Now that I have had time to sleep on it and process a little, I am surprised at the reactions to yesterday's game. I have been hearing from a lot of people that all this team needs to be is competitive, and then we need wait until next year. Well we were competitive, so competitive in fact that we should have won the game by scoring a touchdown from the one-yard line in the fourth quarter. But we couldn't and we lost.
I read Brian's post, and I think, "ya, it would have been nice to win, but all things considered, I am pretty happy with that game". Also I don't get all the second-guessing on the play calling down at the one-yard line. We had punched it earlier because our line stood them up and moved them back. The line didn't do it in the fourth quarter. Why would we expect them to? This is a team that we have said, over and over, has not been competitive for two years. This team is young and very inexperienced. This team has a total of 3 fifth year seniors (according to Wulff's radio show Tuesday). This is a team full of kids that UCLA never tried to recruit. Why would we expect them to all of a sudden execute like a senior led team in the 4th quarter of a pac-10 game on the road? Really, you thought they would just flip a switch and be good, when it counts, in the fourth quarter? Really?
I think that if you did you are crazy. I mean in the heat of the moment, I did. In the few hours after game I was upset and bummed out. But come on, teams don't just execute and play with experience overnight. That is not the way it works in the real world.
This is the good and bad of the world we live in. In a 24-hour news cycle, no one pays attention to history anymore. I am not talking about Roman history or WWII, I am talking like really recent history, like the past couple of years, Can we please learn lessons from what happened all the way back in 2000, or 2007? This is what is going on in our political system right now and the same thing is happing in sports. People don't know or don't care what happened a few years ago. They want what they want right now.
It’s not good enough for an incredibly young and inexperienced team to be competitive on the road. Because once we are, it's now not good enough we should have won. I am a high school coach. I used to coach girl’s basketball and I now coach boy’s tennis. You can't force things when you are coaching, it doesn't work. The kids are ready when they are ready (many of them never will be ready to compete). Leaders aren't created overnight, they are developed through many, many, hard times and a ton of losses. When the kids do finally figure it out and flip the switch, as a coach you are left dumbfounded because you have been so focused on getting them to this place where they can be competitive, all of a sudden you are not teaching how to compete at this new level, you are now teaching the kids game plans so that they can win against the top tier of their league.
Wulff is, right now, spending all of his time teaching his kids how to be competitive. We want to criticize the game plan. They are just starting to need a game plan. The past couple of years and even the start of this season, game plan didn't matter, the players just had to learn how to show up and play college football.
This is why history is important. If you don't believe me, lets take a look back at the 2000 season. This is Gesser's sophomore year. This is 3 years after the Rose Bowl season. We lost most of our players after that Rose Bowl senior led team. In 98, the year after the Rose Bowl, WSU won one football game. It was a rebuilding process. 2000 was year 3 of the rebuilding process.
The 2000 team went 4-7 and lost to Idaho at home by 4 points. Lost by 6 at AZ in 3OT. Lost by 3 to AZ ST in Pullman. Lost by 3 to Oregon in Pullman. Lost by 6 @ USC. Got beat by UW in Pullman 51-3. People were calling for Price to be fired. After all, he had just led his team to 3 straight losing seasons, only winning a couple of pac-10 games in the process. But others saw what I saw in the stands that year: A team on the verge. This team lost 5 of their games by a total of 22 points. They were young; they didn't have the senior leadership to show them how to win those games. They took their lumps but came back the next year and blew the doors off of people.
If you don't how the next years went then you really don't know a whole lot about Cougar football, so this post is not for you. If you do know how the next 3 years went then you know what kind of patience and practice and experience it takes to be really good at this level or any level.
Somehow everybody has convinced themselves, that when you take something totally out of context that it can still be analyzed. This situation sucks we all know that. But it can only be analyzed in the context of this situation. (No depth, no experience, no seniors, freshman and sophomores making all the plays, on the road, against a very good team, in the toughest conference in the country, and none of this is Wulff’s fault or under his control, he is still playing with the crappy cards he was dealt)
Howard Zinn said "If you don't understand history, it’s like you were born yesterday." Many of the people calling for Wulff to be fired are acting they were born yesterday. They either don't know enough about history or are not disciplined, experienced, and patient enough to apply its lessons.