"So we can learn to pick ourselves back up again."
Good morning Cougs (and I say good morning, not because it IS a good morning but because I wish it was). We can dispense with the pleasantries today for obvious reasons - yesterday's loss was an all-timer, wasn't it? I have been a Coug fan since watching Mark Rypien run the Jim Walden offense back in the day, even saw an Apple Cup at Joe Albi if you can believe it as a really young kid. But I never was a die hard until 1988 or 1989, somewhere in there. That's when I fell hard, not just because I was a student at WSU in the fall of '89 but I just loved the crimson and gray for everything that it represents. We are the underdogs of underdogs, the school in the middle of nowhere where half the population questions why anyone would ever consider going to a school like that!? But if you've gone to school there, if you have been part of the Coug family, you understand what it all means.
Anyway, that was a tough one, in a long history of tough ones. I was trying to think back last night to some of the worst losses I've ever seen, and there are some uglies on the list - 18-17 vs USC in 1989, when Marinovich converts the two-pt conversion; the '02 Apple Cup on the backwards pass that I'm still not over; the '03 Apple Cup when Josh Swogger was throwing wild interceptions and we turned it over a billion times, costing us a BCS bowl bid in the process (NOTE - did you know that if WSU won the '03 Apple Cup, we could have gone to another BCS bowl?? The way the BCS ratings were for that week, WSU would have been ranked in the top 8 with a 10-2 record, and would have been in line for a BCS bowl). I could go on, because there are many more. But this one has to rank up there because not just the fact we blew a 31-14 fourth quarter lead, but all the circumstances surrounding it:
1) A CU team that was the laughing stock of the conference at the time, a team that was down 55-7 at the half the last game vs. Fresno State; 2) a game that all the WSU dorks like me felt like this was one the Cougs "had to get", as a large double-digit home field favorite but also how the rest of the season schedule was lining up. It felt like if there was any hope for 2012 and postseason play, this was one of those games you just circle as one you have to get. And of course, they didn't.
It's easy to want to play the blame game right now, and yesterday there was a hell of a lot of that going on. Any other blog or message board was full of anger and raw emotion about what had just happened, and it's totally understandable. The closer you are to something, the worse it feels, and after blowing a game like that the emotions are always at their highest.
But today is a new day, full of new things to ponder and think about. My wife and I are training for the Seattle half-marathon at the end of November, and while we are only starting our fourth week of training, our runs are getting to be longer in our training program. Today for example was a 5.75 mile run, so, it gave me time to think about things this morning in the suddenly-cool, crisp sunny weather as we ventured out into the streets (anyone notice how quickly fall has arrived since 9/21!?). And you know what? As bad as it all feels right now, it's REALLY NOT THAT BAD, BUT THINGS HAVE TO CHANGE! Here are some rambling, post-jog thoughts that raced through my head this morning.....
1) Is it Leach's fault? Well, yes, some of it is. The fourth quarter decisions were puzzling while they were happening, and I was left wondering what in the world we were doing. Throwing it deep with a shrinking lead in the waning minutes of the game doesn't come out of coaching 101, am I right? And going for it in easy field goal range on 4th down, only to throw an INT, was like "????". I was like many others out there asking why in the world we didn't just run it, milk some clock and leave a suddenly clicking CU offense less time to do anything. But you know what? That's simply not who Mike Leach is.
It's been written about in his book and talked about ad nauseum, but Mike Leach is not conventional (this just in, right??). He's an out of the box thinker who will do some out of the box things, and we are still getting to know this guy. The folks at Texas Tech will tell you that for all the great things he accomplished there, there are those maddening moments where he decides to go for it on 4th and 3 from his own 28, which goes against every sense of conventional wisdom in your own body that might exist for coaching football and calling a game on offense. But if we know anything about Mike Leach, we just have to accept that this is who he is. Waning moments of a game and we need a first down? Don't look for three yards and a cloud of dust, student-body-style, because it just isn't what he is going to do and it isn't who he is or what he's trying to accomplish. He is always in that mindest of attack, attack, attack, and his approach is get first downs, not milk clock. There is beauty in that approach when it works, and there is horror when it doesn't.
2) Is it Wulff's fault? Well, yes, some of it is. Wulff failed on the field, 9-40 and all that. But he also failed in recruiting some key positions that can be the lifeblood of your program, mainly the offensive and defensive lines. You can go back and look, but I would say in all four years under Paul Wulff, there are MAYBE a handful of offensive and defensive linemen - COMBINED - that could start for another Pac-12 school. I think David Gonzales, John Fullington, Wade Jacobson and BJ Guerra might have started at another school, but that's it from the O-line. And the D-line? Obviously Travis Long, who is now a linebacker and has become our best defensive player since Mkristo Bruce in regards to rushing the passer, and probably Brandon Rankin if allowed to play at d-end instead of the converted d-tackle that they tried to make him. But please, name me another player up front under Wulff's watch who could start for another team in this conference??
