Different year, same story.
Last night's matchup against the Oregon Ducks was a horrible one for WSU. We knew that going in. Too much speed and too much skill proved to be too much yet again for the Cougars, who were thrashed 52-6 in Eugene. And I wholeheartedly agree with Grippi, who had this to say:
It seems, from this vantage point, more of a continuation rather than a regression. This is a defensive team that struggles to handle speed. That’s been shown three times this year. The off-season weight-lifting gains have helped WSU handle strength, but speed, that can’t be fixed completely in the weight room.
That's why - and I think we all felt this prior to the game - it was a matter of how much we were blown out by, not whether or not we'd be blown out.
Still, I'm tired of it.
One can only watch their team get blown out so many times before they've had enough. Sometimes you wonder - as I am right now with the Seahawks getting blown out in Indianapolis - how all your favorite teams can go to crap at the same time. It's annoying; I used to remember the butterflies I got in my stomach before a big Cougar football game. I still have it for basketball, but hardly ever anymore for football. And while I like the "no pressure" aspect of it all, and the fact we really have nothing to lose, it is also tiring to see so much apathy. A half to three-fourths full Martin Stadium. A lack of any buzz whatsoever as we get close to game time.
We only have one game left that any of us are going to really care about: the Apple Cup. And, adding insult to injury, it's in Seattle. Against a revitalized Husky team under Steve Sarkisian. The spread for the game, at least based on what I've seen so far, will probably be somewhere in the two to three touchdown range. Yeah, I know, throw out the records, rivalries are different blah blah blah. Still, I have a feeling things aren't going to go well, although I have an urge to be there in person just to show the purple bandwagon that WSU has people that still care about their team even when the wins are few and far between.
Now, allow me to get to my thesis statement seven paragraphs in, because I'm rebelling against my English teachers: Wulff should absolutely start next year on the hot seat. I don't think he should be fired at the end of this season; we've come too far in recruiting just to blow it all up and see how things go under a new director. I firmly believe you need three to four years to truly evaluate a new coach. Usually I say four, but if you're being consistently blown out for three years straight, I think it's safe to say your coach is in over his head.
And that's the issue: if we're still getting thrashed like this five to six games in next year, I'll be calling for Wulff's head. I don't care how good of a recruiter you are, how bright the future may look, or how much trouble was left behind from the previous coach. I want to see results. That doesn't mean a Bowl game (although that'd be nice), it means we play competitively. It means we have some tough, close losses for a change instead of blowouts (and, fortunately, Wulff has turned out to be a successful close game coach. So far.). It also means we eek out a couple close wins, at least one over a conference opponent.
Meanwhile, there's a former Cougar coach doing wonders eight miles away in Moscow. Robb Akey's ne'er-do-well Idaho Vandals are 4-1. If you think it's hard to win in Pullman, try winning in Moscow in the post-Big Sky era. Many have tried, including super-enthusiastic Nick Holt and noted face-puncher Tom Cable. All since Chris Tormey have failed. Perhaps someday it will be Akey's time to drive back across the border?
The expectations are still going to be low next year: a range of maybe two to four wins, and an expectation to be competitive against at least a couple of top tier conference opponents. If Wulff still can't meet those expectations, he should be gone. Plain and simple.
Some quick blog-type stuff. I blew off doing my usual ESPN.com-style stat-over-analyzing recap since hey, that was a dismal, dismal game. I do want to toss a question over to you, Coug Nation. Do you want a formal game recap, or are you okay with the fact you can get that from the Grippmeister and/or espn.com? I'll also resuscitate the Tailgater's Guide next week, which has disappeared of late thanks in part to the stunning fact that I have a lot less free time now than I did as a student. I don't know why I thought it would be the other way round.
Thanks for your continued support of CougCenter; hope is on the horizon in the form of basketball and a homecoming game next week against a struggling ASU team. Go Cougs. Please, go Cougs.