When Jeff Tuel stepped on the field in the Los Angeles Coliseum way back in 2009, a new era of quarterbacking at Washington State began. Not that the previous era had been in place all that long but watching Kevin Lopina and a younger Marshall Lobbestael try to throw the football can make any season seem like it takes eons to go by. Tuel's freshman season would be cut short by injury but he was able to make it through his entire sophomore year playing behind a porous offensive line. He managed to throw 18 touchdown passes to 12 interceptions and after an upset of Oregon State, the Cougars seemed to be on their way.
But in the first game of the following season, Tuel had his collar bone broken on what seemed like a routine slide to end a third down play. He was able to comeback and start against Stanford but the next week against Oregon State, he reinjured the collar bone and wouldn't see the field again.
Now, we come to this year. A knee injury against Eastern Washington gave Connor Halliday the starting job and Mike Leach flip flopped between Tuel and Halliday until Tuel got another chance to be the starter late in the season, including his first Apple Cup win. To call Tuel's four seasons under center at WSU tumultuous would be an understatement.
Because of Tuel's injury issues his junior year, there was some hope he could receive another year of eligibility although the chances were slim. Rather than let the NCAA tell him one way or another, Bud Withers at the Seattle Times is reporting Tuel will drop his pursuit of a fifth season and get ready for the NFL Draft.
By the sounds of it, Tuel is dropping the appeal because of the questions the NCAA was continuing to ask him, chiefly, whether he had been 'mistreated' or rushed back by Wulff's staff. Whether the assertion that Tuel was rushed back is true or not (he certainly wasn't 'mistreated' by Wulff and company) he isn't going to tell the NCAA he was just to play another season at WSU.
I don't feel comfortable saying I was mistreated. I was never mistreated by them. It's (his decision) a combination of that, that how long this has been drug out. If it goes two, three more weeks and they say no, I'm kind of screwed.
Could Paul Wulff have told the NCAA he rushed Tuel back? Sure and if that's what it took to get Tuel another season, the school probably could've made the case. But I have a feeling it's not what Tuel wanted. Although I'd love to have him back because I'm not as confident in Halliday as some, what would another year at WSU do for him personally? He would spend another season behind an offensive line that, although it's likely to improve, will still provide about as much protection as Kevin Bacon in a homecoming float parade. If he comes back, there's no guarantee he'd even be the starter with Connor Halliday returning as well. And as always, there's the ever looming threat of an injury that could really effect a potential professional career.
With all that in mind, I can't blame him for ending the pursuit whatsoever. He dealt with some of the worst seasons of Cougar football in history, a coaching change and more injuries than I can even remember. Through all of it though, he never stopped battling and never gave anything less than his all. For that, he deserves an awful lot of thanks and our admiration.
All the best to you in your pursuit of a professional career Jeff and thank you for everything you gave to Washington State over the last four seasons.