Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pick Em

Happy Saturday, Cougar Nation.

Hope the week has been good to you.

Well, today's line against the Sun Devils is even.

And that can mean only one thing: Pick em.

For BH, that's an easy thing to do.

After blazing the trails of prognostication last year, I have achieved below mortal status during this basketball season. I mean, since the Oregon State game, I have correctly predicted our fortunes ZERO TIMES.

So, perhaps it won't surprise you that I think we're going to lose today.

I don't have any good reasons for this prediction except that I really wonder whether or not our status as offensive juggernaut can last.

After all, we've scored over 40 points in 3 out of our last 4 halves of basketball. Moreover, one could argue that the only reason we won the last time against them is because Klay was 8 of 10 from THREE POINT LAND.

If we do it again today, then we've really really arrived. But ASU is going to come out with all that they have given their potential to slip to third or fourth by the end of today. On top of that, I expect Tony to start all five seniors today which might lead to a 10-2 hole that we can't get out of.

ASU 65 WSU 55

I won't be able to watch today's game, so please provide your thoughts and summaries post game.

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Friday, February 27, 2009


Happy Friday, Cougar Nation.

How about them Cougars?

Well, given that our boys are about half-way to accomplishing the impossible, I thought I'd fire off a quick DREAM scenario for how we can get back to the NCAAs:

A) Win out in the regular season (Duh!)
B) Both Oregon State (to Quack) and USC (to Stanford) lose tomorrow
C) Oregon State Loses to UCLA and Beats USC next week on the road.
D) Arizona loses to UW and at home to CAL next week

WERE ALL of these scenarios to happen, we would finish 5th in the conference.

We would then have a first round game against UCLA, CAL, or ASU.

Win that first game and we're in as the conference's fifth team.

So, there you have it. Win three more in a row and if the sky falls upward, we're dancing once again.

Lets fricking win tomorrow!!!!

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

So Sweet

To have the big black bird in your mouth.

Only caught one minute of the game--the last minute..

So share your thoughts about what happened tonight.

You can sure tell that we're starting to feel it.

Congrats Cougs!

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Go To Vegas

Happy Thursday to you, Cougar Nation.

Hope you're having a good week.

This morning I opened up the old fishwrap to find that our Cougies are listed as a two-point favorite for tonight's tilt against the Mildcats.

So with that line in mind, its time to go to Vegas.

You know, I don't have the time or inclination to check out the official stat, but since 1982 we've beaten Arizona about 4 times.

And unfortunately for us, Number 5 will NOT come tonight.

Arizona comes in among the hottest teams in the country. Moreover, like CAL early in the year, the Mildcats are shooting about 51% from the field in their last 8 games or so.

When you add their ability and tendency to supply endless ball pressure to their three point shooting, you get a recipe for what should be a very, very bad start to Seniors' week.

That all said, here are my keys to the game.

1) Keep Daven on the Bench.

Great stories this week about the character of Daven Harmeling. What a great kid! But, for us to win tonight, he can't play. Instead, we need a healthy, healthy dose of Marcus Capers.

Capers is going to need to get out of the trap on the sideline better than he did against AZ in Tuscon. He also needs to guard Chase Budinger so Klay has some legs on the offensive end. Marcus also needs to take the ball to the rack when he breaks the first line of pressure.

All in all, its a lot to ask of the kid, but to win, he has to come through.

2) Lots and Lots and Lots of Casto.
As long as AZ presses, we need Casto in the game. The good thing about a press is that, if you break it, you have 2 on 1s and 3 on 2s all day long. But, because AZ has Jordan Hill patrolling the basket during the press, you need guys that can dunk on him. Casto may miss his free throws tonight, but getting Hill in foul trouble is a big part of both breaking the press AND getting Baynes off when they go to zone.

3) Play the same tempo offensively as we did against UCLA.

We played AWFULLY fast last Saturday. In fact, because of the fast tempo, I thought for sure we were going to get blown in the second half against the Bruins. But, because we have so many rhythm shooters, the fast pace actually helps Klay and Taylor find their strokes--especially against teams that force the action. So, we need to play just as fast today as we did last Saturday.

We need to attack that press and get layups, dunks, and fouls. If we do that, we will establish an offensive identity that will propel us throughout the game. If we play conservative, we'll be rushing shots late in the shot clock and that will spell a blow-out--probably in the second half.

4) Taylor and Klay from 3.
IF and when we break the press, AZ will shift to a tight 2-3 zone like they did against ASU. Taylor and Klay will then need to hit shots from deep to open the game up.

5) Don't give up threes.

Let Budinger get his 23. Let wise get his 20. But make them get ALL of them from inside that darn arc. If they beat us with a mid-range game, so be it. But we can not weather a barrage of threes.

Do all those things and we win.

Again, it's just too tall an order in my book. Remember, this group swept us last year too. Take all the money that you have in the world and put it on Arizona.

AZ 64 WSU 51

But if I am wrong, you all can start to really stoke the talk about our postseason chances.

Lets go Cougs. Lets go Seniors.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuedays with the REAL Moron (BH)

How you doin' Cougar Nation?

Hope you're having a great start to your week.

Well, after being accustomed to the great rantings of Uncle Sedihwak each Tuesday, homeboy had to go fire up a three day set of all day meetings in the A-T-L.

So, I'm pinch hitting for him this week.

That said, because I already AM a total moron, I'm going to replicate Sedi's great work by simply doing what I do:

Be REAL dumb.

With that in mind, here we go:

IS Taylor Rochestie an NBA player?

A couple of months ago, I would have told you absolutely "NO!!!!!!!" But after watching him over the last couple of weeks, I am not so sure. Granted, there have been times that he has tried to do too much. But, if you put that aside (and the context which creates it), why not consider his upside?:

1) Fantastic conditioning and stamina
2) Very good on-the-ball defender
3) Solid ball handler
4) Changes speeds well
5) Shoots fairly well on the move
6) Has Decent Range
7) Has a high assist-to-turnover ratio
8) Comes from a winning program

For BH, that's a lot of upside. Moreover, after seeing my non-main-man Jose Barea play a couple of times over the last two weeks

I can tell you that I like Taylor's chances even more. After all, Barea now plays about 21 minutes for the Dallas Mavericks even though he stands at only 6 feet, has no hops, and really doesn't defend that well. But, he shoots well and distributes.

If Taylor wants it, I think there's a two or three year roster spot for him somewhere in the league....
So, Andy Pandy Katz says that there is NO WAY that WSU can make the NCAAs as at large team.

I only half agree with him. There's NO WAY that we can make the NCAAs. But if we did, it would be AS AN AT LARGE TEAM.

Although the pundits don't agree with me, none of them are lifetime wanna-be-bracketologists.

And that's why they're actually paid sportswriters.

In my opinion, the magic number for this group is FIVE. That's right FIVE.

Win five games before our exit in the Pac-10 tournament and we dance for three years in a row. Consider the four ways we could do that:

1) Win one regular season game and then win the Pac-10 tournament. Result: we're in. (but we can never win 4 games in 4 days with Taylor playing 38+ minutes a game. That will NEVER happen).

2) Win two regular season games and then reach the Pac-10 tournament final. That winds up being 11-11 in conference and 19-15 overall. That's a bit of a stretch because of the Taylor fatigue factor, but it also probably gives us 4 wins over ranked teams in the seasons final 2+ weeks. Result: with a soft bubble, we sneak in.

3) Win three regular season games and then win two games in the Pac-10 tournament. Result: we finish 11-10 in conference and 19-14 overall. Lots of losses there to be sure. But, depending on how the conference splits over the next two weeks, we would have road wins @ASU, @UCLA, and @UW. Plus we'd have home wins over AZ & ASU, plus a neutral court win over ASU, UW, UCLA, or CAL depending on the split.

That's "in" folks, no matter how anyone else wants to cut it. Twelve seed here we come!
Since winning the 2008 Washington Sportswriter of the Year Award, our main man Vince Grippi has been tearing up the blogosphere. Yesterday, he did his best Uncle Remus post:

In that post, Grippi describes the happenings of the song birds in his yard.

And in other days, well, he does what Vince does:

He reports.

Its not that I dislike Vince's reporting 'cause god knows I WANT TO BE GRIPPI and I troll the internet hourly waiting for what he has to say.

But I think that I echo the sentiment of many in Cougar Nation in asking Vince to give a bit more of himself. Like, give his opinion early, often, and FOREVER.

Take yesterday's post an example. In that post, Vince talks about the rat-race that the Pac-10 has become.

Vince, what I WANT in a post like that is for you to tell us what the hell is going to happen in that race, not provide some vague metaphor for how the race relates to the Robins and the snow!

So tell us what's going on inside of YOUR BRAIN instead of just telling us what's going on in general.

It's YOU we're interested in Vince.

It's you!
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

If I Had A Wish--YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Update 2:01pm:

Congratulations Seniors!! Taylor is the hero of heros and the kids played great.

THIS win epitomizes why its great to be a Cougar!

It would be to beat UCLA today.

Greetings Cougar Nation, I hope that your weekend is off to a good start!

Don't know about you all, but BH thinks that we could win all the rest of our games, lose all the rest of our games, or finish somewhere inbetween....

But here's the question for you all: If we can win only one game the rest of the way, who would you want us to beat?

Would you want us to complete the sweep of ASU? Would you want us to derail Arizona? Do you want us to spoil the conference championship hopes of the Defeateds? Or, do you want us to win today?