But it isn't just there. Have you seen how poorly the secondary has been playing this year? All I've seen are corners getting beat all over the field and safeties playing either out of control or way out of position, blowing coverages and missing tackles left and right. And yet these are all upperclassmen in the secondary!?!? Coming in to the season, one could look at things on paper and say yeah, the d-line and even the front seven looks suspect, but the secondary looks good enough with a decent amount of game experience. But what have we seen so far? I think we can all say we have been pleasantly surprised by how the front seven has played, I mean they aren't world beaters but they have improved tremendously in rushing the passer this year, already at the number of sacks they had in all of 2011 as a defense! But the secondary has just been a nightmare, a complete mystery of how badly they have played. Daniel Simmons deserves praise for his game yesterday as he seemed to tackle well and had a really nice sideline interception. But collectively as a group they are just not getting anything done.
For example, did you watch the long tight end TD catch that gave CU back a ton of momentum in the fourth quarter? Did you notice that we dropped EIGHT guys into coverage, only rushed three, and yet the tight end caught the ball with nobody within 10-15 yards of him? Just a complete blown assignment in every way, shape and form, and totally unacceptable on every level.
And can we please get past the "Oh yeah, well WULFF BEAT COLORADO LAST YEAR! LEACH SUCKS THEN, RIGHT!?!" That' ridiculous. Colorado blew that game last year, pure and simple. They are the ones who had a 10-point lead at home with four minutes to go and couldn't close us out. They are the ones who had two huge mistakes in the secondary that led to TD passes from Marshall Lobbestael, including the last one where nobody was within 15 yards of Marquess Wilson. But they were down to 4th string corners and converted running backs playing in the secondary in that game last year, so they were bound to screw it up. They were the ones who could have run out the clock but instead called a rollout pass that went out of bounds on third down, giving the WSU offense the ball back and stopping the clock. And of course Marquess and Lobbestael took advantage in the end, but CU's eff-ups had a LOT to do with it! And we only won one more game the rest of that season anyway, to a team in ASU in the cold in November and they had quit on Dennis Erickson. Yes we took Utah to overtime, but we still lost. And that same Utah team went out and lost the next week to Colorado, so were they even that good??
3) Is it the fault of the players? Well, yes, some of it is. There are still far too many mistakes that are happening out there. As Leach has been saying for now-four weeks into the season, we make a good-to-great play, then follow it up with some down moments with penalties, dropped passes, missed assignments, etc. And is it Leach's fault that Marquess Wilson and others keep dropping first downs and touchdowns? What, are they glancing over at the sideline before the ball hits their hands, sees that it's Mike Leach wearing the headset and not Paul Wulff, and then decide to drop the ball!?!? And like Leach says, when we get up with a nice lead, we're too busy jacking around watching the scoreboard, waiting for the game to end (28-10 over UNLV, 31-14 yesterday). And while the young excuse probably isn't the best one to make for all of these guys, still, there is a lot of inexperience out there on the field in key spots that they are counting on. We started six frosh yesterday, and with youth and inexperience just comes mistakes and inconsistency. And Connor Halliday feels like he has been around a while, but that was only his third career start. He said himself in an interview last week that Leach puts a ton of responsibility on the shoulders of his QB and wide receivers to make the right decisions, see the same things and all be on the same page. Halliday even said that any given play, there are five different reads he has to make and he has very little time to make the reads, all the while hoping the WR's read the same thing! When you are new to a scheme like that, simplistic yet also incredibly prone to overthinking the moment, shouldn't we expect some bouts of inconsistency?
The thing is, Halliday had moments of borderline-greatness yesterday with some stretches of play, where there were a few possessions that he just made it all look really really easy with how quickly he made decisions and threw strikes all over the field. It was at times a beautiful thing to watch, and the young guys like Isiah Meyers and Gabe Marks were wonderful to see making plays all over the field. But Halliday also makes the mistakes of a young gunslinger, constantly attacking down field when other things might be available to him underneath, and/or forcing balls into coverage that he just shouldn't do. But a lot of that comes with the lack of reps he's actually had in this offense if you really want to look at it that way. Per Brian Floyd at halftime of the BYU game, for all the people calling for Halliday at that time, it was out of the question because of the lack of reps he even had with the 1's. We have to remember that all the reports were that Jeff Tuel all August took the vast majority of the snaps as the starter with the one's, and that's reality. Halliday has been the starter for all of two weeks this year, and he's going to make mistakes as they still continue to try and get on the same page and understand what they need to do, all in a few seconds per play.
