"I didn't really say everything I said." -- Yogi Berra
I know a few eyebrows were raised when Wulff gave his response to the NCAA sanctions upon his return from Hawaii. The gist was basically that Wulff made it sound, at the very least, that the culture was more to blame than the coach himself....but then he also said he accepts full responsibility for what happened.....but then blamed the culture....and on and on.
Well, for good reason, Wulff has now followed up with an attempt to clear any misunderstandings among the fans and media. And it appears Wulff has decided to get this one right.
“I have taken responsibility for violations at Eastern Washington while I was head coach and accept the penalties,” Wulff said.
“The reality is that over the past 20-plus years the head coach at Eastern Washington has had to serve many roles in addition to coaching football, such as compliance, eligibility and academic advisor. My comments that this has been going on at Eastern Washington for the last two decades was intended to reflect the duties of the head coach having to wear more than one hat. Nothing else should be read into that.”
Good enough for everyone? Not if Dave Boling of the TNT has anything to say about it. Boling basically RIPPED coach Wulff for what happened. He even suggests that "Wulff’s missing three days of practice won’t hurt the team. But this news does considerable damage to his professional reputation, and by association puts a target on the Cougs. Wulff knew he had a big job ahead of him when he hired on with WSU. He’s now added to the degree of difficulty." Boling calls Wulff's actions "blatant disregard for the rules" and he even tries to lump Wulff in with A-Rod's lies!?! Really?? I call that a huge S--T--R--E--T--C--H, don't you?
Again, kids ran hills when they shouldn't have, got some meals and lodging, one of them actually played in a game, and some extra assistant coaches were coaching when they shouldn't have. Oversight, to be sure. But end of the world, blatant cheating to try and create a competitive advantage??
Seriously, how is this going to be an issue for Wulff going forward? Are recruiters from other schools going to use this? If so, how? Trying to call Wulff a cheater from 3+ years ago because some minor things added up under his watch? Good luck with that. I know everything is on the table in recruiting and coaches will use everything they can to badmouth your team. Can you imagine what it must sound like when coaches go up against Rick Neuheisel in living rooms across the west coast?? Easy target there, to be sure. But even the Bellotti's of the world will struggle with how to use this against WSU, 2009-style.
And sure, the NCAA might look a little closer at WSU as time moves on. It's never a comfortable thing to have them snooping around. But if you don't have anything to hide, you shouldn't be worried, right? Look at the compliance situation already in place. The system is strong and it's there for a reason, completely different than what Wulff had at EWU.
For example, did you know WSU received a secondary recruiting violation this year? Yep, it's true. They fed a recruit a hamburger in Spokane. Pretty horrible isn't it? What a flagrant disregard for the rules. The story from Jim Sterk himself was that the recruit's plane was late getting into Spokane. And the kid was starving when he landed, so, they got him a bite to eat. The coach and the recruit were, technically, 73 miles away from campus when he bought the kid his meal. Uh-oh. The NCAA allows "only" a 70 mile radius where you can buy a recruit something to eat! Sound the alarms. VIOLATION. SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
Meanwhile WSU self-reported hamburger-gate to the NCAA. Would that have happened at EWU? Doubtful. Don't worry, WSU is hardly a program running amok. Enough already. Time to bathe this baby, feed it a bottle and put it down for the night.
So, that whole Junior-to-Seattle reunion tour, coming to a city near you in the summer of 2009? Might want to hold off making the t-shirts. Atlanta has entered the mix and could potentially head him off at the pass.
Although late breaking word this morning from SI.com has it that his agent, Brian Goldberg, is saying as of right now it could go either way, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had a blog post that Griffey had suddenly become a top priority of the Braves, and the feeling was mutual from the Griffey camp. After all, Atlanta is just a one-hour flight from Orlando, home of Griffey-land. And if it was all about family when Griffey went to Cincy ten years ago, it's likely going to be about family again in 2009, isn't it?
The key question for Atlanta is what are they thinking? While rating defensive players is tricky, there is a lot of data out there that suggests Griffey has now become one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball, period. This is going back like four years. Yes, even worse than the fire hydrant known as Raul Ibanez, last seen allowing balls to drop in front of him or watching them sail over his head in the spacious left field of Safeco.
The Braves are talking about Griffey playing in a platoon situation in left field, where he would start against right-handers. Ok, but isn't about 75% of all starting pitchers in the National League right-handed? If that's the case and he does sign with Atlanta, he better put up Bonds-like power numbers. Otherwise, won't his defensive shortcomings basically negate anything gained with his bat? For example, what if there are a couple of men on base, and a guy on the other team hits a liner into the gap. Maybe in the past, Griffey cuts the ball off, holding him to a single and the runners can only advance 90 feet. But because age and injuries have robbed him of his precious range, suddenly it gets by Griffey for a double, and a couple of runs cross the plate. You are minus-2 right there, just having him in the field. He better get up later in the game and deliver at the plate, or else it's a net-LOSS for Atlanta.
The reason I think many (including myself) thought this could be a great fit in Seattle wasn't just for nostalgic reasons. Ok, that was a big part of it.....But also because of the need for a big lefthanded bat, and said lefthanded bat could man the DH position. Meaning Griffey would get the same amount of plate appearances vs. AL righthanders, but do it while not having to play the field. If he were to hit, say, 25 HR's and get on base a ton, all at the DH position, while a rabbit like Endy Chavez is running down balls in the left field gaps? That's a net gain for the M's. But Griffey might only work in the AL. If Atlanta wants to outbid Seattle for him and stick him in left field for four games a week, well, then so be it. It's their funeral.
Finally, the SI swimsuit issue has hit the stands. Does anyone even CARE anymore? Back in the day, hey, it really used to "move the needle", so to speak. But now? Eh. There are a million different places online that you can see hot chicks in bikini's (and a whole lot less than that). I think we are just de-sensitized anymore about the whole thing.
Don't get me wrong, I mean they all look fantastic this year. But haven't we seen all this stuff before? Maybe they have to push the envelope, like, oh, I don't know, ALL NUDES next year!?! Otherwise SI's swimsuit edition should just shut it down.
That's it for a Sunday. Enjoy your weekend, and GO COUGS!