This wasn't that long ago, folks. (via media.scout.com)
If the volume of comments on the posts is any indication, you all enjoyed reading the "Where I Come From" series as much as we enjoyed writing them. At times, I literally got goosebumps when I thought back to the memories that shaped my Cougar fanhood.
Then, of course, in true Cougar fashion, it all had to come crashing down at the end with a look ahead at this season -- about as far from those glory days as imaginable. What a downer.
However, in the week since the series wrapped up, I've had just one overriding emotion.
The temptation when things are as bleak as they have been the last two years is to feel like they're never going to get better -- that the hole is too enormous. Those three 10-win seasons feel like a lifetime ago when juxtaposed with 60-point losses.
The reality, though, is that it wasn't a lifetime ago. It's not like WSU was successful in the 1950s and '60s. We aren't SMU trying to resurrect glory days from a different era. We are less than 15 years removed from the beginning of what was the golden age of WSU football, and just five(ish) years removed from its end.
The landscape hasn't shifted to such a degree that it can't happen again.
To be sure, there is a growing financial disparity between the top and the bottom (like everything else in American culture), but it's not changed to such a degree so as to prevent WSU from being excellent once again -- and that doesn't even consider the fact that the school's conference-driven revenue streams are about to substantially increase. The reality is that WSU should be in a better financial position to do this than it was in the '90s when this all began.
It can be done again. Not just bowl games -- Rose Bowls. It's attainable.
Clearly, there's a certain formula for doing it in Pullman: Recruit raw and sometimes overlooked athletes, develop them, and put a superb quarterback under center to take the team over the top. And it's clear that Paul Wulff is diligently working within that formula. I know we can argue forever (and I'm sure we will this year) about whether he's actually succeeding, but the point is that there's a belief with the coaches, players and administration that the program is on the right track.
Yeah, it was tough to end all that happy reminiscing with thoughts about what is likely to be another tough season. But there's a lot of value in remembering in the first place.
Because it's important to remember how good we were.
And will be again.