Let's just cut right to the chase here - it's been a tough three years in Pullman for the Paul Wulff regime, hasn't it? I know this doesn't fall into the "breaking news" category or anything like that. If you are hanging around here or pretty much anywhere else on the Coug websites, blogs and what-not, you know of what I speak. And you are likely more than aware of the facts: 5-32 record overall, just three FBS wins in three years, and one of those was vs. a winless UW team in '08.
I know we are all pretty close to what's going on, and we want to believe that things are turning around. And the improved play last year gave us all something to feel good about, you know, as the losses went from horror shows to just "not that bad." These not-that-bad losses actually led to Wulff getting a fourth year from Bill Moos, so you know that there are some key decision makers who believe in the general direction. And when you consider the bottom line in terms of points scored vs. points allowed, even that trend is getting better. But take a look at the big numbers in the Paul Wulff era over the last three seasons:
2008: 2-11 record, 1-8 in Pac-10 play. 12.7 ppg scored, 43.8 ppg allowed. Outgained 443 to 241 in total yards per game. MINUS-25 in turnover ratio (Is this the worst ever in school history? I have no idea but it has to be near the top).
'08 was just a disaster in that first year. New coaches, new schemes, major injuries at every turn, a team completely overmatched in size, speed and skill.
2009: 1-11 record, 0-9 in Pac-10 play. 12.0 ppg scored, 38.5 ppg allowed. Outgained 512 to 249 in total yards per game. MINUS-7 in turnover ratio.
'09 saw them still 1) struggle to score, and 2) struggle to stop anyone. But hey, at least they cleaned up the turnovers, big-time.
Finally, last year, the year where everything was starting to look better.....
2010: 2-10 record, 1-8 in Pac-10 play. 19.6 ppg scored, 35.8 ppg allowed. Outgained 467 to 330 in total yards per game. MINUS-1 in turnover ratio.
'10 saw a promising offense that started to figure some things out with a QB who "looks the part", and a playmaking wide receiver with ball skills we haven't seen since Jason Hill? But a defense that still struggled mightily to slow down the top offenses in the conference and more often than not, pushed around the field for most of the season.
But as they say, it's a bottom line business, and so far, it's been an uncomfortable annual report. Now the improved play is nice, and it's especially good when you look at how the team performed at the end of 2010, when they beat Oregon State and were tied with UW in the Apple Cup with less than a minute to go. Combine the late-season improvement with some decent looking young players who are starting to shine (Jeff Tuel, Marquess Wilson, Deone Bucannon, etc), and you can see that there is some legit hope of a continued climb up the ladder.
But again, oh, those last three years! We know it's been bad, but did you know Athlon's weighed in as well? They went so far as to rank the "Worst Coaching Tenures in College Football since 1960", and here's what they said about Paul Wulff and WSU:
9. Paul Wulff, Washington State (5–32, 2008-)
The Cougars have only three FBS wins in Wulff’s three seasons at his alma mater, and one came against a Washington team that failed to win a game that season. Progress was made last fall, but Wazzu still went 2–10.
Lowlight: The Cougs lost to USC and Stanford in consecutive games in 2008 by a combined score of 127–0.
That's right, my friends. The Wulff era rates as the 9th worst regime since 1960. And there are some BAD coaches on this list too, including a guy named Stan Parrish, who was on the list TWICE for trying to wreck not one, but TWO programs in his career (Kansas State and Ball State). And of all the coaches on the Athlon's list, only two - Paul Wulff and Mike Locksley - are still head coaches in their current gig.
I guess the point to all this is to 1) once again appreciate how bad it really has been in this era, and 2) try and enjoy another year of hopeful improvement that could see the best WSU team since 2007, when they went 5-7 in Alex Brink's last year!? Wouldn't you LOVE a competitive 5-7 season right about now!?
As the truly smart people will tell you, learn from the past, don't live in it. If you live in the past, you will stay in the past. So let's just make this the end of the line for wallowing over what has transpired under Wulff. It's a new year, and so it's onward and upward for 2011....right!?
