their scheme of grinding it out. And I think our offensive approach will be to try and run the ball as well, and attempt to keep the defense honest as well as the heat off the QB's. Of course it won't be enough to win, but, I have a feeling this one will be closer than the rest believe.

In the end, I'll go Stanford 31, WSU 12. And it will even be an interesting game headed into the second half. Remember, in the Oregon State wipeout, it was 24-13 at the half. And it was 14-3 in the third quarter against UCLA. HOORAY. So we'll see.


California 34, Oregon 23. Oregon steamrolled ASU last week, but Cal is tough at home and Tedford has handled the Quacks three of the last four times they've played.

USC 58 Washington 2. They didn't play for Willingham before his firing. Think they'll turn it up now?? Neither do I.

Oregon State 48 ASU 20. The wagons have been circled in Corvallis, as usual. Wins in four of their last five, including the USC game, and the only loss the choke job at Utah. Coming off the bye week, and against a fading ASU, this one will get ugly.

National Game:

Texas Tech 44, Texas 38. Horns get hooked! And Brinkhater is right, wow, is the Big 12 something else!?!?


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap - Week Ten

Week ten already? Is that right? Wow. Well, no time to waste, so we'll get right after it with the usual radio show recap:

  • Bud Nameck in the big boy chair this week, hosting the show. Leading off, Nameck asked how the bye week went. What did the coaches do? Wulff said that they were recruiting hard, with seven coaches hitting the road on Wednesday (the NCAA max you can have out at once is seven coaches). The coaches hit Utah, California, Oregon and Washington. Saw some high school games, saw some coaches, and continue to find players emerging in their senior year. They are still looking for kids who want to be Cougs. The more rocks we turn over the more we will find. It also takes a lot of work and effort in recruiting. But Wulff said he is "amazed at this staff's attention to detail on recruiting and the energy, the effort." EVERY guy is on the same page in regards to recruiting, and he's never been around a staff quite like this.

  • They talked briefly about how the heck you keep all that recruiting information organized? Recruiting coordinator Rich Rasmussen uses a recruiting radar software program that keeps it all under control. It's also great for compliance and keeps a large database for recruits. It allows you to dissect information to get a read on the vitals of kids you are recruiting, etc.

  • Bud asked about an update in recruiting, without getting specific in terms of player names (which he obviously can't do). Wulff said that they just got two verbals (you can see them here in Quayshawn Buckley and Jamal Atofau). But he also said that we are really close on a few more commits, and they should come shortly. But they are going to recruit, hard, all the way until signing day and you never know what's going to happen. Wulff also touted some of the great people within WSU and how much of a help they have been for campus visits. He even mentioned that June Daugherty and Donnie Marbut helped out this summer talking to some of the kids.

  • Wulff was asked about Willingham, and what he thougth of the situation. Would he be worried about a new coach and the buzz that would create, as well as the chance to steal away some of WSU verbals? Wulff said you know, we're too worried about ourselves to worry about what they do. They will still recruit their own commitments hard, and if a kid backs out of a verbal commitment to go elsewhere? Then maybe they never really wanted to be Cougars in the first place and it's probably for the best. Wulff said they want the highest character kids they can find, and if they back out of their word too easily, then it probably wasn't going to work out. ("we didn't want them anyway", isn't that what UW message board types always say when WSU gets a verbal commitment??)

  • A caller asked a tough question - you are now 2/3rds of the way through the first season. How would you grade your own coaches? Wulff said that while he wouldn't hand out letter grades or anything like that, he felt like they have done a pretty good job. Still, they can ALL DO A LOT BETTER (obviously). But Wulff also again talked about change, and the human resistance to it that can make it very difficult at first. Wulff also said that coaches and QB's go hand-in-hand, in that he believes that coaches get too much of the credit when things are great, too much of the blame when things aren't. They basically run parallel to each other. But he restated, again, that the coaches can all do a lot better, and while it's easy to second guess some things, he does feel that they are doing and will do a better job.

  • Wulff talked about how the coaches are, still, getting to know the players and the players are getting to know them. It's not like you walk into their lives and suddenly everyone knows everyone else, knows their backgrounds or the things that make them tick. It's been a huge learning experience for the players, but also for the coaches in every possible way. He said they are still trying to figure out some of the players, and it is something that will come with time spent together. But overall, again, can they do better? Absolutely!

  • Nameck brought up something Dennis Erickson said back in the day. Erickson said that after his first year at WSU, as a staff, they were a little surprised at the difference between Wyoming and the Big Sky compared to the PAC-10 and the schemes, etc. Wulff said that maybe back then it was an issue, but today, it's not so much of a big change. He said it's still football, still a lot of the same in terms of x's and o's. Or as Jim Walden says, "it's less about the x's and o's and more about the Jimmie's and Joe's!"He did mention, however, that he and the staff felt they saw a lot more things run against them last year at EWU than they have seen this year in the PAC-10. Wulff said it seems like this level is possibly even a little more simplified vs. where he was, and that it's a lot more "athlete driven" at this level. Some of the things just don't seem as complex as they thought. But overall they need to get better in matching up with the rest of the conference, because right now it's awfully tough (as we've seen!).

  • A caller asked about how they handle the recruiting, in terms of the sheer volume of kids and how to figure out who to contact. Of course they are using the software, but Wulff also said it's all about watching tape on kids, and calling them, getting to know them. It's all about building up relationships and getting to know them, see where it goes. Wulff did say that the coaches will talk about the school's successful history, talk about their current situation and where that player might fit in, and most of all, where they are headed as a program on the field and facilities, etc. But it all goes back to the building of the relationship and how that all goes. Wulff said that you can tell pretty quickly if a kid is interested or not just in how some of the initial phone calls go. They have limited contact they can do every recruiting season, so, they don't spend a lot of time on kids that are not interested.

  • Nameck brought up Stanford, and what they've been able to do so far with Harbaugh. Nameck mentioned what a boost the new stadium renovation has been for them in recruiting, and Harbaugh has done a heck of a job so far(Don't believe me? Check out Stanford's list of current verbal commits. There's a lot of star gazing going on right now!).

  • The name of Toby Gerhart was brought up, about what a factor he's been for Stanford this year. One of the top running backs in the conference, if not the country, he's a tough, physical guy with deceiving speed. Wulff said they saw immediately on film that with him on the field, Stanford is a MUCH better football team, and without him, their level of play drops off. He missed some time vs. UW and only had two carries in that game, but he's been running well of late, with now three straight 100+ yard games. Nameck also brought up turnovers and how they've been an issue for Stanford, as they are ahead of only WSU in the turnover ratio department in the PAC-10 rankings. Wulff once again railed about turnovers, about how they can just destroy your chances at getting a win. He them went back to our own turnover issues, and how they just need to clean up that part of their game and things could really turn around. But we have to stop hurting ourselves.

  • Nameck asked about the last week of practice, taking things indoors and all that. Wulff said they had a good week, and it was time to get away from outside distractions and resharpen their focus on the task at hand. They are sticking together and they worked really hard on a lot of things, and Wulff was happy with how it went. They are back outside practicing now, as the weather has been great to be able to do so.

  • A caller asked what the deal was with the APR and the eight scholarship losses. Wulff said that by the end of the academic year, things should be back to normal, and by next fall they will be allotted the full 85 scholarships. However Wulff said that in at least that first year, they MIGHT not be at the full 85. They might be just under it. But he said by the fall of the following year (2010), they will for sure be at the full 85-scholarship limit.

  • A caller asked about the rebuilding plan, and if that has changed at all. Wulff said ideally they start out with the idea of redshirting every single player they recruit, and going from there. Obviously he couldn't do that this year, as necessity has so many young players out on the field. It is what it is. He also said that over the next two or even three seasons, you are probably going to see them play young players earlier than they would like to, again, out of necessity. But ultimately, you want to have your kids with years in the program, learning and growing before they are counted upon as true leadership within the team. By the time they get to be upper classmen, they are ready to be leaders and have experienced some difficult moments. They want to have that core group to have the whole team lean on when times are tough and who to look to during adversity. It will take time.

  • Nameck then asked him about the Vince Grippi article, and if it was accurate. Wulff said it was "pretty good...but they left a lot of the details out." He honestly didn't sound all that thrilled with it (TAKE THAT VINCE!). He did say that it painted a solid picture of what they are trying to do, where they are headed, the overall plan, etc. But that was about it.

  • Nameck asked the question of the week, of course, the QB situation. I know it's been reported everywhere already, but Lopina is going to start the game. But young J.T. Levenseller WILL PLAY this week. They have decided to burn the redshirt, but you most likely know that by now (and Wulff more or less broke that on last week's radio show, but it's official now). Wulff did say that they will likely play him in something like the third or fourth series of the game, and then they would go from there. The situation will dictate who plays or who doesn't and what things look like into the second half. He didn't get any more specific than that.

  • Wulff talked about Kevin Lopina. He has really improved, to the point that doctors now say he's near 100% physically. Wulff noticed that he's moving considerably better in practice and looks a lot more fluid, not stiff like he was before. But Wulff also said that Lopina needs to build up the mental recovery aspect of it, and get that confidence back.

  • Some other injury updates - Dwight Tardy is back, and will play. However Chris Ivory still hasn't been able to get over the hamstring, so he's out. Tardy will be in the mix for carries with Logwone Mitz and Chance Staden. Devin Frischknecht is still out with an ankle injury, and is at least two-three weeks away from coming back. Marshall Lobbestael will have surgery on his knee tomorrow, and then he'll be ready to go for rehab. They talked about the hydro works machine, the underwater treadmill, that will be used for rehabbing ankle and knee injuries. They REALLY are excited to get that thing going, and it's supposed to be ready next month. The O-line is looking OK, with Steven Ayers and Vaughn Lesuma both back this week. Micah Hannam is nicked up, but might be OK this week.

  • Finally, Wulff talked about Stanford's defense. They are pretty tough up front, second in with 26 sacks, so they will be a handful for the offensive line. The QB's are going to have to play better too, so, hopefully they are ready for the challenge. But Wulff again brought up the focus, and intensity, and what they need to do this week. They need to see a much better effort by everyone, and Wulff said he has a decent feeling about it this week. He has seen some improvements. He really emphasized that they need to keep up the intensity and focus early, even if things aren't going well. If they can hang in there and not give in, then things will turn around.

So that's pretty much everything. Some of it sounded familiar to what we've been hearing or reading over the last few weeks. But some decent insight as well into recruiting, etc.

Enjoy your Wednesday, and as always, GO COUGS! Click here for more Comments

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On Home Stretch, WSU Football Blog targets Seniors

Election 2008 Special Coverage:
WSU Football Blog Hits North Central Washington

Hartline, WA—"Hello Waterville-Mansfield-Almira-Coulee-Hartline Nation!" yelled a hoarse Brinkhater to the North Central Washington Senior Bridge Club convention at Almira-Coulee-Hartline High school.

"You know, when we announced our candidacy last week, I told you that help was on the way."

"And today, I am here to tell you that it is: We play the University of Washington in four short weeks!"

Despite the duo's on-going attempts at bringing some levity to their grueling 10 day travel schedule, the jokes were in short supply.

In fact, for the third straight day, both Sedihawk and Brinkhater tried frantically to be heard above the riff-raff.

On this day, calls for "more soup and lobster bisque" seemed to constantly deride the ticket's message.

WSU Football Blog Campaign manager, Mr. Longball, was not happy with the day's events:

"I keep trying to tell the guys to keep it simple: Attack, Attack, Attack. But they just don't listen."

"I mean, Brinkhater, for example, had ONE stinking job to do today. And that was to accuse Bob Condotta of being bought out by Washington Lobbyists. I mean, how hard is that?"

"And what does he do? He makes playing Washington a good thing in his first stinking line of the day, which completely convoluted our message."

"I mean, I know that we're trying, but we've got to become more DISCIPLINED if we want to be competitive!"

In the meantime, despite no official word of a formal campaign, officials from the Moore-Yanity and Condotta-Withers camp began an offensive of their own against the WSU Football Blog—which further seemed to unravel the duo's darkhorse candidacy.

On Monday, officials close to Bob Condotta and Bud Withers released a statement accusing Brinkhater of representing the exact type of "Partisan Politics" that has killed competitive college football in the State of Washington over the past five years. The statement read:

"At this point, when the two Washington teams have one win between them, it is both pointless and juvenile to continue such sour grapes as we have continually seen from Brinkhater and his surrogates."

"What we need now is the type of post-partisan journalism that can bring people together and keep local talent playing College Football for the Washington schools."

"The WSU Football Blog does nothing to advance such possibilities."

Meanwhile, early on Tuesday morning, the Moore-Yanity Campaign issued their own offensive on the WSU Football Blog and Brinkhater by noting that: "Eight short weeks ago, Brinkhater publicly noted that the fundamentals of the WSU Football Program were strong."

"But given what we know now about the current State of the Program, how can you vote for someone who could be so tragically wrong and misinformed?"

Mr. Longball tried to counter the mounting twin offensives by noting Brinkhater's perfect record this year on his weekly predictions, noting, "All you can ask for, is for our leaders to make appropriate adjustments as new information becomes available. And Brinkhater has done that as well as anyone."

But off the record, several associates revealed what has become a mounting concern: Brinkhater's inclusion on the WSU Football Blog ticket has become an inescapable liability.

"You know, like Jim Moore, Brinkhater is very, very popular with segments of the base," one source said. "There are a group of devoted followers that really appreciate his early and honest critique of past decisions associated with the Doba era."

But as another source noted, "His negatives are really, really troubling. You know, if it was just Sedihawk, we might have a really good chance at winning this thing. But Brinkhater brings a really high liability to the ticket that is currently killing us. "

As the day ended, the campaign showed the convention a four minute campaign video of Sedihawk taking care of his cancer stricken Golden Retriever, Barkley.

As the lights came up, several seniors could be overheard saying that they felt like they had "seen a window into Sedihawk's soul."

The question remains, however, whether or not such soul searching will be enough to save what once seemed to be a promising campaign.

Time is running short. The polls open in only three short days.

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Weird End to Ugly Era

As Art Thiel wrote in the P-I today, these things never go well, do they? The Paint Dry Ty era came to an announced end yesterday....five games before the end of the year, which is weird....but an end that everyone in the free world saw coming since he was retained last year. And nice touch with the purple-n-gold sign, eh? That is someone who spent WAY too much time on something derogatory towards their own coach. Must be a pretty proud moment for a guy that age to get his picture in the paper for his sign ripping the local college football coach. And nice purple satin jacket on the guy on the right. ('m thinking 1982, K-Mart?)

Obviously UW fans are beyond frustrated. This was year four of the Ty Willie experiment, a year in which they had planned on taking a big step forward. They blew a few games last year in a 4-9 season, and it was sound enough reasoning to say that if they could have held on in the Apple Cup, the Hawaii game, and the Arizona game, all games they had at least a two-score lead, UW could have been 7-6 and a bowl team last year. So, sure, they would probably struggle early with a tough schedule, but after some lumps it would be the year it all turns around. But alas, here they are, down Jake Locker and a host of other players, sitting at 0-7 and staring at a certain 0-8 after they "bow down" to USC this Saturday. Willingham is 11-32 overall, just a brutal record. And I heard it was so bad during Saturday's blowout loss to Notre Dame that, during a commercial on the big screen featuring Willingham doing charity work with children, the fans booed. The masses are so down right now though, they could throw a picture of the Easter Bunny, Santa, and puppies on the big screen and they would get ripped. Tough crowd.

So here's a question for the WSU faithful - and I'm serious here - but is UW what it used to be? The KJR types are yakking it up about how they need to go hire a rock star head coach to return UW to prominence. But is it that easy? Can they ever get back to how things used to be? I don't care if they hired Nick Saban, Steven Spurrier, Les Miles, Jim Mora, Lane Kiffin or Mike Holmgren, right now this job is NOT what it used to be. Consider:

1) The record - Since Y2k - and this INCLUDES their 2000 season where they went 11-1 - UW is now 44-59. That is good for eight in the Pac-10, ahead of only Stanford and Arizona. This isn't a one or two or even three-year downturn. This is a disturbing trend, especially when you consider where they started the decade. For what it's worth, with UW's loss vs. Notre Dame, they have now clinched their fifth consecutive losing season. Their last non-losing season was 2003, where they went 6-6.

2) The facilities - You know the drill. They have been touting for 18 months how badly UW needs the work done on their aging old lady on Montlake. The place is literally falling apart. And yes, they have their hand out for $150 million in public funds. Good luck with that. For a stadium that would be used, what, 5-6 times a year? The track would be removed in their renovation, so they can't argue it would be used for that. And Qwest Field is already hosting soccer, so that's out as well. So let's see - in a major economic downturn, with a huge state deficit, they are paying Willingham $1 million alone to disappear, and they are saying they are going to go "big" on their next head coach, speculated to be in the $2 million per year range? AND they want public money to pay for half of their $300 million renovation, the most expensive college renovation EVER?? Whatever. Don't ask don't get, sure, but for them to cry poor mouth right now is insane.

3) The Landscape - While UW has struggled during the Y2K decade, guess who has climbed right past them in the NW? No, not WSU (although WSU has finished ahead of UW in the Pac-10 standings for seven straight years, and has 11 more wins than UW since Y2K....not that anyone is counting....but still). Check out what's been going on in Oregon. Did you know that outside of USC, Oregon and Oregon State are two-three in the Pac-10 in terms of record this decade? Better than Cal, better than ASU, better than UCLA. This isn't a mistake or misprint. The Oregon schools have taken off while UW has slid down the pole.

Why? Well, sugar daddies help. Phil Knight with Oregon obviously, and Reser has been a boost. But with the sugar daddies also came better facilities. And nobody can argue against the idea that Oregon and Oregon State have two of the nicer venues in the west. They both have built a strong donor base, filled with rabid fans who expect to win games.

And, when you combine success and great facilities as well as some excellent head coaches in the two Mike's - Bellotti and Riley - well, you can see how the Oregon schools have been heading off the California talent at the pass. Back in the day, when UW was winning Pac-10 titles, the flow of talent into Seattle was impressive from SoCal. Today, not so much.

The biggest thing the Oregon schools have done is to completely hurt the depth at a school like UW. Every school suffers injuries, even the USC's of the world. But they simply reload with all-Americans. With Oregon and Oregon State nabbing that talent that used to show up in Seattle, now, UW has lost their layers of depth that they used to boast as simply reloading, never rebuilding. They'll still get the Jake Locker's of the world, but it's what is next to him and around him that is just as important.

Now, I know, I know, I shouldn't throw stones from this glass house. But I'm really not. WE are in the middle of completely bottoming-out, staring at 1-win world right now. But guess what? We're actually one step AHEAD of UW in the process. I know that sounds crazy. But when you think about it, we are already a few phases into a stadium renovation that, when done, will be a pretty cool game-day setting that will only help in recruiting.

And despite the sniping this year from some of you with our big drop in quality, we already have our coach with which to rebuild. Wulff had an OK first recruiting class last year, but this year is off to an excellent start in the verbal commitment department. UW still has a facility headache on their hands, and, they need to get their next coach to start the process.

So there you have it. Willingham coaches out the rest of the year while UW begins the search for his successor. A weird end to an ugly era.

Enjoy your Tuesday, and GO COUGS! Click here for more Comments

Monday, October 27, 2008

Does Harbaugh's Turnaround Give WSU Hope?

It's hard not to be impressed by Jim Harbaugh. Here's a guy who, as a player, always had a limited tool box to work with, not exactly blessed with the cannon arm or Bledsoe-style size. But he was scrappy, tenacious, and most of all, never gave in. Although he never made it to the big game in the NFL, he did pilot some pretty good clubs to the threshold, including that 1995 Colts team where he was a dropped Hail Mary pass from beating Pittsburgh in the AFC championship. The guy had a big set of onions as a player, and despite not being as talented as the next guy, always had that little extra chip on the shoulder, so to speak, and wasn't EVER going to give in.

So that's all fine and dandy as Jim Harbaugh, the QB. What about as a head coach? Harbaugh's rise up the coaching ladder was a little unusual. Did you know, for example, that while still playing in the NFL from 1994 - 2001, he was also considered an unpaid NCAA assistant under his father at Western Kentucky? Serving as an offensive consultant, he scouted and recruited high school student-athletes throughout several states including Florida, Indiana and Illinois. He was involved in recruiting 17 players on WKU's 2002 D-1 AA National Championship team.

After a brief stop with the Raiders as an offensive assistant, Harbaugh got the head job at the University of San Diego in 2004, of something called the Pioneer League (NO, this is not a D-1 school). But he did outstanding there, with a 29-6 record, including 11-1 his last two seasons. Suddenly he was a hot commodity, and after Stanford punted Walt Harris after 2006, Harbaugh was the surprise hire in Palo Alto.

