Good morning and happy hump day, Cougs (and Red Raiders)! Last week in this space, I wrote the most quickly dated article in the history of dated articles when I lamented the Wulff firing and demanded a Mike Leach hiring mere hours before the latter actually happened and turned WSU Athletics upside down. I didn't fully understand the need to fire Paul Wulff based on the trajectory of the program, but the NATIONAL reaction to the hiring of Coach Leach established that Bill Moos is infinitely smarter than me (at least as it pertains to being an athletic director; I've still got him beat when it comes to Saved by the Bell knowledge and places to eat in Skagit and Whatcom counties. So there.) The hire got national pundits talking and sent the WSU fan base into an absolute ticket buying, donating, pirate loving frenzy. Admittedly, I thought the pirate thing was slightly overblown and would get tired quickly, but then I saw this video. Now I'm all in on pirates. Ahoy matey! Perhaps the strangest thing in this frenzy is that the 2011 football season has been essentially lost in the shuffle. The Apple Cup ended, a firing report surfaced and it was as if the whole thing never happened. While this was probably for the best, I like to live in the past and wanted to hand out some awards to put the 2011 season to bed before we move on to assistant coach hiring, recruiting and eventually Spring Ball and everything else. So let's hand out some hardware after we jump around. Jump around. Jump up, jump up and get down...
Offensive Player of the Year - Duh. Maybe you've heard of this lanky receiver we have named Marquess. He's pretty good. Maybe there was potential for a sophomore slump or teams figuring out a way to stop Marquess Wilson, but it just didn't happen. Perhaps what was most impressive this season was that he was no one trick pony. If teams did somehow take away the deep ball, he could still put up 100 yards on underneath routes and screens. The guy is unbelievable and we get him for at least one more year. So we've got that going for us, which is nice.
Offensive Player of the Year (Non Marquess Wilson Division) - The first award was way too obvious and it was unfair for other players to be compared to Marquess so a new division was set up. The winner here is....Marshall Lobbestael! Who saw this coming? The prevailing theory in Pullman starting at halftime of the Idaho State game was that the season feel apart right along with Jeff Tuel's collarbone, but The Lobster did an admirable job of holding together and actually putting up some staggering numbers for a while. I enjoyed the first month of the season and the hope that came with it.
Play of the Year - My first thought was the 80 yard touchdown pass to Marquess to start the SDSU game because that play gave me a moment to believe, "Holy crap, these guys are legit. We're on our way again." Unfortunately, we know how that turned out so the real play of the year was the game winning touchdown pass to you-know-who at Coloardo. After two years of total disasters, it was an amazing feeling to be running around my living room like an idiot and celebrating a massive game winning play. On a side note, sports are awesome, huh?
Defensive Player of the Year - I've got to give the nod here to Alex Hoffman-Ellis. Some of my favorite moments this year involved AH-E sniffing out a swing pass to the running back and screaming to the sideline to chop him down for a loss. Watching a dude that big run that fast and this year with an understanding of where to be was a treat. I look forward to watching him do it in the NFL next year. He also gets credit for having perhaps the most entertaining Twitter feed on the team, but I must say in the interest of full disclosure that I have no idea what the hell he's talking about at least 78% of the time.
Newcomer of the Year - In the true freshman category, the winner is Chester Sua. Dude showed flashes of his four star potential as his role increased throughout the year. There is some real talent at the linebacker position right now. As for non true freshman newcomers, I think Rickey Galvin is the winner for me. It was already a huge bummer when he broke his arm on his first carry last season and this year we saw what we were missing. He took some ridiculous hits this year, but he's a tough little sucker and I flat out like watching him run.
Fattest Kicker of the Year - Andrew Furney
Biggest Jerk of the Year For His Inability to Stop MakingJoke's About Andrew Furney's Size - Huddy
Coach of the Year - Paul Wulff. What the hell? He never got a chance to win a major coach of the year award so he gets one from me. I was gutted watching his farewell press conference and I'm still gonna miss the guy. I hope he lands on his feet and finds success somewhere.
Most Inspired Hire of the Year - Mike Leach, head coach. I guess the 2011 season is officially in bed now. It was a maddening experience anyway so I pinky swear to never bring it up again (unless of course I feel like it).
Least Inspired Hire of the Year - Christian Caple, beat writer for the Spokesman Review. Jokes, people!
Alright, folks. I think I'm fresh out of ideas and I've gotta take some time to clean up my resume so I can throw my hat in the ring for the vacant UCLA and Arizona State head coaching positions. It appears that nobody else is interested.