James Snook-US PRESSWIRE
There wasn't a winner following the investigation into claims of abuse by Marquess Wilson, and the whole situation was a shame.
There was never going to be a winner here. From the moment Marquess Wilson's letter landed in fax machines and newsrooms, it was a no-win situation for everyone. The letter levied serious charges of abuse against Mike Leach's staff, turning an already bad situation into an incredibly ugly one.
The letter set in motion a chain of events leading to today, when Washington State released its findings following an investigation into Wilson's claims. There will be another report soon, after the Pac-12 finishes its own investigation. But for all intents and purposes, it's all over.
In fact, we now know it was over just a few hours after the letter was sent. At 11:33 p.m. on the night of the UCLA game -- just about six hours after Wilson's letter was distributed -- he sent a text to Bill Moos recanting everything. Whatever the intent of the letter was, it clearly blew up in Wilson's face.
I've been under the impression since that Saturday that the letter and allegations weren't Wilson's idea -- that he had to be talked into it. He's a quiet guy, coming off as shy and rarely speaking out. What we saw on that Saturday, and the timing of it all, was out of character. Simply, I think he got some bad advice -- and now he's paying dearly for it.
On Wednesday, Bill Moos said that Wilson wanted to say goodbye to the fans and wanted to say he'll miss them. He also wanted to make it clear that his suspension and dismissal had nothing to do with drugs, alcohol or fights -- all of which also would've been out of character for him. The goodbye message got lost in the allegations, and his attempt to clear his name created more of a fire instead of quelling one. It seemed like an effort to save Wilson and his career, and not a scheme he would've come up with between Tuesday -- when he met with Bill Moos -- and Saturday night.
The effects of the letter and the fallout from the investigation are going to stick with Wilson, and that's unfortunate. He has professional aspirations and has been a damn good player. He was pushed to his breaking point in a culture shift between the former staff and current one, and walking out of practice during that Sunday night conditioning drill created a ripple effect that he probably didn't foresee. Walking out on the team reflects poorly on him as a player; the letter made everything worse.
On the other side, Washington State lost a very talented player who had been a force for two years. Wilson had quietly been growing up, even if he struggled this past year -- not with his production, mind you, but mentally. There were flashes of a more physical, engaged player, but those flashes were overshadowed by what led to the end of his career at Washington State. It's a shame he didn't get to end his career on a high note.
Nobody won, even though Leach and his staff were cleared. I don't blame Wilson, and neither should you. That letter triggered a snowball effect, but it just doesn't feel like he intended to create such a stir. Sending a text message to the athletic director shortly after the letter was sent out sends a clear signal that he wasn't really onboard with the plan and didn't realize what kind of reaction it would cause.
Who knows what's next for Wilson, but I wish him the best, just as Moos did. I'll continue to believe he was given bad advice and didn't think things through before sending the letter. He wanted to save himself and try to clear things up, but the opposite happened.
Wilson was fun as hell to watch during his time here, a pleasant surprise on some truly bad teams. The letter and the investigation that followed doesn't change that for me. But it is sad. And hopefully this is the end of it all, and we can all move on.