I look at it this way - at some point, you are going to FALL. We all do it in every walk of life. But it's how you recover from falling, that failure, that defines not just football players or coaches, but for all of us. How do they respond from this? How do YOU respond when you fall? What happens next will define them as a football player, a football team, and what you do after a failure in your life defines you and whatever it is that, well, you do. We can all sit in the corner and throw the world's biggest pity-party while we suck our thumbs and wish it was all better, or we can learn to pick ourselves up again and fight even harder than before.
I think one of the biggest issues they are dealing with right now is the recent past of successive failures as a football team. Four years of losing just doesn't get magically washed away because we hired the pirate. Four years of getting beat repeatedly has allowed a culture of losing efforts to be acceptable. Part of the time Wulff would simply blame Bill Doba for his failure and for leaving Wulff the biggest shit sandwich in the world for when he took over. But that still doesn't explain how his team was still a loser after four full years under his watch, and still has an "it's OK to lose" mentality among many upperclassmen not named Travis Long right now! But Leach's track record speaks for itself, I mean you can poke holes in it all you want but at the end of the day we're talking about an incredibly successful coach in a very difficult, competitive business.
And like it or not (and some of you hated it), but Leach dumped some of the bad apples that Wulff brought in. CJ Mizell had a horrible attitude and thought he could coast, but they pulled the plug there. Sekope Kaufusi thought he could smoke weed and nobody would give a damn, but obviously he was wrong. And Anthony Laurenzi thought he could rip off some headphones from Walmart, and we all know how that turned out. Those three guys, their actions showed that they had a loser mentality and that it was OK to eff up, yet somehow it will all work out, right?? Maybe under the past regime the "Unity Council" would decide a few game suspensions here or there would be the way to go, but not with this new staff.
You know, there was a stat that I found before the BYU game in regards to new coaches taking over programs with a losing record and how they did in their first year as the new guy in the Pac-10/12. The last head coach in this conference who actually had a winning record his first year after taking over a loser was Jeff Tedford at Cal, as they went from 1-10 in 2001 to 7-5 in 2002. And since 1960, in the Pac-10 (now Pac-12), 32 times a team has changed coaches after a losing season. And how did the new coach do the following year, with all the new rules and schemes and such? Well, only FIVES TIMES did the team that switched coaches after the losing season actually roll out a winning season with the new coach the following year! So that means the new coaches went 5-27 in regards to winning/losing seasons as the new breath of "fresh air".
So knowing all that, knowing how we were starting over on defense and had lost some key WR's like Jared Karstetter and Isiah Barton from last year's team, we still had the expectation that we were going to be a winning team this year and get back to a bowl? Remember the predictions before the BYU game? Seems like many of us were convinced we were going to run BYU off the field, yet we got steamrolled by a bigger, stronger team that was more poised and under control in every way. But it's crazy to look back at how we felt a month ago compared to where things are today (and I don't even want to listen to some of our preseason podcasts! Yikes!).
I don't know if you caught Leach's post-game comments from Christian Caple, but I would encourage you all to check them out. They are long and they are passionate, from a guy who definitely cares about what the hell is going on. And he's right. They have to change the mentality, as coaches and players, to simply not accept defeat. There has been too much of that going on and enough is enough. Whether this is the turning point or not, we're going to have to see as things go forward, but there is a program-wide mentality they have to change.
And by the way, I don't know who the author is who put up the "Mike Least" post from yesterday. We don't have anyone here who goes by the name "WHOCARESANYMORE", but clearly whoever wrote that not only doesn't care anymore but he doesn't need to write here anymore. If you don't care, what's the point of even writing? And if you are going to hammer the coach, at least have the balls to put your name next to it.
Enjoy your Sunday, and GO COUGS.
I havey watched cougs since 1999,I have always thought wsu's biggest weakness is that they have have never had a rushing game. This years team is no different. A competent rushing option would make a huge difference.
"I look at it this way - at some point, you are going to FALL"
I'm a duck, WSU is easily my 2nd favorite team because they are always tough dudes, playing in the cold, playing with a 2 star set... but man, you can't FALL when you are already on the ground. I mean, before the season you were face down fallen, now you'd managed to roll over and tell everyone "gimme a minute".... only to roll back over on your face.
that sucks cougs. after a few kicks while you're down next week, get the f**** up and beat some fuskies and beavers.
Great article and spot on assessment of what is going on. I must admit, at first (about 5 minutes after the game ended and I had gone from comatose to enraged) I may have wanted Leach's head on a stick. I only remembered us going for it on 4th with 8 minutes left, or just not running it and letting the clock get milked.
After taking some time, putting things in perspective (I am a new father and live a great life in the NW) I took a hard look at what happened on Sat.
