I was all ready to lead with Paul Wulff's quote about being a Coug and the innocence of Wazzu being lost today. Say what you will about Wulff's speaking skills: he provided one heck of a quote on his way out the door. But I realized I couldn't do it. The press conference was about more than just a quick soundbite and a line that was probably born out of pain.
No fired coach ever has to face the media. It's not a requirement and it's certainly not a delightful experience. It takes a significant amount of class to step up and face painful questions just hours after being terminated, but that's just what Wulff did.
It was difficult to watch Wulff meeting with the media one last time, and I couldn't quite figure out why. Part of it was probably because of my own hopes for his success meeting the reality of his failure. But I also came to the realization that I just felt bad for Paul Wulff.
I understand that Wulff probably made close to $3 million for his four years in Pullman. We can pick it apart and break his salary numbers down by wins, but we're not heartless like others who see dollar signs and nothing more when it comes to sports. And it was never about money for Wulff or his family, thus the difficulty watching him say goodbye.
I want you, as an alumni of Washington State University, to imagine being handed the keys to the kingdom. Imagine the head coaching job being your dream job. You had aspirations of picking up the pieces of a middling program, building it up and becoming a mainstay. It would all be fit for a storybook.
Now imagine failing and realizing it's all gone in a moment. After struggling, battling and believing your plan is working -- because that's all you have to cling to -- it all comes to an end. That one shot at the dream job? It's gone, and it'll probably never be back.
The scenario described above is the context for Paul Wulff's press conference on Tuesday. He'd just been fired from his dream job, but he still chose to face the music. "It was my decision," Wulff said. "I love this place"
Wulff talked of the cupboard being stocked and the next coach walking into a very fortunate situation, and he's probably right. He seemed to resent the business decision aspect and the sizzle, maintaining "I think that winning football games generates fans and excitement."
Given the opportunity to do it all over again, Wulff said he'd still take the Washington State job, which shouldn't come as a surprise. He didn't have regrets, nor did he think he'd do things differently. And in the end, he'll take the time spent with players and the moments spent earning the trust of recruits and their families with him as the lasting memories of the job.
Finally, here's the few sentences that will be used as a soundbite and pull-quote. For once, I'm burying the lede on purpose, for the reasons and context provided above. I understand why he said it, and I'm okay with it.
"The great thing about WSU and being a Coug is that we don't do it like everybody else. We stick together and we don't eat our own. I believe the innocence of Wazzu has been lost today"
Here's the video of the press conference. I'd encourage you to watch it.