As for me, I prefer to take the long view.

Last time I checked, our seniors have done just about everything except beat UCLA. For that reason, nipping the Bruins in Pauley holds a special place next to my very black heart.

But the other reason for wanting to beat UCLA on the road is the importance such a victory has for the freshmen. Think forward to two years from now when a 12-3 WSU team needs a victory @UCLA to retain sole possension of first place in the Pac-10. Do you think that a "been there, done that" approach will be important for that team? I sure do.

So watch with baited breath as our boys try to do something that hasn't been done for a while. Root for Taylor and root for Baynes to break through in this game. And root for our kids to shine the brightest on the biggest pre-tourney national stage.

My prediction: UCLA 61 WSU 54.

But it wouldn't surprise me in the slighest if we shock the world.

Let's go COUGS!!!!

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Taj Mahal

Good loss tonight, if we can actually refer to a loss as good.

The Cougs rallied back from a 15 point second half deficit in spite of the worst game ever played by Klay Thompson. Simply put our boy was AWFUL at both ends of the floor. And in case you missed it, T-Bone laid into him for it.

But part of the reason for his awfulness was this guy: The Taj Mahal Gipson.

What a playuh.

But tonight we saw Tony respond to the blitzkrieg Triangle and Two that they put on us by playing our freshies and non-seniors. And, the line-up of Casto, Forrest, Capers, Taylor, and Nick went on a really nice 15-2 run (or some such) to bring us within one with seven minutes left. We couldn't get closer than that, but what the hell, Casto played great and the youth got time. It's what we need.

The only negative takeaway from tonight's game is seeing once again how damn good Taylor Rochestie is as a college basketball player. Granted, his decision making at the end of the first half looked like his decision making at the end of every close game. And, the only really bad shot he took in the second half was the hurried three when we were down one.

But the kid can play in spite of his tendency to try too hard. And boy are we going to be thinking about him when we're 2-16 next year. Boy are we going to miss him (although like I've told you, Xavier Thames is going to be really something).

In the meantime, a quick shout-out to my Pac-10 coach of the year:

After going winless last year, Mr. Robinson now has the Beavs all alone in 7th place in the conference. Who-da thunk it?

Lets go beat UCLA on Saturday...

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Go Crazy

It's breaking everywhere, and thanks to "Soze" in comments for the heads-up. I think the M's just upped their bottom line for this year, don't you? They will come in droves to see the Kid in an M's uni, one more time. As the story says, the M's are expecting 200,000 MORE people to come out to the ballpark this year.

Welcome home Junior!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Longball's View from the Cheap Seats

Hello Cougar Nation,

Are your ears still ringing from final nail being hammered in the Cougar's post-season coffin? Well I am back with my take from way up in the cheap seats to help you put it all in perspective and in that great Cougar tradition... Look forward to NEXT year.

First of all, what happened to this season? From where I have been sitting its pretty simple, this team suffered from failed leadership... at all levels. When I said in my previous post that this team would not even sniff an NIT bid, I wasn't kidding. The reason I gave was that this year's veterans were just not good enough to win consistently in Pac-10 play. Over the last couple weeks it has become apparent that in addition to veteran players being unable to lead us to victory on the court, Coach Bennett and his staff are suffering their own growing pains that have hurt this team's chances. If you watch carefully you can follow Tony's learning curve as it arches steeply upward, but it is a process and he is learning as much as our young players are this season. While it is frustrating to watch our veteran players refuse to win close games, Saturday's loss must be placed squarely on our coaching staff.

It is no secret that this year's Cougs cannot handle any ball pressure and will always wilt under even the lightest press. This sure made coach Robinson's job easy on Saturday. Down at the half, and getting beat in all aspects of the game he simply had to put on a half hearted 3 quarter court press and VOILA! For the millionth time this season the Cougars were out adjusted at the half and lost a game they were winning. This is a predictable outcome by now and the failure to address it is a coaching failure. If you listen to the Tony Bennett show on Tuesday nights, it is clear this is something they are working hard on in practice, but so far, whatever they have tried has not worked. During games it seems like there are only 2 (bad) options, either go with an athletic lineup that can handle the ball but is very young and inexperienced, or an experienced veteran lineup that is terrible at ball handling. So far the remedy has been elusive, but you can bet that Tony and his staff are learning a lot from these failures.

Why am I so confident they are learning from their mistakes when it appears they make the same mistakes week after week? Because while the outcome is the same every week, the mistakes are not. Confusing? Yes. But true. This staff is trying different things, and sometimes they are having success. Case in point, the Cal game: The theory the coaches were testing was that fatigue was playing a roll in our inability to hang in tough games down the stretch. We all saw a mysterious sub rotation in the first half that seemed to kill some really good momentum we had going. What happened from there can be interpreted a number of ways, but what I saw was a team hang around in the 2nd half, endure multiple runs by Cal and respond with runs of their own. Whether the extra rest was the reason, or not, they were able to compete to the end with a team who was just as capable as UW or Gonzaga of running the Cougs right out of the gym. Of course, they lost, but losing narrowly at Cal is different than fading down the stretch to OSU at home. Though the results were nearly identical, against OSU we played ourselves out of the game while at Cal we played ourselves into a position to win the game. Subtle difference for sure, but important to recognize if you want to understand what this team is going through.

So, while I see hope for Tony and his staff to learn from their mistakes and return each year as better coaches, the clock has sadly run out on our seniors. Baynes, Rochestie, Harm and Caleb don't get another off season to digest what they've learned, work on their weaknesses and return for another chance. For these guys, all we can say is goodbye, good luck and Thank You for all the great things they did accomplish here.

As for our young guns, I am still SKY HIGH on our freshmen and will say without hesitation that Klay Thompson was by far the best player on the floor for either team Saturday. He is so good that I actually have hope for next year. However, there is another frosh who I am even more excited about, Marcus Capers. If you have seen Capers in person, you will have a better idea what I am talking about, but he is the best pure athlete to suit up for the Cougs since Neil Derrick. He has the same length and agility as Kyle Weaver, with even more explosiveness and silky smooth ball handling. On Saturday while our team futzed around looking lost and hopeless against the Beaver press Capers made a play that sent shivers down my spine. He received the ball deep in the corner, behind the 3 point line and the OSU defenders backed off, knowing he doesn't have a great outside shot (yet). Capers hesitated for just a moment, then went to the rack, two dribbles, and he took off, soared over and past the defense and easily laid the ball in from above the rim. It was the kind of play Coug fans usually only see made against them.

Serious, serious, serious athletes are starting to arrive on the Palouse, folks. I have been watching the Cougs play hoops for a long time and I am seeing things from our young players that I have rarely seen round here before.

*Speaking of high flying freshmen, I saw DeAngelo Casto at the Pullman airport on Sunday morning. He definitely aced the airport eye test! Besides being tall, Casto's shoulders were almost too broad to fit through the security gate. From 30 feet away I felt like I was about to get dunked on.

*In another sighting round town, I saw Lodwick and Enquist at Safeway immediately after the game, Saturday. I have been annoyed in the past to run into Cougar players about town after tough losses carrying on like nothing happened while I am still wallowing in misery. Not so with these two. Neither even played in the game, but both of them wore appropriately morose expressions and had a general heir of pissedoffedness about them that I found comforting.

*Finally, If you live in the area I suggest you check out the Tony Bennett show in person at the Hilltop on Tuesday nights. They have decent food specials and it is fun to see Coach Tony up close and in person. Look for me, I'll probably be the only one there under the age of 70. Be sure to arrive early for a seat.

That's all for now, as always... GO COUGS!
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Tuesdays With Moron

Welcome to another week of mindless ramblings, otherwise known as Tuesdays With Moron. Last week went pretty well, so, we thought we'd try this again. So let's see what's up.

So how 'bout that UW? Now that EWU has officially been slapped with probation, did you know that UW coaches have started trolling for some of their talent? It's true, per Benedict Bob at the Times via the Spokesman-Review. Based on official rules, since EWU is on probation, their seniors have the ability to transfer without penalty. Some of the players mentioned include standout WR Aaron Boyce, a player who exploded with 85 catches and over 1300 yards as a sophomore under none other than Paul Wulff. Boyce had a less productive junior year last year, but still is highly regarded as a WR with good size (6-2, 205) and excellent hands.

There hasn't been anything about WSU pursuing players from EWU in this manner, and we can probably expect that nothing will happen there. The relationship might be strained enough as it is, but if WSU were to try and poach some of their players, that would basically kill the relationship altogether, as well as completely tarnishing Wulff's legacy in the process. Not that it isn't a bit tarnished as it is, but one would think the last thing Wulff would do right now is try and rip some EWU players out of Cheney.

So is that cool for UW to do this? I mean sure, the NCAA will allow it. And Sarkisian and company are ultra-aggressive in everything they do, so it's not a surprise that they would try to do something like this.

But I think they might want to tread lightly before they raid EWU, don't you? After all, UW is going to have to establish relationships in the state, not necessarily with other colleges but certainly with the high schools, high schools they aren't exactly familiar with right now. How would it look if they went out and yanked some of EWU's top players? How would EWU coaches handle that? EWU coaches who are ALREADY established with in-state high school coaches? Gee, I don't know, but you think they just MIGHT bad-mouth the UW coaches for doing such a thing? Nah....OK, I know, MORE UW ranting? That's it, I promise....