First I don't even put this in the same area code as the Apple Cup loss in 2002, I am sorry but between my Giant losing the infamous Game Ball game 6 of the World Series, that is one of the worst sports moments I have ever witnessed. Nothing hurt more then that.
Second Leach did nothing wrong here, the coaches can only do so much. Yes that call on 4th and 3 was suspect, BUT we were up a ton and had until that point completely shut down a Colo team that really had shown next to no life. Leach called a great play, Halladay could have rolled to a first down, instead he throws into septeple coverage and bam we are where we are today.
Coaches can only do so much, they can call for 8 men in coverage and expect those 8 men will do their jobs and not leave a TE running what may have been a 6 second 40 running down the field. Or we would tackle a RB who sweeps right instead of just stopping and figuring he will fall over on his own...
We Couged it and I realized what Couging it really is. It is not being mentally tough. We lose cause we lose our composure, we lose focus, and we don't play until that last second ticks off the clock. Mike Price who is one of the greatest coaches at making something with nothing in history was a master at this and his players responded. Let's see if this team responds cause OH Boy, Oregon in Seattle, it could go 60 - 0 in he first half if we go in with our heads hanging.
BS, it was Coach Leach who dropped those passes, and threw that interception. He's also the one pouting on the sidelines when things don't go right. And it was Coach Leach who gave up 276 yards in the 4th quarter.
In videogames, it is all on Leach I mean he calls the plays and actually controls the players in the live game action. So if I lost this game in NCAA 13 then it is 100% his fault.
Reality though, you can only go so far as a coach with players. You can get them excited to play (haven't we gone out and played hard in pretty much every game.) You can call good plays (Havent the plays been better, I mean we have had some really great plays on both ends of the ball) and you have to prepare them for the ups and downs that occur in any game scenario and keep them focused. Here is where Leach and the coaches have failed, and unfortunately that may come with experience.
I personally am chalking up Saturday as a HUGE Experience that every player on that team learns from. You can bet that next time we are up in a game, this will be in the back of every player and coach on the field that day and you can bet that doesn't happen again, it is done, over and we will be stronger because of it
And another thing,
If I have to be reminded of Leach's record at Texas Tech one more time, my head is going to explode. I am NOT a Texas Tech fan, so I don't give a rats ass, just like no Michigan fans care one bit about Rich Rod's record at West Virginia. AS far as being patient... I think we can be plenty patient and still expect and demand that we TCB when we are playing a total dog in front of our homecoming crowd.
See, the thing is when we line up against decent teams and can't hang with them, then discussing Wulff's failure to recruit the lines is relevant. When are blowing late leads EVERY SINGLE WEEK against a total marshmallow schedule of awful teams, it is completely irrelevant. I know we are all still blinded by the shiny Mike Leach halo and all, but come on, that we are even talking about this being Wulffs fault AT ALL is total madness. We might as well be members of a cult whose leader can do no wrong. Say what you want about the win at Colorado last year, but the facts are actually this: We beat a better Colorado team on the road last year with a worse Cougar team. Period.
Im glad someone at some blog somewhere had the nads to take a well deserved shot at Leach with the "Mike Least" post. He earned it and plenty more yesterday. The thing about being a f-cking wierdo is it's only cute when you are winning. It's pretty stupid when you are just embarassing us week after week against terrible competition.
@Longball I am not happy being 2-2 Shane, nor will I ever pretend to be. I am extremely disappointed by how this thing has unfolded so far. But I am not ready to give up on this staff four games in when everything is completely new in every possible way. New offense, new defense, new coaches, new offseason regimen and rules and all that, it's just a complete change.
As much as you want to paint me as some blind moron, I am trying to stay positive and I think we have seen some decent things so far. I am impressed by some stretches we have seen out of Halliday, for a couple of quarters on Saturday he was tremendous. And the promise guys like Marks and Myers have shown to make plays catching the football. I am impressed by some spurts by the front 7, and especially Travis Long, who is quickly becoming our version of Clay Matthews. But there are a ton of problems too and that's just where we are.
But I can't lay all the blame on these coaches as much as you want to. My point to any of what I wrote yesterday is that it is a collective failure of everything - the new coaches don't quite have their arms around the players and are trying to figure out how to keep them focused and going in the right direction; the players are making horrendous mistakes, whether that's on them or they aren't quite getting what they are being taught or don't have the new schemes all figured out; and some of what we are seeing now are some of the failures under Wulff on the lines as well as the mindset of losing and a coach in Wulff who spent far too much time blaming the former staff. It's not the coaches, it's not the players, it's not Wulff, it's all of them.
