For Cougar fans, I think there was a range of acceptable results of last night's game between WSU and Oregon State. Some of them probably even included a Washington State loss.
Crapping the bed, though, to the tune of a 44-21 beatdown? Which, if we were honest, wasn't even remotely that close?
Unacceptable. Just completely, utterly, totally unacceptable.
One of the things about the Seattle Game is that it's a showcase event for the university. AD Bill Moos gets to glad-hand with donors on the west side of the state for the entire week leading up to the contest. It's a chance for President Elson Floyd to gain precious exposure for his institution in the state's largest media market. And it's an opportunity for the largest concentration of alumni who don't otherwise make it over to Pullman for games to finish a day of events with a chance to see the team play in person.
You simply cannot cap all of that with what we were forced to witness last night. As I left the stadium -- with seven minutes to go in the game, I might add -- all I could think is, "Why do I even bother? Why am I even here?" Oddly, it was the exact same feeling I had two years earlier when I left the Hawaii game early, too.
These, apparently, are questions that other WSU alums had already asked themselves: Of the 49,219 who were in attendance at CenturyLink Field, perhaps 10,000 were Oregon State fans. A conference game taking place smack dab in the middle of 80,000 WSU alumni couldn't draw more than 40,000 or so fans. Apathetic doesn't even begin to describe the state of our fanbase right now.
And yet last night's game was a chance to show them that things really were changing, that this ship is sailing in the right direction. We've continued to tout the improvements this team is making, even if the final score doesn't always show it, and a 1-5 Oregon State team that has been a disaster on both sides of the ball and was fighting all sorts of injuries seemed to provide the perfect opportunity to break through with a big win.
Yet every time this team seems poised to do something big, it falls flat on its face. Remember when I wrote before ASU last year that they deserved to go get a win, to validate all the progress they've made? You know, right before they went down and lost 42-0? Because, in their words, they were flat?
You'd think they'd figure it out after getting their faces kicked in for 3 1/2 years. Apparently not, according to Sekope Kaufusi:
“This really hits home to us and opens our eyes. It starts in practice. We just didn’t get it going early in the week"
Really? REALLY? Shouldn't this team understand the value of practicing hard, of being prepared? NOW it hits home?
Many have asked at what point we blame the coaches for this sort of thing. I've held off, believing strongly in the personal responsibility of players. Not anymore.
I try not to put too much emphasis on the results of one game. But this is no longer "just one game." This is the 25th time under Paul Wulff that WSU has lost by 20 points or more, and at some point, these kinds of embarrassments have to end. Is halfway through year four of a coach's regime too much to ask?
Apparently so, because the Cougars got their rear ends whipped up and down the field. Again. By a bad team -- a team they should have, at the very least, been relatively even with.
Only don't look for Wulff to validate what you saw with your own two eyes last night. Here was his assessment of how the team played:
"I don’t think our kids played bad," Wulff insisted. "I thought Oregon State played a hell of a game."
Gee, coach, do you think they might have "played a hell of a game" because your team was completely unprepared to compete last night? OSU smacked the WSU right in the face, and the Cougars wilted faster than a bouquet of flowers left in a hot car.
It's not enough for Wulff to insult all of us with the play on the field the last 3 1/2 years; he feels the need to insult our intelligence as well. Not a good look for you, coach.
Look, I've been one of the most ardent Wulff supporters over the last few years, feeling like many fans weren't giving him a fair chance to succeed. If you've been around here for a while, you know that. But if I tried to defend any of this right now, I'd just end up looking like one of our DBs watching yet another receiver run past them into the end zone.
And I won't do it anymore.
The bottom line is that this team is 3-4 with arguably all of its most winnable games behind it, except for maybe Utah. And unless something truly unexpected happens over the final five games -- like, say, going 3-2 against Oregon, Cal, Arizona State, Utah and Washington -- I don't see any way Wulff could or should keep his job. When you're in your fourth year, and your team is showing that it still can't even compete on a regular basis with some of the bad teams on its schedule, there is a major, major problem.
I still hold out hope this team gets it turned around this year. I still believe they have the talent to pull off a major surprise or two. But if they don't, and if the coaching staff is replaced at the end of the year, you'll likely be able to point to last night as the moment at which such a change became inevitable.
Because you simply cannot lose that game like that.