All for now. GO COUGS!
I would agree it's been historically bad based on their won-loss record, but if Paul Wulff is given the chance to be head coach for the next couple of years he will show how his recruiting abilities are rebuilding the program and have laid the foundation for future success. Even if Wulff leaves, whoever inherits the roster will no doubt have significantly a much better and deeper roster than Wulff inherited.
Locksley, and the other coaches you mentioned didn't keep improving their recruiting classes. Locksley just lost the highest rated recruit to ever sign for them when he transferred after one season recently because of the threat of Locksley losing his job. Paul Wulff just "signed" his 4th recruit and is continuing to build the team by recruiting "hidden gems" finding players like Marquess Wilson, Jeff Tuel, Deone Bucannon, Jeff Fullington, Travis Long, and Nolan Washington.
When he became head coach there wasn't a player on the roster who was going to have the possibility of being drafted in the first two rounds, now the roster has several players who by the time they graduate or go pro will have that opportunity. It's taken time to rebuild this team, but Wulff is almost there. By the end of the season hopefully the young defensive line and linebackers are making the same strides last year's young offense made. If so, Wulff comes back and the Cougars win 5 or more games.
Obviously this year he has to win 5 or 6 games to survive, but there will be more improvement than most analysts believe. They look at his past 3 years and see 5 total wins regardless of circumstances, something that's taken for granted, but obviously not by Bill Moos who has given Wulff some slack because I believe he sees the recruits that are "coming back" to the Palouse and who stayed away when Doba was head coach.
Call me crazy but 6 wins is going happen this year: ISU, Nevada, UCLA, Colorado, Oregon State, and Washington. There could be a couple of upset specials as well depending on how the team is playing. If they are building their confidence early and beat SDSU, then who knows what happens the rest of the season. Either way, I think WSU is bowling and Wulff is coming back with an even stronger recruiting class who knows he is going to stay around.
Anyone whose been watching games the last 3 years is well aware of this already. I had the pleasure of attending undergrad for all 3 year Wulff years, so I've seen pretty much every game in person. The 2008 team was one of the worst football teams I've ever seen compared to the opponents they faced. I thought giving UW an 8 point spread in Pullman for Apple Cup was being extremely generous; but alas, our Cougs also had heart. I'll never forget USC scoring 69 points on us, and Pete Carroll downing the ball on our 15 yard line with 30 seconds left... AT HALF. Yes, he was so far ahead and so confident by halftime that he downed the ball when he was easily within field goal range, let alone touchdown range. If they had wanted to put up 140 points on us, they could have. It is without a doubt the biggest mismatch I've ever seen at any level of football...and perhaps one of the biggest mismatches in any sporting event I've ever seen.The fact that we are talking about getting 4-5 wins two years later is miraculous. Let's hope that Wulff can carry the momentum from the end of last year into the start of this season. Don't you wish the team that came out and played against Cal/UW/OSU/Oregon/Stanford could go back in time and play UCLA/SMU? I think we would have had 2 more wins.
I think this year is going to be a good year for the Cougs. Bowl? If so I'm goin hell or high water. We're still going to have some wins, some losses, but definetly a good team and a good year.
From those who have lived with 40 years of cougar football, this too shall pass. We have had bad stretches in the past (well, not this bad), and have recovered. Even coach Price had some miserable seasons before some very good ones. Be patient. We are not Michigan, whose fans may only now realize how spoiled they were.
When Wulff took over this team in December of 2007, I told myself I would withhold any judgment on his coaching ability until after his third season on the job (2010). While he is ultimately the one responsible for 5-32 the last three years, I refuse to look at that as a road map to Wulff's full capabilities. Looking in the rear view mirror for this long can only distract you from the road in front of you!
I understand many fans have been critical of Wulff the last three years. I hope to god you won't be rooting for Wulff to fail in 2011, just so you can be "correct" in your assessment that he isn't a good coach.
