Washington State Football: What's Wrong In Pullman?

Lew WrightSenior Writer IOctober 21, 2008

The BCS rankings are out.  

We're just a little over halfway through the college football season, yet there has already been a mountain of great plays, great games and great players emerging. In conference play across the country, the cream is beginning to rise to the top from the ACC to the WAC.

With all the great stories across the landscape of college football this season a rather odd choice stands out like a pimple in a Revlon ad.

"Washington State Is The Ultimate Embarrassment Of A Football Program"           -Steven Resnick, Analyst, Bleacher Report

Yes, Steven Resnick has spotted a breaking story, one that is sure to have fans talking for weeks to come.  He's uncovered a real scoop, a story that has been missed by virtually everyone.  The keen eye and rapier wit of Steven Resnick has taken the bold step of announcing that the search is over.  

WSU football is "the ultimate embarrassment".

You might want to know what has led Mr. Resnick to such an epiphany.  Certainly that's worth wondering.

In his article (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/71242-washington-state-is-the-ultimate-embarrassment-of-a-football-program), Mr. Resnick claims that, "The Cougars have given up".  That statement couldn't be further from the truth.  After following WSU football for over forty years it's safe to say, Mr. Resnick either hasn't seen some previous Cougar teams or he doesn't know what he's talking about. You be the judge of which (or both!).  

Without specifying the coaching staffs responsible, there was a time when you could count on the Cougs melting down like a Dove bar in the desert when trailing in the second half of a Pac-10 game. At no time during the current 1-7 campaign have Cougar players given up.

Watch the game films.

That's the reality.

There's more.

Mr. Resnick goes on to use his broad brush with a sweeping statement that, "...His players don't want to play for him."  One simple example will nullify that ridiculous assertion.  

Last week Kevin Lopina returned from a serious injury that would have the vast majority of players watching from the sidelines. The USC Trojans have one of the best defensive squads in the country. Lopina wanted to come back early from a broken back to play against a defense that has manhandled opponents offensive line and backfield.  

That's the reality.

Yes, there's more.

When it comes to recruiting, people unfamiliar with the process may jump to the wrong conclusion. Example: If a team has a losing record, talented young players will not show any interest in that school. There's a logic to that conclusion, but only to those who don't understand college athletics.

Talented high school athletes chose a university based on a number of factors: quality of education; quality of coaching staff; quality of the conference affiliation; potential playing time and regional location to name just a few. The won-loss record of a university football program is much more important to fans than it is to players.

Again, that's the reality.

Staying with recruiting, Coach Paul Wulff and his staff already have a number of outstanding high school prospects verbally committed to Washington State. The fact of the matter is, we are only midway through this college season and Coach Wulff has more high school and junior college talent committed to WSU than the last two years combined.

Sorry to drone on, but that's the reality.

When it comes to editorializing, each of us is entitled to their opinion.  Mr. Resnick clearly has a knack for prose.  Where we part ways is when it comes to classifying the WSU football program as "the ultimate embarrassment".

Rather than snipe at a target with minimal, superficial views, here are some solid observations about the football program at Washington State under the leadership of Coach Wulff:

First priority of college athletes is academics. Before Coach Wulff's arrival, the academic situation for the Cougs was so bad the school lost eight scholarships for football athletes this season.  Coach Wulff and his staff have emphasized excellence in the classroom. The results of that effort are self evident.

Recruiting players that want to attend Washington State. The class of 2004 recruits should be the heart of the team this year. You can count the number of seniors making a significant contribution on one hand.

Coach Wulff has players committing to WSU that are both students and athletes. He knows the sort of kid that will thrive in Pullman from personal experience. He also knows the importance of character based on the caliber of student-athletes who joined his program at Eastern Washington. That's who is being targeted.

Coach Wulff has not made excuses for what has happened thus far in 2008. Rather, he and his staff remain focused on building for the future. It's the glass half full or half empty thing. It's the character thing where dealing with reality wins over pointing fingers at someone else.

Coach Wulff was a winner when he played at WSU.  

He was a winner as head coach at EWU.

His teams will be winners as WSU.

Washington State is clearly in the rebuilding mode.  The football program is far from rebuilt. It's a work in progress. When that work shows results in the coming months, there will plenty of room for Mr. Resnick and others to jump on the Cougar Nation bandwagon.

So what's wrong in Pullman? Cougar football is testing the patience of fans.

It's difficult to understand what brought about Mr. Resnick's epiphany. Could he have some personal axe to grind? Perhaps an SEC loyalist?  Maybe he's the sort that would swerve to hit an possum crossing the highway?

Then again, some editorial opinions test patience, too.