How about that crazy Octuplets Mom? You know, the one who wants to actually BE Angelina Jolie?

The single mom on assisted living, who oh by the way, already has six kids of her own? You can imagine the fun by adding EIGHT newborns to the mix. Who in the hell thought this was a good idea? Even Apu and Manjula thought it was a bad idea, and they "only" had eight of their own.

I love the line in that episode "eight misbehavin'", where Apu wakes up from sleep after feeding the newborns to say "Oh, I had the most wonderful dream last night....where I died." Eight babies, they're Nahasapeemapetilon-TASTIC!

Looks like Junior Griffey will be making his decision today. After all the done deal reports last week, it seemed just like waiting for the Pebble Beach golf deal to wind up, then he would hit Peoria for a physical and become a Mariner. But not so fast. Turns out Atlanta was where he wanted to go all along, a place his Dad enjoyed back in the day, and even openly campaigning Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox last week as the place he wants to be.

Personally, can you blame him? An hour flight away from his home base, close to kids and family, spring training 20 minutes from his home in Orlando, etc. Sure he'll have to play the field, which at this point in his career is a really bad idea for health issues, but the Braves sure look better than the M's at this point. Not that the Braves are going to go out and win a ring, not with the Phillies and Mets in their same division, but he clearly has a better shot to win in ATL. The only thing the M's have going for them is the nostalgia factor, but as one writer said over the weekend, the only thing familiar for Griffey and Seattle anymore is the Mariner Moose. Everyone and everything else has changed since he last roamed centerfield in the 90's. I don't blame the guy, at his stage of his career to want to play close to home. I just wish he wouldn't have said what he did back in 2007, when the three-day love fest during his triumphant return climaxed with him saying he wanted to retire a Mariner. M's fans (like me) haven't been able to let that go. And closure from the whole messy divorce would have been a good thing. But what can you do? It's called free agency for a reason, and he's free to go play wherever he wants. And it looks like Atlanta is going to win his services.

So, the Evil Empire is looking for a bailout. Have you heard the spiraling, out of control costs of the next Death Star?? $15.6 Septillion!!?

The number is so big I don't even know how to spell it. But it looks like this:

$15,602,022,489,829,821,422,840,226.94. WOW.

As Gizmodo points out, if you had that kind of money, instead of saving the world from the economic crisis, you could simply build the Death Star, blow up Earth and move on to invade the rest of the galaxy.

Anyway, the current Death Star situation has Darth Vader himself completely out of his mind. He's been rambling incoherently about things that are way out of context, confusing everyone around him. Even the stress is wearing down the most evil sith lord of all-time. See for yourself (some NSFW-ish language):

That's all I've got for today. Enjoy your Tuesday, and GO COUGS!

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wulff Backtracks on EWU Criticism?

"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 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!
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

The End

Terrible, Terrible, Gut-Wrenching Loss Tonight to the Beavs.

We can say what we want about the many positive attributes of this team--inlcuding the fact that we have several really good Pac-10 basketball players.

But ultimately, this group doesn't have any winners in the bunch with the exception of Thompson.

Meanwhile, the weight of seasons past just seems to have taken its toll on our seniors who look like THEY feel its slipping away all the time.

And now it has.

Our post-season chances of any kind are officially over.

We would love to hear if you think we'll win another game this year. And if so, against who?

Fire away if you have any bullets left.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Goodbye Gary, Plus Other Stuff

UPDATE: AD Jim Sterk will be on with KJR's Ian Furness this afternoon between 1 - 3 PM. Just to go KJR's website and click listen live, and you should be able to catch it. Not sure of the exact time (sometime later in the 1 PM hour?).

In a story we all pretty much saw coming since it was first reported last fall, the quest for another year for Gary Rogers is all over. As is the norm, the NCAA rarely grants a sixth year unless said player misses substantial time for two seasons due to injury. Since Rogers redshirted for non-injury reasons in '04, the appeal was a long-shot from the beginning.

According to the article, Rogers hopes to play professionally. Whether that's the NFL, the European league, the Arena league or any other league that springs up out of the blue, we wish all the luck in the world to Gary. He will always be the epitome of "what could have been".

We'll always have Auburn '06.

Moving on, there's more about the EWU - Paul Wulff era. Basically everyone is saying now that it was the "culture" of EWU that was the issue, and it was a problem for many, many years. After reading some of the details, and catching some of the comments from the people involved, it's hard to argue against the reasoning. Our own Kaddy pointed out in comments yesterday that John Blanchette had some decent insight to the whole thing. I guess the bottom line to all of this is that it's looking more and more like there were things happening for a long time that weren't really monitored as well as they should have been. Things built up and built up, and finally, they added up to the penalties you see today. But what do YOU think? Now that a few days have passed and there are some solid details out there, are you satisfied?

From where I sit, this is all water under the bridge. Life will roll forward for all involved, and in the end, everyone will come out ahead. EWU will be amazingly clean AND compliant from now on. And Wulff's wrist-slap will be enough of a reminder to keep doing what he's doing. That's pretty much it. you like this picture?

It's looking like it could be reality by early next week. And like Edgar and Buhner, personally I'm THRILLED beyond belief. I know Griffey is kind of downplaying the whole thing when reached for comment yesterday, but there's a hell of a lot of smoke to this fire. One report yesterday from a guy who writes for the P-I said the deal is done, and they are simply dotting the i's and crossing the t's on this thing. So we'll see.

Now, the sabermetric types are just hating on the whole idea, absolutely killing Griffey as a non-factor and a horrific defensive player. There are defensive ratings that back up their claims. But baseball isn't just about stats and ratings. If it was, then the Yankees would win the World Series every year, and the D-Rays would be in the basement every year. Well, I'm coming down on the pure sentimental side of this one. Just to see #24 in an M's jersey, one more time, to me is worth the price of admission. I know he's 39 now, and a mere shadow of the Player of the 90's. This isn't the Junior we used to know and love. But who knows. Reportedly he's in great shape, and his injured knee that helped limit him to 18 HR's last year is cleaned up and ready to go.

Maybe the knee is healthy and he can give the punch-n-judy lineup some pop from the left side. In fact, the projected M's outfield of Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez combined for less HR's than Junior hit all of last year. As long as he gets most of his AB's against right handed pitching as the DH, what harm could this do? And at last check, he is 50 HR's behind Willie Mays. This is WAY over the top, but.....if he can hit 25 a year for the next two years, well, wouldn't it be cool to see him pass Mays in an M's uni?

All I know is after the A-Fraud news from last week, and going along with everyone else in believing that Junior was clean all along, it might be nice to have something to embrace again in baseball? It would be cool to go out to Safeco this summer and cheer for something other than Ichiro grounders to sneak through the infield?? We can always HOPE, right??

Nice W for the hoops team last night. I'll let BH handle the basketball Jones stuff, but they are still not dead yet. A win over the Beavs, and suddenly you are 6-7 with five to go. Get to eight wins and the NIT is a lock. But what if they go 3-2 over their last five, and suddenly they are sitting at 9-9? What if they make a little noise in the PAC-10 tourney, winning a couple of games? Anything can happen.

That's it for today. Enjoy your Friday, and GO COUGS!

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Not Quite St. Paul....

But not that bad either, is it?

Reaction has rolled in from all parts of the media/blogosphere. Everyone has their takes. I thought Jim Moore nailed it pretty good at the P-I. And reading through some of your comments, you obviously have an opinion on the violations. GREAT takes yesterday by the way. Some clearly of the over-reaction type before all the details were released, but some who were perfect. But what else is there to say?

I don't think we want to get too deep into it, do we? I mean stories are everywhere with the full, non-juicy details. But in a nutshell, after digesting it all, this is what we are left with:

1) Some players practiced when they shouldn't have.
2) Some graduate/student assistant coaches coached when they shouldn't have.
3) Some players who shouldn't have been practicing were given meals and accommodations in lovely Cheney.

That's pretty much it.

Now, the logical question is, WHY did it happen? And what does it mean for what we care about here, in coach Wulff and WSU?

First, the why. Ok, there are two big reasons why:

1) EWU didn't have a compliance officer, nor did they really give enough attention to what was going on. They were warned by the NCAA in the past over some transgressions in regards to their men's hoops team, and they failed to act accordingly. Let's face it, the penalties are heaped upon EWU for a reason.

2) The other reason is Paul Wulff did what he could do to keep things in check, but clearly, he couldn't manage everything.

Now as Jim Moore said, that isn't a great excuse. There are other low-budget Big Sky schools that haven't gotten into this kind of trouble with the ugly lack of institutional control tagged to their program. But let's realize one very important thing here. Of all the have-nots, of all the low budget schools, EWU has the smallest budget in the Big Sky. PERIOD. One of the smallest in the country if you want to know the truth. Money isn't everything, but, when you don't have the financial wherewithal to properly staff, well, you will get situations like this. There just wasn't a support system in place to look over the shoulder of Paul Wulff on every thing, big and small, that was going on. And it's clear now that so much was heaped onto the shoulders of coach Wulff, that the whole thing was almost SET UP TO FAIL at some point, wasn't it? In looking over some of the things that happened, and the lack of attention to the details, I mean how long can you let your coaches go basically unchecked before some type of oversight was going to happen? Wasn't it just a matter of time before something like this was going to happen, whether it was with the EWU hoops program, football program, etc?

Don't take my word for it. Our good friend PTOWNCOUG weighed in with comments yesterday. PTown is a former compliance employee at WSU, and is now an attorney. Who better to get a read on the situation than someone who has actually "walked the walk"?