And all things considered, it went fairly well in year one. Statistically, not so much - Stanford had the 98th ranked defense in the NCAA last year, and the 107th ranked offense - but he did coax them to a 4-8 record, including a 3-6 Pac-10 record. Not great, but after a 1-11 2006 season, 4-8 felt pretty damn good to the Cardinal faithful. And of course, we all know about the 41-point underdog upset of USC, still rated as maybe the greatest NCAA football upset of all time.

Now in year two, Stanford is most definitely on the upswing. They sit at 4-4, including an impressive 3-2 in the PAC-10. They have defeated Oregon State and Arizona, two of the better teams in the conference this year. And even in defeat, they have played hard, narrowly losing at Notre Dame in a big comeback (28-21) and a tough loss at UCLA (23-20). Hard to believe that this program went 1-11 in 2006, yet right now sits just two wins away from a BOWL game!

However, the bad news for Stanford - even though this week will certainly look "winnable" to the Cardinal - the last three games? NOT SO MUCH. In order, they go to Oregon on 11/8, they host USC on 11/15, and then the big game, Cal, on 11/22. So if they are to get to the magic six-win threshold and sure bowl bid given the PAC-10's bowl arrangement, well, they are going to have to beat someone better than them the last three weeks. But it's been done before, and who's to say they can't do it again??

The point to this rant is, what can Paul Wulff and WSU take from Stanford's current success? Is there a secret to what they are doing? Is there something we, as Coug fans, can look at in Palo Alto and hang our hopes on for a possible successful year next year?

The numbers are, to be honest, puzzling. Stanford isn't setting the conference on fire with their offensive prowess. The passing offense is, well, bad, at 109th in the nation in passing yards per game. And yes, believe it or not, that is actually WORSE than WSU's passing yards per game, where we currently sit at 102nd in the country. Weird. Defensively, also not great against the pass. They are, in fact, dead last in the Pac-10 in pass defense, and ranking a miserable 113th in the country through the air.

So it must be turnovers, right? Turnovers are, as they say, the great equalizer, and can make up for some poor statistics. In a word, NO. We all know how turnovers have helped contribute to this disaster 2008 season for WSU. But Stanford is right there with us. While WSU has a minus-15 turnover ratio, Stanford is second to last at minus-9. So forget about turnovers.

So they can't throw it, and they can't stop the other team from throwing it. How are they doing it? The GROUND GAME.

That was one of the first things Paul Wulff said about Stanford this year on last week's radio show. They run the ball well, they are strong up front, and that helps set the tone for what they are trying to do. They have a good offensive line that is big, experienced and physical, with three seniors and a junior among the starters. Senior center Alex Fletcher is outstanding, and SI named him a mid-season All-American. High praise for a conference full of very good centers (Alex Mack at Cal, Max Unger at Oregon, etc). They average an impressive 192.4 yards per game on the ground, good for second in the conference to only Oregon. And that's with teams knowing Stanford is going to run the ball, teams knowing that Stanford cannot do anything through the air. Impressive to say the least.

Toby Gerhart is finally healthy this year after going down with a serious knee injury in the second game of 2007, ranking second in the PAC-10 in total rushing yards with 779, and is third with nine TD's. Gerhart's a truck at 6-1, 228, and oh yeah, runs a 4.5 forty. Yikes.

Stanford is also strong in the red zone. They have scored on 22 of 24 trips inside the 20, tied with Arizona for number one in the conference at 91.7 percent. Even though they aren't a high flying offense, they do get the job done with the opportunities that present themselves.

Stanford's also tough rushing the passer, number two in the conference in sacks with 26, just two behind Oregon for tops in the conference. And against the run, they are fourth in the PAC-10. Not great, but good enough. But they are certainly strong up front, with their ability to get sacks and slow down the running game. One more quickie - Stanford is number ONE in punting, with a net of 38.2 yards per punt. That's a NET, which includes the return yardage. They only give up 1.9 yards per punt return.

So there you have it. 1) They run the ball, 2) they are tough against the run, 3) they get to the passer, 4) they are efficient in the red zone, and finally, 5) they play excellent special teams.

Ever hear what Paul Wulff claims they want to do as a program? Almost always, running the ball and stopping the run are two of the first things he will mention as things they want to do on a weekly, consistent basis. And oh yeah, get pressure on the opposing QB, and play strong, sound special teams. Sort of like what Stanford is doing right now, isn't it?

Now here's the thing that doesn't look real promising for a year-two turnaround from a WSU perspective. Harbaugh isn't profiled as some high-flying, no-huddle offense type. He's all about the three yards and a cloud of dust, punch you in the face football. This is what Stanford has set out to do from day one, and they are quickly morphing into what that program will be all about. Sure, they want to throw the ball better, but under Harbaugh these guys are going to be about running the ball and stopping the run, playing a very physical style of football.

And if the shoe fits? Stanford will always be able to get the strong, brainy, disciplined type of players, and not the super bad-ass elite speed guys that will flock to USC, Oregon, Cal and ASU. So this style of play suits them just fine, thank you. However, Stanford's model isn't what Wulff wants to do. I think it's clear that Harbaugh's transition to this style of play is an easier thing to do vs. where Wulff wants to take us, which is that no-huddle spread style of offense. It doesn't take a genius to see that the transition thus far isn't uh, working say the least.

I know many of us have said all along to give Wulff time to turn it around. Let's see what happens after a few more of his recruiting classes get assimilated into the program, and the young underclassmen you see playing every week start to get bigger and stronger with some time in this new program. And I know I have been right there with everyone else, pointing to 2010 as the year that we could really see a leap forward. But in looking at Harbaugh and Stanford, I don't think there is much here for Coug fans to hang our hats on. Some fans are going to look at Stanford this week and say "See, Stanford turned it around quickly under Harbaugh! WSU can too, next year!" I just don't see a lot of hope for WSU 2009 while looking at Stanford 2008. Do you? The style of play is just so different as to what Harbaugh and Wulff want to do, so I don't think this is a very good comp. SORRY TO WASTE YOUR TIME!

That's about it. Enjoy your Monday, and as always, GO COUGS!

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Victory Exclusive: Interview with David Gergen and Pat Buchanan

Election 08 Special Series

As a part of the Sunday Talk shows, Victory Bell sat down with David Gergen and Pat Buchanan to talk about the campaign for Washington State Sportswriter of the Year.

Victory Bell (V.B.):

Gentlemen, thank you for being here.

David Gergen (DG) and Pat Buchanan (PB):

It's good to be here.


David Gergen, let's start with you. What are your thoughts about the current dynamics of this race?


Well, I think that the dynamics are obviously fascinating. On one hand, you have this lingering question about whether or not there even is a race and whether or not an award even exists. Three quarters of the parties involved haven't even acknowledged that there is a race, let alone announced any campaign.

But, the other fascinating point is how the WSU Football Blog has managed to turn this into an Italian Parliamentary Election. In American Politics, we're used to a two-team race where the victor has to capture the imagination of the majority of the electorate. But here, it's a four team race meaning that a ticket could win with only 25.1% of the vote.

Obviously, such math favors the underdog. So I think it's a very savvy move by the WSU Football Blog to frame this as a four team race.




I totally agree with David here. This is a brilliant move undertaken by a bunch of poised, veteran political operatives. If the nation didn't know about Longball yet, they do now. He is a tremendous force to be reckoned with as the manager of this complex, diverse campaign. What talent, what strategy!


Okay, so let's talk strategy. What do you see as being the main dynamics of this race?


Well, clearly you have to say that the structural advantage lies in the Condotta-Withers camp. They have the largest readership, are quite competent and professional, one of them blogs actively, and they also represent both the Huskies and the Cougars. Collectively, those factors give them access to an enormous share of the electorate and market share (if you will), so they should really win this thing handily. The key for them is to not rest on their laurels, because the electorate is still quite vulnerable to believing what might be construed as "baseless attacks."




While I agree with David on the last point, I don't think its right to underestimate the Grippi-Blanchette ticket.

With them, you have the second largest media market in the State, a dedicated and somewhat monolithic readership, and a host of experience.

They might just be content to let the others just go at each other, win the Spokane region, and walk home with the presidency... I mean, award.


So, David, what do you think about the Post-Intelligencer's chances?


I like them. They have a hardcore partisan in Jim Moore who really resonates with the Cougar Base. Molly Yanity is young, but she brings the gender card into the debate. Will women flock to her and Moore because of gender? That's a possibility and one that might make a big difference with a 25-30% threshold.

Plus, Jim Moore is not a beat reporter, so his record is not held to as much technical scrutiny as we would see in someone like Condotta.


But this is where I disagree with David. I think that the PI ticket is effectively toast.

The only meaningful cross-over that Moore-Yanity have is with Dog lovers.

And for that reason, I thought the WSU Football Blog's move to put a photo of Sedihawk with his dog Barkley on their campaign announcement was genius--it split the Golden Retriever vote right down the middle.


So, lets talk about the WSU Football Blog. What is their strategy and what are their chances?


Well, their chances are paradoxically good but small. On one hand, they have the problem of name recognition which is why you've seen an all-out publicity stunt from the start of the campaign.

But, from what I've seen, their strategy might prove to be effective.
Basically, they know that the major markets are out of their reach.

So, what you see them doing is hitting small, rural communities that tend to be highly pro-Washington State University. Their thought is that securing the support of those towns will get them from 16 to 20 points which I think is what they are polling now.

But, even with that approach, they're still short about 9 points.


What they're doing is taking a page right out of Karl Rove's playbook. Each move they make is meant to take away the opposition's strength. So, they go at Grippi's methodicism because if they disarm that, Grippi has nothing to run on.

So, I think that you will see them take that bent at every turn that they can--especially against the Seattle papers.


Exactly. What I would add is this: What the WSU Football Blog wants is for the Seattle Papers to go at each other. If things get nasty enough, then places like Marysville, Tukwilla, Burien, and Spanaway may come into play.

And that may be exactly what the WSU Football Blog needs to steal this election.


Fascinating. Last question, what main political or popular figures are the campaigns targeting right now?


BoldGreat question, Liberty.


That's "Victory," Pat.


Whatever. I'd have to say that Jason Gesser and Mike Price are huge targets right now in this election. They carry so much weight with the WSU base. Gesser with the fantastic record on the field, Price carrying them to two Pac-10 titles. Their endorsements would be huge.


For me, there's no question about the man that all parties are actively courting right now: It's Keith Jackson. The man is a legend, perhaps the biggest name in WSU sports history. Whomever wins the support of Keith Jackson will win this election. There's no question in my mind about that.


Thank you, gentlemen, for your time.

PB & DG:

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

WSU Football Blog Aims to Hit Home Run


ONALASKA, WA--"Hello, Logger Nation!" exclaimed Brinkhater to a capacity crowd on Day two of the WSU Football Blog's campaign for College Football Sportswriters of the Year.

"Its good to be back in the place where all things that start off Purple and Gold grow up to see the light of Crimson and Gray! And on a clear day in Onalaska, legend has it that you can actually see Russia!"

According to campaign officials, the purpose of the Blog's swing through the battleground of Southwestern Washington was for Brinkhater and Sedihawk to present a set of talking points which they hope will lead them victory in November.

With that goal in mind, campaign officials hoped that the two might be able to construct a narrative around the three pillars of their campaign: Experienced Leadership, Trust, and Fiscal Responsibility.

"In this day and age, any Tom, Dick, or Sherry can start a blog" noted Sedihawk, the Blog's co-founder.

"You know that, I know that, and the American People know that."

"But I also want you all to know and remember that Brinkhater and I started the WSU Football Blog before those large newspapers even knew what a Blog was. So, I ask you: when times are uncertain as these times are, who can you really trust to advance the cause of Cougar Nation when you need things done right?"

"Also too," noted Brinkhater as the applause subsided, "You will hear all of the other candidates talk about their records of outstanding journalism and how they are worthy of your trust as such. But I ask you--I beseech you--how many of those other corporate, liberal media types have shown something even more important?"

What I am saying is, how many of them have adequately proven that they actually trust YOU?"

Amidst a chorus of boo birds, Sedihawk noted that other media outlets have made life miserable for those who wish to comment on their Blogs. Among the hassles he noted on opponent's web-sites were constant mandates to disclose e-mail addresses, names, addresses and zip codes, phone numbers, and dates of birth.

"The only thing they don't ask for is your Social Security number," Sedihawk lamented to the crowd.

"But we at the WSU Football Blog have never done that!" Brinkhater interjected to thunderous applause.

"And we never will!"

"You have our word on that," the two exclaimed in chorus. "And that is why we are running for College Sportswriters of the Year!"

While the two were supposed to include additional discussion of their record of Fiscal Responsibility, they apparently forgot to do so. And, instead, quickly dove into the crowd.

In other developments at the event, the WSU Football Blog also announced that fellow blogger Longball was appointed Chair, Adviser, and Manager of the campaign.

In the first definitive act in his new role, Mr. Longball addressed reporters after the event.

"These guys are really something. You know, at first, I was just a lonely guy who posted on the Blog every once in a while. But then one day, they asked me to join the team. Next thing I know, I have a new job and I'm getting regular offers from Fortune 500 companies just about every week."

"So, the message we're trying to put out there is that these guys are more than just outstanding sportswriters, they've also got a proven record of creating jobs."

"So it's my role in the campaign to make sure that America sees that."

But sources close to the campaign suggest that doing so will be no easy task.

In only two short days, the trio has completely exhausted its limited budget and is struggling to find sources to supplement their weak cash reserves.

"The fact that Brinkhater still lives with his parents helps" a source close to the campaign noted, "but look what they're up against: three multi-million dollar corporations. And their name recognition is barely polling in the double digits."

Over the coming days, the trio plans to make their way up the I-5 corridor en route to traversing towns around the Olympic Peninsula including Hoquiam, Chehalis, Sheldon, Sequim, Quilcene, and Neah Bay.

"We will not stop until the entire state has heard our message." Sedihawk promised.

But there's only one week left. Stay tuned.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Breaking News: WSU Football Blog Enters Highly Contested Race

WASHTUCNA, WA - Professional sports writers beware. On Thursday, on a glorious fall evening in the greater Washtucna area, WSU Football Bloggers "Brinkhater" and "Sedihawk" officially announced their joint candidacy to be crowned top Washington State College Football Writers for 2008.

The two join an already talented pool of candidates that include the twin bills of Jim Moore and Molly Yanity of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Bob Condotta and Bud Withers of the Seattle Times, as well as the Vincent Grippi-John Blanchette conglomerate of Spokane's Spokesman Review.

While the two announced that more specific details of their candidacies would be announced in the coming days, Brinkhater used the initial press conference to go on the offensive. Vincent Grippi, the top scribe of WSU Athletics of the Spokesman Review, was Brinkhater's primary target.

"For too long now, WSU Nation has suffered the wrath of the stodgy, outdated ideas and journalistic methods of Vincent Grippi and his other colleagues from the State's major newspapers. So, after careful consideration and with the full blessing of our families and spiritual advisers, we are here to declare our intention to run for--and win--the state's top award for College Football Sportswriters."

Pundits were shocked by the announcement. Nobody knew that the award existed, that it was up for grabs, or that there would be any type of public election. But citing a need for change, Brinkhater's declaration "should serve as a warning for all mainstream media types that everything is on the table. And to my fans all over the globe, please be assured that help is on the way."

Meanwhile, reaction began pouring in from all over Cougar Nation. "I had no idea you could even do something like this", said Bud Nameck, WSU football sideline reporter. "But having said that, I can't disagree with any of it. Brinkhater and Sedihawk really are a breath of fresh air. Each week I let them into my home with their columns and predictions, filling the deep void left by the lack of mainstream media's ability to inform and entertain. I mean, I can read notebooks or get links to other stories about WSU pretty much anywhere. But I think that perhaps some of the old acts have grown tiresome. In these troubling times, we really need a change."

When reached at his palatial Tacoma estate last night, longtime WSU football announcer Bob Robertson said "I don't know who Brinkhater is, and quite frankly, I don't care for blogs, message boards or the Internet in general. But where Vince Grippi of the Spokesman is concerned, well, he has a long history of being an honest beat reporter who gets the facts straight. OK, so he blogs about his family outings with his Dad when the Cougs travel to UCLA and muses about problems at his apartment in Pullman during home games. But who doesn't want to read about that?"

When asked if his statement reflected his infamous dark sarcasm, Robertson quickly stammered into a play-by-play call of a three-yard gain by former WSU running back Frank "Magic" Madu, "weaving his way up the middle and lunging out to the 42-yard line!" When asked what he meant by the description of the Madu carry, Robertson replied "Who? What now?" before abrupty ending the call with his trademark "always be a good sport, be a good sport always" catch phrase.

In a prepared statement, WSU Football Blog contributors "Longball" and "Hooty McBoob" roundly endorsed Brinkhater and Sedihawk for the honor.
"Brinkhater has been an outstanding blogger on the WSU landscape for many wonderful years. And his record speaks for itself" said Longball. "We would be thrilled to see him and Sedihawk assume the top spot in WSU Nation."

Said McBoob: "Who else on the planet has been able to acquire an amazing 46-2 record picking WSU Football and Basketball games? Even though I hate the sport of basketball, I cannot deny Brinkhater's greatness. And Hawk, wow. Have you seen the stuff he's done this year? And in our worst year EVER? The daily content is better than ever! And as Brinkhater himself has said, this is a time for change. "

Throughout the press conference, Brinkhater continued to fire shots across the bow of the Grippi campaign, calling the self-described aging and balding former athlete "out of touch with his audience." Brinkhater then touted his own 46-2 record picking Cougar football and hoops games over the past two years. "I simply ask you all to look at the record, and compare it to Grippi's. I think that when people open their minds and review our respective accomplishments, the WSU Football Blog will become the people's obvious choice."

The Grippi-Blanchette campaign had no immediate reaction, perhaps because there isn't a true Grippi-Blanchette campaign. Vince Grippi appeared, like many others, to be completely unaware that there was such an award or that there would be an election.

When reached at his home late last night, after several moments of stunned silence, Grippi tabbed the situation as "outrageous" and refused to comment further pending a morning meeting with his Spokesman advisers.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 4th. Polls open for early voting starting the morning of Friday, October 31, 2008. Every vote counts.

'til then....stay Tuned. Click here for more Comments

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Problem Solved...

I got your solution to the QB problem right here...

No, that is not Jared Lorenzen. That is Kevin Farmer, a 6'4" 299 lb freshman O lineman standing in at QB during pass rushing drills this summer (notice, none of our D-linemen are getting anywhere near him). We might as well, right? I mean we clearly aren't going to ask our QBs to throw and if he still gets hit, at least the big fella should be able to give as good as he gets. And look at that footwork! Eyes down field, standing tall in the pocket... Looks good to me.

Allright, enough funny business. I wanted to chime in with my 2 cents about the mind blowing catastrophe that is the 2008 Cougar Football season. The streak died. And it died without us making any kind of serious attempt to keep it alive. Like many of you, I was beside myself with rage/grief/humilation, you name it. However, unlike many of you I am in no way even close to condemning CPW and his staff. Now I will admit, that is the first time I can ever recall seeing my beloved Cougs not actually try to win a game. At all. That is painful, and certainly not fair to anyone who paid to attend the debacle. I think it was a mistake on the part of this staff not to attempt to compete, and I expect they are learning a tough lesson from being raked over the coals for it all week.

But Cougar Nation, I implore you to keep in mind as you judge the decisions that this staff is making, there is not a single option available to them week in and week out that they actually want. They cannot run the defense they want, and they cannot run the offense they want. The only options available to them due to personnel issues are not what they would ever choose if they didnt have to. Making all the right decisions in a circumstance like that is not possible, and making decisions that are popular with the fan base? Forget about it.

Now for those of you questioning coach Wulff's qualifications, I want to get something straight. Eastern Washington is not a Division II school. It is a Div 1AA school, and there is a difference. In fact, in all of football there are no two closer divisions than Div 1 and Div 1AA. So close in fact, that they actually PLAY EACH OTHER. If you don't think that coaching success at Div 1AA translates to Div 1, you are simply not a knowledgeble football fan, so luckily for you, I am here to set you straight. Or better yet, go check out Joe Cline's article on Cougfan. I'll be waiting here for you to come back and explain to me how all those other "Div II" coaches like Jim Tressel, Dennis Erickson, Mike Price, Rich Rodriguez, Frank Beamer, etc. were all overwhelmed by the bright lights of D-1. The fact is there is no other more dependable proving ground for successful Div-1 coaches than Div-1AA. If any group of coaches has ever proven to be "in over their head", it is the career assistants like, ahem, Doba.

