Archive for November, 2007

Listen, do you Smell Something?

November 30, 2007

Greetings Cougar Nation…On the eve of a real who cares Football Friday (when our season is over, so is everyone else’s), can you smell what the Cougar Athletic Department is cookin?

Yep, they’re cookin’ up Price Stew.

So, don’t even spend your time thinking any more about it, barring HUGE changes in developments, just put this in the bank:

MIKE PRICE IS THE NEXT FOOTBALL COACH AT WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY

Just Bank on it.

The reason is simple:

Price has already been contacted and has NOT said that he is NOT interested following that conversation. In other words, he IS interested.

Moreover, after “talking” or “feeling out” Price, WSU has NOT said anything about taking him off of the list.

Furthermore, do you think that Sterk and Moos are idiots regarding the potential controversy surrounding MPs hiring? There HAS to be a process–otherwise this winds up being the whole shot-gun job that was done the last time.

So, this time they will “talk” to some other candidates before settling on the obvious: If you want to rebuilt this program, you do it with the guy that can go into living rooms and talk Rose Bowls and conference championships because HE HAS DONE IT WITH US TWICE!!!!!!! Moreover, as I said here earlier in the week: IF you want to name the last school other than USC to win the conference title you get none other than the Mike Price coached WSU Cougars..

And, like I’ve said to the nation before:

PRICE PUT US IN TWO ROSE BOWLS WITH THE POOP ISLAND YEARS IN THE MIDDLE.

Meaning, he rebuilt us for the 30 win over 3 season run after being in the basement of the conference following our first Rose Bowl. He’s already “re-built” us twice!!! So don’t think he can’t or won’t do it again.

And sure, we can all be mad about the Rose Bowl stuff, but the dude paid dearly for that 4 month period of insanity (where he briefly and allegedly met his ‘Destiny’).

And again, let’s not be too harsh about his (in)ability to build a “power” at a Conference USA school with the HORRIBLE resources of UTEP which has NOTHING (including the Sun Bowl) other than an NCAA title when they were called something else.

So, sit back and enjoy the ride as we got through “the process.”

And mark my words: IF its someone other than Price, I GUARANTEE it will be someone who is NOT on the current list.

My bet: we’ll have a coach by 12/20.

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This May Take a While

November 29, 2007

If you are on the edge of your seat, waiting for what you think is a foregone conclusion that Mike Price is the next head coach? You might want to cool it. Jim Sterk went on KJR last night with Elise and Ian, and he did in fact acknowledge that Bill Moos has talked to Mike. But Sterk said that he himself had not yet talked to Mike, at all. When asked if Price was interested in the job, Sterk wouldn’t elaborate, saying that was up to Price on however he wanted to talk about the situation. But Sterk did say that Price was NOT THE GO-TO-GUY ON THE LIST, and this search is not about Mike Price.

Here’s the link to the interview. It’s a really interesting listen, and I encourage you all to check it out.

If you heard Sterk last night, you might want to dig in for the long haul. The impression he gave was that this is, in no way, going to be a rush job. Despite what you may have heard from whatever sources you may have, Sterk flat-out said that this is going to be a thorough, detailed process leaving no stone unturned. He even mentioned that they won’t set a true deadline, but that the end of the year the new coach should be in place (!?!). End of the year?? I don’t think we like the sound of that, not when December is such an important month for all recruiting efforts, but especially one that Doba had stead-fastly decided that we would be different and we would wait things out, jumping in late on a lot of kids. Not such a swell idea now, is it??

And one more thing from Sterk on Price. Let’s just say if Sterk wanted Price and he was the clear-cut #1 choice. Would there be talk of this long process with Moos and Floyd all actively involved? Sterk also said that there is really a committee, including a few team captains, and they are all going to have input on what they are hoping for in a new coach. Sterk admitted himself that he loves to get input from many different people before he makes the decision, so it’s not as if he’s sprinting to the podium with his arm around Price. But if they wanted Price that badly, this thing would already be over, ala Houston Nutt at Ole Miss. This is not going to be a quick process.

