I wouldn’t wish the last three years of Paul Wulff’s career on anyone, except maybe that low-life degenerate Nick Holt (pretty sure he hates old people, puppies and freedom). Wulff may not be the right guy for WSU, but he is a good person and I know he has to be hating the results on the field just as much, if not more, than anyone. In his last interview on KJR, Mitch asked him if, knowing what he knows now, would he still have accepted the job when Doba stepped down. He actually paused for about 5 seconds before answering, and it was a less than enthusiastic “Yes.” I thought that was an amazingly honest interview and provided a sliver of insight on how hard it’s been for him at WSU. He mentioned he was in the process of writing a book on his experiences since taking over as head man for the Cougs, and I think it will be really interesting to find out some of what was and has been taking place behind the scenes during this rebuilding process.
That being said, the fans have also had to share some of the turd sandwich that is WSU Football since he took over. I’ve been in attendance for 24 out of the 29 games coached by Wulff (because I’m a masochist) and I am finally getting to the point of apathy, and I never thought that would be possible. The drive to Pullman from Seattle on Friday evenings didn’t used to bother me at all because I was so excited about that weekend’s game. Most of the time I was able to scrounge up enough optimism to believe that even if the Cougs weren’t going to come away with a ‘W’, at least they’d put up a good fight and give the crowd a few moments of excitement. Looking back, I’m shocked it took me this long to reach this point. Nowadays when the idiot office girl walks up on Monday morning and says, “Tsk, jeez, how are you after that game? You must be pretty upset, huh?” I don’t even get the urge to throw scalding coffee in her face. Instead, I’ll just deflect her pity by saying, “Yep. Have you gained weight?”
The really sad thing is, the amount of people who feel the same way is growing with each blowout. This week there have been several pieces written around the Cougar blogosphere about how casual fans are beginning to lose interest in the program. Sean Hawkins wrote a great piece on the WSU Football Blog about how dangerous an apathetic fanbase can be, especially to a program like WSU’s where fundraising is already extremely challenging. When the face of your university, the football program, doesn’t even elicit an emotional response (aside from a snicker or an eye roll), that spells real trouble.
Even the ultimate Coug homer, Jim Moore, released his frustrations in a recent column on SeattlePI.com. Moore is the ultimate flip-flopper, which, to his credit, he doesn’t deny. His column primarily revolves around the conflict that I’m sure he shares with a lot of fans about whether to continue supporting Wulff and his rebuilding efforts or to cut bait, call the grand experiment a failure and go after another coach. To me, the chord that struck closest to how I’m feeling about Cougar football came at the end of his column when he talked about the gap between WSU and the rest of the teams in the Pac-10:
“Go ahead and pick whichever team you think is the ninth-best in the Pac-10. Who’d you come up with? Washington? ASU? Cal? Oregon State or maybe even UCLA? Whoever it is, the gap between that team and the Cougs is HUGE. Then imagine what the two best teams, Oregon and Stanford, will do to us — I have, and it’s not pleasant.”
I’m done worrying about whether Wulff is the guy or if he should get the axe. My opinion and meager donations don’t amount to much in the offices of Bill Moos and Elson Floyd. I’ll trust them to handle the situation and do what’s best for WSU. But that quote by Moore really reflects where my frustration is coming from. I’m sick of my team being an afterthought on the college football landscape. I’m sick of noticing how pundits try to be polite when talking about the Cougs. I’m sick of having absolutely zero ammunition when other teams’ fans engage in friendly trash talk. I watch teams like Stanford and Oregon this season, and I can’t even remember what it was like when WSU fielded a football team that could compete with them. Did we really have defensive linemen that could shut down an opponent’s running game? Did we really have linebackers who could not only be in the right place at the right time, but once they got there, give the ball carrier a good case of snot bubbles? The memories of those players are fading, and it only gets sadder the more times I watch their highlights on youtube.
As I’ve said in previous posts, my support for the Cougs is never going to stop. Financially, it will only increase as I get older and climb those pesky tax brackets. I’ll keep attending games as well (masochism is a tough habit to break.) I’m just through getting upset about every beatdown. Being pissed off about having a terrible football team is actually better than not caring. Well, I’m not going to be pissed anymore. I won’t go so far as to say I’ve lost all faith in this staff or team, but if they somehow pull it together and resemble a team that belongs in the Pac-10, I’ll be happily flabbergasted.
Eventually, success will find its way to Pullman again. I have no idea when that will be, but I’ll be there to welcome it with open arms. Hopefully there will still be a few people left in the stadium to welcome it with me.