We are going to find out a lot about Leach, his staff and these players over the course of the season. Maybe he is a complete fraud, and that we were the only school in the country to fall for it. Maybe the players are mental midgets and despite the best efforts of the staff, the current group of players are lost when they hit the field. But I am not ready to give up, not yet.
@SeanHawkins In no way am I "ready to give up" on this staff. I am sure they will figure things out. However, I could care less about the future on Cougar Football Saturday, and for the last 4 saturdays THIS staff is not getting the job done. Yet all people want to talk about is how terrible a job Wulff did this weekend. We had a 17 point lead and the ball in the red zone with 7 minutes left in this game... this was not an issue of not having the hosses to beat colorado. We were beating them good and soundly as we should. All this harkening back to whether the last staff left enough good players is irrelevant when we are playing teams that are woefully less talented than we are. These arguments are just cover for a staff that came in with all kinds of promises of renewed focus and what not, but have put a confused, undisciplined, mess of a team on the field. They deserve to be criticized, and yes, they deserve plenty of "heat" for what they have shown so far. I am all for being positive when there is something to be positive about, but this game was the plane flying into the side of the mountain. I would say its as bad as it could get, but we are two plays from being 0-4 against a schedule that Pullman High wouldn't be intimidated by.
@something snazzy @SeanHawkins Amazing how the whole Cougar fanbase have become expert psychologists overnight. OK, so the problem on Saturday was that Wulff taught these guys to be losers for 4 years? Really? So when this team was up 17 points with the ball in the 4th quarter they were all thinking "we can't win this, we don't know how!" This is your theory? Pretty sure you don't need anything Im smokin, cause you've had plenty.
@Longball @SeanHawkins Talent is entirely relevant regardless of who we play. Colorado has less talent than us? Then we should still throttle them even with mental mistakes. And regardless, I see much of the attitude in our players, our mental weakness if you will, as being the EXACT same as in all four years of the Wulff era. Go back and watch some of those absolutely HORRID games that we had the last four years and you see plenty of confused, undisciplined players with no idea how to win. It is going to take at LEAST a year for Leach to change that. That is not something that happens overnight.
Furthermore, and what makes me the happiest, is that for once our coaching staff is not blaming the previous staff. Leach has been taking the entire blame for the lack of focus. Compare that to Wulff who just put so much blame on Doba, who I actually respect a lot more as a coach anyway.
No, the coaching staff should NOT get heat for not being able to change a bad mentality. Even if he DOES deserve some, why heap on more and more when Leach is already taking it all upon himself in post game pressers? Wulff got four years to build up our team and change our culture and he didn't. Now you expect Leach to change four years of a weak mentality and lack of killer instinct in four games? Please pass me what you have been smoking.
Good write-up Sean. A lot of blame to go around. I'm not a fan of Leach's play calling in the 4th, both this debacle and UNLV, but it's who he is, and he is not going away any time soon. I'm more than willing to evaluate the staff after the Apple Cup and not right now.
@WazzuFBBlog great article "why do we fall" helped put things back in perspective after Saturday. Still so disappointing though.
Sean--- wow. Fantastic article, your best on this site (seriously...maybe you should take up marathon running fulltime, haha!). I agree with almost everything you said, and it was said with more passion and clarity than I could have attempted to cram within this little post (and pretty proud that you wrote that long and voluminously about the game and only using 2 swear words...impressive). And that statistic about new coaches entering losing situations is pretty shocking - hardly anyone ever has a turn around. Again, bravo, great post, and I don't have much to add.
I was pretty furious over that loss, and haven't been satisfied at all with any of our wins. Clearly we put the cart way before the horses, and our unbridled enthusiasm was highly misguided. But the fire Leach crowd here is baffling, and I thank god that some of the most vocal critics here are not in any position in any capacity within the Athletic Department. You can tell people are thinking sanely and rationally when they give a National COTY award winner 4 games to turn around one of the worst BCS programs in the country. We WILL pick up 1-2 more games this season. Not sure where or when yet, but we definitely. It's not a bowl game; sorry folks, cancel your tickets to Albequerque. But it's a good foundation to start with.
We expected too much to soon for 2.2 mil. The fact is CML, after 3 games has figured it out. This will be a rebuilding year, so why not take this year to change the mentality of this program. To teach these boys to never give up. Be gutsy and go for it on 4th downs so that they begin to believe in themselves that it can be done and that they can do it. That is his style and is what defines him as a coach, that is the reason he hired. I still believe that he is the man for the job. To give up on him after 4 games is just silly when we gave CPW 4. Sure we do have the right to be pissed off and frustrated but give up, NAH never if you blood runs crimson.
Seems to me that a good coach gets to know his team, understands what he has to work with not only in their physical skill set, but in their attitude and frame of mind. He then needs to be able to coach them up even if he doesn't have all the talent he wants. And said coach may have a style that he wants to run, but he needs to take it in the context of what he has to work with.