There seem to be a lot of people in Cougar nation taking this season as vindication of their desire for a "sexier" hire than Paul Wulff. I have to conclude that these folks either:
A. have been Cougar fans since about 1997
B. think the Tony Bennets of the world grow on trees
C. both

CPW has proven at a high level that he can succeed against competition that has greater resources. He also has unquestionable loyalty to WSU and can refer to this as his "dream job" without a hint of B.S. That is a great recipe for sustained success on the Palouse. If you have been a Coug fan since before 10 win seasons were even considered a possibility, when the Jackie Sherrils and Dennis Ericksons of the world used us as nothing more than a rung in their career ladder, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Today coach Wulff and his staff took a timeout from being all overwhelmed by Div 1 to land yet another verbal commit from a kid that other Pac-10 schools were after.

That's right, Jamal Atofau from Bellevue chose the Cougs over Oregon, Arizona, Oregon State, Boise State, UW, etc. Atofau is another three-star player, rated the #55 defensive back in the country by So forgive me if I forget the disaster on the field for a moment and say, thank GOD we hired coach Wulff. If only we would have done it sooner...
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Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap - Week Nine

A lot of ground to cover this week so we'll jump right in with a recap of this week's radio show (and some potential BREAKING news to boot?):

  • First off, I have to admit that Wulff's overall tone was definitely more somber or down than I can remember. You can hear it in his voice that this whole thing is probably wearing on him, and he's also ready for it to change. But I haven't heard him like this the whole season. Not totally down in the dumps, but clearly a different tone.

  • Bob-Rob asked him about the closed practices this week. Wulff said that there are a lot of reasons, but mainly "we need some time to ourselves". Lots to work on, but also need to stay together and iron out a lot of things, and most of all, "address the things that we can control right now". Wulff also made it clear that he is using this bye week to reinforce their understanding of things, as well as make it well-known about the coaching staff's expectations of the players and each other. But Wulff also said hey, we've been trying this thing one way so far, and it's obviously not working. We have to adapt and try something else to get it turned around.

  • Bob-Rob asked him what Wulff is looking for in terms of team leaders. Can they be built? Wulff said that some of it can be, and sometimes players grow into a real leadership role. Basically the ones that "walk the talk" are the ones that others will gravitate towards and look to in tough times, and they carry the most respect (we touched on this earlier in the week, about the lack of leadership might be a big problem right now?). But they are always looking for leadership on the recruiting trail. Clearly there is a void right now.

  • A caller asked about the no-huddle, and where has it gone? Wulff said that right now, given the injuries and inexperience, that offensively they can't really handle it. It will come with more experience and as they get more comfortable and healthy going forward, but for now, they can't do it effectively. Ideally it will return as a staple of what they do offensively, and will want to use it as a way to dictate tempo, catch the defense off guard/on their heels/etc but doing it now wouldn't benefit anyone.

  • Another caller asked him about recruiting right now, and how is he handling all the losing when dealing with recruits? The fine line of a recruit wanting to play early vs. playing on a winner, how is he dealing with that? Wulff said that there is usually more than fans think when it comes to recruits and what they look at. The end-result on the field, AT THAT MOMENT, isn't the most important thing to a recruit. They look at the opportunity to play early, but other things, like their potential position coach, the style of play, the gameday atmosphere, the campus, the academic situation, everything goes into it. Wulff said that many of the recruits and the families they are talking to right now understand the situation, that they are young, injured and everything is still new, and that these times won't last forever. They are selling the opportunity to these kids to be part of something special going forward as the foundation of a successful program. The caller brought up the caliber or recruits, and the Utah kids who visited were brought up (not by name, as that is against the rules of course). Wulff went out of his way to say that Jody Sears is doing a great job recruiting right now, and that Utah is his territory. He has really hit it off well with the two kids from Utah and they have shown tremendous interest in all that WSU has to offer (check it out here from Cougfan as to who was visiting from Utah last weekend).

  • A caller asked about the strategy against USC. Why only nine passes? Why not use J.T. Levenseller instead and actually try to do something other than what we saw? Wulff said there were several reasons they did what they did. First off, Lopina's health is "far less than 100%" but good enough to play. Wulff was so concerned for his health that they did not want to put him in jeopardy of getting a further setback to his recovery from the broken vertebrae. If you remember, even though Lopina threw just nine balls, he did take a couple of pretty big (and painful looking) shots. You wonder how much he could have actually handled before he was back on the bench. As to why they didn't play J.T., the reason was simply that it wouldn't be fair to have his first NCAA experience to be against USC's defense! USC starts nine seniors on their defense, it's the best defense in the Pac-10 if not one of the best in the country, and at least half of them could eventually be first-round NFL draft picks. That is no way to break in a true frosh QB, behind a battered offensive line and no running game to speak of. It just wouldn't have been fair to J.T. to play him in that game. Wulff basically again said that the goal was to try and run the ball, control the clock and come out of that game healthy.

  • Wulff was also asked about USC. He said they look outstanding, and really felt that Mark Sanchez is excellent, if not underrated as a QB in the country. But he went on about how Pete Carroll was just a class act all the way, citing a few opportunities they had to pile on even worse but chose not to (including the possession to end the first half). Carroll apologized to Wulff after the game for the final score, and Wulff told him that there is nothing to apologize for. But Carroll is just a great guy and a class act all the way.

  • One issue that came up when discussing USC was the emotion on the team right now. Wulff said a troubling sign is what is happening when they do get behind early, and that is there seems to be an "acceptance" of the situation. They aren't showing enough fight overall, and might be a big reason for some of these terrible final score margins. He didn't flat out say they were quitting when the going got tough, but you can figure it out. I guess it's not hard to at least think that many players are giving in when you have four Pac-10 teams hang at least 60 points on you??

  • Now for some semi-Breaking news - J.T. Levenseller is, if you believe the radio show, VERY LIKELY to play vs. Stanford. Wulff said that they are working hard, right now, to make that happen, and that they are looking at this as a five-game season. J.T. is going to be a big part of that. Now he didn't say if young Levy would start vs. Stanford, or come off the bench as part of a QB rotation, but he did say he would play. Hmm, maybe this is part of the closed practices as well?

  • Wulff expanded on what they think of Levy. Wulff first said "competitor" without hesitation, much like Marshall Lobbestael. But they really see the extra intangible in him, and that he'll be the type of QB who simply finds ways to win. He stands just about 6 feet, and is an outstanding athlete with great feet. He has an excellent arm, one that Wulf says "can make all the throws in this offense". And he also possesses the ability to throw on the run, and with real accuracy. Very tough minded kid, like his father. And every bit the "coaches son" in that he knows the game and understands things pretty well just because he's been around it so much. Wulff would say that you get a player like J.T. Levenseller, it has the potential to lift the whole team.

  • Wulff would go on to say that the QB situation is setting up nicely for next year. When you consider they'll still have Lopina on the roster, plus a return to health for Lobbestael and now, Levenseller is going to show what he can do. Hopefully they close the deal with Jeff Tuel, the recruit from Fresno, and he can redshirt next year.

  • Wulff was asked about Stanford. He said they are doing an excellent job of running the football, and that is keeping them in virtually every game they play. They are still in their second year with Harbaugh, so they aren't perfect, but they have made some big strides. But a huge part of their success so far is their ability to run the ball. Very physical up front. They also play sound defense and have some experience, so they should be tough. Wulff would go on to say that he looks at Stanford and sees that our own offensive line needs to emulate some of what they do, in terms of physical play up front and the ability to run the football. If you can't run it, you can never keep that defense honest, and you aren't able to get very deep into your offense.

  • Finally, a caller asked about the scoring streak, and why with a few minutes left didn't they at least try some hail mary type throws? Wulff said that the streak was sort of on their mind, and they did talk about it briefly as far as running a play or two that they thought could work. But at the same time, it was not a priority to them. They had a game plan and wanted to stick with it, and they felt it was more important to keep Lopina healthy and not risk having him get hurt in a "meaningless situation at the end of the game". Wulff said he would just hate the idea of getting Lopina further injured on something that simply wasn't too relevant. So, he said they bagged the idea of some deeper plays, and Wulff stuck to the plan.

So that's it. Levenseller to play vs. Stanford, provided everything goes to plan. That's a pretty big deal. And frankly I'm glad to see it. They are worried about Lopina's health, so much so that they are willing to just run the ball 90% of the time? Then don't play him. Five games left is still, believe it or not, a decent chunk of a season. While some might scoff at the idea of burning Levy's redshirt this late in the year, well, a lot can be gained by playing the last five games of a season. Back when teams would play 10-11 games, that was roughly half a season. Brink started the last five games of the 2004 season, and he definitely gained from that experience.

But again, overall a less-than-thrilling radio show. It's hard to explain, but if you heard the show, you would know what I mean when I say there was a different tone with Wulff. Maybe a little down, but also much more serious sounding to me. We'll see if it's same 'ol, same 'ol, or if some of these changes actually pay off in a couple of weeks.

Happy Wednesday, and GO COUGS! Click here for more Comments

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jim Walden: "This is a Junior College Team"

If anyone has listened to the radio broadcasts this year, you know that it's been tough on the old guys. Bob-Rob plows through the excruciating play-by-play, and seems to manage pretty well. But Jim Walden, ah yes, the guy lives and dies with every play. I especially love the "OH NO!" or "Ahhhhh" when the other team breaks a big play or a penalty happens against our beloved Cougs. Walden also ripped Jeff Tedford on the air for Tedford throwing hail mary passes up 42-3 in the 2nd quarter, or throwing for the end-zone when winning 59-3 in the fourth quarter. Tell us how you really feel coach.

That is one of the best things about Walden, is that he doesn't sugar coat all. Last year, after Doba was let go, he was asked his opinion on Mike Price's return, as well as who should be the next coach. Let there be no doubt, Jim Walden did NOT want Mike Price to return. Period. And Walden also stumped for Paul Wulff. The interview where Walden let loose is still online and available here, if you care to go back in time to December 2007.

Once you cut through the hee-haw, Walden is also pretty sharp when it comes to what he sees on the field. For example, I heard him after the Okie State game lament our lack of defensive line talent, especially at tackle, saying "this is the thinnest, least-talented group of defensive tackles I've ever seen at Washington State" and how that was "going to be a major problem this year". He called that one didn't he??

Now today, Walden has weighed in on where things are right now. And as always, Walden delivers:
"There's less talent to work with here than at any time since Jim Sweeney was the coach. With so many freshmen and sophomores in the lineup, what you have, really, is a junior college team. That just isn't going to do it at this level."
There's more. When asked about the job Wulff is doing, Walden broke it down in Pullman-speak:
"If you have nine guys plowing their fields with John Deere tractors and one guy is still using mules, the guys with tractors are going to do a better job and raise bigger crops. That doesn't mean the guy with mules doesn't know as much or isn't working as hard or harder. The guys with tractors just have better equipment. That's the way it is in the Pac-10. I don't think Pete Carroll of USC could win more than two games with this bunch."
Fair enough. Pretty clear picture isn't it?

Thanks for keeping it real Walden. Not that the older players will really care what you say at this point, as from some of the comments and things we have heard recently paints a "who gives a $hit, who gives a f_ck" attitude by some of the supposed elders. Whatever. But Walden might be as homer-hackish sounding color guy as there is in the game, but he's OUR homer-hack! And let's hope he continues to call it as he sees it.

Enjoy your Tuesday, and Go Cougs. Click here for more Comments

Monday, October 20, 2008

Can Leaders Be Created?

With Paul Wulff closing practice on Sunday, as well as several more to come, it's clearly look-in-the-mirror time. From the head man all the way down to the practice squad, it's time to dig in and figure things out. I don't think this bye week could have come at a better time.....unless it was last week and USC simply wasn't on the schedule. But really, the mental state for everyone in that locker room right now has to be in the toughest spot imaginable.

But the thing that is standing out now, after this last debacle, is the call for leadership. You are really hearing it for the first time, that there is a real void. But I think this has been brewing since August. Consider:
  • One report we heard was that several players, standing on the sidelines during a tough August practice, were seen jacking around and not paying attention. This was what led Wulff to vent to the press that some players just weren't tough enough yet or understood what it takes to become a good football team, remember?

  • Things looked promising vs. Okie State. The team had a decent bounce about it, and the defense played a pretty good game when you consider all the offensive troubles. And even after a very difficult first half, they came out and had two consecutive TD drives to start the third quarter, and you could see some upside here. They even ran the ball fairly well, against a team that now looks like a Big 12 title threat (have you seen what Okie State has been doing this year?). Just clean up some things offensively, fix some of the brutal special teams disasters, and this could have been a ballgame. I know I walked out of Qwest thinking that there was real promise with this team.

  • But if we only knew what was to come. There was a report we got from someone on the sidelines during the Cal game that a lot of players not in the game looked completely disinterested, with very little talk or interaction amongst themselves. Just no energy whatsoever, and you would expect more excitement for the home opener. Obviously when you get run off the field like they were vs. Cal there isn't going to be a lot of cheerleading, but this was reportedly before the game had even started, before the rout was on.

  • Against the Ducks, some reports started showing up in the media, with Alfonso Jackson saying that they were flat for the game. Coach Wulff denied that, and he thought they came out ready to play. Something sure seemed off though.

  • They actually showed some real energy in that UCLA game. I know that's a memory now long gone, but they did put their heads in there and fight for as long as they could. Obviously it didn't work out, with the offensive line issues and Marshall's first road start a very difficult one to say the least. But that was at least a spirited effort. No talk at all about being flat in that one.

  • For a short time, the Oregon State game was actually interesting. Anyone remember the 2nd quarter? The flurry of interceptions, the offense had a nice TD drive, Louis Bland ran one back for a score, and they "won" the 2nd quarter 14-3. There was real emotion and again, a little bit of promise, but of course it all evaporated in the 2nd half.

  • Finally, the USC game. Wulff said afterwards that they are competing, and people aren't exactly quitting.....but we get down early, and "the emotion just leaves us." Bud Withers had the emotional tone in his notebook from Sunday, and openly asks where is the emotion.

Now boys will be boys, in terms of the August screwing off/disinterest on the sidelines. Summer practices can be hell in the 90+ degree heat, etc, and it's difficult to keep a laser-like focus all the time. But you hear and read guys like Kevin Lopina, playing with a freshly healed fractured vertebrae, saying players better come here ready to fight or else turn in your gear. You hear Andy Mattingly openly question the desire, and say a few times that losing just doesn't bother the players, that they are too used to it. And you hear things off the record, like no energy or passion, or that nobody cares about their teammates or winning.

What does that tell you? It sure as hell tells me that there WAS A CULTURE ISSUE here. This wasn't about trying to pass blame on the prior staff, and hide from things as a coach, as some of you have openly suggested in our comments. Once again, I ask that everyone go back and read that Seattle Times article. Seriously, just go back and spend a few minutes to go over it. Remember this quote?
"WSU is a hard school to go to, man," Williams says. "You ain't got nothin' to do but get drunk and smoke weed, and not go to class because you're too tired from doing what you're doing."
It's a sledgehammer reminder of where things were when Wulff walked into this mess. Rip our coach all you want, question his background, whatever you need to do to feel better about things. But do not fail to understand the enormous task he was handed in trying to get this deal going in the right direction.

That said, what can be done? Will leaders suddenly emerge from the ashes of this mess? For the first time we've heard Kevin Lopina and Andy Mattingly speak up about things, about how there are some problems with some players here and it has to change. Maybe they are going to naturally step forward, as upperclassmen, to take the reins. I know the buzz has been positive on Louis Bland and some of the other frosh in terms of leadership. But they are just frosh, and 9 out of 10 vets aren't going to listen or follow a rookie, ever. They just won't.

So what we have here is a wide gap. On one side you have the older vets who have never tasted success, and obviously it doesn't bother many of them too much. They were raised in this program under Doba's hands-off approach. Now Wulff comes onto the scene, with a whole new level of accountability. You have to go to class and get decent grades now. You have to lift weights, harder than you ever have before. Heck, you have to EAT the meals you are supposed to eat, and coach Wulff is going to keep track of all of it. Talk about a change.

On the other side you have these young recruits with lots of energy and leadership abilities, guys Wulff and the rest picked to be part of their program. But outside of a few of them, the vast majority are redshirts. They are simply too young to lead right now, that clearly these older players won't follow their lead right right now. And it's obviously hard to be a leader when you aren't even playing.

Add it all up? It's a transitional mess, on and off the field. I for one hope we see a new change, beginning with this bye week. I hope Lopina and Mattingly become the offensive and defensive leaders going forward. Clearly they are pissed off by the whole thing, and that's step one to making a change isn't it? Maybe some of the freshman and sophomores are willing and eager, but have been waiting for some upperclassmen to take the lead? Maybe this will really and truly be the turning point for the entire program?

Happy Monday, and GO COUGS. Click here for more Comments

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. Click here for more Comments

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Congrats Coach Wulff

Coach Paul:

If I could put your face on this picture it would be totally fitting:

Today, you and your staff put forward the worst and most disgraceful coaching performance in the history of Cougar football.

As we noted here earlier in the week, THE ONLY thing that made this team worth watching moving forward was the scoring streak.

Now, if we had lost the streak putting our best foot forward so be it.

But, we played the ENTIRE game the way that SC played the second half: we took a knee.

And what does it get us?

It makes us completely irrelevant.

It makes us completely uninteresting.

It makes us completely unbearable to watch.

So, congrats Wulff.

You just threw 25 years of history, pride, and accomplishment straight down the toilet.

You just threw attendance for the next two years right out the window.

And you just lost 50% of the 10 Coug supporters out there who think you were the right choice.

On the bright side, you saved the redshirt of JT Levenseller who last I heard is slated to be the next John Elway.

Thank god basketball season started yesterday, our Football Program is now toast. Click here for more Comments

We're Off (full)!!!!!!!

Yes sir.

So, the game starts with us THIS CLOSE to recovering a fumble that would have kept the scoring streak alive.

Now, we get to see how Lopina looks. (And how about Lopina's pre-game line, ZERO touches and five picks)

In the meantime, comment away as the game goes. I know you're on-line because there is NO ONE in Martin Stadium.

Go Offense!

UPDATE 6:00 1st Quarter. I could swear that we've just had two possessions and have not thrown a pass (but I've been sniffing glue for the past 15 minutes, so who knows?)

Incredible. I've heard of playing not to lose (too much), but this game presents an example of a totally new paradigm:


UPDATE End of 1st Quarter--WHICH MEANS IT'S QUIZ TIME!!!!!!!

Vegas has set the over under on USC punts at 3.

How many times will USC punt today?

Get the answer right and get a free Brinkhater hater t-shirt. (I say once).

We're on pace for Longball's 85-3 call!


Isn't it time for Pete to insert the "Band Pushup Rule?"

I mean, if you make the Conquest Chronies do a push up for every point, maybe we could have some additional entertainment of sorts.

I don't know, maybe we see the Tuba player charge Sarkasian after the 91st point?

Or maybe we can see more of this?

But more to the point, don't you all think that MAYBE we should try a bit on offense??

Talk about a de facto forfeit. Sheesh.

Sedihawk says:
Can't let Brinkhater have all the fun here....

Well, we are getting man-handled.

Wow, was that Brandon Gibson at QB? I guess it can't hurt. Nice to see the slowest developing run play in the history of the game continued to gets called/fail. Keep it up.

Anyone see Kevin Kooyman on that last run? He went 15 yards straight back like he was on roller skates. Brutal.

There is NO WAY they are going to score.

Sedihawk says: What a mess. Can the bye week hurry up and get here? 76-0 here we come?

UPDATE 8:29 4th Quarter:

Looks like the shirt is going to A for its correct call with 2 USC punts on the day. Hey, A, Send SASE to Brinkhater Hater Industries, Colfax WA.

We also knownow how much Wulff cares about our scoring streak: ZERO.

I for one am pretty pissed.

It meant something to Brinkhater. And the fact that we didn't even try is sickening. Click here for more Comments

Flag Spotting, Week Eight

You just CAN'T KILL IT. Cougar Pride, again on display on Gameday. Thanks to all who make it so.

I don't feel like breaking anything down right now. We know what's going to happen today and it probably won't be pretty. But I, like Brinkhater, will watch. Not because we are gluttons for punishment, but because I really want to see how we look against this type of team. Can they grind through a couple of quarters and keep things interesting before folding up the tents in the third quarter? Or will it be an onside kick 15 yards out of bounds to start things off, leading to an epic wipeout from the first minute, ala Bill Doba 2004, turning it into a horrible yawner of a game?

I am curious to see how the crowd is today. Of course, I cannot be there in person. But will those that make the trek bail at the first sign of trouble? Will the reserved side be half-empty to begin with, seeing how awful the team has been, the march to the inevitable that this week has been, and oh yeah, it's on TV?

And will we see a better performance at the QB spot? Can Lopina take care of the ball (for once), instead of forcing throws into triple coverage? And can the offensive line protect him? Or will it be the USC defensive linemen lining up, like kids at the candy store, just waiting to pummel Lopina?

