Take it away, Cougfan:
"It was three years of trying to educate and create a culture that wasn't there," said Wulff. "In Year 4, you saw it kinda step up. The Dick Bennett philosophy was to recruit to players you can lose with -- and what does that mean? That means the player that can handle a loss or two and then they're going to respond by fighting back and continuing to do what it takes to overcome those defeats."
This is a valid arugment on the part of Wulff - and one I made in my earlier "How long do we give Wulff?" post. And it is what he must do to be successful. Over the next 2-3 years we will see Doba's players get supplanted by Wulff's, and that's when the real success of this coaching staff can be measured.
One caution, though. In Dick Bennett's first year, he took a team inherited almost entirely from Paul Graham and achieved seven conference wins, after just two the previous season. Considering that it's possible to get into the tournament with eight Pac-10 wins (and a huge RPI), that's an impressive achievement. Wulff will almost certainly fail to better his predecessor (Doba) in his first year.
That may not mean a whole lot. Dick's first basketball team had Marcus Moore and Thomas Kelati as two-fifths of the starting lineup. This years' football team has talent in the form of Brandon Gibson, but he's only 1/22nd of the Cougs' starting unit. One great individual talent has more impact in basketball than football, something that we're all aware of. Dick Bennett had more talent to work with in his first season than Wulff had this season. And it's rare we give Paul Graham credit for anything.
What is scary is 1) the number of games we're losing and 2) the margin of which we're losing by. But that could be a product of the system - with Dick Bennett a less-talented team could keep the score close by slowing the game down, controlling tempo and limiting number of possessions. Wulff's no-huddle offense is the equivalent of Mike D'Antoni taking over the Cougs from Graham, then running and gunning it all over the place. If he did that we likely would have lost some games 120-40 with the 2003 team.
Bennett's first team was undoubtedly more competitive. If Chris Schlatter could have caught an inbounds pass, or if Pac-10 refs could count to five like a normal person, that team would have beaten #1 Stanford. This football team is getting crushed, and when we face a top ten talent this week it probably won't be pretty. And that's what is so disheartening.
Regardless, it would be insane to fire Wulff without giving his recruits a chance. These are the kids who will define the next era of Cougar Football. This season is a formality as we build toward the future. It would be nice to be competitive, but we can't change the past, and there's still six games to try and scrape together a win or two. Wulff's recruits will have to take their lumps, especially this season, but in the end it might work out like Cougar Basketball.
Let's hope it does.