Maybe that’s actually the best news of all. Moos and Sterk and Floyd are extremely confident in their situation, and it was hard not to listen to Sterk and feel nothing but good feelings that they are going to do EVERYTHING THEY CAN to get us the perfect fit. They are smart guys who know what they are looking for, and Sterk himself has shown he can think “outside the box”. To this day, nobody saw the Bennett’s coming, yet here we are #6 in the country and a team with legit Final Four aspirations. The June Daugherty hire is still considered a major get, and in a few years they could be a factor in the conference. So let’s just see what they come up with. Maybe it will be a name that nobody saw and we’ll be absolutely blindsided. But I know this. We should feel great about the guys leading this search, because I don’t think we could be in better hands.

Price did speak to (who else) Howie Stalwick, and more or less danced around the topic. Moos said they talked but it was a “feeling out” process and that was the extent of the details. In the same article, John L. Smith said he was interested and Moos had contacted him already as well. And the Cal guys, Gregory and Michalzcik, both admitted interest as well. Again, not a surprise.

Meanwhile, Moos does say that things are moving fast. At least as far as the preliminary call list, Moos is basically done according to the TNT. I imagine that he’s been glued to the phone the last couple of days, and that they are ready to dig deeper after the initial contact phase.

For the rumor-monger, Pat Hill at Fresno State is mentioned in Howie’s article. While he didn’t come out and say he wants the job, a “source with Fresno State ties” admitted that Hill is very interested in WSU, but Hill said Wednesday that he hadn’t talked to anyone. And if you really want to dig rumors, how about the one that said Rick Neuheisel had been spotted in Pullman Wednesday?? Nah. I don’t think we can fathom going there, even if the Go-2-Guy sure can.

Finally, Jim Walden – if anyone thinks he is cool with Price returning??? Think again. He went out of his way to push Wulff in the P-I yesterday, and he was just getting started. He also went out of his way to piss on Price’s candidacy, both in print and on the radio. I heard him last night with Jeff Aaron, and he said Price “won’t happen”, for many reasons, including age, the circumstances with how he left and his poor record the last couple of years which shows that he really hasn’t built much of anything at UTEP. Here’s a link to the story, although you may have trouble getting to it. Reading some of these quotes from Walden, and hearing him last night, I don’t think he’ll go out of his way to buy Price a beer if he returns to Pullman:

“If they’re beating up Doba (in recruiting) because of his age now,” said Jim Walden, one of Price’s predecessors and now the Cougars’ extremely colorful commentator on radio, “why wouldn’t they beat up Price for the same thing?”

“I don’t think a coach that leaves a school when he’s got them in the Rose Bowl and goes to another place is what you want,” said Walden, as usual holding back not at all. “I’m not thinking that’s a serious move for a school.

“We didn’t divorce him. He left us. The Cougar in me says, ‘No.’ Maybe it’s emotional. Or maybe I have a deeper feel for the school that says we’ve got to get better.”

“What is he doing for UTEP that we would get excited about?” Walden said. “Has he been to four bowls in four years? Won 50 games? What makes us think he’s a great prospect? I’m not trying to knock the guy, but let’s move on.”

Finally, on the air last night, Walden said not only “it won’t happen” but that he doesn’t think Price wants the job or really cares to get it. According to Walden, the only reason he would do it is if he can get Eric the head coaching job down the line, just like everyone has speculated. And that Price doesn’t need the money or the new challenge at his age, and that he’d likely just take the job and spend more time at his lake place than out on the road recruiting or doing the extra work it’s going to take to get this thing back to where we want it to be. Safe to say, Walden IS NOT IN THE PRICE CAMP!

Coaching News Round-up; Jack Thompson Hearts Mike Price

November 28, 2007

Just a day or so into the post-Doba era, and Crimson faithful are starting to basically endorse their guys. And Paul Wulff is getting a lot of buzz. Cougfan had a story yesterday that highlighted the early chatter as Wulff, Mike Price and Bobby Hauck as the most prominent names in the rumor mill thus far.