TRY and enjoy the game. Look for little spurts of improvement. For that is all we have left right now. AND SCORE! Blocked punt, fumbled snap, INT for a pick-6, whatever it takes. Keep that meaningless streak alive!

Enjoy your Saturday, and GO COUGS! Click here for more Comments

Friday, October 17, 2008

WSU Following the Brewster Plan??

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Happy Friday Coug Fans. I know it's hard to focus, as it is the start of the weekend. There are distractions everywhere. But I thought, you know, times like these, times that try us all, it's important to take a look around and see what else is going on in the NCAA football universe. Here we are, in the midst of one of the most frustrating, pathetic beginnings to a new era of football at WSU, staring down the barrel of a 1-win nightmare of a season. It's almost as if this is so bad, it's never even been done before.

Well, if you think this hasn't been done before, you would be wrong. And no, I don't mean Jim Sweeney's horrific 1969-1970 teams in Pullman either. I'm talking much, much more recent than that. Try, in fact, 2007. And best of all, what that team did in 2007 is all the better when you see what that same team is doing in 2008.

Do you know this guy?

Many out here in Coug-ville wouldn't know him, and for good reason. You can tell by the photo that he's got something to do with Minnesota football. In fact, this is Tim Brewster, the head coach at the University of Minnesota. But to be honest, I wouldn't know Tim Brewster if he walked into the room wearing a name-tag that said "Hello, my name is Tim Brewster". Would you?

But why oh why would I show a picture of Tim Brewster on a WSU football blog? Because, well, I want something to believe in, some beacon of hope in this season of epic disasters. And believe it or not, Minnesota might be example 1-A on the list of reasons to be optimistic for our Cougs, next season and beyond.

First of all, I don't know how many of you caught the radio show on Tuesday night. I thought it was one of Wulff's best shows of the year, and as he gets better every week, this might be the one to really feel good about above all others. Why? Because he went out of his way to describe not only his background, and all his experiences and influences. All that is impressive, for a guy who has been around the block a few times at a relatively young age, all things considered. But the thing I grabbed onto was the talk from Wulff that this team will be considerably better in 2009 compared to where it is in 2008!

How is this possible? Aren't the best players, like Brandon Gibson and Greg Trent, leaving after this year? Well, yes, some good ones are leaving. But it's the very clear manner in which Wulff laid out the reasons as to why the team will be better in 2009 made me pretty happy, and I wish you all could have heard him talk about it (you can read about it here).

So, I thought OK, maybe we will be better next year, at least better than people realize. The things Wulff said sure sounded good. But what is the precedent for improvement in the second year of a new regime like this? Is there any proof out there, any hope, that the second year will see an uptick? Believe it or not, there is, and it's happening right now.

First, some background on Brewster. Minnesota, after the 2006 season in which they went 6-7, relieved long-time coach Glen Mason of his duties. This was a controversial decision, one that was unpopular from a lot of different sources. I remember ESPN's Mark May (the same guy who talked Rien Long into going pro, by the way....ass) just RIPPING Minnesota for firing him. And Mason, after all, had a winning record at Minnesota, 64-57, and had taken the Golden Gophers to seven bowl games in their last eight seasons. But for whatever reason, they just couldn't quite get over that proverbial hump. In Mason's time at Minnesota, he won 10 games once - like Bill Doba, in the 2003 season.

Enter Tim Brewster. Like the firing of Mason, Brewster was a curious choice. He was a guy with zero head coaching experience at the D-1 level. I'll say it again - ZERO D-1 head coaching experience. Brewster had been a very good tight end in his playing days, a captain at Illinois on their 1984 Rose Bowl team.

But the thing is, Brewster wanted to be a coach, and he wanted it, badly. So much so that for his first NCAA job in 1989, he drove to Chapel Hill and met with Mack Brown, then the Tar Heels head coach, and pleaded for a job. Brown refused to hire him, but eventually agreed to let him be an unpaid volunteer assistant, just so he could show what he could do (sound familiar?? That's exactly what Paul Wulff did his first year at EWU). Brewster would go on to have a solid NCAA assistant career, and developed a rep as a strong recruiter, even credited with recruiting Vince Young to Texas back in the day. Brewster would also take an NFL step, going on to be a position coach for a few years in the league.

Still, this was a chance Minnesota was taking, hiring him without the BCS head guy experience, and a virtual unknown to the general public.

But the moment Brewster took the job, he set a new tone. A new era of toughness, discipline and fundamentals, Brewster was going to build this thing the right way. And when Brewster took the podium at the press conference announcing his arrival, he declared that his goal was to win the Big 10 and "take Gopher Nation to Pasadena".

Then, the 2007 season happened. OUCH. Left with not much of a team coming back from 2006, things fell apart quickly for Minnesota. They would only beat Miami of Ohio, in overtime no less. But that would be it. 2007 was a terrible season, finishing just 1-11, including an 0-fer in the Big 10.

While their offense was a below-average 68th in the nation in scoring offense, their turnover margin was a minus-15 on the season, or good for 115th in the country. They were playing a young QB, and he struggled in the new offense. But the defense, HOLY COW. They ranked 119th in the nation - yes, that's DEAD last - in total defense, giving up over 518 yards per game. They were 109th in scoring defense, 114th in rushing defense, and 115th in passing defense. They gave up 40 or more points in six games, including 42 to something called Florida Atlantic. Hmmm, any of this sound just a little too familiar??

Take one look at the WSU 2008, with the turnovers and mistakes and lousy defense, and you are looking at Minnesota, 2007.

So why this review of Minnesota? Well....the story takes a big turn. Have you seen the Golden Gophers in 2008? With one year under Brewster's belt, and a couple of recruiting classes in place, what do you know, Minnesota is 6-1! One of the surprise teams in the Big 10, their only loss a road game at Ohio State.

Now, grain-of-salt time. Minnesota hasn't exactly run the gauntlet with their schedule. Their non-conference foes of No. Illinois, at Bowling Green, Montana State and Florida Atlantic isn't much to get excited about. Basically cupcake city. But even after losing to Ohio State, they have rallied to beat Indiana and then won at Illinois, two teams ranked higher than Minnesota coming into the season. Illinois went to the Rose Bowl last year and is regarded as one of the better Big 10 teams, so that's a huge win for Minnesota.

There's more to the story. They still have a ways to go offensively, but sophomore QB Adam Weber is a huge reason for their '08 success. It's not a ton of flashy numbers, but offensively they are simply taking care of the football. After a rough frosh season where Weber threw 19 INT's, this year he's thrown only TWO picks. That's what an extra year of comfort in a system will do for you. But the best news is the trickle-down to the defense. See, when your offense doesn't continually play giveaway, it's amazing what that can do for a defense. In a night and day flip-flop from last year, they are only giving up an average of 18 points per game, or HALF of what they gave up in '07!

The point to this seemingly endless rant? Friends, there IS hope. Even in this dark season where seemingly everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong, there is always tomorrow. And look at how quickly Minnesota has turned it around. They went from a 1-win laughing stock to now the surprise team in their conference, all in one year. And with a guy nobody ever heard of, a head coach with zero BCS head coaching experience. But this guy brought with him a belief in a system, and that through hard work and recruiting, it will turn around. Now, Minnesota is already talking about which bowl game they will go to, not if. But who in Golden Gopher nation would have thought they could even entertain the very idea after 1-11 in 2007? ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Don't give up yet.

Enjoy your Friday, and as always, GO COUGS!

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Football Friday Week 8: Time to Score

Greetings Cougar Nation.

Well, the week started off with my forewarning that the season was so bad, that the blog would have to take a bit of a rester:

Unfortunately for you all, the Blogfathers assembled, decided that it was time for us to "Compete!!!!" and not give in to our sad moods. So, Compete we will!

After all, who doesn't love the smell of victory in the morning following a butt kicker of other teams (or Blogs)????

Sadly for us (the football team), that smell ain't coming anytime soon.

In the meantime, our ONE AND ONLY goal for this season is to keep our darn scoring streak alive.

And in that respect, I think that its a really good thing that Lopina is going to start this game (but I hope it is this game only).

I also think that its a good thing that Mr. Peete Wonderful is a seasoned master at playing the BCS poll game. Unlike others like Mr. Tedford or Mr. Mike "I can't get to a Rose Bowl" Riley, Carroll knows that beating scrubs means nothing unless its the type of 21-14 thrashing (NOT!) that Ohio State put on Mac-Power (not!) Ohio University.

So, expect Pistol Peete to call the dawgs (trojans) off early. Unfortunately for us, Troy will still score 21-28 points in the second half because they are so much more talented than us even when their 3rd and 4th string are on the field (think 2nd half against CAL only faster.)

If we were just a LITTLE bit better, we'd lose the scoring streak this week in the same way that USC blanked ASU last week.

But because we WILL be down 42-0 at halftime, and because Pete is both classy and kind (and his team is beat up AND playing on the road) we'll get on the board once again.

And really, that's what the rest of the season is ALL about at this point, don't ya think?

USC wins another laugher 63-10 as Brinkhater extends his now completely meaningless streak to 20 games.


CAL 31 Arizona 28. Some things were just meant to come to an end. Stoops is one of them: Bad, nasty guy that can't coach to boot. Time to go back to Clay Bennett land.

UCLA 28 Stanford 21. Upset special. Stanford will be too high and UCLA is finding themselves.

Oregon State 41 Washington 17. The second worst team in the conference proves again its just that. But, take it easy Beav fans, getting above .500 doesn't make you worthy of talking about a conference championship. So spare us the talk until you get past CAL and Arizona--then we'll listen AND root for you.

And the next BIG GAME:

Texas 41 Mizzou 31. Mizzou was looking ahead, Texas played over their heads. But the desperation around this game coupled with a home field advantage lifts the horns above Brinkhater's pre-season national title holder.

Enjoy the game. And lets fricking score!!!!

Sedihawk Says:

Ah, USC.

From the land of eternally tan and beautiful people, yes, they are pretty much everything. Big winners, exciting, aggressive style of play, outstanding coach who wins conference title after conference title and who can recruit with any coach in history. They are bigger, stronger and faster at literally every position on the field compared to what we will roll out Saturday, and there is no way around it. This one looks like one of the biggest mismatches in conference history.....except for last year, when Stanford BEAT THEM AS A 41-POINT DOG!

I know, I know. That was fluke city last year, and everyone knows it. If you remember, USC came into that game having just dropped from #1 to #2, and they were pissed off about it. Further, Harbaugh had popped off to the media that summer about Pete Carroll, about his desire to go to the NFL, further inciting the masses that an epic blowout was set to occur. This was feeding babies to lions, no question about it.

And really, USC did dominate most of the action that day, outgaining Stanford 459-235 in total yards. QB Tavita Pritchard was only 11-for-30 for 149 yards, and Stanford's leading rusher, Anthony Kimble, had a mere 32 rushing yards. Yet still, Stanford won it. How??

One word - TURNOVERS. And lots of 'em. John David Booty played with an injured hand and it showed, throwing four interceptions, including one to end the game. Overall, USC gave it away five times, Stanford just once, for a plus-4 turnover ratio on the side of the Cardinal. See, turnovers really DO matter.

Now do I think this same kind of thing will happen on Saturday?? After all, it's happened before, with USC, and just last year as a matter of fact. What if USC comes in flat? What if Kevin Lopina plays a great, efficient game while Mark Sanchez is off? USC has already lost once in the northwest this year, why can't it happen again??


Ladies and gentlemen, I'll be brief. We are over our ski's this week, no way around it. USC is everything, while we are so full of flaws that there are very few BCS teams we can even run with, let alone beat. USC has responded big-time after the Oregon State loss, pummeling the hated Quacks and then pitching a shutout vs. Dennis Erickson last week. And lo and behold, look who's back up to #4 in the country but USC? They are right back in the national title mix. There is no way they are going to kick this opportunity, not now.

Another 60+ points in this one. I'll go USC 62, WSU 6. Yes, we'll actually score, but only in garbage time. It will probably come off a USC mistake, like a fumbled punt or interception deep in their own territory. But the streak will live on!

The rest:
AZ 34 Cal 31. People will count out the mildcats after their loss to the Cardinal, but I'm not one of them. They will respond, and Cal gets beat in Tucson.

Stanford 27 UCLA 24. The Cardinal in a bowl game? Another step closer after this one. Harbaugh is working on his coach-of-the-year acceptance speech.

Oregon State 34 Washington 24. UW puts a scare into the Beavs. UW coming off the bye will have some new things in the offense for Ronnie Fouch, your starting QB the rest of 2008. And remember, Oregon State still hasn't won a road game this year. It will be tight, but then a late TD salts it away for the Beavs.

And the next BIG GAME:

Mizzou 38 Texas 34. I agree with Brinkhater, that Mizzou was looking ahead, Texas played over their heads last week. But Pinkel rallies his troops, while Texas lets down after last week's thriller.

But WOW, is the Big 12 loaded! Phew.

Enjoy your Thursday, and GO COUGS!

Longball says...

You know those tents on the practice field that none of us will ever have enough coin to get into? This is what they ought to look like this week...

Put Hawkeye, Honeycut and the rest of the 4077th on alert! Or perhaps we just set up a triage in the tunnel.

Yep, you guessed it... not only am I picking the Cougars to lose this weekend, I predict heavy casualties. This is shaping up like a Sara Palin press conference; you tune in just to see how awful it's going to be. My esteemed colleague Brinkhater makes a great point, however. We are just bad enough to score late in this game. My only worry is that USC's 65 man road roster means they had to leave all their 4 and 3 star athletes at home. So even their "scrubs" that come in for mop-up duty will just be a preview of the roll call at Canton, OH circa 2030. How strange that the best chance our scoring streak had this week was to be as outmatched as possible, on the road. Well, one outa two ain't bad.

Trojans 85
Cougs 3

A few more compelling matchups....

Cal 38
AZ 30. This may be a very enjoyable game. Especially if we get to see Stoops lose again!

Stanford 28 UCLA 10. I know I post late on Thursdays so in case you missed it, I totally called the Cardinal win last week. How did I know? It was magic, and a little bit of genius. The Hammerin Harbaughs are on a roll and UCLA is just the next footnote in their magical season.

Oregon State 42 Washington 35. I think the Beavs are gonna be fat, sassy and ripe for the pickin this week. After throwing bombs for the end zone when they were up by 100 last week, I can't exactly say they don't deserve to lose... but they are playing the Huskies. Despite some of the Beav's signature road struggles and a heroic effort from the Dawgs, in the end we will all be reminded that nobody circles the wagons like the Buffa... er, I mean the Oregon State Beavers!

Mizzou 35 Texas 28. The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of.... MISSOURI! Tigers silence the burnt Orange on the back of a heroic effort from Mr. Daniel.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone and GO COUGS!!!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap - Week Eight

Some good stuff as usual for this week, so we'll jump right in:

  • Wulff said they have practiced well so far this week. Still working very hard, even with everything going on.

  • Bob-Rob asked him immediately about what he's seen from the USC - Oregon State tape and anything they can glean from that one. Wulff thought Oregon State did a great job at the line of scrimmage, and they ran the ball just so well and could control the clock. He also said Oregon State really ups their game at home, and they have one of the best home field advantages around. But Wulff also said that was obviously just one game, and USC has regrouped quite well with blowout wins over Oregon and ASU, two of the better teams in the conference. Bottom line is USC is a great challenge for anyone they play! Bob-Rob did throw in "yeah, but they hate coming to Pullman" and Wulff said that's true, so hopefully we can make them even more uncomfortable.

  • They touched more on USC. Wulff said that they have an amazing touch throughout the country in terms of recruiting. Bob-Rob said back in the old days, kids all over grew up wanting to play for Notre Dame on a national level, and now USC has become that glamour school. Wulff agreed and mentioned players like Cushing, the linebacker from New Jersey. There are other examples like Mike Williams from Florida and Dwayne Jarrett from New Jersey.

  • One interesting thing Wulff threw in there about USC, however, is that he said they are doing quite well recruiting some kids, right now, who are also interested in USC. He said that they are getting a very good reception from families in the LA area who are interested in having their sons get out of LA instead of stay home. Not that there is a flood-gate situation where athletes headed for USC will suddenly reverse course and head to Pullman(!), but, he said their message in recruiting has been very well received thus far. There will be some recruits in for a visit this coming weekend who we are recruiting who also happen to have USC on their list, but so far so good.

  • A caller asked Wulff who his biggest influences are from his background, in regards to offense, defense and overall philosophy for his program (this was one of the best questions I've heard asked, and Wulff gave a very detailed answer). The first name Wulff mentioned was Dennis Erickson. He said he learned so much from Erickson in regards to offensive x's and o's, about the one back/spread the field concept. Also how aggressive Erickson is on offense, to go along with the scheme, and how unpredictable that type of offense can be. He also said that their biggest goal, however, is to be balanced offensively, even in a spread scheme. They want one of the mainstays of the program to be the ability to run the football, week in and week out. It's the same thing defensively, in that they want to be aggressive and physical on defense and commit to stopping the run. Again, another mainstay, stopping the run on defense and being as aggressive as they can.

  • Wulff brought up Dick Zornes, from EWU. Not so much his schemes, but his entire philosophy. He said Zornes was the most organized coach he has ever seen in 15 years of coaching. And Zornes always preached fundamentals and taught them constantly to his players. Wulff also mentioned learning a little from Mike Price and even Joe Tiller when he was at WSU, but didn't get real specific with them.

  • One interesting name he brought up? Pete Carroll. He said when he played with the Jets for a short time, Carroll was the defensive coordinator I believe? Anyway, he said he learned some good things from Carroll, just being around him.

  • Bob-Rob asked him is there one that you emulate more than the others, and Wulff said no, not really. He said that it's a process where you are around different coaches and styles, and you learn what you can. But you still have your own beliefs and ideals, and you take things with you that will work. But Wulff did go on to say this program will be all about fundamentals, and no matter what, going forward we will be sound in all phases of the game. That is his ultimate goal.

  • Finally, Wulff touched on why he is a coach. He said he never thought he would ever be a coach, but once he was around Dennis Erickson, he say how hard that staff worked but they also had fun with it. That Erickson experience really rubbed off on Wulff. But he loves the interaction with the kids more than anything else! Teaching them, talking to them, and the excitement one gets when all their practice and hard work pays off. He said it's the best feeling to see a kid just light up and excel when they execute what you have taught them. He also likes being involved in their personal lives, helping them out wherever he can to help guide them through some tough times. The best thing is, that like a lot of coaches, he still gets a lot of calls all the time from his former players. Players who have now grown up to become doctors or whatever, yet still give him a call to talk. And also jokingly said that they all tell him how much they appreciate him NOW, but back in the day? That was another story. But the bottom line is the impact he can have with young kids, it's the number one reason he stuck with coaching for all those lean years at EWU. One can think back to the stories of when he first started at EWU, so anxious to be a coach that he worked for free his first year, living in a trailer, well, you can tell that passion is the real thing.

  • Moving on, they touched on the QB situation. Lopina will start, and has healed quite well from his injury. Wulff then went into the injuries to the QB's, and how unfortunate it has been for them, but also many teams around the country have suffered the same type of deal (Look at UCLA's QB situation, or Oregon, or UW with Locker). But closer to home, Wulff made it clear that the injuries to the QB's have been extremely difficult for the offense to deal with. They are big on rhythm and timing with this offense, and it takes all the reps you can get to improve, not only as the QB itself but also the rest of the offense. They just haven't had that chance. Wulff went on to say that the injury situation, from top to bottom, is the absolute worst he has ever seen in his 15 years of coaching. Nothing else has come close to what has happened this year. Wulff also touched on the entire QB situation this year, even without injuries. People have to remember that they are replacing basically a four-year starter in Brink, and that's a big issue. Brink took almost all those reps with the one's for all those years, obviously in games but also all those practices, and that held back the growth for someone like Gary Rogers. So everything has just kind of combined for the "perfect storm" of QB issues this year.

  • Bob-Rob asked him about the offense in general, in that with so many injuries, have they considered scaling things back even more? Wulff said that in hindsight, they wish they would have done a little more to protect the QB's early on, and he especially said Marshall. But he said that they are trying to implement this new offense, and they only way it will click is if the offense is run in game situations. You can't practice one thing, then do another in a game as it wouldn't work. But even in these tough times, Wulff believes they will gain from the experience in the big picture. He said they COULD change the offense, reel everything in and just run the ball and eat clock, but they wouldn't learn enough and it would stunt their growth overall.