Come on coach, you think your team has confidence issues? Help them gain some confidence by making good coaching decisions, not be stuck in this rut of "well this is the way I've always done it".
@norcalcougSo basically you wish we won. What you have done differently, besides kick a FG in the 4th?
congrats...trailer with the big dish out front and five cars out there to use for parts
did leach lock anybody on the equipment shed after the game
dude you got it wrong. To reply on what I said you hit the "reply" button below what i said.
your fans were some of the very worst who have ever come into CU stadium last year...and we have had Texas and Nebraska in here. Rude and disgusting as any trailer trash ive ever seen
It was great karma to see your fans so bummed after the CU comeback
Bravo Sean! That was a beautiful write up and one I am extremely grateful to have read. To say I was disaapointed by yesterday's loss would be an understatement. A text I recieved from a friend of mine who is a Colorado alum stung like heck, and I instantly felt like puking.
I was pretty down in the dumps after yesterday's game, but I know this team has a long way to go. The initial impact of the loss hurt a lot, and the internet chatter made things all that much worse.
This year, between tickets, travel, lodgings, and congtributions to the CAF, I have put up at least $10,000 into the Cougs (this doesn't include my donations to the College of Arts and Sciences and the WSU Foundation). I love Washington State University, and it's so much more to me than just a football team.
The hiring of Mike Leach was one of the best things that could have happened to this program, in my opinion. Yes, Paul Wulff was a Coug, but there were many instances where I was just utterly frustrated with him as our team's coach. His body language was always somewhat ambivalent. I really liked Paul Wulff the person, and he was a man of tremendous character...but he always struck me as somewhat defeatist. He was not a risktaker, or someone who had enough faith in his guys to go for the juggular.
Though I disagree with Mike Leach's decision to go for it on 4th down when he should have gone for the easy 3, I totally understand why he would do what he did. He may have wanted to see how much confidence his guys had, what type of mental makeup they have...he put the game in their hands, and they didn't come through for him.
I'm not hopping off the bandwagon now, or ever. Times are tough now, but I (possibly naively) believe there will come a day (very soon) that WSU will be a force to be reckoned with. Mike Leach will win and he will succeed. We hired a guy who will bring excitement back to our program once he's had time to establish his system...it's not going to happen overnight. Between Bill Moos and Mike Leach, we have two visionaries who will bring brighter days to our program. Without Mike Leach, we don't get the Caldwells and Marks from Venice High School; once all the facilities in place and the Air Raid is in full effect, the kids from the LA area, Texas, and other talent rich regions who would normally never consider WSU may put us on top of thier list.
Perhaps I'm full of false hopes, but regardless, I'm not going to stop rooting for our guys.
@DaneshThanks for your support of the program and the CAF. I'm in a similar financial boat what with season tickets, travel expenses etc., and I refuse to give up on this team.
Like you, I'm not a bit happy with the way things are going right now but I also know winning games requires a mental toughness i just don't see in the players. MW drops 4 touchdown passes in two games. This guy is supposed to be a 1st round draft pick in April. Not gonna happen if he doesn't develop that toughness. He says he lost focus. Here's a tip MW, you won't play on Sunday if you do that. You may not play much more on Saturday either.
Every one of the players needs to examine their mind set and figure out how not to let down until the game is over. That was the most frustrating thing for me. The players quit playing about 7 minutes before the game ended.
Personally I don't have a bit of a problem with going for it on 4th and 3. We were up by 17. Halliday throws a pic, not his first, and then the team just quit playing. They were out of position and not paying attention to the situation on the field. Some of that is on the coaches, but the players are the ones on the field who have to keep their heads in the game.
Sorry guy, I didn't mean to sound like I was going off on you...I'm not. I agree with much of what you say.
@Ambush184 I don't think you're said anything bad at all. I agree with you on MQW 110%; the guys got great ball skills, but I think he lacks certain intangibles that would elevate him from "very good" to "great." Long TD aside, he did not play like a first round draft pick last Saturday, he looked more like a 4th or 5th round guy. If you can't have your way with a very young and week Colorado secondary, you're certainly not going to do as well against Darrelle Revis on Sundays.
Leadership is something that is really lacking from the more experienced guys on the field. Some of the guys are doing great individually out there on the field, but I don't think there's enough guys stepping up and being leaders. Alex Hoffman-Ellis will forever be one of the brightest spots from the teams of the recent years because you could see this guy wanted to win no matter what the circumstance. He was literally a game changer in some instances because he worked hard and elevated the guys around him to play at his level.
