HOT COUGAR ACTION: Is It Time For Bill Moos To Put The 'Fire Paul Wulff' Talk To Rest?

Should Washington State athletics director Bill Moos go ahead and guarantee that Paul Wulff will see year four of his contract? At least one influential writer, Bud Withers of The Seattle Times, thinks he's done enough at this point to deserve it.

Have you seen enough, Coug fans?

That seems to be the big question this morning regarding Paul Wulff and these Cougars after The Seattle Times' Bud Withers wrote following Saturday's game that WSU has shown enough progress for Bill Moos to go ahead and take any mystery out of Wulff's job status and endorse him for 2011:

Bill Moos, the dynamic athletic director, needs to make a bold statement soon and end any speculation on whether Wulff will return in 2011. Just say it's going to happen.

Want a gauge of how hard it is in this league? Look to Dennis Erickson at Arizona State and Rick Neuheisel at UCLA. Whatever you think of their methods and their track records, each had rousing, early success at their last job in the Pac-10, going to BCS bowl games in their second seasons at Oregon State and Washington, respectively.

Today, in their third year in their current jobs like Wulff, they're being fried by their local critics. Part of the reason is, the Pac-10 has changed. This isn't 1995, when there were three teams at 3-8 or worse. It's not 1999, when nobody finished in the AP top 18. It's not even 2000, when it was glorious up top, but there was a thick bottom layer with California, USC and WSU all at 2-6 in the Pac-10.

Some of the challenges Wulff has had have been massive, and it's astonishing how some fans can slough those off so easily.

I highly suggest you go read the piece -- which rehashes a lot of the same issues we've talked about here, but in a thoughtful way -- then come back here and weigh in with your thoughts. It's worth noting that Withers is a WSU alum who has been covering both WSU and the Pac-10 for a long time and is intimately familiar with what it takes to be successful in Pullman.

My take?

I love the direction of the program. Like Withers, I don't think he and his staff were stellar getting the most out of their players on the field in their first two years, but it's clear there's now been huge progress on that front, and even if you believe they're still not maximizing the talent on the field, it's indisputable at the very least that there is more talent for them to work with. 

However, I'm torn on these public proclamations. Do I still believe in Paul Wulff? Absolutely. I want to see him come back.

But these players and coaches don't seem to be negatively affected by whatever speculation there is about Wulff's status -- and, to be honest, there just doesn't seem to be all that much. (At least, not as much as you would think for a coach whose record is as poor as Wulff's has been.) Recruiting is as good as it's ever been; the Cougs have 19 verbals, although at least two are of the "soft" variety. But even one of those soft ones is from the best running back in the state. Even if he ends up going somewhere else, there can be little doubt that his mere presence as an early verbal gave the staff some clout with the rest of the class.

In short, I guess I don't really see a reason to do it. The team is making huge strides without it, and has an enormous opportunity to seal the deal themselves with a win over one (or more) of the last four opponents. There's an edge to this team right now, and it's a good edge. 

Brian's edit/hijack: I spent the morning listening to Cougar Calls with Bill Moos. As expected, a caller asked about guaranteeing Wulff another year, given the improvement we've seen on the field. His answer was the same as it's been, which really isn't worth dissecting over again.

The interesting part was Bud Namek's follow-up question. He asked Moos if he, as an athletic director, would ever force a coach to shuffle assistants. Moos answered that he would not, likening it to Elson Floyd forcing him to hire certain associate athletic directors, but said that if an assistant isn't working out and the head coach doesn't make a change on their own, they'll have to deal with the consequences. Moos also pointed out swapping offensive line coaches was an example of Wulff making his own change when something wasn't working.

On to the links! (But vote in the poll first.)

WSU Football News

Upon Further Review - WSU Highlights vs. Stanford - WSU Football Blog
Video highlights, Including lots of good written insights from Sean Hawkins.

Cougs find room to run - Spokesman.com - Oct. 24, 2010
"Like everyone has noticed we’re trying to find a definite answer at the running back position," WSU coach Paul Wulff said Sunday afternoon. "We’ve been trying to find someone who will give us consistency at the position. "We’re going … to continue to play the guys who give us the most consistency."

Despite better numbers, WSU's run game still lacks consistency - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - Oct. 24, 2010
That was one of the aspects of the game coach Paul Wulff addressed this evening in his weekly conference call. He also graded the performance of freshman left tackle John Fullington – mostly positive – and the offensive line – ditto.

Pac-10 helmet stickers: Week 8 - Pac-10 Blog - ESPN
Jeff Tuel: The Washington State QB threw interceptions early in in the first and third quarters, but he bounced back twice against Stanford. He completed 21 of 28 passes for 298 yards with four TDs in the 38-28 loss.

What we learned in the Pac-10: Week 8 - Pac-10 Blog - ESPN
Washington State is getting closer: The Cougars were down 31-7 and they kept fighting against Stanford. And a final 38-28 score indicates clearly that the Cougs aren't going to wave a white flag this season, no matter the margin they face. This team has fight. And you wonder if every foe will play with the same fire. Because if it doesn't, the Cougs are going to end a 14-game Pac-10 losing streak.

The loss to Stanford, the day after - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - Oct. 24, 2010
Saturday’s game never had the feeling it was going to be a blowout, even when 12th-ranked Stanford began to stretch the lead after halftime. Having a decent passing game will do that. But after the interception on the first possession, and subsequent field goal, you never had the feeling WSU could win it, either.

Cougfan.com: Cougars moving toward a win
IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. Maybe in a week, maybe in a month, the Cougars will get a Pac-10 win, snap a couple of losing streaks in the process and take another step in their rebuilding efforts.

Other WSU News

Live Stream Information for Monday's Cougar Calls with Bill Moos - WASHINGTON STATE OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE
It's on at 10 a.m.

Cougar Soccer Defeated by Oregon - WASHINGTON STATE OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE
Kelsey Hones broke a 1-1 tie when she finished a cross from Brynne Konkel at 62:12 and Jen Stoltenberg tallied her second goal of the match off a rebound 1:28 later to give Oregon (5-8-3, 1-3-1 Pac-10) at 3-1 lead.

Fournier and Vasilieva Lead WSU at ITA NW Regional - WASHINGTON STATE OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE
Elisabeth Fournier and Liudmila Vasilieva have advanced to the round of 16 at the ITA Northwest Regional in Stanford, Calif. Both players will continue their run Monday morning at 9 a.m. at Taube Tennis Center.

Pac-10 News

Pac-10 Power Rankings: Week 9 - Pac-10 Blog - ESPN
10. Washington State: The Cougars were this-close to climbing up a notch. To get an early jump on things, Arizona State is on upset alert. The Cougs, who just lost to Stanford, certainly would have beaten the Sun Devils that stunk it up in Berkeley over the weekend.

Conference race update - Pac-10 Blog - ESPN

Pac-10 bowl projections - Pac-10 Blog - ESPN

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