  • Another week, another Louis Bland comment (shown above getting mobbed after scoring a TD last weekend). A caller said Jim Walden has really been praising Bland during broadcasts, saying how impressed he is with what he has seen from Bland thus far. Wulff said that he's just a fantastic kid, a leader and a winner with great intangibles and maturity well beyond his years. Wulff said he is already saying he wants to be a captain and has talked to the coaches about it (wow). That's impressive for a true frosh. Bob-Rob asked how did we get Bland? Wulff said that Cal was recruiting him, but had him on the back-burner due to his size (he's barely 6 feet and 200 lbs). So by the time signing day came, Cal didn't offer a full ride, and a scholarship came available for WSU. Wulff offered and Bland signed on signing day, and Wulff called it "a moment where we KNEW we had to have this kid in our program. Luckily it all worked out." Wulff also mentioned some of the other leadership from this recruiting class, like Tyree Toomer, Jared Karstetter, Mike Ledgerwood. All kids that are playing, all are tough, hard-nosed kids who are competitive, passionate and will have a positive influence on others.

  • A caller asked what the heck is going on with the left tackle situation?? Wulff said it's been tough, no question. First it was going to be Vaughn Lesuma, but he was hurt to start the year. They moved Steven Ayers out there from guard, but then he got hurt. They tried to put Joe Eppele out there, but he is still too fresh off of knee surgery and wasn't really ready to come back. It was too much, too soon for him. But now, Lesuma has been moved inside, to guard, so Will Hunter, the walk-on frosh, has been moved to left tackle. In that same part of the answer, Wulff went into the play where Marshall got hurt. He said that there were a few factors, one of which is that Marshall was probably holding the ball a little too long the whole game, and did so on that play. But also the crowd noise was a factor, and Hunter simply didn't get off the line quick enough at the snap, while the OSU d-end timed it perfectly.

  • Bob-Rob did ask about the general strategy for USC this week. While Wulff wouldn't fully divulge the game plan, he did say that they will adjust some things this week. Part of their strategy could in fact be to try and shorten the game, take care of the ball, use the clock and play sound defense (sort of like the Dick Bennett approach?). Wulff said that when they do the right things and execute, they CAN play well. He pointed out they won the second quarter vs. OSU, 14-3, and did so by playing sound defense, getting takeaways, etc.

  • The defense was brought up. Wulff said that yes, the final scores have been disturbing to say the least, but he thought the defense has been OK in some stretches. The UCLA game they hung in there, but the offense didn't give them any help, and all the 3-and-outs and turnovers really wear out the defense. But that UCLA game, at least in stretches, showed that if you can do well in the field position battle and not give the ball away on offense, they can hang in there. He said overall, however, he's never seen his defense put in such bad situations. The deck has been stacked against them, time and again. And, Wulff said TURNOVERS MEAN EVERYTHING to coaching staffs. Turnovers change the complexion of a game, completely. If you turn the ball over the way we have this year, you really have no chance to win.

  • A caller asked about next year and what fans can expect. Wulff didn't hesitate to say that, without question, they WILL be considerably better next year. He quickly listed some reasons as to why: 1) With another year in the program, eating right and lifting weights, the team as a whole will be bigger and stronger, more equipped to compete in the Pac-10. 2) With another year in the system, players will have more experience in the offensive and defensive schemes. You have to remember that still, everything is brand new to these guys, and they are still learning every week. All these injuries have really stunted their growth as a football team. But a whole year in the systems, and they expect real progress. 3) There are several players they are redshirting, right now, that Wulff fully believes will help immediately next year. 4) Finally, they expect to be healthier next year! After this year, that goes without saying, but Wulff mentioned that they are doing things now as a team that will help players deal with injuries better than in the past, and they don't expect to go through something like this again. But bottom line, Wulff was very encouraged when talking and thinking about next year, and while they will still be young, they will be better. IT WILL COME!

  • To wrap it up, a caller asked about recruiting bigger WR's. Wulff said sure, they'd like the players to have a big presence, but they are just looking for playmakers at the skill positions, period. Size isn't as big of an issue compared to pure ability. On that theme, Wulff was asked about the current recruiting priorities. Once again, for like the fourth time this year, Wulff said defensive line is by far the top priority. He said ideally they would like to bring in up to six defensive linemen in this class, but it probably won't be that many (there are three right now who have committed, although Geoff Meinken is officially a "soft verbal" right now - and no, Wulff didn't mention any recruits by name). Bob-Rob asked about hitting the JC ranks for immediate help, and Wulff said they might take a few more than they normally would, but maybe just between two to four, tops.

That's a wrap on the radio show. Lots of stuff to digest. Interestingly enough, JT Levenseller's name never came up. The only QB talk was on Kevin Lopina. However, a check of this week's release shows JT as the number one backup to Lopina. Not a surprise given the media speculation we've seen so far, but if Lopina goes down, it sure looks like JT will get the call.

Enjoy your Wednesday, and as always, GO COUGS! Click here for more Comments

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jack Thompson (J.T.) Levenseller One Play Away

The QB quandary continues. First Rogers and Lopina out, Ocho Rojo in. Now Ocho Rojo out until next summer, Lopina back in. But now, Jack Thompson Levenseller has emerged and is looking like the backup to Lopina. At the rate these QB's have been going down, J.T., keep your helmet on and stay loose.

So what is there to know about Levenseller? Obviously he's the son of Mike, the former Cougar great WR and longtime assistant. Oh, and the J.T. stands for Jack Thompson, a great friend of Mike Levenseller. Great. But what else? Well, he was a hell of a high school QB in Pullman. Per his bio at
Grayshirted in 2007. Enrolled at WSU in January 2008. Was 23-2 as a two-year starting quarterback at 2A powerhouse Pullman High. First-team all-league quarterback and second-team all-league defensive back in 2006. His senior season he completed 74 of 150 passes for 1,283 yards with 14 tds and 4 ints. He also carried the ball 117 times for 712 yards with 13 rushing touchdowns.

As a junior in 2005 he passed for 1,880 yards and 27 TDs as he led Pullman to a perfect 14-0 season and the 2005 Class 2A state championship; earned first-team all-league and second-team 2A All-State plaudits at quarterback. Son of Washington State offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller. Named after WSU quarterbacking legend Jack Thompson. Also a standout basketball player.
Alrighty then. Looks good so far. State champ, that's great. But what else? Well, he's not a huge guy, at 6-1, 195, but that's big enough. If/when we ever actually do implement the Sturdy offense as seen in Cheney last year, you know that size isn't that big of a deal. What is impressive are his quicks, as he has reportedly run between a 4.6 and a 4.7 40-yard dash. Not lightning in a bottle, but that's pretty fast for a QB. The 712 rushing yards in 2006 are impressive, and if you aren't fast you don't usually see that from the QB spot. And WITH THIS OFFENSIVE LINE!? You're gonna need those legs kid.

That said, young Levy didn't exactly burn up the recruiting wars. He basically chose WSU over Eastern and, later in the process, Hawaii came calling. But it is what it is, and who really cares about all that stuff now? He's in the program, and with Ocho Rojo's significant injury, he's your backup.

The good news is that Wulff has actually talked up J.T. earlier this year. Twice on radio shows, I heard him say that the staff thought he was really coming along and improving by a huge amount since camp. It remains to be seen if he's ready to actually play in a game, but we sure are close to finding out.

Our own Longball took in some practices this summer, so I will let him comment further on what HE saw with his own two eyes. Longball did speculate that the kid would see the field in some capacity, be it at QB, WR, or even at defensive back, an acknowledgement of the kid's athleticism.

I found this article on JT at the Evergreen of all places, back after he signed with the Cougs in early 2007. Interesting read. A tough kid and a winner, hey, this could be a great story. Local kid grows up dreaming of playing in Martin Stadium in Crimson, and it sure looks like he is going to get that chance. And in a season heading to hell in a hand basket, we sure could use a good story couldn't we?!?

We'll be back tomorrow for the radio show recap. You can be sure the QB situation will be topic 1-A tonight. I'm sure Wulff will address the crappiness of the state of the program as well, and how there is a plan and they are sticking with it. I'm sure he's sick and tired of being sick and tired. We all are. How many times can he say it? I can't imagine there is anyone more frustrated than Wulff right now.

Enjoy your Tuesday, and GO COUGS! Click here for more Comments

Monday, October 13, 2008

Breaking News: Ocho No-No

This just in from the evil Vince Grippi, lord of the sith:

Marshall has torn BOTH his ACL and MCL and is done for the year.

Obviously, this is more horrible news.

At this point, with #8s long-term status in question, I think that you have to look at J.T.

With 6 more games on the slate, that's a lot of time for him to get some serious reps.

Then again, can he survive more than a couple games with our-Line?

Chime in. Click here for more Comments

Time to Swim With Sharks

Man vs. shark. Who ya got? I think Saturday will look a lot like this, don't you? Basically trying to push a charging, three-ton great white out of the way with one arm will be similar to what our offensive line will look like against USC's monsters. You thought we got manhandled vs. Oregon State? Just wait.

I am a little disappointed in the line this week. ONLY 42.5 POINTS!?!? What planet is Vegas living on this week? I was thinking at least 50 to open. But who knows, it's only Monday. Plenty of time to see that line move in that direction. Early lean? Take SC, the points and the over, and take it now.

Given the state of affairs, the walking wounded on a physical AND mental level right now, I can't help but feel like this game with USC shouldn't even happen. I know, I know, the only way you improve is by playing against the best. You can practice, practice, practice, but true game time is the best teacher. And heck, even a young Bruce Wayne fell down a well and was accosted by about a million bats. That turned out OK.

But why do we fall down? So we can learn to pick ourselves up again.

Maybe we can just call the whole thing off, take the forfeit and lick our wounds. And let's face it, USC would rather not even show up anyway. The trip is a pain in the ass and everyone already knows the outcome. I mean really, was it that entertaining back in the day when Christians were fed to the lions? Maybe the mob would get a little excited if the humans ran around, yelling and screaming and trying to stay alive, but the end result was unavoidable. Everyone knew what was going to happen. Ho-hum.

Here's an idea - they could simply cancel the game, bring Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Leaf and Jason Gesser back and let them fling the ball all over Martin Stadium on a lovely October Saturday. At least it would be watchable. We could remember where this team used to be, and what could be again. Wouldn't you love to see #11, #16 and #17 in crimson, all over again?

Sounds as though Kevin Lopina will be first up, followed by an already limping Dan Wagner and maybe, just maybe, the burning of JT Levenseller's redshirt. Great. Who knows though. Maybe the offense will open up a little bit, back to what the original hope was when this thing first came together in the spring? After all, even though it's been a steady dose of Ocho Rojo the last few weeks, Lopina has had far, far more reps with the 1's compared to Marshall. Maybe we can approach using HALF of the Sturdy playbook? We'll see how it all shakes out. But man, coming off a broken vertebrae, Kevin....if you see some of these USC thugs coming at you at full speed? SLIDE. It's cool. We totally understand.

Moving on, once again the comments have been excellent, with all sorts of viewpoints. There's a lot to digest right now and there has been some good stuff out there. But can we please cool it with the F-word in comments? I know we're all frustrated, disappointed, you name it. But you can express that without the f-bomb, can't you? You are pissed off and sick of it. We get it. We all are. But enough already.

Finally, about this blog. Brinkhater and I had a long talk after the OSU loss. At the time, we concluded that the interest level in this team is going to drop, big-time. We are headed back to the dark ages, similar to where the attention level was for the hoops team in the end of the Paul Graham era and the beginning of the Dick Bennett era. The team lost big, nobody went to games, nobody cared. So we thought that we should scale it back a bit in what we do around here, because quite frankly, apathy will rule in the dark times.

But is that what you want? Would you rather check in every few days for some regular features? Or do you want something new every day? Granted, Brinkhater is right - it's tough to find the passion in times like this, and it's purely passion that drives the bus here. So as Brinkhater says, we are at the crossroads right now. We can keep up the content, but there may not be a whole lot of interesting over-analysis. What's the point, when we will be several TD underdogs the rest of the way? When we are overmatched and too young in so many areas, well, we don't need to tell you about that. You already know it. Or, we could go in a whole different direction. Make many more attempts at humor, blog about things other than Cougar football, etc. But don't be shy, tell us what you want the rest of the way. We aren't afraid to adjust our plan to fit what you want.

Happy Monday, and as always....GO COUGS. Click here for more Comments

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Hello Cougar Nation and the irreparably beleaguered Brinkhater Army.

Hope you all are hanging tough.

Well, when your beloved program moves hook-line-and-sinker into "rebuilding" mode, its time to really re-think everything.

And that includes the ole WSU Football Blog.

While none of us are ready to throw in the towel on our team or this blog, we are also finding it hard to move forward with the same amount of intensity, fervor, or joy.

As a result, we are going to scale back the number of posts that we are providing here on a weekly basis.


Specifically, I am in 100% agreement with many of you that Sedihawk's summaries of the Wulff radio show are a Blog staple. So, we're going to keep that.

We also plan on continuing Football Friday which we hope you all will comment more on since we all know the outcome of the rest of our games.

Finally, we will continue to do Gameday posts as well as some sort of post-game thought on either Saturday night or Sunday.

In other words, we plan on taking off Monday, Tuesday, and Friday at least through the end of football season.

When football ends, I will again take up basketball while Sedi, Longball, and Hooty chime in on all things recruiting and so forth...

In any case, if there's anything else you all would like us to include or focus on, let us know.

In the meantime, on behalf of the other Blogfathers, thanks to all of you (WHERE ARE YOU COUGAR JEN??) for your continued readership and your fantastic comments during the course of the season.

And remember, like Wulff said today, there is a PLAN that the staff is executing.

Its just hard to wait for its fruition when you can't see it.

But, in the end, that's why we have a thing called "Faith" is it not?

Click here for more Comments

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's Not the End of the World....

....but right now? You can see it from here.

Tonight's post took some time to think about and discuss with Brinkhater, among others. What to say about another truly embarrassing performance? 549 total yards allowed, 30 first just 132 yards of total offense, and another QB knocked out?? If you haven't heard, Wulff said after the game that Marshall Lobbestael is likely out 3-4 weeks with an MCL sprain. Anyway, you know it's bad when you have MORE PENALTY YARDS (170) THAN TOTAL YARDS. Good Lord.

What can you say? Every week we not only hit rock-bottom, we redefine the term. It's a season of new lows, and there isn't any sign this will end. In reality, it could get a lot, lot worse. And I'm not talking about just what you see on the field.

What will the locker room be like now? There were already some rumblings that some vets were, shall we say, less than thrilled with the new regime. Anyone still watching at the end of the game notice a very frustrated Andy Mattingly? Think about how his season has gone. Here's a kid who, as a sophomore last year, had over 90 tackles and 8 sacks. He was rated by many as a true all-conference candidate this year, and there was even a few websites that had him on the NFL RADAR for the 2010 draft, given his size and play-making ability. Now? This year he's a backup defensive end who simply cannot get going. That frustration has got to be boiling at some point.

And what kind of a message do these weekly performances send to recruits? I know Wulff has put a positive spin on things in regards to recruiting, and so far it's a good start if you can put any weight or belief in the verbal commitment process. But let's face it, Pullman isn't the easiest sell in the world. We love it, but there's many that cannot picture going there. There's no way to dance around that, it's just reality. But what will a recruit think of seeing this team get sand kicked in it's face, week after week, with no let up whatsoever? I know they say recruits are attracted to a place where they see early playing time, in a BCS conference, etc. And Wulff and the rest do have a pretty good reputation for finding players. But this season has to make that sales pitch that much harder, don't you think?

And what's going to happen with attendance???? YIKES. Think about the years where we've been entertaining, if not really good, yet attendance was a problem. But now?? When you are 1) bad, 2) in a bad economy where pennies are tight, and 3) on TV every week? Not a good recipe for a great gameday turnout.

But enough of all that. I hope they keep playing hard and trying to improve. But it has to be a very difficult time to be a player or coach at Washington State right now.

Have a great evening, and go Cougs. Click here for more Comments

Flag-Spotting, Week Seven

Yep, even in these dismal times, the flag is STILL making it to Gameday. It just continues, MY OH MY!

Good for you Coug fans. The flag sighting is, once again, always a source of pride. I know it's the first thing I look for when I flip on Gameday on a Saturday morning. And thanks to Will and Stephanie Walker for the screen cap.

Moving on, we'll keep it brief. We're beat up right now, to the point that Logwone Mitz is going to likely get a lot of time at running back today, with very little behind him. Chris Ivory is out and Dwight Tardy was limited this week, so, IF we are going to see any semblance of a running game, it's going to be a lot of Mitz. Let's hope he can do more than run for a couple of yards and then fall down.
That said, I don't care if you have Bo Jackson, Barry Sanders or Adrian Peterson carrying the ball. Behind this offensive line, the holes have been few and far between. We ran for 114 yards vs. Okie State, but the passing game was so off, and the special teams killed us that day, so it was of very little consequence. But consider these rushing numbers:

57 net yards vs. Cal - LOSS
77 net yards vs. Baylor - LOSS
277 net yards vs. PSU - WIN
79 net yards vs. Oregon - LOSS
26 net yards vs. UCLA - LOSS

Pretty bad, and aside from the PSU game, which is a throwaway if you want to know the truth? This has been one of our worst string of rushing performances in recent history. Historically, when we've run the ball with some effectiveness, we've been successful. WSU is now 10-4 since the start of 2006 when we've ran for over 100 net yards in a game. You can do the math and figure out that when we sputter on the ground, in the old offense or the new one, we lose. A running game today would do wonders for the confidence of Ocho Rojo, eat up some game clock, keeping the defense off the field, etc, etc, etc. The trickle-down could go a long way towards keeping things respectible.

One more thing - for the third week in a row, we are starting the same five guys on the offensive line. From left to right, it's Lesuma, Roxas, Alfred, Danaher and Hannam. While it's still a group missing some depth, and also quite young with Lesuma the lone senior of the group, at least it's the same group for the last few weeks. You have to believe they will start to gel, at least a little bit more than they have?

The other side of the story, the defense? That's another story. Our rushing defense is bad, bad, bad, giving up over 6 yards per carry on average. We've basically been steamrolled by any team with at least an average running attack, and that's beyond worrisome for the Jerome Harrison clone we'll see today in Jacquizz Rodgers. Just hope we see the defense stay in their lanes and most of all, TACKLE WELL! There was improvement last week, just 325 total yards allowed, and they did rally to the ball on the ground, giving up exactly 100 net yards. Considering where this group was coming into last week, that's a huge improvement.

Maybe we can look to the Beaver Believers for hope. After all, they are the kings of the circling the wagons, so to speak.

When things have looked their bleakest for the Beavs, they have dug deep, come together and turned it all around. They've been 2-3 in 2006 and 2007, and both times have won out, except for a loss to USC last year. I know it's a stretch to look at them for inspiration, but they have become a program that I sure envy. I would love to see us follow in their footsteps of upgrading the facilities, then have a coach who wants to be there build layers of depth, punctuated by strong offensive and defensive lines. After all, the Beavs are one of the most successful Pac-10 programs of the 2K decade. They have passionate fans and play with a real edge at home. They are what I hope we become.

We'll have something up for the game. Until then, enjoy your Saturday, and hopefully, enjoy the game today. GO COUGS! Click here for more Comments

Friday, October 10, 2008

What YOU Said

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I think we can all agree, this was a pretty strong week of comments. Many of you weighed in on a variety of topics, and when you are just THIS good? You deserve some front-page stuff. So, we thought it would be a good idea to look at what some of you said:

From our Tuesday post, "Are You Not Entertained", we simply asked why you watch right now, and if you are entertained.

Awesome stuff, Hawk. I, for one, am really excited about watching Ocho Rojo each week and confident that sooner or later things are going to start to click with him, Ivory, Karstetter, Anderson and some of our young linemen. Its been a hard thing to express for fear that it may sound like I am happy Rogers and Lopina suffered horrible injuries. I think its unfortunate things happened the way they did, but given the trajectory of this team, going young was the right way to go whether forced to or not. And Louis BLand? That was exciting. And lets get Toby Turpin in there, club-hand and all!

I know i may come across as a bit of a blind optimist in the middle of our worst season ever, but its because I truly see what I think are the seeds of success. One thing that was made crystal clear to me seeing practice this summer and talking to coaches and even their wives was that we had wildly disparate expectations. While I saw a team with just enough fire power at the skill positions to compete for a bowl, they saw a team way too thin at key spots to even be competitive. It took me a while to understand that while we were all talking post season, the improvement and progress the coaches were hoping for was measured not in W's and L's, but in things like guys learning how to tackle, or adding the extra strength they need to play D1, or filling the holes we have through recruiting and reestablishing connections to high school programs and coaches. These things are all happening.

I watch Cougar Football because I am from here, and nothing represents where I'm from to the outside world as much as Cougar Football (and lentils). I watch because while winning seasons dont come often, when they do come they are so much sweeter knowing all we were up against and had to overcome to achieve them. I watch because i don't want to miss the next turning point where we all look back and say, THAT was the moment it all turned around.

