Aug 30, 2012; Provo, UT, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach (left) talks to his players during the second quarter against the Brigham Young Cougars at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
The sun rose on Friday and set again later that day. The world didn't end with Thursday night's whipping in Provo, but it may have felt like it. There was panic, screaming, yelling and perhaps some diving off the cliff. All that was probably to be expected considering the circumstances.
But it's worth remembering again that Thursday's loss was just one game -- the first game of the 2012 season and of Mike Leach's tenure at the helm in Pullman. This one game shouldn't define the season, the players or the coaching staff. No opening weekend anywhere should, because a lot can -- and likely will -- change between now and the end of November.
In some ways, we were probably victims of our own expectations and the hype surrounding the game. As I said on Thursday, this game was built up from the moment Leach was hired. It was the new era of football at Washington State, with a huge marketing push surrounding Leach's return to the sidelines. Add in the national television aspect and curious observers across the country, and it magnifies whatever emotions you may have been feeling.
Despite the loss, though, Thursday wasn't the end of the world. Not even close. There were bright spots, which we'll highlight, and not-so-bright spots, which we'll also point out. Even without a touchdown, there were good things to take away from the performance on the offensive side of the ball, as well as some correctable things. This team has flaws -- we knew that -- but I don't believe things are dire by any means.
The first weekend of football is, in simple terms, a complete crapshoot. Cal lost to Nevada; Colorado fell to Colorado State; Arizona got all it could handle from Toledo. And that was only in the Pac-12. Ask Pitt -- lost to Youngstown State -- or Penn State -- dropped a game to Ohio -- or Oklahoma -- hooo boy, Mike Price and his mustard gave them a scare -- fans how they're feeling right now.
Now factor in the coaching change, which is always an unknown right out of the gate, and you can probably understand why reality didn't match up to the hype.
Jerry Brewer had a very reasoned take about Thursday's game -- one that I agree with. He used the word concern, not panic, to describe the feeling after the game. There were some things to be concerned about, especially the trouble on offense, but not a reason to panic. Not yet. Not until we see a larger sample than one game against a team that returned a large chunk of players and is, in all likelihood, a solid squad.
The beauty of college football is that we just don't know much of anything right now. The first weekend always brings overreaction -- the product of football finally returning and everyone getting a first look at their teams. There's real football to dissect, and real plays, swings in momentum and mistakes to examine and overanalyze. That's all well and good, but by Saturday, well ... it won't matter.
I expect Washington State to bounce back in a big way. The Cougars opened the season with a tough opponent before moving on to a much easier one. There was no easing into Leach's tenure, but that's okay. Thursday was about learning, this week is about correcting and Saturday is about improving and notching a win -- just like every Saturday will be from here on out.
Don't jump off the bandwagon just yet. It's not on fire and its wheels haven't fallen off yet. We're one game into the 2012 season, and there's a lot of football left to be played. Let it play out before tucking and rolling,