Heading into National Signing Day, WSU's morning was expected to be fairly benign. Unlike last year, the Cougars weren't in the mix for any high profile players who were making their decisions during the day, and Mike Leach's top recruit -- four-star quarterback Tyler Bruggman, out of Phoenix, Ariz. -- had been committed since July.
Then someone flipped. And the whole thing went haywire.
Josh Dobbs is a consensus four-star dual-threat quarterback out of Georgia who committed to Arizona State back in mid-June. He appeared solid to the Sun Devils, but took an official visit to Tennessee a week and a half ago. Early this morning, Dobbs signed with Tennessee:
ESPN 300 QB Josh Dobbs makes #signingday switch from #ASU to #Tennessee. Huge pickup for #Vols.— Kipp Adams (@KippLAdams) February 6, 2013
It wasn't a shocker -- SB Nation's recruiting bros predicted the flip -- but ASU, suddenly without a quarterback in its class for the second consecutive year, was left scrambling. Where did Todd Graham turn his attention?
To the four-star quarterback in his own back yard: Brophy Prep's Bruggman, of course.
Rumor circulating around this event that Tyler Bruggman may flip to #ArizonaState. @brandonhuffman @jaredpros2preps @gregbiggins— Jason Jewell (@jason247scout) February 6, 2013
Jewell is Scout.com's guy in the southwest U.S., and the "event" he referred to was one where the top recruits in the Phoenix area were supposed to sign their letters. No shocker that WSU fans -- as we are wont to do -- went into full freakout mode. Bruggman is the king of this class, Leach's hand-picked quarterback of the future! He's a name recruit who legitimizes the class! He represents where we're going!
Not to worry, Coug fans. There's a perfectly logical explanation for all this:
Brophy QB Tyler Bruggman will be signing with Washington State today. He is not at event. Got sick on trip to Austin yesterday.— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) February 6, 2013
Brophy coach Scooter Molander said someone threw up on QB Tyler Bruggman on plane to Austin other day. He got sick and came back home.— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) February 6, 2013
Obert is about as close to Bruggman as you're going to get from a media member -- he's got his pulse on the Phoenix area prep scene better than anyone. Except that Jewell says Bruggman really was at the event and really did leave without signing.
Don't know why some WSU fans are blasting me about Bruggman. Can only report what I witnessed today. Tyler showed to event with WSU hat and— Jason Jewell (@jason247scout) February 6, 2013
Never went to podium to announce. Left event with parents. ASU contacted him when they lost Dobbs. No bias here.— Jason Jewell (@jason247scout) February 6, 2013
Turns out, Jewell wasn't the only one who saw him there.
Briefly talked w/QB Tyler Bruggman as he left NLI event. Was holding WSU hat but said he hasn't signed with WSU. Declined comment on ASU.— Devils Digest (@DevilsDigest) February 6, 2013
It could've been that Bruggman just wanted to stop and save his ceremony for his school. Who knows? Obert, trying to get to the bottom of it, talked with Bruggman's coach again.
Change of plans. I'm going to Brophy at noon to follow up on QB Tyler Bruggman. just in case. But Molander said kid is good on word.— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) February 6, 2013
Whew. Surely the coach is tapped in if he's confident enough to say that Bruggman's going to keep his word. But then there was this:
Asked Brophy coach Scooter Molander if ASU was making a hard press on Bruggman, he said, "I don't know." Still thinks will sign with WSU.— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) February 6, 2013
Well, that hardly inspires confidence. Then word started leaking out that Bruggman really was, in fact, mulling over ASU:
#TylerBruggman talking to mom, dad & coach at school. Totally torn between #WSU and #ASU. Mom wants him to stay home. #GoCougs #SigningDay— Derek Deis (@DerekDeisKXLY) February 6, 2013
If you don't know Deis, he's a news anchor in Spokane who covered the Cougs for years on the sports desk. He's also a WSU grad. While it initially seemed a little odd that a guy with no obvious connection to Bruggman had information on what was going on, it's equally odd to think that a journalist would just throw out something baseless and risk his reputation. Plus, it made sense.
And this is what goes on in the world of recruiting that WSU doesn't get to experience all that often. One kid changes his mind, and it sets off a chain reaction that knocks over dominoes in other people's classes. Some recruits defected from USC today, which led to some recruits defecting from UW -- the Huskies fell from 10th overall last night to near 20th by the time this afternoon rolled around.
Yesterday, even if Bruggman wanted to play close to home, it just wouldn't have made sense to go to a school that was signing another highly touted quarterback. But today? Suddenly, the option of playing in front of the family was on the table again. You might say, "If that was such a big deal, why didn't he pick ASU over the summer?" Which, of course, is silly -- a kid's in the middle of his senior year, realizing he's hanging out with all his buddies for the last time, and he suddenly starts thinking, "You know maybe I don't want to go 1,500 miles away from here."
It's not crazy. And it's why this stuff happens on this day.
Perhaps the most nerve wracking thing for WSU fans was what didn't happen after Deis' tweet. Not a word from anyone. Not Bruggman. Not his coach. Not the local media.
For more than two hours.
Then suddenly, out of the blue ... relief.
Bruggman signs with Washington State twitter.com/azc_obert/stat…— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) February 6, 2013
There would be no flip. Bruggman was signed, sealed and delivered. Obert had the initial explanation of why Bruggman stuck with his commitment:
Brophy QB Tyler Bruggman said today was extremely stressful going back and forth between ASU and WSU but ultimately 'Im a man of my word.'— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) February 6, 2013
QB Tyler Bruggman on signing with WSU after strong ASU push: 'It was real tough on me seven months ago and it was real stressful today."— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) February 6, 2013
How close was it between Arizona State and Washington State for Tyler Bruggman? "It was a 51-49 decision and I just had to go with it."— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) February 6, 2013
Bruggman expanded on his decision in an interview with Cougfan.com ($):
"It was pretty much a 51-49 decision seven months ago," Bruggman said. "I've been able to watch some the season. I've been a big fan of not just ASU but the coaches there and what they stand for. ... It was just an opportunity to clarify that the decision that I made seven months ago was the right one. Ultimately I'm a man of my word and that commitment meant something to me."
And with that, it was done. Well, except for Mike Leach weighing in on the jewel of his new class.
Did you talk with Tyler at all this morning Mike? Did Arizona State make a late push?
"I don't know what Arizona State did. At midnight I got a lasagna recipe from Mrs. Bruggman." -- Leach— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) February 6, 2013
A wacky day deserves an equally wacky answer to cap it all off. Totally fitting.