Until this team shows leadership outside of practice, we'll be spinning our wheels in the mud for a while. I think Mike Leach will eventually play a big part in changing the mentality and culture of the Cougar football program, which is why I'm solidly in favor of his hire. Yes, we're paying him $2.25 million, but that's what the market dictates he is worth. This is a lot of money for a football coach, but this is a long-term investment that will eventually pay tremendous dividends.
This is a very intelligent article and I completely agree with you. Especially about the Mike Least post.
I played just one year of football and never coached it, but I believe I have a reasonable understanding of the game. If our first down runs in the crucial fourth quarter became so predictable that i could correctly call them, is it not reasonable to think Colorado also anticipated them? And stuffed them?
Our players' weak mentality had nothing to do with those predictable calls. Coach Leach needs to publicly proclaim he got in a rut. Do I want him to succeed? Sure. But, I am beginning to doubt the offensive genius label myself.
I remember Erickson's first year, it sucked. We were beat soundly a lot of times leaving me to think 'who is this guy?'. But the next year we ended up beating #1 UCLA and of course the Dawgs ultimately headng to the Aloha Bowl. And who also remembers the year after the 1998 Rose Bowl team - not pretty.
Maybe Leach being at the helm and expriencing for one of the most infamous 'Couged it' moments of all will further inspire him to put that term to bed in the future. I understand what CML is trying to do - instill a killer instinct in the team and never waste an opportunity to gain exprerience. It cost us and seemed like bad coaching but I do believe that there will be no more 2002 Apple Cups with CML in charge.
I see a bright future - the defense had its 'Palouse Posse' moments and the offense had its moments that also looked like the great Walden/Erickson/Price offenses in thier heyday. We just need better talent and that is coming.
CML was a success for 10 years consecutively at TT - he knows what he is doing and that does not mean he will not learn frrom this defeat either. Go Cougs!
Nice article Mr. Hawkins, but I dissagree with a lot of that and it's too much to go through point by point. But I will say this. I feel we, the fans, were sold a narrative by Bill Moose. The narrative we were sold was: CPW got us to a certain point, and we were at a critical juncture in the program (his words) and that we needed to hire a coach with big name reconition and a high powered offensive scheme to take us to the next level. Not another "rebuilding" year. We're moving the program a step forward, not taking a step back. And CML with his folksy charm and our new facilities would draw us national recognition and better recruits and trips to bowl games. Thats what was sold to us. New stadium, new coach, new era. That's the narrative, but what's the reality? The reality is Mike Leach and his staff have flopped. And him and his supporters are looking for cover and someone or something to blame other than themselves. "It's CPW fault for lousy recruiting" B.S. "It's the players fault - they don't want it enough" B.S. Here's another bit of reality - this could be a 2-10 season, because I don't see another potential win on the schedule from what I've seen on the filed. And the last bit of reality is this: We can't, or won't, run the ball. If we had something resembling a running game, we could have run the clock out, wasted CU's time outs, and won the game. And then today we would be discussing how we have a hard time putting teams away instead of "how could you fuck that up?" I think we have a good team of quality guys and I'll root for them any day of the week and twice on Saturday. But after four games of pathetic play calling and clock management. I'm done with Mike Leach for good.
@ErikAnderson You are extremely harsh Erik, but pretty much right on the money. My only disagreement: I haven't given up on Leach for good. But he needs to change in the aspect of game management (or earn my patience by somehow miraculously winning a billion games in spite of his stupid calls) or I eventually will give up on him.
@WallaCoug @ErikAnderson I agree with Walla....have not given up on Leach and will NEVER give up on the Cougs (how could an alum ever do that?).....just disappointed so far.....I think most of us think we coulda coached the win yesterday however we are not seeing the fumbles and INTs and holds and dropped TDs that were not CML's fault......if we get a break on any of those, we win the game......anyway here's hoping that CML and Cougs learn from this and keep improving and that we "now potentially in underdog" role the rest of the season shock a few teams, pull some upsets......I still believe if we put it all together and eliminate mistakes, we can play with anyone.....have faith and shake this one off guys.....
@ErikAnderson @Billyblaze "I've given up on Leach." The only thing I can say in response to that is that you have absolutely no perspective on college football whatsoever. Nick Saban flopped horribly both at LSU and at Alabama in his first season in at least one game. I suppose you had given up on Paul Wulff at this same point as well.
I havent given up on the team, I've given up on Leach. But he can restore my faith by beating Oregon this Saturday. Other than that he's off the Christmas card list for good!
@ErikAnderson And, since Livefyre actually let me post this time (was getting error messages before), I'll say this -- I don't dispute that we were sold something more than "hey, watch this team flail around learning a new system and go 3-9," but a lot of people were, however, way out of line with their expectations. Also, we knew that Leach wasn't going to be a guy who would run out the clock in the fourth quarter, and that he'd make some maddening decisions sometimes. Great when it works and aggravating when it doesn't.