I worked at Wazzu's compliance office and now am a lawyer. NCAA compliance is not an easy gig, I can tell you that. WSU is special as it puts a emphasis on compliance due to mainly the baseball issues that stemmed from Bobo's era, I believe.

I have been to other institutions and seen first hand their lack of control by the compliance office. Think about the # of athletes and you have a couple of staff people overseeing all of them and the minute details of when someone can start practicing, etc.

I thought about applying to EWU to work in their compliance office, but decided not to because they are a small univ without the funding to have enough personnel in place to look at everything.

I feel for them, but if NCAA says it is an institutional thing, then I believe them and can understand how this really doesn't fall too much on the shoulders of the coach with maybe the exception of having too many coaches on staff because a coach should know how many coaches he is allowed.

Well put.

I believe this could have been much, much, MUCH worse. When the story first broke yesterday, I held my breath waiting for the full extent of the details. I mean when you hear NCAA violations, I don't know about you but I picture Barry Switzer style, drugs, guns, cash falling out of envelopes and hundred-dollar handshakes. But this was nothing of the sort. With very little compliance support in place, the program could have spiraled completely out of control. Think of how easy it would have been for Wulff to get away with doing anything and everything he wanted to in that environment. We could be talking about a whole different area here, of recruiting violations, players way out of line, horrible academics, and of course, losing on the field. NONE of that happened with Wulff at EWU.

And let's also realize the situation today at WSU. There is little doubt that the compliance and support systems are absolutely in place in Pullman. These kinds of transgressions just won't happen with this program.

So let's not freak out. Were mistakes made? Yes. Were they made in a very loose environment? Yes. Were they made to gain a competitive edge of some kind? NOT REALLY. Are these mistakes going to follow Wulff at WSU?? I DOUBT IT!

Enjoy your day, and GO COUGS!
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Breaking News: Wulff Committed Violations at EWU

UPDATE: Press release is out at official WSU site. Check it out here.

Thanks to Chris '04 for the tip in comments...but KREM is breaking a story that coach Wulff committed several violations while at EWU. Among the violations:

The violations cited by the NCAA committee include "impermissible participation by ineligible student-athletes in practice activities, the use of too many countable coaches, failure to monitor by the former head coach, and a lack of institutional control and failure to monitor by the university".

Wulff wasn't available for comment. For full press release information, check out the link above, or continue on to the next page of this post.

As ripped from, the entire press release:

NCAA Releases Findings

Feb. 11, 2009

PULLMAN, Wash. - At noon today the NCAA Committee on Infractions issued its report outlining violations at Eastern Washington University.

"We were aware, from our own research and Paul (Wulff), of potential NCAA infractions at Eastern Washington University during the time frame when Paul was the head football coach," said Washington State University Director of Athletics Jim Sterk. "Due to the ongoing NCAA investigation, we were prohibited from commenting on the situation until after the NCAA Committee on Infractions concluded its investigation and released its findings. We feel now, as we did then, that this was an institutional issue with Eastern Washington University, which is supported with today's NCAA release regarding the situation."

From 2003-07, Eastern Washington's football program was found to have exceeded the NCAA-mandated 11 coaches on its football staff, in addition to student assistants not enrolled in enough credits as per NCAA rules. Eastern Washington University had self-reported these violations while Wulff was still the school's head coach.

The NCAA penalized Eastern Washington for major violations in its football program. In addition to penalties handed down to Eastern Washington, penalties were also imposed on Wulff as he was the head coach. Those penalties include educational seminars each of the next three years and he will not be allowed to coach the Cougars for the first three days of the 2009 fall camp.

"During Paul's hiring process he was straightforward about these allegations," said Sterk. "We take these issues very seriously and believe Paul is a man of tremendous integrity and the situation derived more from a lack of institutional control at Eastern Washington, where limited compliance and academic staff were in place at that time. Paul was not found by the NCAA to have purposely violated NCAA rules in order to gain a recruiting advantage."

Wulff, who was hired as the Cougars' 31st head coach Dec. 11, 2007, acknowledged mistakes were made while at Eastern Washington University. "I understand the severity of the situation and at no time did I ever intentionally violate NCAA rules," said Wulff. "As head coach I take responsibility for the mistakes that occurred and accept the NCAA's penalties.
"I greatly appreciate the support of Washington State University, the athletic department and all Cougar fans throughout the past year," Wulff continued. "Now that I have been immersed for more than a year in the athletic department and the excellent compliance support it provides, I am confident situations such as these will never happen again."

"We have systems and resources in place at Washington State that help prevent occurrences like this from taking place now or in the future," Sterk said. "There is a culture of compliance here that fully embraces NCAA rules and regulations."

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Greetings Cougar Nation. Hope you're having a happy hump day.

Yesterday, we had a couple of comments related to my main man, Kyle Weaver.

So, given that I've had the opportunity of watching him over the past couple of weeks, I thought I'd give an update.

But before we get to Mr. Weaver's play, it's important to frame the backdrop of where Kyle is currently spending his playing days.

In case you forgot, Kyle now plays in Clay Bennett's wonderworld.

And you know what that means. Yep, its January, and the big boys are feedin' on the Red River.

So, giddie up Francesca, how bout you and me go fishin' for some Blue Cat?

Yowza. What fun times in Okey land.

Anyhow, as you all know by now, Kyle has been starting for the last two weeks. On Sunday, I watched him play the Sacramento Kings. Last night, I watched him play the Fakers. Sunday, he scored a career high 9 points with all of his points coming in the first half. Yesterday, he scored 11 with 7 of those coming in the first quarter while matched up against Kobe Bryant.

Weaver had a bunch of nifty plays in both games including swatting a Kobe jumper in the fourth last night (Durant loved it) as well as forcing Kobe into a traveling call.

When Kyle first became a starter the Thunder had him drifting on the weakside elbow basically doing nothing except for enjoying a great view of Kevin Durant's development into brilliance. More recently, though, they are getting him the ball in the open court and setting him up on the baseline. This allows Kyle to slash and do the dipsy-do-dunkeroo stuff that we saw during his career as a Coug. The result: career highs in the last two games.

Over that time, teams have been sagging off of Weaver and challenging him to hit the long range J (see Marcus Capers). Thankfully for Kyle, the Thunder want him to take that shot. So, Kyle was 1 for 5 last night from three point land but he's getting to develop his shot on the fly which is good.

As Sedihawk and I discussed yesterday, when you think back to the development of GP and Kyle's clone, Nate McMillan

you come to re-remember that those dudes also couldn't hit the broad side of a barn when they entered the league.

So, Kyle seems like he's carving himself a nice nitch. The key to his development is to get better at shooting his J. The other key for him is to have his teammates--most notably Westbrook--provide some semblance of team defense since Kyle is getting killed right now on back screens. If and when that happens, Kyle may find himself enjoying a nice 7 or 8 year career as a major player in the league.

Have a good week.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesdays With Moron

Welcome to Tuesday, and a new feature around here - Tuesday's With Moron. Basically a dot-dot-dot type ramblings, with a look around at things not necessarily WSU Football-Related. We need to step outside the box now and then, and it's the off-season, so, what the hell.

Leading off.....A-Rod, seriously? Why? Ok, you are an A-class jackass who is phony as it gets, but you were headed to Cooperstown sans juice. AND you lied to the world on 60 Minutes in 2007. Now you admit it, but spin it as the reason you did so was because of the immense pressure of $252 million? Poor guy.

The deal with A-Rod is this - here's a kid who immensely wants to be liked by everyone, incredibly insecure and one who says and does anything and everything to be LIKED. Even if he sounds phony and rehearsed, Eddie Haskell style. And if everyone was doing it in 2001-2003 down in hell's exhaust pipe (Arlington), you can see a guy like that totally giving in to the peer pressure and go along with the rest of the crowd. Still, it doesn't excuse what he did, and it certainly taints everything he has done from that point forward....if he did, in fact, ONLY start in 2001? How can we even know for sure when he started dabbling in PED's? Should we just take his word for it and root on his pursuit of the HR title? Did he simply move on to HGH, where there still isn't a 100% reliable testing program? Maybe he's still on something? How can we believe anything he says about the issue?

Well, congrats on blowing your Hall shoo-in, fraudulent one. And welcome to Pete Rose's living hell. But at least you have plenty of company (McGwire, Raffy P, Barry, Rocket, Canseco, etc). Curt Schilling is a blow-hard who loves to hear himself talk but he is right on here. Expose the rest of the 103 names on the list failed steroid test. They were supposed to remain anonymous, but what other choice is there now? If they leave things as they are, they will eventually come out and it will be ugly when it does. Otherwise, as Schilling says, they ALL live under the slimy cloud of suspicion, witch-hunt style. Might as well "come clean", so to speak.....

Christian Bale is a hot piece of property where every thing he touches is going to hit the $100 million mark and T4 looks like it will be a huge hit this summer.....but he sure sounds like a colossal PRICK on that tape.

I loved him in Batman Begins and Dark Knight, and he was good in The Prestige, 3:10 to Yuma, and American Psycho. But wow, did he go off. The next Russell Crowe, perhaps, right down to the surly off-camera a-hole-ness?....

So how 'bout that stimulus package? Let's hope it works. MORE pork please! Maybe they can pack in some Martin Stadium money for phase IV? Come on Barack!...