My friends and I have been known to sit around drinking beers and play an unnamed game where someone names a Cougar football player, past or present, and the next guy has to name a player whose name begins with the last letter of the previous player's name. This can go on for HOURS and you wouldn't believe some of the players whose names pop-up. Frequently someone will pull out a name none of us have thought of for years, but instantly brings roars of appreciation as we all revel in the nostalgia. Many of these guys we have the fondest memories of played their hearts out on some of our worst teams. So I guess you could say, I watch Cougar Football because Kitrick Taylor was worth watching whether we went to bowl game or not.

For you, Longball, Kitrick Taylor.

We love Kitrick Taylor from the old days. He's also the answer to one of the most popular trivia questions in Green Bay Packer history.

Q: Who caught Brett Favre's first game-winning TD pass in Green Bay?
A: Kitrick Taylor.

I guess you know you are a big deal when you have a Wikipedia entry???

Kitrick Lavell Taylor (born 1964-07-22 in Los Angeles, California) is a former professional American football player. A wide receiver in the National Football League from 1988-1993, Taylor is probably best known for catching Brett Favre's first ever winning touchdown pass in the NFL, a 35-yard strike to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals, 24-23, on September 20th, 1992.
I think we want to party with you Longball. Seriously, I know Longball is one of our regular contributors, but his comment was right on. The guy has tremendous passion for all things Coug and has been there through thick and thin. And maybe nobody will feel as good as Longball when we see this thing get turned around.

"Woody" weighed in on his current state of mind:

I have been stewing on this for awhile now and have not posted. lately. My ulcer, wife and sanity has prevented me from doing so.

There is literally nothing that translate from marriage to
blogging, except for the old adage:

Never go to Blog angry.

So, instead of going off half cocked this season; I have chosen to simmer, be patient and take deep breaths...Serenity now, serenity now!

Like every Cougar fan we have had to figure out a way to deal with (going out on a limb here) the worst Cougar team in history. The losses have been tough. Actually the losses have not been that tough. Unfortunately, I think I am numb to the concept of win vs. loss. However, the absolutely horrific manner in which we get our a** kicked is what has been tough.

We can simply ignore the games, drown them out with a half rack of Natty Light or submerse ourselves as gluttons and try to find glimmers of hope.

I am not going to comment on specific performances or game details, what's the point.

I was a Wulff Guy from the get go AND STILL AM! However, I think a few changes might need to be made.

I knew we would be bad this year. But I never figured us to be Historically putrid...I mean we suck!

Wulff came in to the beginning of this season with great support and admiration from the base. But that sunny optimism has slowly been disappearing as the historic drubbings we have taken this year has really cast a shadow amongst the program. Might I even say cast some doubt if a DII Coach was the right way to go.

I am afraid that while fans will be patient the window of patience has already begun to close. Hey, I think Cougar Fans could handle a 2-11 year, lord knows we have done it before. But a 2-11 year in which we set records for ineptness, worst losses in history @ home and god forbid also lose the Apple Cup to the worst Husky team in history. It will have seemed that the keys were given to the wrong crew. Fans patience will maybe, just maybe be short starting next year. Which would be a shame, but I think a reality. Fans are going to need to see something in the next 7 games. Maybe not wins but something that reassures us that the right decision was made.

We will watch again this Saturday and hope to see something special happen, baby steps from our QB, and hope we can hold that little Beaver RB to no more than 2 - 50+ yard TD runs.

That reminds me I need to go to the store for more Natty Light!

Serenity Now...Serenity Now...Serenity Now...

Go Cougs!

Excellent perspective here. We've gotten it handed to us in ways we haven't experienced before this year, and these times will try us all. Even the optimist has a tough time with the half full/half empty glass due to the demoralizing nature of what we've seen.

'03CouveCoug, WOW, great stuff man:
I had the good fortune of attending Wazzu from 1999-2003. I will always look back on memories from those times with great fondness. I was telling my wife on our way to Homecoming that I really enjoy going back to games in Pullman because it reminds me of where and when my life came together. The WSU Football team from that time had a little something to do with many of my fond memories. It sounds silly, but I look back and liken the journey of those teams with my own through college.

I went to Pullman a cocky 18 year old who thought he had the world by the tail. Probably like several of those freshmen on the football team. Boy did I find out quickly that things were going to be different. The Cougs suffered through a dreadful 3-9 campaign and had to go back to the drawing board, but they did discover this kid named Gesser. By my sophomore year, I started figuring out how to be a disciplined student and an adult (at least sometimes), but still had my ups and downs. Much like our Cougs on the field, there were glimmers of greatness followed by heart-wrenching failures.

My junior year, things started to come together. I had declared a major and found my niche, not to mention friends that I’ll have for life. The Cougs still weren’t expected to do much, but proved all of the “experts” wrong by finishing 3rd in the Pac-10 and winning a bowl game for the first time since 1994. Finally by senior year, I had high expectations for myself. I searched for a career and found it. More importantly, I also found my future wife. Life was good. And the Cougs put it all together and went wire-to-wire winning the Pac-10, culminating in its second Rose Bowl in 5 years.

This is why I cheer and always will. I’ll remember my journey to adulthood at WSU and always feel like the journey of those teams mirrored my experiences. Where am I going with all of this? Well, this season feels an awful lot like the 1998 and 1999 seasons that made it seem like all was being squandered after the 1997 season for the ages. Things seemed pretty bleak then, as well. But, WSU was bringing in kids with a lot of character that wanted to work hard and prove to all that they were among the best. After some growing pains, they sure did that. And that is exactly what I think Coach Wulff is fostering right now. We’re not looking good at all in the games, but we’ve already gotten back to the basics. I have great confidence that the staff and players will continue to build on those basics one step at a time and take our team back to winning ways.

So, what do I hope to see, you ask? I hope to see continued improvement on and off of the field, fundamentally, in attitude and in character. Imagine what a valuable experience this is for the young guys…they’ll be able to look any challenge in the face in future years and know that they can overcome it. I hope to see the young guys get a shot and hopefully make the best of it. Most importantly, I hope to see our students, alumni and fans rally around the cause of making our football team great again. I know we will because we’re Cougs…we’re “The Little Engine That Could!”

Nothing like a coming of age story that parallels the rise of a football team. That said, I don't know you Couve, but I hope you are in a much better place than the '08 version of Cougar football.

After all that, "Bill Gray" said:
Don't worry guys. We're a basketball school.

Well played. And thanks for the reminder. We ARE a hoops school, at least right now.

Finally, our own Hooty McBoob dropped by for Football Friday...only on Thursday...and responded to the frazzled hockey mom of the moment picture:

Hawk - thanks for reminding me of yet another lost classic. I've just purchased "Something to Believe In" on iTunes (seriously) - for a mere 99 cents - what a bargain!

...and BH, please don't mention beaver and Sarah Palin in the same sentance again. She turns me on and since I work at home, it's already tempting enough to spend some quality time alone with her picture and a gym sock.

Hooty....Really? Tempting enough? As if you haven't already gone there. Please.

See, we do read your comments, every day, and we do appreciate what you have to say. Some of you are crazy-angry and yes, we've had to delete a few that many of you haven't seen, and for obvious reasons. But overall, we love YOUR takes. Keep it coming.

That's about it. Oh, and if you haven't already....SELL! SELL! SELL!

It's been a brutal week in the market, but the worst may be just about to hit. Scary, scary stuff in the real world right now. Hang in there.

And as always, GO COUGS!

Click here for more Comments

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Football Friday Week VII: What's the Difference

Happy Football Friday but on Thursday, Lucky Week Seven Style.

So, as the post indicates, this week is filled with our annual Fall riddle. So here it goes:

What's the difference between Tommy Tuberville and Brinkhater?

The Answer: Brinkhater only CALLS for the demotion or dismissal of coordinators mid-season.

You think I exhibited hysteria with my posts over the last two weeks (e.g. touchdown Brinkhater)?

How about abandoning a coach and new scheme after (cough! cough!) six weeks.

To make this move even more bizzarre, aren't the Tigers 4-2 right about now?

While we cut Wulff a break, maybe he should also be glad he's not a coach in the SEC!

Okay, back to us. Well, as we noted at the beginning of the year in predicting the Beavs to neighbor the conference cellar, WERE the Beavs able to field an upper division team, we would know that the OSU program has really arrived.

And boy they sure have.

As Sarah Palin would say, "Congrats to Beaver nation for that also.."

While others may talk about the difficulties the Beavs have experienced early in the season and/or on the road, when you look at their performance over the last two weeks--a whoopin' of SC followed by a game they gave away in the last 2 minutes @ #14 You-Tah--and you know that they are good.

Moreover, with the two conference cupcakes on the slate over the next two weeks, you know that Riles will have these boys circling the wagons in an effort to get near bowl eligibility ASAP.

And, of course, they will.

The biggest concern for us is the psychological well-being of Ocho Rojo and that offensive line. With a sure-fire ass-whopping in tow for next week, it is really incumbent upon Marshall and company to put a couple of nice drives together so that we can build against the Trees en route to our low-down with the Puppies in November.

While we certainly can't afford turnovers if we expect to win, we also need to allow the kid to make a few mistakes while he also learns to make some stinkin' plays.

That all said, unlike last week, the questions of this week do not include the outcome of this contest.

WE ARE GOING TO LOSE come hell or highwater.

What is in question is whether or not we can move the ball and score more than once or twice. If we can (like score thrice), then the final tally stays down--which is what we all want to see at this point.

Unfortunately, I don't see us doing all that well--especially with Ivory out.

However, because OSU's offense is not as wide open or prolific as SC, CAL, or Oregon, I see us keeping this game under 55 points even at Reser.

Final Score:

Beavs 48 Cougs 14


USC 48 ASU 10 Pistol Peete won't run the score up as much as he could against us next week, but he won't be afraid to try to bury Dennis while he can. ASU secures their pre-eminent status as biggest flop in the nation this year.

Oregon 45 UCLA 3. Hope you enjoyed the victory last week, powder blue girls, but its now back to reality against an Oregon team that underperformed last weekend (Thanks to Loser-excuse-maker Belotti's inexplicable decision to get cute at the end of the 1st half.)

Arizona 49 Stanford 21. Here comes the Wildcats. Stoops shows unbelievable restraint last week in calling off the Dogs against the Dogs. But they get off this week against a very tired and outmanned group of Trees.

Bye 61 Washington 2. Even in a bye week, the Huskies are still big losers.

And the Red River Classic:

University of Clay Bennett 38 Horns 34. This is the game of the year, so check it out if you can.

Enjoy the games, and lets go Ocho Rojo and our Cougies!

Sedihawk says:

Greetings Cougar nation. Hope all is well with you and yours, as we trudge through what is fast becoming the most difficult season of our lifetimes, in one of the most difficult era's in the history of our country.

I have been thinking this one through, trying to find something to believe in this week. I couldn't help but think of that awful Poison song, give me something to believe in....


Anyway, I want to hope for a breakthrough performance this week, where everything just works. And I think, honestly, the team is taking some positive steps. The defense had an extra edge to it last week, and for the first time they weren't completely pushed over. It was 0-0 in the first quarter! After the way this season has gone, I call that a WIN. I loved the approach that Sears and Ball had, and that was basically cut the kids loose and attack the line of scrimmage. Clearly a passive approach wasn't working out, and it was time to try and dictate some things vs. waiting to get bowled over.

But I think there is something to be said for the quality of the offense we were facing. UCLA had struggled mightily to do much of anything this year with the football, and while they had been playing a little better, well, this wasn't exactly Oklahoma State....or Cal....or Oregon....or even, dare I say, BAYLOR!?!? In other words, this wasn't your garden variety dynamic, spread offense. UCLA is much more of a traditional offense, even with Norm Chow. And combine that scheme with the fact UCLA is still going through a major coaching change, you start to see that maybe we were due to see an uptick in our defensive performance.

That said, Oregon State is not your nightmare spread offense. While they have introduced many wrinkles over the years, they are still running the one-back attack, a scheme we are quite familiar with. They are running it quite well lately, however, as the Beaver Believers have shown that if you take care of the football, you can win a lot of football games. Lyle Moevao has improved quite a bit in that department after struggling last year and early this year with the giveaway.

It's an excellent example for ALL OF US (I'm looking in your direction coach Wulff) of what can happen when you hang on to the ball. And who knows, maybe this whole take-care-of-the-ball thing is catching on, for young Ocho Rojo and the WSU offense only gave it away one time last week.

The bad news? No takeaways, and the turnover margin on the season got even worse, now a minus-14. Good for dead last in the conference, and it's not even close (Stanford is ninth, at a minus-5 ratio). I know I have railed about the turnovers this year, and it's morphed into the beating of a dead horse. I won't waste too much time on it here, but if you ever get a chance, pick up Phil Steele's preseason mag, and read the article called Turnovers = Turnaround. The amount of research and statistics that back up the turnover story is staggering, but the bottom line is that the better your turnover ratio, the more games you will win. You will probably even win a few that you normally wouldn't have. For turnovers are the great equalizer. With a less talented, young team we have right now, it's almost as if their only chance is to not make mistakes and also force turnovers on defense, or else this thing comes off the track, and fast.

The biggest issue here for me is what happens up front. Oregon State has started the same five offensive linemen for the whole season thus far, and we've seen them manhandle the great USC defense. Mike Riley has built a tradition in Corvallis of having depth, talent and overall strength on both of his lines, and even with some graduation and injuries, both lines are still strong this season. It's a staple of their program, really, and something we can hope for in the coming years under Wulff. But this Saturday? It's not even close. Another week, another men-against-boys up front, and that spells disaster.

The other issue here might be the location of this game. For Oregon State is, quite simply, fantastic at home. Since the 1998 season, the Beavers are now an amazing 48-15 in Corvallis. They just don't blow it at home. Almost like the Seattle Seahawks, they just seem to amp it up an extra notch in front of the home folks, and the crowd gives them a big boost. Just ask USC, who has now lost their last two trips to the land of black and orange. It's tough.

I won't go into great detail on our current offensive woes, but you know the story. Last in the Pac-10 in scoring offense at 16 points per game. Ninth in total offense. 10th in passing efficiency. Ninth in third down conversions. And oh yeah, we've surrendered the most sacks in the conference, with 19. It just goes on and on and on.

I wish this would be our breakthrough week, but much like John McCain's voting record with George W Bush, I'm falling lock-step with Brinkhater....again. For I am no maverick. I think it will be a little like UCLA, only worse. I'm going 38-10, Oregon State. (We'll back off the political BS, but you know, 'tis the season right now).

The rest of the story:

USC 35 ASU 16 Agree with Brinkhater as ASU the biggest flop of 2008. The UNLV loss showed us what a fraud they really are.

Oregon 31 UCLA 11. UCLA's only played one road game this year, and it was a nightmare vs. B-Y-WHO. They will play better, losing "only" by 20 this week.

Arizona 42 Stanford 20. Arizona in the Pac-10 race? WOW. But we loved them this summer in our preseason picks, and so far, they are living up to the billing.

(I won't take a shot at winless Washington. Just too easy. And given our current state of affairs, I would rather worry about our own back yard instead of making fun of the neighbor.)

Red River Classic:

Oklahoma 45 Horns 41. Yards and touchdowns galore in this one. Long live the spread offense!

Enjoy your Thursday, and as always, GO COUGS!

Longball says...

Once again I am a day late and a brain cell short, but here are my predictions for this weekend's action:

Cougs Win Baby! Just kidding. I wanted to see what it was like to type that. I am a big fan of what Mike Riley has done in Corvallis and think they provide a great model for the type of program we can have when run the right way. Of course we are still looking for our sugar daddy, and since none of our alums seem to have struck a jackpot of frozen burritos I ain't holding my breath. What does this all mean for Saturday? It means we have unfortunately filled the void the Beavers left when they vacated the doormat roll years ago. Hopefully, unlike the Beavs, we are just passers through to doormatville, not longtime residents. I don't expect us to be competitive after the 1st quarter of any Pac-10 games left on our schedule, but this week I am going to go against my instincts and say we keep it close -

Beavs 38
Cougs 17

Well, close for this year. I think the fact that numero uno for the Beavs is going to run all over us will keep the score down since they'll have very little need to throw the ball and the clock will keep running.

Around the country -

USC 35 ASU 24. Sparky shows some life, but USC already has their loss for the year.

Oregon 35 UCLA 14. UCLA got some confidence against our Div II defense last week. That should result in somewhat of a pulse against eternally overconfident Ducks.

Furd 38 Zona 35. Every now and then if you call for a Harbough shocker you will be rewarded. I am so confident, I would bet every last share of my WaMu stock on it!

Red River Classic:

Special Shout-out to my buddy JD who will be manning 'Ol crimson at Gameday this weekend! JD, you make us proud. Hook 'em Cougs!

Oklahoma 42
Texas 28

Enjoy the games and now more than ever, GO COUGS!
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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap - Week Seven

I will try and be brief. This week was a little more distracting as I had one ear on the radio show, another on the last 30 minutes of the big debate. But I think I caught the most interesting aspects from Wulff, so here goes:

Bud Nameck hosted again for Bob Rob. Not sure what's up there but who knows. The show opened with the joke of the moment, the walk-on QB tryouts. Wulff noted that he's heard a lot of stuff about it, even ESPN was talking about it, so he just sort of shrugged his shoulders and said at least it's publicity. That said, Wulff was happy with the turnout and the guy they chose, Peter Roberts. Roberts had started at Woodinville the last couple of years, a 3-yr letterman who was 2nd team all league last year (you can read all about him here from Grippi). Wulff said he practiced briefly on Tuesday, but should be ready to go Wednesday for a full practice. Wulff said they like him, in that he's quick, smart and should be a good addition.

Wulff talked again about depth and what an issue that can be in trying to build a program. He made a good point that lack of depth is obviously an issue in what fans see in games, but it's even tough to have a good practice if you are missing so many players. The lack of depth can hold a team back from improving if they can't have decent practices. I guess I know I hadn't thought of it in that way, but with a program with so many new changes, even the ability to get better in practice has been an issue. But you can think back to August, when it seemed like half the team was standing on the sidelines and Wulff was beyond frustrated by their lack of conditioning and toughness.

Health came up in regards to depth. Tyrone Justin, Markes Dawes, Steven Ayers, Will Hunter and Chris Ivory were all expected to play a lot vs. UCLA, but all of them missed the game with new injuries suffered last week. It doesn't look all that great for this week either, as Ayers looks extremely questionable with a neck injury and Ivory is definitely out with a pulled hamstring.

In-state recruiting came up with a caller, and how important that really is. Wulff went on about how key it is to keep the good ones here (this is a point we've heard all season so I won't expand on it). However, one item I hadn't heard before was the actual cost of the scholarship to the school for in-state kids vs. out of state kids. Did you know that it costs $19,000 per year for an in-state player on a full ride, but it costs $29,000 per year for an out-of-state player on a full ride? That's $10,000 difference right there, per kid. Not that we are always looking to cut corners in every possible way, and the funding from scholarships comes from a variety of sources. But there is no doubt that the value is greater if you can get a good in-state player vs. having to go out and get a player out of state. Interesting.

After all, let's get real - NCAA football is a business, with budgets and everything else that comes with it. I guess it makes it even more painful when they miss on an out-of-state kid, on and off the field. If you look at some of the names of kids who haven't worked out from the Doba era, you can see that many of the names are from out of the state. Double-ouch.

A caller asked about the coordinators, and then about overall improvement. I won't go into the bio's of each guy, as you can find that anywhere on Todd Sturdy, Chris Ball and Jody Sears. But on the improvement, Wulff touched quite a bit on the offense. Here you have a team, in the span of the first four games, lose their top two QB's. And not only were all the QB's new to the system, but they also had the unenviable task of replacing a 4-year starter who threw for over 10,000 career yards. Big shoes to fill. Then you add to it the weekly shuffle of the offensive line, where they have started a new combination up front every single week, and it's a tough mix. The running backs have had some injuries, and now Ivory is battling the pulled hammy. And the WR's were not only down an NFL WR in Michael Bumpus and NFL tight end in Jed Collins, but some of the guys they had pegged to help carry the load haven't been healthy.

Jeshua Anderson is still shaking off the rust. Wulff said the last time Anderson really played was in November, and that was it. He missed the entire spring session of practices, plus the entire fall camp due to hernia surgery. He's only NOW getting into his rhythm. And Daniel Blackledge has been fighting a shoulder injury and still isn't healthy. Needless to say, when you are looking for reasons why we can't score, well, you have several options to pick from!

Wulff also talked about the defense, and said they are getting better. He really pointed out the emphasis on speed and quickness with having Myron Beck and Louis Bland now starting at linebacker. He thought they looked better vs. UCLA, tackled well, and looked faster on defense.