Let's Go Cougs!
I agree somewhat with Tim. But I would like to point out a couple things. Mike Price, when we got him, had only had 1 season at Weber State where he finished in the top 3 of the Big Sky Conference. He came into Washington State (with no where near as decimated a squad as Paul Wulff) and posted a 6-8, 3-8, 4-7 seasons before finally going 9-3 in his fourth year.
Wulff came to WSU having 3 times finished in the top 3 in the same Big Sky Conference (and in the twitter, facebook nation that can make small schools big *cough* TCU *cough* that is an accomplishment). Coming into WSU he has posted a terrible first few years...but considering what Doba left him with...I don't blame him.
I expect that this year is when you finally see Wulff turn the corner as he's had a chance to pump the roster with his own players instead of the garbage he had before. Keep the faith.
@WhiskeyAmigo Thanks for the info on the comparison, I know Wulff did well with EWU but I didn't know the specifics. Any info on how he started there, as in what record did he start out with and how long did it take to finish in the top 3?
@RightPaw Took Wulff 5 years to get to tie for 1st in the Big Sky (which he did in back-to-back seasons) by the same token it took Price 7 years to get to 2nd place.
@RightPaw As for starting out he started at Eastern with a 6-5 record. Subsequently going: 7-4, 6-5, 6-5 the next 3 years after that before his 9-4 5th season.
Beating a dead horse, Sean. Athlon's assessment is short-sighted: I don't think it's fair to judge Wulff a spot here until his tenure has come to a close. We've heard and discussed all the arguments (cupboards were left bare, hard to recruit to Pullman, yatta yatta yatta...). Perhaps Doba should have made this list for derailing a team that had three straight 10-win seasons?
@Wulffenstein Understood Tim. Believe you me, we've all beaten the last two-three years into the ground, and I'm as guilty as the next guy. But I thought it was good to look at the details of what has actually happened, looked at the bigger stats, and see that the trend is going in the right direction. Even coming off 2-10 and the last 3 years overall, it is finally turning around. That's all I was trying to say though, just to appreciate the depths of where we've been and also appreciate the improvement that we will likely see in '11.
@SeanHawkins I suppose the sweet isn't as sweet without the bitter... We've made a lot of changes that should prove to be positive (good trend on turnovers, offensive fire-power, defensive speed, etc.) and I too am confident that they will translate into wins in '11 - hopefully writing a completely new chapter in this 'Wulff History'.
@Longball The sad thing is Wulff had to start from scratch because there was nothing left in the cupboard and barely any recruits committed when he took over. Now he's got his team built for some wins and luckily Bill Moos gave him another chance to come back this year because his offense alone should be worth 5 wins this season. I think Moos understands the recruiting aspect of the job and that has proven to be Wulff's greatest asset, bringing in stud players/hidden gems who should be playing on teams like USC and Oregon, not WSU, is something he's not taking for granted by giving him another year, especially after another recruiting 'bounty' for WSU. Not Mike Price standards yet, but getting there. I just hope he's here in '12 so we can see how these past two recruiting classes pan out after redshirting combined with the other studs who started as true freshman with Jeff Tuel leading the team as a senior and one of the best QB's in the country.
I wish I were a moderator here so I could say: "QUIT LOOKING IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR PEOPLE." The 2011 season is fast approaching, and that's were we need to be looking. This will be a 6 win team at least when the last quarter is played in Seattle in November. For the time being focus on what's at hand and celebrate the victories as they come. I for one am saving up for a Christmas trip for my family somewhere warm.
I believe in what Wulff is trying to build and how he is going about it. That said, this year he has a team he should win with and he is saying he knows he can win with, so it needs to happen. He definitely took the "tear it all down and start over" approach which comes with the inherent risk that the fan base and admnistration will loose patience before the job is done. Nothing more painful than handing off all your hard work to another coach to reap the hard earned rewards. I hope that doesnt end up being the case.