The UW money grab appears to be dying on the table in Oly, per the biggest jerk in the House, Frank Chopp. He said in a recent interview that the UW stadium is "no longer a priority", where he's even getting mixed signals from Mark Emmert himself. ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY RECESSION!!.....Speaking of UW and dying on the table, so ends the brief mutt career of one Jim Michalzcik, as he's decided the worst NFL job under the most insane, senile owner in pro sports is better than Montlake. The guy never lost a game in Seattle. But at least he was around to help Sarkisian sign the worst recruiting class in modern UW history. All for more money than Paul Wulff makes as head coach at WSU. Way to vet your choice there. And good luck Jim. We still love your Coug-ness, and you are now officially welcome to attend all WSU football functions and the like.....Tough times for UW huh? As BH boldly pointed out yesterday, let's see....Sarkisian has:

1) Stolen USC's Defensive Coordinator, and pissed off Pete Carroll in the process.
2) Went after SC recruits (and FAILED to turn them to purple-n-gold) and again, pissed off Pete Carroll in the process.
3) Went after UCLA's Defensive Coordinator DeWayne Walker (and FAILED)
4) Stole CAL's lead offensive coach.....making Jeff Tedford angry.....only to see him eject prematurely.
5) Offered Utah's heralded WR coach and offensive mind a top spot, who takes it....then wakes up in the morning and says NEVER MIND!
6) Had a few recruiting violations and played dumb in the process.....even though he's been a supposedly "big time recruiting force" in SoCal for many years?
7) Finally, tried to steal EVERY WSU verbal commit in-state, and went o-fer in that department.

Quite a start. And they haven't even been blown out by LSU yet. Honeymoon is just about over.....

In the WSU universe, the Stanford game next fall has been moved to Thursday night. No blazing, blaring, official announcement yet...but check out the official Stanford schedule? Looks pretty clear doesn't it? The question is, what network will host the game? FSN? Or maybe ESPN2? Rumors are out there that it could be nationally televised. Also a rumor to look for one more game to be moved later in the year to Thursday. Maybe on Halloween weekend against the team eternally dressed for that particular holiday?? We shall see....So should Tony roll with the kids or stick with vets to try and salvage this season? I am on the side of BH on this one. Play the kids or else face not only a disappointing post-season watching at home anyway, but a scary 2009-2010 season to boot....Have ya seen the guy pitching Sham-WOW? Wow is right, as in WOW are you ugly.
That guy has a mug born for 3 AM infomercials. I heard the product is a complete fraud as well....So Chris Brown beat up the beautiful 19-year old sensation Rihanna!?!? WTF is that?

I recall Kevin Durant in a post-NBA draft interview saying his dream was to, well, you know....I won't even say it....but Rihanna was prominently featured.....Larry Fitzgerald, enough already with the one-handed circus catches and game-changing TD's. You're great. We get it. Now please go back to sucking with the rest of the AZ Cardinals. Seahawk fans everywhere are ready for your to go away now....please......


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Monday, February 09, 2009

Breaking News - Michalczik OUT at UW

Hey, Paul Wulff and WSU nation can now re-embrace one of our own. That's right, Jim Michalczik, the recently hired UW offensive coordinator/offensive line coach, has now LEFT Montlake! KJR just broke the story. Michalczik is headed to work with Tom Cable as the offensive coordinator for the NFL's Oakland Raiders.

Congrats.....and welcome back to the Cougar family Jim!

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Onto 2010-2011

Happy Monday to you Cougar Nation. Hope your week is off to a good start.

Well, in case any of you caught Saturday's game against the Bears, you saw what I thought was the toughest loss we've experienced in a long, long time.

For me it was among the hardest because, for the first time since our two point loss @ UCLA in 2007, we lost a game where we played about as well as we can play.

So now that we know that our best might not be good enough, it's really time for a change.

Before I get to the meat (if there is any) of the post, I do want to tip my hat to the CAL Bears. Simply put, if those kids play like they did last weekend in March, you will see them in the Sweet Sixteen. They are long, althletic, play decent D, and boy can they shoot the rock. Even more impressive, they are ALL back. So, you got a chance to witness your 2009-2010 Pac-10 Champs on Saturday night.

Now, back to us.

Nation, having ditched my former moniker for a pair of letters, I really do not want to get back into the game of calling out individual players. But, in this case, it is really unavoidable.

On Saturday night, this guy had a MINUS 32 while he was in the game.

In case you are among the math challenged like BH, a minus 32 means that when this kid was in the game, CAL outscored us by a whopping 32 points.

Now granted, no one should pin our season on his woes. After all basketball is a team game. And even more than that,we know that this kid is a gem of a teammate and one heck of a human being. Moreover, we also know that when given enough touches, this kid can be really lights out.

But, we also know that it is inappropriate for him to get those touches now. Moreover, we also know that when we lost to UCLA by two points a few weeks ago, he didn't get off the bench. So, unless we get into a situation where we're down 20 and Tony can insert him with the message "shoot every time you touch it, or you're off the team" he really shouldn't play again. And it truly hurts to even write that.

But even more to the point, as I wrote on Saturday, when you look toward next year, FOUR OUT OF OUR FIVE LEADING SCORERS ARE GRADUATING. And that simply means that when you look toward our prospects for 2009-2010, you're looking squarely at replicating this season of Oregon Ducks basketball.

And so, I say again, like I did on Saturday, its time to put the youth movement forward. Its time for Casto and Capers to get many more minutes--even if they make horrible mistakes (and tony, don't sub in an entire unit of freshmen reserves when we're up 11, please). Simply put, I think most of us would sacrifice a few W's this year for the chance of competitive next year, not to mention an upper bracket NCAA team in 2010-2001.

Its now officially transition time for Cougar basketball. And while playing the Oregon schools may seem like a good opportunity to stay veteran and win a few games, it actually is the perfect time for playing the young kids until they either win for you or foul out.

So, Onward to the Future, Cougar Nation.

And a HUGE Congrats and THANK YOU to this year's seniors for all they've done in making the past so darn memorable and enjoyable.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Too Little, Too Late, Too Slow, Too Low?

Greetings, Cougar Nation. Hope you all are having a great start to a GREAT STINKING SIGNING WEEKEND.

Well, tonight our lads face the season's toughest test.

Because let's face it, nothing is more difficult than playing for your season.

Especially when the other team is not.

You know, some say that a picture is worth a thousand words. And for little ole BH, this one says it all (thanks to the Spokesman)

Just look at how much higher off the ground their guy is than our GUYS. Its not even funny.

And that's what it really comes down to: we need to become much, much, much more athletic.

The sad thing is, for a while, we were. Fast forward BACK to the UCLA-USC series with Marcus Capers on the floor and we looked a lot like last year. Add Casto to that mix and we look a lot like we did TWO YEARS AGO.

Unfortunately, for the three games since, we have reverted back to "too little, too late, too slow, too low." And it has cost us dearly.

So, with that in mind, I hope that you all are with me in echoing this sentiment from one far end of the earth to the other: IF WE ARE GOING TO LOSE FROM THIS POINT FORWARD, CAN IT PLEASE BE WITH YOUTH???

Not only is playing our kids the only chance we have of winning, its the only thing that will help us progress if we lose. Cuz lets face it, lose tonight and we're squarely in ninth with four of our top FIVE scorers not returning next year. But, win tonight and the season continues.

With Capers on the floor, I like our chances to win a close game. Problem is, Marcus will only get spot work tonight when it matters. And yes, we'll see our classy seniors (who are simply fantastic kids) play in the place of youth. And that will be our undoing once again.

CAL 73 WSU 49

I'll be back after the game. Hope you will be too.

Halftime: WSU 33 CAL 30. Nik is playing the game of his life. He is as stout defensively right now as Capers, but is also making GREAT decisions with the ball. Meanwhile, Tony got WAY too cute with his substitutions when we were up 16-5 early in the game. The result: a 20-2 CAL run that lead to a 7 point CAL lead. That said, to credit Tony, his starting line-up is working. Hopefully, that 1st half blow will lead to this starting group being on the floor the vast majority of the second half. I would also love to see Casto on cutting to the weakside for alley oops when they're doubling Baynes in the post.

Hang tough, Cougs!!!
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Friday, February 06, 2009

Paul Wulff '09 Football Dinner Recap

A HUGE thanks to our good friend Kaddy, who was able to step up and attend the football dinner in Shelton on Thursday night. As you will see, there were a lot of good things to take from this evening, and it sounds like it went off better than expected. Once again, a great event put on by Diana Bidle and the rest at WSU. Without delay, here's Kaddy's full recap. Enjoy!

After 3 years of driving to Seattle for the annual football signing day banquet, I decided to try one a little closer from my Vancouver location and drove to the event in Shelton, just north of Olympia. Attendance was better than I expected, with around 250 or so Cougar fans making the trek.

That said, I'll get right to it - Paul Wulff knows exactly what he's doing.......

In the past, like many of you, I've sat and watched the film of the recruits we just signed. I've listened to the coaches talk about how great they were, how they project to be this or that or whatever. But never can I remember someone formulating a plan better than Coach Wulff did last night. Every player they research and target, every player they end up recruiting, every player they sign, there is so much that goes into it. But each player fills a specific piece of the larger puzzle that they are turning into a Cougar football program on the rise.

You may already know this, but we'll say it right now - These coaches are personable, aggressive, confident, and not willing to take a back seat to anyone - and I mean anyone - when recruiting athletes to WSU.

