Washington State-USC: What's Next After a 69-0 Loss?

Lew WrightSenior Writer IOctober 19, 2008

From the perspective of Coach Paul Wulff, the Cougar football team, and Cougar Nation, there's very little to put a positive spin on after the USC Trojans rolled into Martin Stadium yesterday.  About three hours after kickoff, Coach Pete Carroll and his USC team packed their bags and headed home after handing the Cougs a 69-0 beating.

The Trojans went about playing the game in a very workmanlike fashion.

Trojan quarterback Mark Sanchez looked like a Heisman candidate by throwing for five touchdowns in the first half.

USC moved the ball at will in the first half, racking up over 400 yards of offense. They scored 41 points by intermission.  Yes, it's true.  WSU blocked an extra point.  All the practice they had during the game paid off.

Thank goodness the Cougs will have a much-needed bye this coming weekend.  There's a chance that the additional time will allow a few players to get back into the lineup.

When Coach Wulff accepted the job of his dreams as head football coach at his alma mater, Washington State, the fortunes of this season could not have even surfaced in his worst nightmares.

There's bad, but this season of Cougar football has gone off the charts.

As Coach Wulff crossed the field after the final gun to congratulate Coach Carroll, the strain of this season really showed on the young man's face.

In the post-game interviews, Coach Wulff looked a bit weary.

As the rush to jump off the WSU football bandwagon continues to rage on, add one more cry of agony to the list of complaints about what has happened this season.

"The Streak" is over.  After 280 consecutive games, a Cougar football team failed to put any points on the scoreboard.  Heck, they didn't even threaten to score.  The offense spent the entire game at their end of the field.  

For many fans, "The Streak" was a connection to the glory days that gave Cougar Nation something to always hang their hat on.

Now even "The Streak" is over.

So what's next for Washington State?

Let's just avoid predictions and leave such crystal ball gazing to the "experts."

There are reasons to respect the path Coach Wulff is taking the Cougs down.  If you made it this far in the article, hang with me just a little longer.

It was clear the WSU coaching staff tried to come up with an offensive game plan that might work with their limited personnel.  By the same token, yes, their plan failed.  None of the new formations and plays were effective.  

Consider the strategy.  WSU could have simply expanded their playbook for Kevin Lopina and hoped for the best.  The choice made by the coaching staff was to try to put some wrinkles into the offense that have been effective for other teams against USC this season.  A choice like that is made only when the staff is committed to giving their best.

While many fans were either packing up their belongings and heading to a local Pullman pub or at home switching the channel to another game, a bunch of Cougs on the field of Martin Stadium were trying to make some plays.

None of the players were joking, horsing around, or daydreaming on the bench.  The team was playing hard and getting a taste of what it's like to go up against the best college football team in the nation.

One last point: Coach Wulff isn't whining or placing blame.  In the post-game interview, he was pained to concede that losses like the one his team suffered at the hands of the Trojans are hard to take.  

Despite critics, experts, and deserting fans, Coach Wulff and the Cougs are not going to move on.  They are going to move forward.

With five games left on the schedule, WSU will continue to work on playing four quarters of good football this season.