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!