An Open Letter To Paul Wulff

Dear Coach Wulff --

This has been a bit of a tough week, hasn't it? I know you're not the type of guy who allows outside noise to get to you -- your resolve through all of the challenges in your life is nothing short of remarkable -- but it's become clear that everyone has their limits, and that you have grown weary of the constant speculation.

I can understand why. You've been working your tail off for nearly four years now, and you believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that you've absolutely gone about it the right way. You are convinced that the program is healthier now than it was when you took over. 

I love that you believe that. It's your conviction that won me over in the first place.

Here's the thing, though. Not everyone is convinced you've made as much progress as you say you have. Maybe those people don't know a darn thing about football, and you therefore consider their opinions invalid. Unfortunately, that's not the world you're coaching in. In this world, the voices of donors and ticket buyers matter.

The crazy irony, of course, is that it's not even really about the people who are donating and buying tickets; it's about the people who aren't. And, as Jim Walden so eloquently points out, there are lots of them -- lots of people who Bill Moos wants to tap into who he has to believe are just looking for a reason to give.

I'm not one of those people. I'm a passionate fan, and I'm going to go to as many games as my means allow, pretty much no matter what. Heck, I started a website right before your first season, and I've written faithfully about your team just about every week since then. Although I'll admit I've had my moments of doubt -- which I think makes me perfectly human, but maybe you see it differently -- I've been pretty consistent banging the drum for you and the program you're building.

I even went so far as to proclaim to the world that I believed in you, saying, "Paul Wulff is my guy. Paul Wulff is my coach." (Of course, my timing wasn't so exquisite, given that I wrote that right before last year's opener at Oklahoma State. But I didn't care.) My faith in you inspired such artistic masterpieces as this. If you didn't know, I'm the one on the far left. I really do believe in you.

And I desperately want you to succeed. More than you can possibly know.

You're one of us. As you said yesterday on the radio, you've stuck this out when a lot of other people would have bailed because it's your alma mater. I love that about you. I love the fact that if you're able to turn this thing around, you'll probably be here for a long time. In fact, earlier this year, I was kicking around the idea of writing a post that advocated for you getting a fifth year just because the risk was so much smaller than the potential reward of a long-term solution at coach.

But then last Saturday happened, and it became awful tough to keep the dogs at bay -- something you know all too well. Heck, even I called you and your team out for flopping on such an important stage. I believe you when you say the program is improving, that the kids are getting better, that this team is much farther along than last year. I can see it, because I look about as closely as anyone who isn't a coach or a beat reporter.

However, you know this is a results-based business. And at some point, the results have to come.

I know you'd probably argue that results have already come, what with resounding wins over Idaho State, UNLV and Colorado. But one is an FCS team, another perhaps the worst team in all of the FBS, and yet another the worst team in the Pac-12. You'd probably also argue that you probably should have beaten UCLA. You'd probably be right, but again, how much stock should we place in only nearly beating a team that appears to have completely given up on its coach?

Of course, I probably wouldn't even be writing this if last Saturday had turned out differently. I know it's infuriating to you that so much stock is being placed in one silly game after all the work you've put in over the last four years -- the literally thousands of painstaking hours behind the scenes that nobody ever sees. I get that. I really do.

But you have to remember: You only get 12 chances a year to validate all of that work. And when you boot one of them in the most high profile way possible (after already having missed another opportunity, I might add), it makes it harder and harder to defend the obvious progress.

You have to win. You just have to. I know you know this, because you were the one who stood at center court in KeyArena last year and said this team was going to a bowl game. Whether you got caught up in the moment or really believed it, the reality is that you're the one who publicly set the standard.

You said yesterday, "What people don't understand is when you walk into the worst program in the BCS four years ago it's not going to get fixed in a couple of years. When you're dealing with 72 scholarships the first [year] and 73 the second in an 85-scholarship league, in the best conference in America, I'm not sure what people expect." But c'mon, coach. This isn't year two or year three. This is year four, and people expect their team to put up a better showing than what they got last Saturday. People expect the bowl game you promised. And right now, it's looking pretty bleak.

So this is my plea to you.

Give me something tangible over these final five games that I can hold on to. Give me something I can point to when the vultures start circling and say, "There! That win! That's what this team is capable of!" I just can't keep pointing to the baby steps anymore. The time for that has passed.

I need something. And even more importantly, you need it, whether you're willing to admit it publicly or not.

So please. I'm begging you, your staff and your team: Give me -- give us -- something.

We want to believe in you. We really, really do.

Go Cougs.

Sincerely,
Jeff

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