The first game in the Paul Wulff era at Washington State didn't exactly go off without a hitch. In fact, there were a lot of hitches. But, to be fair, I suppose that many people half expected it. New coach, new system, some new players; needless to say, a run away result just wasn't in the cards.
Though, for all the bad last Saturday, there was quite a bit of good. The defense, which had their backs against the wall virtually all day played well against an offense that was ranked seventh nationally last year. The running backs had good days on the ground, most notably Dwight Tardy and Chris Ivory.
See, there are silver linings to a dark cloud.
So why in the name of Drew Bledsoe did I hear the following from the latest pledge to a fraternity whose Greek letters I couldn't read:
"Dude, Paul Wulff needs to be fired. I mean, how do you lose to Okie State bro?"
If it were possible, I would love to take this fine young man to the top of the Bryan Hall clock tower and show him the way down that involves the assistance of a large amount of gravity. What worries me is that this is a common way of thinking amongst the masses of students in Pullman. So, since the students of this esteemed university need some educating, take a seat in my classroom. You have much learning to do.
First amongst our learning objectives, you will be learning how to do a little research. Before forming an opinion, it's a good rule of thumb that you need some facts based in careful, thorough research. Not through beer goggles at Qwest Field.
If you had taken a close look at this game, you would've seen that this was a very tough proposition for any new coach, let alone Wulff. Oklahoma State was a bowl team last year. Their offense was, as already noted, one of the best in the country and the Cougars are a team under a new coaching staff with a new offensive system. When you look at all these facts - after doing a little research - you would know that this game was one where a win was possible but unlikely.
As the semester rolls along, your second lesson is to lower your expectations for the year. I realize every college football fan has bright eyes and golden smiles pointing towards a season where they go bowling (except Duke). While I will never tell you optimism is an unhealthy thing to have, too much of it can be. There is no doubt in my mind that this team is loaded with talent. What's dragging them down are problems with depth at just about every position. The team also is very young and has quite a bit of growing to do which will come in time. I think this team could be ready to go a bowl next year. But this year, I'm fine with keeping my expectations low and you should be too.
For your final exam, I hope you've learned the most important lesson of all: patience.
Here's the deal; this isn't a one-year project. Many years of poor recruiting and NCAA violations that have resulted in a loss of scholarships have really put Wulff and his staff in a deep hole. It will take them some time to bring in the recruits they want, develop those players and mold this program into what they envision it to be. The mere hiring of Wulff by athletic director Jim Sterk shows that the university is willing to show some patience to allow the program to be turned around, not the usual "We want to win now!" unrealistic and unfair mentality we see in many other places (I'm looking at you Washington ).
With your final exam finished and passed with flying colors, one more lesson for you, especially the current students - don't be selfish. I want this team to be successful while I'm here as much as you do. But if you're a real Coug, you'll want them to be successful, no matter when.
Besides, it's a lot easier to convince my future son to go to WSU if the football team is winning national championships.
Forgot to Pick the UCLA-Tennessee game last week! How could I do so?
Oregon State goes to Happy Valley and Beaver Stadium to face the Nittany Lions and their coach, who is the oldest man alive. You just can't compete against that kind of sorcery.
Mufasa and Simba 47, Dab and Norberts 10
(By the way, I do know that a nittany lion is in fact a mountain lion, but I can't go too long without a Lion King reference)
Utah State rolls into Oregon with an impressive 7 wins .in the last 3 years. And you thought the Huskies stood no chance in Eugene.
Donald Ducks 56, Agriculturally Inclined 17
Hope springs eternal as Toledo opens their season at Arizona. And by hope I mean absolute and total despair!
Non-Domesticated Felines 49, Houston's NBA Team 7
Stanford got a very nice season opening win against Oregon State and they've had plenty of time to rest since then. And Arizona State had some trouble with Northern Arizona. Who smells an upset? Not me.
California 29, Washington State 17 says old buddy Pat Abts who believes the Cougars will suffer from a safety for the second week running.
California 28, Washington State 17 says girlfriend Sammy Johnson who did not, in fact, sit next to Pat when he made his prediction.
California 31, Washington State 24 says extremely hairy man and all-around good guy Brian Tesch.
As for myself, Cal's running game just looks too strong and although the emotion will be running high for Wulff, who will enter Martin Stadium for the first time as a coach, the Cougars seemed to be overmatched in too many places to come out with the victory.
But then again, what do I know, I'm a total homer.
Cougars 24, Golden Bears 17
Obscure Pick for the Week! Southern Utah Thunderbirds over the Adams State Grizzlies 26 to 17.
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