1) How has head coach Paul Wulff held up mentally during his first season at WSU?
If you have not been able to locate Wulff's name [even under dead-giveaway aliases such as "Dr. Bombay"] in any of the state's mental asylums up to this point, then you know he has survived the gauntlet of negativity. It has, undoubtedly, been a trying season for Wulff but he has been consistently straightforward and optimistic that the seeds of his plan of resurrecting the Washington State University football program have been planted and will begin germinating at the end of the season - and continue growing on national letter-of-intent day in February.
2) Did fans the fans, media, coaches, or players expect this bad of a season?
At the beginning of the season, Cougar coaches and players were cautiously optimistic that they might be buried only a few times [like, against USC, for instance]. Cougar fans and well-wishers figured they would be buried several times as well as covered in honey. Most of the media figured there would be some fire ants attracted to all that honey. So to answer the question - maybe/yes/no.
3) What is the realistic time frame for the new staff to get things turned around and why should people believe it will happen?
Slower than it takes a You Tube video of a streaker to go up but quicker than it takes America to get rid of a bad president. Most Cougar fans and well-wishers are figuring a few years with the optimistic faction saying 2010, the cautious faction voting for 2011 and the negative one saying - "Fire him and the AD now!" To get a realistic estimate, it will depend on how much of the current team buys into Wulff's plan and how successful recruiting goes this year.
4) Despite the struggles, what players should Husky fans keep their eye on during the game?
The player who scores all the touchdowns, of course - Husky fans should definitely keep their eyes on him. On offense, receiver Brandon Gibson is somebody the Husky fans and well-wishers are certainly familiar with on a first-name basis [we are not saying what that name is] as well as tight end Devin Frischknecht, who has been injured for much of this year but is expected to play in the Apple Cup. Defensively, freshman linebacker Louis Bland has played beyond his age and experience for portions of the year and defensive lineman Toby Turpin has been resurgent in recent weeks.
5) Which of these teams are worse shape? Which team has a brighter immediate future? Why?
Jimmy Hoffa is in worse shape. Oh, you said, team not Teamsters. In that case, it is my sworn duty as the operator of CougZone to say "the Huskies" [although it may not be actually possible to say that H-word] but to me, there is not much difference in either team's predicaments. Both teams have talent issues, and winning issues [although Washington has played slightly more competitively against common opponents]. The only reason I would say the Cougars are in slightly better shape is due to the second part of the question. While neither team is playing truly inspirational ball, Wazzu does have a one-year head start with their man, Wulff, already in place and laying the foundation of his plan while Washington, having already fired Tyrone Willingham, must wait until the season is over in December before his replacement can officially begin installing his plan and take on the task of rebuilding the program. With four head coaches [Neuheisel, Gilbertson, Willingham and New Guy] in six years, the Washington program is suffering from serious continuity issues that make its future somewhat bleaker, despite the financial advantages it possesses over the program in Pullman. In addition, some influential boosters - or perhaps a large faction of the fan base - may be expecting a quicker fix than typical Cougar fans and well-wishers expect from their programs and this may be an attitude that permeates the culture of the Husky program, possibly leading to a longer recovery period.