Even as I write this, I know I shouldn't be writing this. In fact, I know I should probably take a couple of days off from writing for the blog to cool down a little bit, because I'm probably about to write something I don't really mean. But there's something cathartic for me about writing, so I'm going to do it anyway, despite my better judgment ...
Forget the final score. Forget the late drives, the silly touchdown celebration by Kevin Lopina -- who looked like he'd just won the Rose Bowl, despite still being down 35-20 -- and the so-called "heart" the Cougs showed in battling back from a 35-0 deficit.
None of it matters, because were down by five touchdowns to Hawaii. Not Colt Brennan, June Jones and Hawaii; no -- we were down to Greg "the homophobe" McMackin, Greg "I like to fumble five times a game" Alexander, Greg "we wish we had a receiver like him" Salas and 11 guys on defense who even Hawaii fans have never heard of.
I'd say that this is bottom, but as I've learned in watching the Mariners, the Seahawks and my high school alma mater over the years ...
There is no bottom.
It wasn't just that we were down 35-0 ... with less than five minutes gone in the second quarter. It's the way we were down. For months we were led to believe that this team was going to be better, that it had made strides. And it sure looked that way last week against Stanford, despite the final margin.
And then this. A replay of last year if there ever was one -- from scheme to execution, this thing was an unmitigated disaster.
Coming out with a 3-3-5 defense that gives Greg Alexander as much time as he wants in the pocket while allowing the Warriors to repeatedly catch the ball in space? Are you freaking kidding me? Good thing they realized that was a mistake ... after Hawaii sliced right through us for two quick touchdowns.
Want to know what Hawaii thought of our game plan?
“Man-to-man,” Salas said of WSU’s defense. “Playing off. Great feeling. Some teams get out of it, they stayed in it. It was great.”
Yeah -- that's what I want: The opposing team describing our defensive scheme as "great." Wonderful.
Beyond that, how about drives to start the game that ended punt, fumble, muffed punt, interception, punt, fumble, interception?
Needing to call a timeout after a TV timeout because you didn't have the right personnel on the field?
This is the kind of crap that adds fuel to the fire that Paul Wulff and his staff are in way, way over their heads. And while I've been as staunch a supporter of the "give him time" crowd as anyone, that was all working under the assumption that last year was left in the past, never to return. Now, I'm starting to wonder if time's not getting darn close to up. Yes, the recruiting is nice, but if you can't do a dang thing with them when they're on the field, what good does it do? (Never mind the fact that the guy across the mountains is cleaning up like the guy before him never did.)
Wulff had a wonderful propensity to blame his players last year, and that flies for a while. But now, he's had a full year and half with two training camps to coach these guys. And they're still doing the same stupid crap. At what point does it become the fault of him and his staff that his players so often look so clueless at the beginning of games?
I suppose what's eating at me the most is that it was all I could stomach to stick around when it was 35-0. Every bone in my body wanted to get up, flip them the bird, and go home. And those of you out there that know me know that I rarely, if ever, leave a sporting event early.
But that's the rare quality these Cougs have: To make even just watching them about the furthest thing from fun that I can think of. I spent all week totally fired up for my football trifecta -- high school game, Cougs and Seahawks, all in three days -- and it took all of eight minutes of game time to completely crush that. I attended the Oregon debacle last year, and today felt the exact same way, wishing I would have just stayed home and watched it on TV so that I could shake my head, mutter some curse words under my breath, and change the channel.
At a time when the athletic department is struggling financially, this team's effort today virtually guaranteed I won't be making any effort to drive five-plus hours to Pullman to watch them play. Why? So I can waste another weekend of my life? And while it's not like the loss of my piddly ticket is all that big of a deal, I have to believe that others feel the same way as I do -- including those with much more money.
I'm trying to stay balanced right now. I really am. I pride myself on being able to take a step back and assess the big picture. But that is damn hard to do today, and to be honest, I'm kind of pissed that I have to do it again tonight after months of it last year. I've been trying to assess where all this anger inside of me is coming from, and perhaps that's it. But is it really so much to ask for a team to just be competitive? To play with some discipline and some urgency?
I sent a regrettable text to Craig during the game that they should fire Wulff five minutes after the end of the game. I know that's dumb and irrational, but the fact that I even had that thought should tell you something. That Washington looks better in two games under Steve Sarkisian than we have in 15 games under Paul Wulff makes it that much more difficult to swallow. I don't care that Washington has more talent than we do; those are the same guys (save for Jake Locker) that we beat in the Apple Cup last year. They're executing. They're playing like their life depends on every play. They're playing with confidence, despite having lost 15 consecutive games before today.
They're playing like winners, while we're playing like we know we're losers.
To that end, next week will be telling. This is our last reasonable chance to get a win before the end of the year, and how they respond to today will say a lot about whether this team is indeed heading in the right direction. Evaluating the season in three-game chunks is a solid strategy, and means that next weekend is essentially the rubber match. Win, and look OK doing it, and we feel like the Hawaii game might have been a bit of a fluke.
Lose ... well, you'll just have to remember one simple thing.
There is no bottom.