That said, last night Wulff was quick to point out that they only recruit players that they really believe will fit at WSU. Wulff talked about the "charade" that high school recruiting has become, with players sitting in front of a bunch of cameras, choosing from 3 different hats to reveal where they decided to go. Those types of hot-shot, me-first kids? They aren't the players that want to go to WSU, and those aren't the players that this coaching staff wants. They really don't recruit all. This staff wants blue collar kids. Mentally tough kids. High character kids. Kids that want to play their guts out for Washington State University.

With that out of the way, some other interesting items learned last night:

Bill Doba offered Wulff an assistant coaching job a few years ago. Wulff turned it down, obviously. But not because he didn't want to come to Pullman. Instead, Wulff felt that he had just turned the corner of rebuilding Eastern. He could have had a bigger paycheck by coaching at a BCS school, and heck, he could have been tabbed the unofficial "heir apparent" to the throne. But nope. Loyalty and wanting to see the fruits of their labor in Cheney kept him there. And we know how that story worked out, as Wulff was quite successful in building and maintaining a fine program at EWU.

Washington tried to change the minds of virtually every commitment in the state from WSU. They failed, on all of them. Another testament to the character of the kids WSU recruited.

Casey Locker hates - absolutely HATES - the huskies. The place went nuts when Wulff mentioned that!

On to the young men that signed LOI's with our beloved school...

I have to admit that I am no longer worried about the DT position. Bernard Wolfgramm is healthy. Josh Luapo will play DT. Quayshawne Buckleyis too good to keep off the field next year, even though he's only 18. He will also play DT. Throw in Toby Turpin, who really came on last year, and we have four solid players for next year, with another player or two that may get thrown into the mix. Wulff likes to play with six DT's in the rotation.

Other players that will immediately make us better in 2009, that had to sit out in 2008 via transfers, redshirts, or injury:

Jesse Feagin, DE
Zach Williams, OT
Tyson Pencer, OT
The Cal transfers - Brandon Jones, CB, and James Montgomery, RB
Jessy Sanchez, DE
Jonathan Solomon, WR (he transferred from Eastern).

We've heard these names described before, but it was nice to be reminded that they will actually PLAY in 2009!

Other tidbits worth noting:

The tight end situation - Right now, Andrei Lintz, Tony Thompson, and Zack Taffon will all play.

Newcomer Justin Clayton - He will move to DT. He has "a huge butt and huge legs...a natural fit."

Elliott Bosh - walk on from Spokane will make some noise - no one knows about this kid. Can't remember what position.

Travis Long - like Quayshawne Buckley - there is no way they can keep him off the field next season. Just too much talent, with a huge motor. Very intelligent too with a 3.9 gpa. Already at 6-4, 240, and possesses all the intangibles.

Jordan Pu'u - Robinson: he will move to DT.
Brandon Rankin oozes NFL talent. He won't make grades this year, but Wulff feels he is going to be worth the wait and investment. Just a GREAT kid.

Sekope Kaufusi - 230 lbs now, but his frame can handle up to 290! He will probably move to DT.

Jamal Atofau - his film reminds me a lot of Louis Bland...just a knack for finding the ball. Big hitter too. He will play this fall.

Asi Hosea - every clip of this kid hitting someone ended with that player on his back. Wulff said we don't even have many kids on the current WSU team that hit as hard as he does. He has a few grade issues to resolve but could be a real find.

Nolan Washington - has a huge burst, with closing speed. He left everyone in the dust...lots of speed.

Terell Thompson - compared his speed and athleticism to Mark Fields. Most likely won't make grades, but they'll place him in a JC with intentions of bringing him back in 2 years.
William Prescott will grayshirt.

Sebastian Valenzuela - "as nasty & mean on film as they've ever seen." Not the typical O-lineman that Wulff likes, which is long and rangy, but he played soccer as a kid in Argentina, and has great feet. He could be a 4-year starter, and will probably take over for Kenny Alfred at Center.

Arthur Burns reminds him of a Broussard type of back - has the talent to play right away, but they won't need him immediately. He'll likely redshirt.

Keith Gilbertson's son will walk on to WSU, with his dad's blessing. Good, athletic QB from Redmond High.

We don't need a WR to replace Gibson - we just need more reliable receivers, and we'll have them. Jeshua Anderson's biggest problem is that he only focuses on football during the season, so he isn't getting any stronger, and gets pushed around on the field. The reality is, that probably won't change, with all the time he spends with track.

We'll have ONE Senior starter on Offense - (Kenny Alfred?) - next year, and three seniors on Defense. Yep, we're going to be YOUNG.

Marshall Lobbestael is walking without crutches or a brace, and can already take three-step drops. While he will be very limited this spring and will participate in some skeleton drills, the staff is very confident he'll be 100% by August. Indications are that he'll start, although Wulff wouldn't commit to it. He also said they are high on JT Levenseller.

The new strength coach is the best Wulff has ever been around. The feeling we got was that Oviatt didn't push kids very hard to improve their strength, which is why our players are so skinny. Kevin Kooyman, anyone?

Jeff Tuel - the real deal! He only started one year, probably for political reasons more than anything else. Beau Sweeney was ahead of him. Hmm, does the last name Sweeney in the Fresno area ring a bell? That's right, Beau Sweeney is Jim Sweeney's grandson. Tuel's coaches say he is much better than Sweeney was. Wulff wouldn't hand him the keys to the team, but said that Tuel has the talent to be a 3-year starter. He's athletic, smart, and has a great arm. If you've seen the Youtube highlights, you will understand the praise. His team was horrible, with no talent surrounding him, but they still won the Sectional Championship. He basically carried the whole team. A fantastic all-around athlete, he also throws a 90 mph fastball!

The coaches in attendance were Wulff, Rasmussen, Sturdy, and Bruiser.

Celebrities in attendance included Alex Brink and Ropati Pitoitua. When informed that a WSU Football Blog representative was in attendance, Brink suddenly rose from his chair and shouted "I WANT BRINKHATER! WHERE HE AT!?!" We quickly ducked out a side exit. (not really) :)

Finally, on a sad note - Tom Pounds was there from Albuquerque. He founded the Ol' Crimson Booster Club, and manages the Gameday flag waving. Great guy. His wife passed away a week ago Monday...I think she was ill. He still came - what a trooper.

Thanks again Kaddy! An outstanding recap of a night chalk full of great information about where we're headed with the program. After reading all this, my first thought was WHEN DOES SPRING BALL START?? I believe it's late March.

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Wulff to Speak on the KJR Airwaves

Conveniently ignoring the hoops loss last night, hey, lookie here - Paul Wullf will hop on the KJR airwaves with Ian Furness today at 2 PM to talk recruiting, the team heading into spring ball and for next year, etc. He's over here on the west side for the Seattle football dinner this evening, so he'll be in their studios for a ton of Coug talk. Give it a listen here, by clicking the link and selecting "listen live" button near the top-left of the page, as they offer the live stream (that is, if you can stomach the incessant UW hoops commercials in between segments! You've been warned...).

NOTE - KJR is very good about posting their feature stuff in the archives and made available to the masses on their website, pretty quickly after an interview happens. IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, here is the link to the interview.

Finally, we had a great representative last night at the football dinner in Shelton. Our own "Kaddy" was there and we will be posting some information from that experience. It sounds like a really good turnout, at least 250 there, which was more than was expected. Anyway, we'll have that up in the next few days, so stay tuned.

That's it for today. ENJOY YOUR FRIDAY and GO COUGS!

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Thursday, February 05, 2009


Happy post-signing day to you Cougar Nation.

Well, now that we know that Coach Paul weathered the storm of last year, we can focus on trying to keep our streak of NCAA tournaments alive for one more year.

And, like I noted earlier in the week, I believe that our fortunes lie principally in this one stinking game tonight against the trees.

Now that we're halfway through the conference slate, we know that just about anyone in the conference is good enough to beat anyone on a given night. So, with that in mind, it is entirely possible that Anthony Goods and Lawrence Hill come out tonight, hit 54% of their 3 point attempts, and blow us out of Maples Pavilion.

But, if you harken back to our second half blitz against Stanford the last time we played them, you know that the athleticism of Casto turned that game around.

And tonight, we need him again.

To win tonight, we simply need to exploit the MASSIVE advantage that we have over Stanford in the paint. And, we also need to close out on the shooters behind the arc and then make them shoot over Casto and Baynes in the lane. We do that, we win. If we don't, we won't.

But I think we will. This is the exact type of game where our coaching and development are going to shine through. Baynes gets about 18 and 11 tonight and the rest of the team plays well.

WSU 62 Stanford 54.

Win this game and we're one game back in the L column from 3rd place!! Lose and we're in 9th.

This is a really big game.
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Signing Party Recap, Plus Links

Another signing day in the books. A success for the most part. If you ask Scout, we finished 45th overall. But don't ask 92nd!? That's a pretty incredible difference of opinion. Like one of the stories said yesterday, someone is going to be REALLY off once things play out here.

We had a live blog update yesterday as the LOI's rolled in. We gave a quick rundown of each player, including their rankings and video, where it was available anyway. Check it out here.

Big thanks to "Soze" from our comments. Soze ventured out into the night last night to catch the Signing Day extravaganza. Sounds like a good time.