I'm not going to pretend that I'm happy with what's going on, though. That's all I really want to say at the moment.
@ErikAnderson Wow, you're done with the coach for good, four games in?
Ya I am. We didn't loose a nail biter to USC. We lost Homecoming to a terrible team due to Leach's bad playcalling and poor clock management. Tell you what; I'll climb back on board the pirate ship if we beat Oregon this saturday. But who of you think the "savior" of the program can pull that off?
@NavyCoug A valid concern it turns out.
@Cyberhwk Ha, just another guy afraid to win big. "Teams that are more concerned with winning football games..." More like teams that are more concerned they are gonna lose football games. Sorry but this IS football, and it's all about the chest pounding and proving what you're worth. Ex: We play the Ducks this weekend. Obviously we aren't expecting to make an upset, but what will people think if we can manage to keep up? To make it close? To at least do better than Arizona? It will still be a success. It actually ISN'T all about winning. What will Oregon St. think the week after if we could even manage a 42-34 loss with the Ducks? They would know that we're a force to be reckoned with! We might not have won, but damn, we did a good job! And what kind of confidence would our guys have knowing that they tried their best, went toe to toe vs. #2 in the nation, and did well? They would have the mentality that they could beat the Beavers, and then you know what? They just might! That's what the Buffs did; they tried their hardest, and even after three losses, it paid off. And what happened with our guys they "KEPT LOOKING UP AT THE SCORE BOARD" (actual quote from the players) because they were "more concerned with winning football games than dick measuring."
@NavyCoug "Why soak up the clock? Why NOT go for it? That's what's wrong with the mentality of this team. You know who pusses out like that?"
Yeah. Teams that are more concerned with wining football games than dick measuring.
@NavyCoug @ErikAnderson Navy I totally agree with you!!! Wish more of us had your perseverance.......let's face it, we are only 4 games into this season....sure road seems tough and even insurmountable but let's not give up hope this early........who knows really what will happen? Stranger things have happened.....I still think we start playing close to mistake free football and get a little more agressive on D (like we are on O) and anything can happen......I see us putting some scares into some of the teams left on out schedule and also pulling a few out.....not gonna give up regardless of this last loss - it was just one game....and I still personally feel we were better than CU but we just did not execute down the stretch.....we gave them a gift like we stole one from them last year....anyway, over it....let's get at the rest of the Pac10.....roll the dice and see what happens....our team if anything else is unpredictable, exciting, and has yet to play their best football....and I do think we have a puncher's chance in the rest of the games....imagine the dropped td catches, fumbles, penalties calling back tds, etc not happening - well we will get there and I think it will be this year.....and when it does, we will be able to hang with anyone.....don't give up you guys.....
the not to
I liked to Doc's...they gave us IV's when we were hung over :)
@ErikAnderson Not sure what being a Marine has to do with anything, but if you're glad you've let your peers down, that's pretty sad, even for a Marine.Side bar: FMF Hospital Corpsman right here.
Poppycock and balderdash.
"You sound like a band-wagon fan to me. You sound like a defeated fan, and you disgust me". - Being a Marine, I am proud to have discusted you lady.
@ErikAnderson These are poor expectations. Why soak up the clock? Why NOT go for it? That's what's wrong with the mentality of this team. You know who pusses out like that? Teams who think they are going to lose, and are afraid to win big. I agree with Mike Leach and what he was trying to do in the 2nd half. Not that I agree with not going for the FG that would have at least sealed the game in the fourth when they were so close on the score board, but constantly going for it while they were still at bay. That is what CML was trying to do, win big. What if we had won with 41 or 44-21? What would people be saying about the program then? There would've been headlines like "Mike Leach Program at Washington State Begins to Take its Stride" or something akin to that. The fact that the game didn't pan out that particular way is a shared failure of the coaching staff and players equally, and, yes, the fact that we simply didn't win is the fault of the coaching staff alone. But don't whine and cry that we might not make it to a bowl game four games into the first CML season, because that's pathetic. Yes, Moos sold us a story that seems like just a facade at the moment, but you know what? We ARE getting better every week. We WILL be great, and I don't mean that in a "We're just a couple of years away," sense, I mean that I believe we will win a couple more games this season (UW, at least) but next year we'll get a bowl game or at least bowl eligibility . We ARE on a track back to relevancy. "I'll climb back on board the pirate ship if we beat Oregon this Saturday." You sound like a band-wagon fan to me. You sound like a defeated fan, and you disgust me. Not a true Coug in my book. Being a true Coug means having unwavering faith, all season long, for all parts of the team, and that includes the coaching staff.