Quick sidebar - That's one point of emphasis that is getting more and more popular. I read a really good article in Athlon's this summer about the rage of the spread offense right now, and how defenses are trying to deal with it. One point to the article was the kind of player defenses are trying to find now to cope with this spread offense, and that is speed, speed and more speed. It's especially vital at linebacker, because you are seeing more and more situations where the linebackers are put in one-on-one situations with a WR out in space. Fight that speed with speed of your own. But as the article said, linebackers who run like safeties and still weigh 240 pounds are basically playing on Sunday, so, you are seeing a lot smaller linebackers these days, and that trend will continue. The other aspect to it is that you not only need speedy linebackers, but you have to have them in excellent physical condition. More and more teams are embracing the no-huddle as part of the spread attack, so you have to have your linebackers ready to go for several plays in a row. You simply cannot sub guys in and out effectively with a no-huddle spread offense, so you have to have the right kind of athletes on the field.

The spread right now is clearly ahead of defenses. Don't believe me? Go look at some of the numbers teams are putting up in the Big 12, where maybe no other conference in America has embraced the spread like that conference. And guess what? It works. Look at the rankings right now. Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas are all in the top 5 in the major polls. And even Texas Tech with their version of the spread is ranked seventh! Amazing.

A caller asked about scheduling. Wulff said that you get that 13th game when you play it off the mainland, which is what we'll have this year obviously at Hawaii. But Wulff doesn't like the idea of 13 games. He likes the idea of 12 games in 13 weeks, with a bye in the middle. Wulff also went on to say that he really likes the bowl system. He said coaching at EWU the last eight years and being in the playoff system was exciting, but, he prefers the bowls. Part of the problem is that the season goes on too long with the full blown playoff system. We have to remember that they are in fact student athletes, not just athletes. But Wulff said he wouldn't be opposed to a playoff system that was played after the bowls have been played. Maybe a four or six-team playoff run over a couple of weeks in January, after New Year's, but again, you can't let it drag on too long or else it runs into the next semester of school.

They finally talked Oregon State. Reser Stadium came up, and for good reason. They really did it right down in Corvallis, and not only is it a tough place to play, but it's an excellent facility. Wulff said they are a great example of how to do the whole upgrade thing, and something to look forward to for Martin Stadium and what it will eventually become. He emphasized again that stuff does matter to recruits, and it adds to the overall experience for the student athlete.

Wulff praised true frosh Jacquizz Rodgers, and how tough a player he is. He's not only strong, but has excellent quickness and vision. Currently leading the conference in rushing, he's one impressive young player. We are going to have our hands full trying to contain him this Saturday. If you aren't disciplined defensively it could be a long day trying to chase him down. He's had a streak of three straight 100+ yard games, and is on pace for a 1300-yard season.

Wulff also talked highly of QB Lyle Moevao. He has become a much better player in his second year at Oregon State, and after four INT's in the first two games, he hasn't thrown one since. He's now over 1400 yards passing with 10 TD's and the four INT's, and is completing over 60% of his passes. Wulff said he is managing the game much better, smarter than last year, and simply playing within himself and the offense. Sammie Stroughter has been a big boost to the passing game and seems to have helped loosen up the coverages a bit, as Stroughter is one of the top deep threats around. They missed that last year. But OSU is also strong and experienced on the offensive line, and a great example of depth. OSU has started the exact same starting offensive line the whole season and they are playing really well. They have allowed just eight sacks in five games this year. Strong o-line play has become a staple of the OSU program under Mike Riley.

OSU's defense is playing better as well, and while they lost some big names from their front seven last year, they still start eight seniors. They are experienced, fast, and active, so they will be tough at home. But Wulff said we have a good game plan this week and looking forward to the match-up.

To wrap it up, Kevin Lopina came up. Wulff said he's coming along, and actually threw the ball at Tuesday's practice. He should throw all week, and next week will be closer to being cleared to play. Wulff said right now it really looks like after the bye, Lopina will be ready to come back. However, Wulff did say he will "be given the opportunity to compete", not that he will be given the job back once he is on the field. So we'll see how it goes, but there are certainly no guarantees at the QB spot.

That's about it. Stay tuned tomorrow for Football Friday on Thursday. Enjoy your humpday, and GO COUGS! Click here for more Comments

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Paul Sorensen Calls Out YOU, Anonymous!

Former WSU great Paul Sorensen weighed in on Paul Wulff the other day over at Cougfan. It's a premium article, so we won't post beyond what is listed in the first paragraph. But the gist is that this thing is in the right hands, it will take some time, and those who are doubting right now have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

But Sorensen was just getting warmed up. He went on KJR today, and really let loose in a quick interview with Ian Furness. Give it a listen here. Oh, and he HATES you, anonymous.
"If you want to attack someone, attack a kid, attack a coach, then man up and put your name out there. Hiding behind those monikers mean absolutely nothing. It's just a chance for you to take shots with no accountability."
Sorensen talks a mile a minute, and he was always on the goofy side when he did WSU games on the radio. But he knows of what he speaks. Listen to him regarding Wulff, and EWU and that success and how that will translate to WSU. It's worth your time.

And as far as the fake names/monikers? Yeah, it's a little cowardice to rip people a new one when nobody knows who you really are. But it's more than norm than the exception online these days. We let that go on here basically because we want interraction. We want to hear from you. If we made you register with a user name and password, or demanded that you use your real name, well, then you wouldn't comment.

It's just like people who call into sports radio stations to vent. Do you think that half of them are actually who they say they are? They aren't. It's that anonymity that allows people to be a little more open than they normally would be, that's all. It comes with today's territory regarding message boards, blogs, etc. There are always idiots, and there always will be, but there are some outstanding viewpoints out there as well, viewpoints that we see every day. I'm afraid that if we took away the commenting feature, then we would lose a big chunk of what makes this site somewhat interesting to begin with. So there. Click here for more Comments

Are You Not Entertained?

Why exactly do you watch Cougar football? Is it because of your student roots, whether you are still in Pullman or a former student/alum/whatever? WSU isn't exactly your standard "t-shirt" school, where people all over the country buy your gear. That's no secret. Sure, we had some bandwagon hoppers climb aboard from the 2001-2003 seasons. But those that hopped on at those times have clearly hopped right back off.

My blood runs crimson because I went there, and those of you who went there or still go there can attest at the affection you develop towards the place. It's hard to put into words, but you simply understand. And because of that affection, that love of all things WSU, is why you care, even in these dark times. It's why you criticize or celebrate on message boards and comments, even right here on this little site. It's why you come here, looking for something new. We do what we do because we LOVE it, that's all.

That said, one of the worst things you can do in sports, whether it's college or professional, is be boring. Around the turn of the century (2000, to be exact) I worked in a sports news room, where NCAA football and MLB games were logged and sports were reported on a daily basis on a web site. There were people in this news room with all sorts of experiences in the sports media, from ESPN to SI to local stations like KING/KIRO/KOMO. They all had great stories from their various walks of life, and it was fascinating to listen to all the anecdotes of what they had experienced, from all over the country and all types of sports.

But one in particular caught my attention that I'll never forget. It was from a guy who had a ton of experience, working in the NBA and NHL. He said the worst thing you can be, in sports, is BORING! For example, the NBA model is either go for the title, or tear it down and rebuild, but don't be trapped in "middle earth". You know what I mean by the NBA, right? Back when there was a team in Seattle, the most times the Sonics "moved the needle" among the fanbase was when they were contending for the NBA western conference, or when they stripped it down to nothing and rebuilt towards the future with youth like a young Gary Payton or Shawn Kemp. The big losses were OK, as long as GP was throwing alley-oops to the Reign Man and getting on plays of the week. You could see the promise of the future. But those years where they would be a mediocre 41-41, flirting with the 8-seed in the playoffs and getting into the back end of the lottery?? BORING. (note - you cannot bring up the poor attendance and Kevin Durant in Seattle, as everyone knew regardless of how wonderful a player he was/is, the Sonics were history in Seattle.)

The thing is, fans get it. If you are going for it, you are going for it. If you are rebuilding, and you are playing your young talent to point towards the future, then do it and don't be shy about it. Rebuilding can, in fact, be entertaining. It can be worth the price of admission to get a glimpse at the young talent in the pipeline, and most of all, have hope for the future.

I remember the 2000 WSU football season. A young sophomore QB in Jason Gesser getting his first crack at the full-time starting gig. It was full of potholes and wildly up-and-down performances, from awful losses vs. Stanford and Idaho and UW that year, but also some high moments like at Utah, at Cal, and even at USC(!). But the one thing I took from that team was that it was really entertaining, and full of hope for the future. That was the year of three OT losses, where these young guys played their butts off. You could see glimpses of what Gesser could do, before he went down with the broken leg. You could see a young, high-energy defense with just young kids like Isaac Brown and DD Acholonu coming off the edges. You could see promise with Lamont Thompson, Marcus Trufant, Jason David in the secondary.

Most of all, we were ENTERTAINED. They were exciting, promising, and the best point yet, the seeds were planted for an excellent run to follow. 2001-2003 are the greatest years in program history. We've never topped that, and we might never again. But the 2000 season meant something. It was simply part of the process, a necessary process we had to experience. We had to see them get knocked down in 2000, so they could get up again in 2001-2003. And as a fan, I know I appreciated the pain of 2000 because of the fruit harvested from 2001-2003.

I heard our own Ian Furness on KJR yesterday. Amongst the gnashing of teeth of the inept Seahawks in New York (yikes), and the husky angst over Willingham, etc, he snuck in a little info regarding WSU. He said that based on who he has talked to over the last couple of weeks, there is a real growing belief internally at WSU that they will be MUCH better the moment the 2008 season is over. There is a strong feeling that there is hope for the future, and that there are some redshirts right now, players we haven't seen, that will make this team a much better unit in 2009 compared to what we see right now. Furness also mentioned the CAL transfers, like James Montgomery and Brandon Jones, and that they will help a lot for 2009. Combine all that with a promising recruiting class that is forming as one of the best we've had in a long, long time, well, the seeds are in fact being planted.

So after this long rant, I ask you - are you ENTERTAINED right now? Do you look at Marshall and see a young Gesser? Do you see Jeshua Anderson making some athletic plays and see another Jason Hill or Brandon Gibson? Do you look at all the young players on defense, with the youth at linebacker and in the secondary, and do you see some promise for better days ahead? I know I have preached for patience, and belief in this coaching staff. I am approaching the rest of the season to hope for entertainment, improvement and most of all, a glimpse at a hopeful tomorrow. What do YOU hope to take from the rest of 2008?

We'll have a Wulff radio recap available, either late tonight or first thing tomorrow morning. Enjoy your Tuesday, and GO COUGS! Click here for more Comments

Monday, October 06, 2008

Remain Calm...All is Well??

At least Kevin Bacon said so in Animal House, shortly before being trampled by the panicking masses. You all know the scene, trying to be the proverbial calm in the middle of the storm. Didn't work out so well did it?

I can't help but feel a little bit of the same way right now. I have been trying to stay positive, believing our football program we have grown to love so much over the years is in the right hands. After all the garbage that happened with the prior staff, the Seattle Times article about the troubles off the field, the big misses in recruiting, the whole deal, Wulff was NEEDED by this program.

Not so much that this program craved a rock-star, superstar name that would come in and sell tons of season tickets. WSU has never been about the rock-star splash. Obviously Tony Bennett is the exception, but when he was first hired, the collective reaction by many outside of Pullman was "who?" He's grown into an "oh-my-god-it's-insert-coaches-name-here" kind of coach when you see him out in public or in the airport or wherever, but it wasn't always that way. Price was a .500 coach at Weber State, while Dennis Erickson had some decent success at Wyoming and Idaho, but that's about it. Rockstar? HARDLY.

And speaking of the rock-star approach, well, it's not working out so well when you glance around the country. How's Michigan doing with Rich Rodriguez? $2.5 million per year for a 2-3 record, including humiliations vs. Notre Dame (35-17) and Illinois (45-20). Think they aren't up in arms right now? UCLA stunned Tennessee on opening night, but have been crushed in a couple of others, one in historic fashion (59-0 at BYU). There has to be some starting to question that move. Bobby Petrino was a newsy hire at Arkansas, stealing him away from the Atlanta Falcons. But after slogging through cupcake city to start their season, they have been destroyed by legit teams thus far (49-14 vs. Alabama, 52-10 vs. Texas, 38-7 vs. Florida). And did anyone catch what Missouri did to Bo Pelini's Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday? Try 52-17, in Lincoln. Nobody raised in the midwest would ever even conceive the notion that Missouri would win in Lincoln, but to steamroll them 52-17 at home? Wow.

Anyway, too much rambling. In the end, I'm still going to have faith that this will work out. Not only is Paul Wulff's staff affordable, so we can use some of our funds for other things (facilities?). But he was the right decision for so many reasons on and off the field. We've been over the reasons before, so, well, it's like....

Image and video hosting by <span class=

Yeah, like that.

Anyway, you know where I stand. I/we believe this will work out. Give it some time. But if you have any doubts about our approach, check back in a couple of years. HOPEFULLY we were right, and we're looking like a pretty good football program. If we're wrong, believe me, we will point it out. Nobody who's ever read our stuff can claim that we are blind homers, because we aren't. If we are still awful, we'll say it. Just like you.

A few other links floating through cyberspace:

Howie Stalwick's quick write-up in the P-I today touches on the QB walkons, as well as Lobbestael's night at UCLA. The offense was pretty bad Saturday night, not even 200 total yards. Not to rehash too much, but you can't help but feel a little bad for Marshall. UCLA's d-line completely owned the line of scrimmage, and not only wasn't there a running game (26 rushing yards on 25 attempts), but the team simply couldn't move the ball. 2-for-14 on third downs, under 50% completion percentage, just 4.9 yards per passing attempt. All really, really bad. The one shining light was ONE turnover! At least they finally cleaned that up a bit.

Maybe the troubling thing was the inaccuracy of Lobbestael. The pressure got to him, sure, and UCLA's got some good athletes on defense so it's hard to know if many receivers were open. There were some moments where he just appeared to force the action when it wasn't there. But there were some plays where guys were open, and he clearly missed on the throw. A commenter on Saturday night noticed that it looked like he was trying to "guide" or "aim" the ball instead of just cutting it loose. You could see him almost short arm some of his throws, like trying to throw darts instead of that nice, clean, natural throwing motion we've seen out of him in VERY limited time.

I'm sure inexperience is a big part of what we are seeing out of Lobbestael. As Wulff has pointed out all along, the kid has barely even had any reps in practice leading up to the Portland State game a few weeks ago, as everything was heaped upon Rogers and Lopina in the early going (and for good reason). He'll be fine, given the time and opportunity to grow up. That deep fade to Jeshua Anderson to start the second half was a thing of beauty, so you can see the kid has upside.

Percy Allen of the Seattle Times hits on the QB tryouts, as well as the current injury list. While Wulff pointed out that there aren't any new entries to the list, the current names is still pretty long. Just looking at it, that's a good group of talent who weren't on the field vs. UCLA. But it is what it is, and every program deals with injuries.

It's weird to see Percy Allen's name attached to a WSU story. If you've followed the team formerly known as the Sonics over the last several years, you always saw Percy's name attached to that beat. At least he's still got a job, but to go from covering the NBA to WSU football? Weird.

Finally, remember Dee Snyder and Twisted Sister? Remember, We're Not Going to Take IT!" and all that?
Well, you know the world has changed when they announce that they are now willing to take it! :)

That's it for a Monday. Enjoy it, if you can. GO COUGS!

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Pass the bottle...

Hello Cougar Nation,

Longball had a fever this week, and Cougar Football Saturday was not the cure. However, at this point for us to give up less than 50 points and retain our consecutive scoring streak, I am tempted to declare tonight's game a moral victory for the Cougs. Folks, we are bad bad bad, and it sucks to be bad at a time when teams like UCLA are RIPE for the picking. C'est la vie.

I share Brinkhater's frustration with our offense tonight. I admit that watching our young receivers Jeshua Anderson and Jared Karstetter make nothing but mistakes has tried my patience. Our offensive line is not exactly a force to be reckoned with, and we have a young QB who is still learning on the job. I also share the abolute horror we all have at watching the generosity of our defense. We are officially the team that struggling offenses get "well" against. They just don't make beer strong enough for us to enjoy Coug games this year.

With that in mind I want you all to take a deep breath, and repeat after me, ready? ok.... We are not good this year, and we wont magically turn good at any point this year. Got that? Now I was at the Oregon debacle last week and I am not exactly sure why anyone expected us to turn around tonight, on the road, and be a completely different team than we have been. Sure folks, there was some "life" on defense tonight, but lets keep in mind that UCLA's offense has not exactly lit anyone up this year.

We are all fans, which is short for "fanatic" and that means that we are guided by our passion for Cougar football. But lets get real. If Brinkhater was athletic director this week, we would have fired Jody Sears (somehow Chris Ball bears no responsibility for the performance of our defense), then hired him back after tonight, but put the rest of the staff on notice pending the outcome of the Stanford game on the offensive side of the ball. Of course, in all fairness, we also would have finished stage 3 of the stadium renovation and revived our wrestling and gymnastics programs, but I think you get my point.

Now I pick on my esteemed colleague Brinkhater because I have no respect for my elders, and he is the only one to really comment on tonight's game in depth so far. But the hysteria he exhibits is something that is starting to be endemic in the Cougar nation at large. Its going to take patience, folks. And I don't mean just wait until next week. I mean more like wait until 2010.

In the meantime lets not be so surprised the next time our defense "plays well enough" (if thats what you call making Kevin freakin Craft look like Troy Aikman) but our offense, led by frosh and sophomores thrown into the fire due to injuries and learning a new system, fails to improve upon the performance of last years senior laden, all-time record holding QB led offense.

In other words, despite our struggles, don't count me as one who is longing for Alex Brink at this point. Click here for more Comments

Final Game Thread: So, tonight..

I'm gonna party like its 1999.


Because we are easily as bad as that group.

Tonight we saw that even when our defense plays well enough to keep us in a game, our offense is just not up to it.

Bottom line: We haven't been able to score points in a meaningful way for the last three seasons.

And that, more than anything, has really, really killed the development of this football team.

So, do Brinkhater a favor, spare the talk on all of the message boards about the defense. When you have SOME talent on the O-Line as well as GOOD talent at the skill positions, you need to make progress. And we're making NONE.

The next two weeks will be bad, but if we don't rack up 350 of total offense against Stanford, then ALL of the coaches deserve to get blasted. We're not improving on the offensive side of the ball.

And that is not acceptable.

How many of you now long for Alex Brink? Click here for more Comments

Half-Time Thread

Sometimes its good to state the near obvious:

In this case, let's borrow from one of the great popular quotes of the last decade or so:

"Stupid is as stupid does."

For us, that translates to "when you're bad, you play bad."

So, Marshall is showing that he is a green frosh (but he has some headiness that reminds me of the good side of the Big Apple).

And, our long snapping problems are rearing their head again (which could be a huge factor if we score early in the third).

And Wulff's BONEHEAD decision to go for it at the 40 instead of punting it down to their One-Yard-Line is the difference in the game.

I mean, it may be 14-0, but it feels like 30-0.

That said, Brinkhater likes the overall aggressiveness of the D.

In regards to the O, I'd like to see us dink and dunk much more with the passing game.

We're still too slow offensively and the woes of our offensive line continue to be nearly dumbfounding..

This game has 34-7 written all over it right now.

What do you all think??? Click here for more Comments

Saturday Flag-Spotting; WSU Verbal Meinken Shaky?

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! Click here for more Comments

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Fun With Video - UCLA and WSU

I thought with the current state of affairs around here, it might be nice to look back at some history and feel GOOD about some things? And why not? We're 1-4, the economy sucks, the political debates rage on where republicans and democrats are CONVINCED they won last night, blah blah blah. Besides, it's Friday and nobody works Fridays, right?

So, anyway, UCLA. We've got this funny little recent history with these guys that is fairly impressive, no? Strange. I've looked at it several times, and I still don't get it. We've beaten them when we've been awful (3-8 in 1995, beat them 24-15 in Pullman). We've beaten them when we've been great (1997, beat them 37-34 vs. UCLA in a game that started a history-making season). We clinched a Rose Bowl bid against them in 2002, when Jason Gesser limped through as impressive a performance as many have ever witnessed watching football on the Palouse, a 48-27 win in Mike Price's last regular season game as the REAL head coach of Washington State. The 37-15 win in '06, securing what we all thought as a bowl bid with a 6th victory of the season.....but we know how that turned out. Heck, we even beat them last year when UCLA was still pretty good, coming into the Pullman match-up at 5-2 and off a huge win vs. Cal the week before.