"Just returned from Northern Quest casino from the NLI Signing Day party. Definitely a great time and something I will return to next year. Looks like a great class, most of the guys completely dominated the high school level (which is expected in the Pac-10) but I've seen "highlight" videos in the past of guys, where you couldn't even tell who the recruit was."

"Some highlights of the videos (for me at least) were definitely Quayshawne Buckley on the OL who was tossing people around like rag dolls, Carl Winston, who was running around stiff-arming smaller guys to the ground and juking bigger guys out of their shoes, and Jamal Atofau, who looks like he delivers a concussion with each hit. Lastly, hopefully (Brandon) Rankin gets his academics in order, because he looks like a special player on the DE spot."

"I would "guesstimate" a few hundred people, maybe 500 in attendance (I'm not good at guessing attendance figures)? Quote of the night was definitely about the Cougs not having a good year, but "someone else finished in last place in the Pac-10."

Definitely looking forward to 2009 and 2010 with these kids."

Again, big thanks to Soze! Circumstances prevented making it over there, so thanks. Meanwhile, we should have a good recap of the Shelton dinner in the coming days, so stay tuned for that.

Moving on, of course there are links EVERYWHERE in regards to signing day. And everyone is thrilled with the overall look of this class.

The P-I ran an AP story on the class. Some good quotes in here as well. Wulff stressed that even with 25 spots, it still isn't enough, but at the same time it was a balanced class all the way around. Howie Stalwick also weighed in with some stronger recruiting quotes from Wulff:

"Our coaches -- I couldn't tell you how proud I am of their effort, how good the job is they have done," Wulff said. "They battled and battled and never wavered.

"It was a great year for us."

Bud Withers of the Times had this strong story, including one of the most important things that might get lost on a day like this - WSU only lost ONE verbal commit the entire way, in Geoff Meinken. The rest of the kids held firm. Not only does that speak to some of the high-character kids who signed to be part of this thing, but the efforts of the coaches to keep giving them the love, even after they committed and with UW's new coaching staff circling the waters? A HUGE part of yesterday.

The other thing to take from this is the details regarding the four-star JC defensive end, Brandon Rankin. We heard yesterday after he signed that a grayshirt was very likely here, and now you can see how long a shot he is to make it (as the story quotes, 24 hours by August is a pretty long shot). But they want to stand by this kid and see if it pans out:

Said Wulff candidly, "At this point, we don't believe he's going to make it. He'd be somebody we'd hope would enroll in January [2010]. He's a wonderful kid. As a person of character, he's somebody we'd be willing to work with."

Anyone remember the trials and tribulations of Leon Bender? How about Mark Fields? They were kids worth sticking with, even when they had grade issues that kept them off the field (or even out of WSU altogether). All we do know is Rankin was highly regarded, with a lot of big-name schools coming after him, but Wulff and company took the leap. Let's hope it is good news at the beginning of 2010.

As KJR's Ian Furness said yesterday, "EVERYONE is 6-3, 250 and runs a 4.3 40 on signing day!" Without a doubt, signing day is a rush, and they all look fantastic on Youtube or in their bio's. But we know the odds of every single one of these kids becoming All-Pac-10 are pretty long (if not impossible). But let's not worry about that. For now, enjoy the fact that you have the hardest working coaching staff in the conference, absolutely and positively committed to building this program into something we all can be proud of. Yesterday was a big step in that direction.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

And So it Begins...

Updated at 2:30 PM 2/4. Brandon Rankin has faxed in the LOI. The class is basically done. Per coach Rasmussen at the chat, which is flipping GREAT btw, we are likely waiting on one more and that will be it. Turn on those fax machines and get ready. Today is the day we've been waiting for, signing day 2009. Finally the talk of verbals and soft verbals, visits and hand-written notes, etc, it all comes to a head today. We will finally see, first hand, the fruits of the WSU staff's labor for the last year+.

While we have said all along to not get TOO jacked about this stuff, as well as not putting all your hopes and dreams into recruiting rankings, a Coug fan can't help but feel some excitement for today. After all, this is Wulff and company's first "true" class, a class that they have had a full year or more to put together. While last year should be considered a commendable effort by the coaches, remember they had less than two months to pull it off. But this class is the full-meal deal.

There were some late-breaking commits in the last two days, including a FOUR STAR JC defensive end named Brandon Rankin. Rankin had an amazing 24 SACKS last year, and finally chose WSU over LSU, Oregon State, Louisville and NC State. Rankin is the second four-star player in the class, along with WR Gino Simone. WILL there be another surprise or two today? You never know.

WSU's official signing day central is going to have the most up-to-date coverage available, and you can check that out here. They look like they will be all over it today, as well as hosting a chat with recruiting coordinator Rich Rasmussen, and you can get that here.

We will update the second page of this post throughout the day once the letter of intent faxes are officially announced by the school. We will try to give you something a little different on each kid who signs, complete with links, stats, pics and/or video for every recruit, so check back when you can. Enjoy the day, and GO COUGS!

Name: Terrel Thompson
Position: MLB (running back in high school)
Hometown: Aurora, CO
Ht/Wt: 6-2, 215
Speed: not available rating: 1 star (*not yet fully evaluated) rating: Not listed rating: 40 (not yet evaluated)
Video: Click here for highlight.

Name: Jeff Tuel
Position: QB
Hometown: Fresno, CA
Ht/Wt: 6-3, 207
Speed: 4.6 40-time rating: 3 stars rating: 2 stars rating: 72

Name: Justin Clayton
Position: DT
Hometown: Napa, CA
Ht/Wt: 6-4, 250
Speed: not listed rating: 3 stars rating: 2 stars rating: 40 (not yet evaluated)

Name: Casey Locker
Position: Safety
Hometown: Ferndale, WA
Ht/Wt: 5-11, 175
Speed: 4.5 40-time
Key Stats: First team all-conference on offense and defense. rating: 2 stars rating: 2 stars rating: 72
Video: Check it here from ESPN.

Name: Andre Barrington
Position: LB
Hometown: Federal Way, WA
Ht/Wt: 6-1, 205
Speed: 4.5 40-time rating: 3 stars rating: 3 stars rating: 68
Video: Check here from ESPN.

Asi Hosea
Salt Lake City, UT
5-10, 178
not listed rating: 2 stars rating: 2 stars rating: 75
Video: Check here from ESPN.

Name: Darren Markle
Position: MLB
Ht/WT: 6-1, 232
Speed: 4.59 40 rating: 3 stars rating: 3 stars rating: 76

Name: Sekope Kaufusi
Position: LB
Ht/WT: 6-4, 230
Speed: 4.7 40 rating: 2 stars rating: 2 stars rating: 40 (not yet evaluated)


Name: Sebastian Valenzuela
Position: OG
Ht/WT: 6-2, 315
Speed: 5.3 40-time rating: 2 stars rating: 3 stars rating: 76

Chris Mastin
6-2, 210
4.7 40-time rating: 3 stars rating: 2 stars rating: 75

Nolan Washington
5-11, 175
4.46 40-time rating: 3 stars rating: 3 stars rating: 76
Video: Check the ESPN video here.

Anthony Carpenter
6-1, 185
4.4 40-time rating: 3 stars rating: 3 stars rating: 75

Jamal Atofau
5-10, 185
4.55 40-time rating: 3 stars rating: 3 stars rating: 40 (not fully evaluated)

Carl Winston
Running Back
5-9, 205
4.49 40-time rating: 2 stars rating: 3 stars rating: 70
Video: Check ESPN here.

William Prescott
Offensive tackle
6-5, 280
5.2 40-time rating: 2 stars rating: 3 stars rating: 75

Arthur Burns
Running back
5-11, 212
4.46 40-time rating: 3 stars rating: 3 stars rating: 72

Gino Simone
Position: WR
Ht/WT: 6-0, 175
Speed: 4.6 40-time rating: 4 stars rating: 3 stars rating: 74

Name: Quayshawne Buckley
Position: DL/OL (but likely o-line at WSU)
Ht/WT: 6-4, 285
Speed: 5.2 40-time rating: 3 stars rating: 3 stars rating: 75

Travis Long
6-5, 244
4.78 40-time rating: 3 stars rating: 3 stars rating: 70
Video: Check it out at ESPN here.

Jordan Pu-u-Robinson
6-4, 248
4.9 40-time rating:
2 stars rating:
2 stars rating:
40 (not yet evaluated)

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Four to Score

Greetings Cougar Nation! Hope you are having a great start to your week.

Well, right before the UCLA game, we posted right here on this blog that, in order for us to sniff the NCAA tourney, we would have to go 3-3 over our next six.

Today, we stand four games into that stretch with a record of 1-3. So, what do we have to do?

We have to win the next two games.

But, of course, there's more to it than that.

With the Oregon schools coming into town the following week, we absolutely, POSITIVELY need to sweep them as well. So, in order for us to make the Big Dance, we need to win the next four in a row.

If we start the second half 4-0, then we'll need to grab two W's from either our trip to LA-LA land, our home contests with the AZ schools, and/or our trip to Seattle. If we do that, then we have a 6-3 second half, a 10-8 conference mark, and a ticket to the Dance.

Can we do it? Absolutely.

Will we do it? Well, we'll find out Thursday night.

But, the good news is that there are SEVERAL things working in our favor:

1) Washington, Washington, Washington, Washington. As much as we love to hate em, the Puppies' strength works tremendously in our favor. Not only do they run teams up and down, they also are bruising inside with Brockman down low. I think they are hands down the best in the Pac-10, meaning that in most cases, teams are going to be playing us needing to split. That will help us tremendously, because desperate teams don't do well playing against our grind-out style.