So 10 of the last 14, and six of the last seven times, WSU has prevailed. But if you go back a little further, there is one game that more or less started it all, all the way back to 1988. WSU has won 11 of the last 17 in the series if you go back to '88. But believe you me, it wasn't always this way.....not even close. What's amazing is that from 1958 leading up to the 1988 game, UCLA was an amazing 17-1-1 vs. WSU! The Cougs beat them at home in 1979, and tied them in 1981, but otherwise, UCLA had completely owned WSU. But then, 1988 happened. A win that kick-started a strong recent run against UCLA, but also regarded as perhaps the best win in school history.

October 29th, 1988 to be exact, a day that will live forever in the hearts of WSU football fans everywhere.

To do a quick recap, '88 was a big-time breakthrough season for WSU. After a disappointing 3-7-1 first year at WSU in '87, Dennis Erickson's second season was a rousing success, a 9-3 season capped by an Aloha Bowl victory. But what many people forget about that season is that when the UCLA game rolled around, the team needed a victory. They were coming in off a two-game losing streak, including a bitter home loss to ASU the week before, and the team was starting to stagger. After a hot 4-1 start, including huge wins at Illinois (44-7), Minnesota (41-9) and Tennessee (52-24), and at home against #19 Cal (44-13), suddenly they were 4-3 and some doubt was setting in. Perhaps they weren't for real after all?

Meanwhile, UCLA was crazy/sexy/cool, with Troy Aikman and company as the number-one team in the land. Aikman was a legit Heisman candidate, thriving under the bright lights of the LA market. So the task was huge, and the Cougs got off to a slow start as UCLA sprinted out to a 20-6 halftime lead. It didn't look good. But WSU rallied, big-time, behind Timm Rosenbach, Tim Stallworth, Rich Swinton, Mike Utley, Chris Dyko, and oh yeah, the current head coach of your Cougars, Paul Wulff, for a stunning 34-30 win. Check out the waning moments, plus the on-the-field interview from Dennis Erickson after the game.


I love how that, even in the situation where UCLA had all the momentum (1st and goal on the 6?), the Cougar D still ATTACKED. Those last two pass plays saw blitzes, and Aikman took some heat. No scaling back at that point, might as well force the issue. But man, the joy Erickson had at the end of that game, with his Dad, how cool was that? Talk about pure joy!

I was too young to be at WSU at the time, but our own Hooty McBoob was a mulleted-up true FROSH in the fall of '88. He said that, while watching the game in Pullman on TV, when that last 4th-down pass was batted down in the corner of the end zone to seal the deal, you could hear a collective roar all across campus. What a moment. Here's hoping we'll experience something similar, again....someday.

Enjoy your Friday, and GO COUGS! Click here for more Comments

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Football Friday, Week 6: Not Ready for Prime Time

Greetings Resilient Cougar Nation!

Welcome to Football Friday, only on Thursday...Week 6 style.

Hard to believe, but we have actually reached the halfway point of the 2008 tilt (humor me and count Hawaii as a bowl game).

Thank God.

First and foremost, a big shout out to all of you for your comments this week. Not only were they generally great comments and takes, but they signified that, in spite of being abysmal, we really do have a hard core group of committed fans. And that is something to feel good about. Really.

Now, back to reality.

For weeks now, I've been pegging this game as a major upset special. For one, we always seem to play well against the powder blue puff girls (in Football, that is).

For two, UCLA's offense is pretty bad. And as Sedihawk brilliantly pointed out to me today, UCLA really represents the first straight up, conventional offensive team that we've faced all year. In short, no more spread, read-option offenses. Coupled with a pretty weak 3rd string quarterback gives real hope that we could see our first competitive game of the year.

The problem from my perspective is still our offense. And particular, our offensive line (it also doesn't help that the Evil Vince Grippi is back to his sinister ways and is reporting injuries to 3 out of our top 4 tailbacks. Damn you, Grippi)

While Ocho Rojo showed last Saturday that he really IS the man of the future, I think its a bit much to expect him to light it up in both his second start and first road game. Simply put, guys making their second starts as 18 point dogs rarely fare well. I think such is the case on Saturday--especially since we are still making changes at the tackle position. Look for #8 to make similar mistakes but more BIG PLAYS.

Therefore, while I see a game where we can stay "sort of in it," this is not a game that we will win.

That said, IF the O-Line steps up, and IF we can avoid the TO's that have buried us the last 5 weeks, we could WIN this one (last week, with a similar "stellar scenario" we could only make it interesting).

But we won't. UCLA wins 38-21 in a game that will make all WSU wagers rich: UCLA will NOT cover this weekend. No how, no way, no Chow.

However, lest you all think that Brinkhater has thrown in the towel this season, I haven't.

I still think we have a real fighting chance to stay out of the conference cellar(Hear that Ted Miller????).

Other games:

USC 31 Oregon 21: As the President once said, "shame me once, shame on.., shame me twice, shame..shame me, DON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN. Conquest makes move to once again be among the best 11-2 teams of all time.

Notre Dame 28 Trees 24. Captain Comeback runs the ball well, but can't quite get over the hump against Charlie Stump.

Arizona State 28 Cal 21. CAL has QB problems again and can't bring its Best. ASU will do better now that the expectations are lowered--LOSERS.

Arizona 51 Washington 24. Word to felllow Husky Haters: Their D sucks, but they may get better with a QB that can actually throw the football in the same zip code as an open receiver.

Utes 31 Beavs 28. Great game, but Beavs come back to earth.."Mountain West Rulz!"

And Bandit Bowl 2:

Florida State 24 Miami 23. In true Florida spirit, this "might could" be the game where Wide Right happens to the other team. This should be a good spirited, punk fest: Word to Joe Mommas everywhere.

Enjoy the Games and Go Cougs!!

Sedihawk Says:

Good morning Cougar Nation. Another week, another game. And another chance to scrape ourselves up off the mat. For why do we fall down? So we can get right back up and give it another shot. Tomorrow is just another chance to turn it all around, it's always darkest before the dawn, cliche', cliche', cliche' get the idea. We're 1-4 and we've sucked in the majority of the four losses. Period.

Do we have hope for this week? After several days of lamenting the lack of talent, depth and character, do we really believe that we can go down and beat UCLA? Well, it's not impossible. What is it with UCLA and WSU, and why WSU has been able to beat them so frequently of late? We know UCLA hates coming to Pullman and they haven't been shy about ripping on the Palouse. I was there last year in the 27-7 WSU win, and UCLA was one of the flattest teams I've ever seen play college football that day.

While UCLA might lead the overall series 35-18-1, the recent history is something to be excited about. Six of our last seven times, since 2001, WSU has prevailed. And it's 10 of the last 14, going all the way back to 1992. Even in an awful 1995 season, where we went 3-8 (yes, with Mike Price AND Bill Doba), we still beat them. And there have been some classics and/or KEY wins over them in recent times.
  • Jason Gesser playing on one leg, leading the Cougs to an historic 48-27 win in 2002, clinching the Pac-10 title.

  • The 1997 season opener with Ryan Leaf and Cade McNown going nuts, and a goal-line tackle by Leon Bender to preserve a 37-34 win.

  • The Palouse Posse pitching a 21-0 shutout vs. a ranked Bruins team in the Rose Bowl in 1994.

  • And who could forget the 1988 classic, when Timm Rosenbach, Tim Stallworth, Paul Wulff, Dennis Erickson and the rest of the Cougars shocked the nation with a comeback, 34-30 win over Troy Aikman's #1 ranked Bruins (we'll revisit that one tomorrow).
So for whatever reason, we see the powder blue and gold, we get excited.

Anyway, will it matter this week? Here's what I think will happen:

UCLA has struggled so far, and they were beaten famously at BYU, 59-0. But they did beat the SEC's Tennessee Vols the week prior. Seems like a very distant memory now, and the BYU fiasco is much more ingrained on the brain. But I don't think the Vols game should be thrown out, and for this reason - UCLA stood toe to toe with BCS/SEC athletes, mounted a comeback, forced overtime and ultimately prevailed. Can we say the same thing? Absolutely NOT. While Tennessee has proven to be a disappointing SEC team, clearly not one that will be a factor down south, still, this wasn't exactly Portland State if you get my drift? That game, to me at least, shows that UCLA might have a 1-3 record, but they DO have the ability on a weekly basis to beat a lot of BCS teams. Especially at home.

Speaking of at home, UCLA has beaten Tennessee, was blown out by Arizona, and then lost a tough one last week vs. a good Fresno State team, 36-31. But in that Fresno State game, UCLA, for the first time all season, showed a pulse on offense, and especially the running game with 234 rushing yards. Uh-oh.

Finally, Kevin Craft, the emergency starter at QB after the Bruins lost Pat Cowan and Ben Olson before the season, has more or less settled down. He has thrown five INT's this season, in four games, and that's not very good. But consider that FOUR of those INT's were thrown in the first half vs. Tennessee. Over the last 3 1/2 games, he's only thrown one INT.

But let's look at the full picture here. You think OUR offense is bad? We're at least averaging 19 points per game (yuck). But who is averaging 17 points per game, good for last in the PAC?? UCLA. And while we have sputtered mightily on offense, averaging 322 yards per game, or eighth in the conference.....guess who is LAST in the conference, with a measly 276.8 yards per game?? UCLA.

And UCLA's defense has been touted as being big, fast, physical, the whole deal. But the Bruins are allowing an amazing 37.5 points per game, eighth in the Pac-10. And they are eighth in the Pac-10 in total defense, giving up 415.8 yards per game. That's only 21 yards less per game that our awful WSU defense, if you can believe it. Think about that for a second - all those yards and points we have seen the WSU defense give up so far, and UCLA is only 21 yards less per game? That's a huge shock to me. So they are dealing with a new culture change as well with Slick Rick.
But that's just the stats, and you know they don't always tell the story. Judging a team just four or five games into a brand new regime is, as they say, SMALL SAMPLE SIZE. There is way too much of the season left to go before you can fully peg a team, one way or another, and a hell of a lot can change.

So that's the Bruins. But what about our Cougs? What can we expect?

I think like Brinkhater says, Ocho Rojo will play better. He will make plays and will likely grind out a few drives of note. Brandon Gibson will get his yards and catches, Devin Frischknecht will have a decent day, Jeshua Anderson will turn in a big play or two, and we'll have some things to cling to as the season rolls on. And believe it or not, I do think our defense will play better this week. There will be some adjustments made, again, and a renewed effort to stop the run. Some new faces will be out there, and that will help, but I think we'll see some wrinkles to do everything in our power to stop a running game.

ALL that said, it still won't be enough. If there is one thing we've seen as a general tone this season, it's this - on both sides of the ball, up front, we simply aren't good enough. We've started five different combinations at offensive line, and none of them have proven to be the solution. Even while we had a huge stat game vs. Portland State, we still allowed far too many free shots at the QB's. But the huge concern is how they've been physically overwhelmed vs. BCS opponents on both the offensive and defensive lines. While UCLA's own offensive line has been overwhelmed as well this season, they will still be able to handle what our defensive front throws at them this week.

In the end, I do see a tight game here. But UCLA gets it done in the trenches. We will have extreme difficulty running the football, and Ocho Rojo, while showing some real upside, still won't be able to do it without a legit running game. And defensively, we'll rally to the football and slow down the run early, but UCLA will stick with it and stick with it and stick with it, ultimately wearing out a tired defense. The Bruins pull away late, tack on a 4th quarter TD, and win it going away, 34-20.

Other games:

USC 30 Oregon 27: USC is mad, sure, but they also aren't as "special" as we thought they would be. The Oregon State offense showed that USC's defense can be handled up front. Oregon's o-line is excellent and they will not be intimidated. USC wins it late but it will come right down to the end.

Notre Dame 23 Stanford 18. Harbaugh's heroes are rolling, already at 3 wins. But a bit of a letdown coming off their big road win at UW.

ASU 33, CAL 20. CAL has opened up the QB job again, and Jahvid Best is hurt. But ASU gets off the mat after their loss to UGA, and Erickson coaches 'em up for the W.

Arizona 57 Washington 31. Agree with Brinkhater here. I have to admit I enjoy watching Jake Locker run the football, but I've been down on him as a true QB since the beginning of last year. The kid is simply not a consistent thrower, period. There have been very few "special" running QB's who could also throw the ball consistently, and at this point Locker looks nothing more than the second coming of Michael Vick....except for the dog fighting crap. Anyway, Ronnie Fouch will keep them in it for a while and will surprise some folks by his ability to move the team, but UW's defense, WOW. Just WOW. It will be a miracle if AZ fails to score less than 50 in this one.

Utes 33 Beavs 19. I want to think that Oregon State is doing their annual circle-the-wagons deal after yet another slow start. But they have lost at Stanford and were embarrassed vs. Penn State on the road. I think reality hits the Orange-n-Black. LET DOWN CITY against a very good Utah team in Salt Lake.

And Bandit Bowl 2:

Florida State 21 Miami 13. Hooray thugs. Both teams ain't what they used to be, where it was almost a national holiday when these two would get it on back in the day. But Bowden's boys have too much for the still-rebuilding Canes.

But as we always say, that's why they play the games.
ENJOY YOUR THURSDAY, AND GO COUGS! Click here for more Comments

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap - Week Six

I will try and be brief, yet hit the key points. As usual, we'll jump right in:
  1. Practice report from Tuesday was an "excellent" practice. Everyone came ready to work hard and the coaches were all impressed by the effort and enthusiasm. It's tough right now, obviously, but they are doing everything they can to remain positive. Have to have the right mindset, and realize that in a brand new system, in just five games they have already started three different quarterbacks, five different offensive line combinations and five different groups of wide receivers/tight ends. For a season of change, it's been nothing but change across the board every single week, and it's really difficult to develop continuity/consistency that way.

  2. They are already down to just three QB's on the roster, so, next Monday, if you are on campus and can play the position? Head on down for TRYOUTS! Right now we simply need the body, period.

  3. Wulff talked about Marshall Ocho Rojo. He thought he did a very good job, considering 1) the quality of the opponent in Oregon, one of the quickest, most physical teams he'll see all season; 2) the youth of our offensive line and skill positions; 3) the fact that it was his first start, at home, for homecoming. Add it all up and he did just fine. Had three drives that went well, two for TD passes and one other one that he had Brandon Gibson wide open for a TD but missed him. Wulff also said that he has no doubt that Marshall's game is going to come fast, faster than they expected initially. He's classy, competitive, hates to make mistakes. He's an absolute film guy, all the way, and Wulff said right now he's watching more film than anyone on the roster, coaches included! He is calm, cool, collected, and handles him self extremely well. Wulff has no doubt he will develop into a fine player over the next four years (this is the closest I've heard Wulff "gush" about a player on the roster, so, I think you can read between the lines to understand that Lobbestael is going to be THE GUY for the forseeable future).

  4. Wulff mentioned in the open that there will be some new faces, again, in the lineup. Wulff said that Louis Bland will start at linebacker, as he has moved ahead of Ken Dunn. Wulff did gush a little about Bland, in how he was a two-time state champion wrestler, two-time class president, all-state, all-area, all-everything, player of the year, etc. And a really good looking young linebacker. Bland has the mental toughness and physical traits that they want to build the program with going forward, exactly the kind of kid they are looking for. Tyree Toomer will also play this week, although probably as a backup, but he will definitely play in the secondary. Wulff went out of his way to say how both Bland and Toomer are talented, but also showing some tremendous leadership and they've only been in the program for a few months. Very impressive kids.

  5. A caller asked about recruiting, and especially about the units they will make a priority going foward. Without hesitation Wulff mentioned (surprise!) the D-line. They need depth, now, and they will spend multiple scholarships on defensive linemen. A quick look at the current commits, and out of six players, three are defensive linemen. We can expect more to come most likely. The caller also asked about the traits they look for in offensive linemen. I thought this was interesting in that Wulff stated for tackles, they are looking for big kids, but they want the lean body types coming out of high school, almost the offensive tackle/tight end kids in that 6-4/6-5, 250-lb range. They want to be able to add the "right kind of weight" on their frames and that the weight they have at a young age is lean. They want their tackles to be quick enough and have good enough footwork to handle the speedy defensive ends that they will face every week. For the guards, they want the thicker kids, but still, ones with a good frame that they can pack on the muscle with proper weight training and nutrition (more on that later). For centers, they want a strong mental player, one that is capable of handling all the line calls on every play, things like that.

  6. Bob-Rob asked about the recruiting process right now. So far it's gone well, and they are working hard. Wulff stressed that "you have to recruit every single day, or else you will pay for it down the line." I thought this might have been a bit of a swipe at the prior staff? But Wulff stressed repeatedly how recruiting is 24/7 now, much different compared to back in the day. They watch tape of recruits, write letters, make phone calls, everything they can do on a day-to-day basis. They also are constantly contacting the high school coaches and also are part of some recruiting services where they always get updates on players they are looking for.

  7. Wulff also touched on the relationship with the state of WA coaches. It is a HUGE deal, and he said that the relationship is so good that many of the high school coaches WANT to help and send kids to Wulff! (I know that was touted when he was hired, but I think that will really pay off going forward.) They also have visits every weekend, and just had four kids in for last weekend.

  8. One very cool thing, and an example of the President's involvement with the program, is that President Floyd actually met with one of the recruits and his family last weekend! Wulff said you will rarely find that at any school in the country, where a President will actually meet with football recruits. It just doesn't happen very often.

  9. Wulff also touched on his first recruiting class, signed in February. Wulff said that they are all doing well, and the encouraging thing is that nobody has quit the team(!). But seriously, they are all working very hard and are getting a chance to play if they earn it. They all get up at 5:30 in the morning and hit the weight room too, each and every one of them, so the seeds are being planted right now with this group of what it takes to get better. But most of all he said many of them are driven, passionate and there are some very good leaders in this first group.

  10. Wulff was asked about UCLA. He said that they are somewhat similar in that they are down a couple of QB's as well, and they have a whole new staff. He also stressed that with new staffs come completely new systems, and you have players making many mistakes in the first month of a new regime. It happens everywhere. Wulff stressed that turnovers continue to kill them, and they are now minus-13 in turnover ratio. Once again, that must change immediately if they have hope to get a win. They cannot afford to keep doing it.

  11. Wulff talked about Kevin Craft at UCLA and how he's played. He said sure, he's got five INT's this year, but four of them were in the first half vs. Tennessee. He's had some rough spots but he's already doing a better job of taking care of the ball.

  12. A caller asked about the culture and what goes into making changes. Wulff said basically they are trying to set some new, basic standards for what the players will be accountable for. But they are trying to preach about how the right way to do things, things like the weight room and proper nutrition. Wulff said if they don't take it seriously, especially the nutrition, then they will never reach their peak physically. They must eat correctly, they must do the work in the weight room, or else. The caller asked if they were getting a lot of push-back from the veteran players? Wulff said well, yes and no. He said some of them are happy with the changes and are getting the structure they crave. But others aren't taking too well to it. But he said it's nobody's fault, really, and that it's just a new way of doing things. People in all walks of life are often resistant to change, that's no secret. But he said that mainly the older players it's harder on because they just don't know any different than what they've been taught all along. It's the old dog/new trick deal, where you are trying to get them to break the bad habits and develop some new ones. It takes time to get there.

  13. Wulff was asked about in-state recruiting and how important that is. He stressed, again, the relationships with the high school coaches and that they've got a very good advantage there when it comes to the staff he's assembled and their experience in recruiting the state. But Wulff said that's only half the battle, and they still need to entice the kids to stay at "home" as much as they can. They have to WANT to stay home. He also touched on the stadium renovations and how much that will help going forward. That stuff really does help sell recruits and contribute to the gameday experience. He also spoke about the Oregon schools and how much they have put into their facilities, and what do you know, look at how it's paying off? Both schools have pulled ahead of the WA schools in the northwest, and it's no coincidence that their facilities improved, so did their records. Wulff truly believes we will close the gap, and sooner rather than later. The biggest thing with recruiting is the opportunity to build layers upon layers of depth, but it simply takes time to get the kids in and then develop them.

  14. Finally, sort of a funny one but Wulff asked Levy today about his thoughts on this year's team. Levy has been at WSU for 17 years, and has seen some real highs and lows, obviously. But Levy did say that he honestly sees progress, and really believes they are about to show some big improvement. He can see it coming. HOWEVER, Wulff wouldn't reveal exactly where he rated the 2008 WSU Cougars compared to some of the other teams Levy has been a part of! Needless to say, it's not hard to figure out where he ranked them. :)
That's about it. I really hope/wish some of you could hear Wulff say these things in his own voice. You hear him speak from the heart, and he sounds as though he really believes they are going about things the right way, and that their system will ultimately prevail. It's hard NOT to feel better about things after you listen to him. He's not a RAH-RAH guy, but you can hear his energy and passion about the job in his voice. He's got to be the rock in all this, but I don't think anyone is taking these losses harder than he is. Don't forget about all the personal equity he has in seeing that this thing is a success, and I don't think anyone is going to work harder than Wulff to see that the job is done. Click here for more Comments