2) Problem Teams Come First. The teams that pose the biggest problems for us match-up wise tend to come first in the second half. That means that we get to spend those first four practice days really preparing for the things that have bothered us. For instance, the two small ball teams Stanford and Oregon come first. USC and their box and one and triangle and two stuff comes first. As does Arizona and that menacing press. Then, we get the (arguably) more talented teams after they've been pushed around by the Huskies. As a consequence, we can expect CAL to be spent and pressing on Saturday. Ditto UCLA. Ditto Arizona State.

3) We're ONE GAME back from where we were last year. Its hard to fathom, but its true. Last year, we went 5-4 in the first half. This year, with as bad as we were playing the first two games of the conference, we're sitting at 4-5. This team has gotten much, much better folks, and I think you'll see us get even better in the second half. Think about it: Klay Thompson is now starting to break through. Rochestie was in a major slump at the start of the conference season, and now we have two other freshman who are contributing. We are much, much better than five weeks ago.

4) The Bay Area teams are slumping. Say what you want about how great they might still look on paper, but CAL has now lost 4 of 6. Stanford, despite being a nose hair close to being really good, is now squarely in ninth place. Granted, this could be a SLEEPER weekend for both of those schools, but it also seems to me like they are really ripe for the picking.

The key for me is that first contest against the Trees where Hill and Goods seem poised to make Maples come alive. Win Thursday and I think we run the next three.

Will we do it? Stay tuned.
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Pre-Signing Day Notes

First off, congrats to the Pittsburgh Steelers! Six Super Bowls, a record no other team can match, moving past Dallas and San Francisco for most all-time Lombardi Trophies. Schools in Pittsburgh were two hours late yesterday to help people recover from yet another championship. So, congrats (that's for you Chris '04).

Speaking of championships, while Pittsburgh's record of six Super Bowls is fantastic, are they the greatest NFL franchise ever? Bob Costas said as much as the NBC broadcast wound down, calling Pittsburgh not only the best NFL team of all-time, but one of the greatest pro sports franchises of all-time. But is he right?

If you ONLY look at the Super Bowl era, then he is right. Six titles in 43 years is nothing to downplay. In today's day and age, of salary caps and widespread free agency, so many teams and so much parity, that to constantly churn out a contender is amazing. But what about the era before the "Big Game" had a label? Do we simply ignore the NFL championships because the games didn't have the words SUPER BOWL attached to them? The NFL has been around a lot longer than 1967. In fact, they've been crowning champions since 1920. So you have to take the full body of work of the league before you decide such things, don't you? If you ignore the history before Super Bowl I, then you are blowing about 50% of the entire history of the league. That would be like baseball not looking back before, say, 1950. So forget about Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig or the '27 Yankees. Kind of ridiculous, right?

Anyway, Green Bay has the most NFL championships ever, with 12. The Chicago Bears are second, with nine, while the NY Giants are third, with seven. Pittsburgh has six, all Super Bowl wins. Impressive, all the way around. But while what Pittsburgh has accomplished is great, NBC and others shouldn't completely disregard the history of the league before 1967.

Moving on, there are some decent recruiting write-ups making the rounds today, as we get ready for the signing day BLOWOUT tomorrow....

Howie Stalwick had this in the P-I. What do you take from this? It's sort of a cold shower if you ask me. WSU has sunk to LAST in the PAC-10 according to recruiting rankings? has them much more of a normal setting, at 50 in the country, but wow, Rivals sure isn't excited about WSU's haul. Interesting the discrepancy between the two services, isn't it?

Bud Withers had this in the Times. An excellent look at the success WSU has had in the Puget Sound region this year, highlighted by Gino Simone but there are others as well, including Jamal Atofau, Nolan Washington and Andre Barrington. And Wulff said it best:

"To be able to recruit after the season we just had ... the staff will do even better as we start winning games," Wulff said. "We'll continue to elevate our recruiting. I think this is as good a recruiting staff as there is in the country. They're honest, and I think people see that."

Here's a question though - will this Puget Sound success continue, now that UW appears to have their house in order (sort of?). Recruits were avoiding UW this whole recruiting season until Sarkisian was hired. But will there be future recruiting battles now that UW has their coaching situation figured out? Or will UW return to their ways of getting the headline Puget Sound talent? Personally I don't think WSU is going to win many head-to-head battles over kids from the Seattle area. It is an area we've never done too well with, and while we know it's different with Wulff and staff, still, it's hard to picture some top-notch kids from the Seattle area choosing WSU over UW. At least on a consistent basis anyway. Jake Heaps of Skyline just named his "final ten" schools, and WSU wasn't on the list. Remains to be seen....but I don't think we as Coug fans should hang our hats on the Puget Sound successes this year. Let's see how it plays out over the next few years before we see if it's a trend, or merely a post-Willingham/pre-Sarkisian fluke.

Finally, Grippi has this from the Spokesman. It's a look at the 365-day drain that is recruiting, and all the time and energy spent on trying to build this thing into a competitive outfit. Recruiting and all that goes with it, the hard work behind the scenes that fans never see, it's just a grind. Hats off to these guys for working harder than ever, and for pouring all they have into this program.

That's it for today. We'll have full coverage of signing day tomorrow, updating as the LOI's show up in Pullman. ENJOY YOUR TUESDAY, and GO COUGS!

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Super Sunday or, EH?; Best of Lists Continue

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Ready to watch Pittsburgh and Arizona settle things on the field? And as a Seahawks fan, this is a tough one, and a question that has been sportstalk-fodder the last two weeks - who do YOU root for today? Do you root for your divisional rival in Arizona, a team that was a complete joke until just a few years ago, often times compared to the LA Clippers in terms of losing as well as ownership ineptness? But as Hooty wrote recently, do you really want to see the Arizona Cardinals with a Lombardi trophy before our beloved Seahawks??

Meanwhile, as Matt Hasselbeck said in a radio interview this week, how can Seahawks fans root for Darth Vader in the Pittsburgh Steelers? I stumbled upon the 2006 NFL Films production of the Seahawks - Steelers Super Bowl last night on ESPN2, and about 30 seconds was all I could stomach before flipping it off. I forgot about how sour that game tasted.

Besides, there isn't a rooting interest from a WSU angle, as neither roster has a WSU player to be found, not even on practice squads or injured reserve. So it might be a weird feeling today.

But whatever. Enjoy the unofficial national holiday today, wherever you are.

Anyway, with signing day nearly upon us, some more "best of the west" recruiting lists have hit cyberspace. Where does WSU fit with these new lists? How about the "other" BCS school in the state?

Leading off with the good news, has released their final Best 150 in the West list. Good news because WSU weighs in with ten recruits on this list, good for third in the PAC-10 behind UCLA and USC, seven of which are in the top 100.

Gino Simone - 44
Darren Markle - 57
Travis Long - 70
Arthur Burns - 84
Nolan Washington - 89
Jamal Atofau - 97
Chris Mastin - 100
Anthony Carpenter - 117
Jeff Tuel - 137
Andre Barrington - 141

As says, all are three-star players, except for Simone's four star rating.

I think this list says it all. Not so much that we're getting the best of the best talent ala USC. But it speaks to the depth of this class and the potential it has to really build a strong foundation going forward. Getting seven of the top 100 alone speaks volumes for the kind of progress Wulff and the staff are making out on the trail. And the high-character stories on a lot of these kids is probably the best thing of all.

UW landed seven verbals on the list, but not a single one in the top 100. The highest-rated kid is none other than Desmond Trufant, coming in at 108.

Moving on, the News Tribune has their 2008-09 Western 100 out today. As the TNT says:

The Western 100 are the top 100 high school football recruits in the West (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming), as selected by The News Tribune, which polled college coaches and various media outlets.

WSU finished with only THREE players on this list - Gino Simone, Darren Markle and Travis Long. Quite a difference compared to Washington? Um, zero. Even in a transition year with the new coaching staff, a zero? Really? I don't remember the last time they didn't even have one player in the top 100 in the western states.

The TNT also had this comp article with Wulff and Sarkisian. It's a good look at the different states of the recruiting process for both coaching staffs. Wulff's staff appears to have their footing, while Sarkisian is still scrambling to cobble something together before Wednesday.

One thing I found interesting about Sarkisian in that article is the idea of them selling the players on playing in the NFL. That somehow his system is going to prepare them for playing in the league, better than the other schools around. That's an easy thing for him to sit in living rooms and tout all the players he's helped coach up to play on Sundays.....while wearing a USC sweatsuit. Will he be able to say the same thing after a few years in Seattle? We'll see. But somehow I doubt he's going to have the same success in getting kids into the league...ya THINK?

Now I don't want to sit here and tout a whopping three players for WSU either. While we do believe this WSU class is looking strong in terms of overall depth, filled with high character, high-ceiling types, it's safe to say we still have a ways to go before we are challenging the upper half of the conference. But it's been preached since Wulff was introduced in December, and that is that this thing is going to take a while to build. As Wulff himself said all season long, we have to build layers upon layers upon layers of depth, so you aren't forced to throw the young out into the wild. But I am also confident in saying that IF Wulff can sign at least two more recruiting classes like this one, the ideal program Wulff is shooting for will be much closer to reality.

That's it for a super Sunday. ENJOY YOUR DAY, and GO COUGS!

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