  • One of the loudest endorsements thus far is coming from Jim Walden in the P-I, who 1) thinks Wulff is not only a perfect fit with his former Coug ties and success at EWU, but 2) even more prepared for the job than Dennis Erickson was in 1987, or even Tony Bennett was when he took the job (come on Jim! Comparing Paul Wulff to Tony Bennett? I love Walden but I doubt he knows if a basketball is stuffed or filled with air.).
It’s hard not to be impressed with Wulff. Strong run of success, WSU ties, 40 years old, regarded as a class act and was a really good player at WSU. He fits the bill, and he’s right there in Eastern WA already.
  • The Go-2-Guy floats a trial balloon in the name of Rick Neuheisel. Uh, no. Sure, he’s a young-ish coach who’s played in the Pac-10, coached in the Pac-10, knows the northwest, etc. But he’s not what they are looking for. And besides, even if the money and all the other stuff could be worked out, AND he was interested enough to look at Pullman and he took the job? The guy would be looking to leave after his introductory press-conference. Look how hard he was looking around and mentioned in all the rumor mill columns when he as at UW. Why would he do anything other than use WSU as a place to show he can coach in college and then just bolt at the next opportunity? No thanks.
  • Today’s Times says John L. Smith is definitely interested. I don’t know about you, but I’m decidedly split on Smith. I know he’s got a good career record, but he was run out of East Lansing after a 22-26 record in his last job. And his exit from Louisville was one of the ugliest things I’ve seen on live TV. Does anyone remember how, during Louisville’s bowl game, rumors leaked that Smith had taken the Michigan State job? TV crews asked him about it at halftime and he sort of stammered around the question, and then denied it. But suddenly players started getting word on the bench via friends and relatives. Talk about awkward. Smith doesn’t exactly have age on is side either, at 59 years old. And Michigan State had some terrible losses towards the end of his reign, including that famous come-from-ahead loss to Notre Dame when they lost a 16-pt 4th quarter lead.
  • Bud Withers also writes about Mike Price and the overall situation there. As of yesterday Price isn’t confirming or denying anything, at least not yet. But Withers endorses the idea, yet there are fences that need to be mended over the divorce. Let’s face it, when a coach bails it’s not usually a back-slapping good time, and Price’s was pretty ugly. He burned some bridges and some will never forgive the Rose Bowl situation. But time has a way to heal wounds. Brinkhater is more dug in on Price than I am, but I would be OK with it if there was also some sort of succession plan behind him. I mean you usually don’t go out and hire a 61-year old coach thinking that it’s going to be the long-term answer, do you? Unless he brings Eric Price with him and grooms him to take over, or some other plan is in place, I don’t like it. I don’t want to see us in this same situation in 5 years, where everyone is killing us again in recruiting because it’s clear that Price is ready to retire.
  • UW offensive coordinator Tim Lappano has been mentioned on some lists as well. He did spend some time in Pullman in the late 80’s under Erickson and then a few years under Price, plus he coached at Idaho and grew up in Spokane, so he knows the lay of the land. He’s really coached all over the place, from Ferris High School to the San Francisco 49ers, so his background is extremely dynamic. Oh yeah, he’s also regarded as one hell of an offensive coordinator. He said on KJR that he’s been wanting to be a head coach ever since he broke into the business. When asked about the WSU job, he said he “didn’t want to talk about that right now” and that he was focused on beating Hawaii. It wouldn’t be that big of a stretch to think he’s interested?
  • Finally, Jack Thompson was on Elise and Ian last night on KJR, and gave a 10-minute out-pouring about how Mike Price IS the perfect fit. There is absolutely zero doubt who he believes should be the coach. He really gets into it, and you can hear Jack’s passion oozing out as he talks about Price. Give it a listen. (go to the bottom-right of the KJR page, under Elise and Ian, and click on Jack Thompson – 11/29).

Hooray for Bill Moos!

November 27, 2007

No matter what happens, all I can say is THANK YOU OREGON for giving Moos the boot and promoting some prominent “yahoo” booster to be your A.D. With quotes like this, how can we not feel fortunate that Moos is acting as the headhunter in all this?? From Blanchette’s column today:

By Monday evening, Moos had been in contact with nearly a dozen potential candidates.

“I honestly feel this is a prime opportunity to seize the moment and get a jump on the Huskies,” Moos said. “Both programs are down. At Oregon, when we went after the Huskies, they were winning and it was a major challenge. This is maybe a time to step in with the right person who has charisma and energy, both for recruiting and to help get the stadium finished.”

This is, Moos insisted, Sterk’s process and decision.

“But I’ve had first-hand experience – from Jim Sweeney to Jackie Sherrill to Warren Powers to Jim Walden to Mike Price,” said Moos, who after his playing days, rose to become assistant athletic director at WSU. “I think I’ve got a pretty good feel for those who might want to be one-year wonders or someone who has an interest in the place, can adapt to it or has been there before and won’t look down his nose at Pullman or eastern Washington. Because he’s got to make a good, solid sell to recruits and fans.”

We are, officially, not screwing around here. I trust Sterk and Floyd, rightly so, as the hirings of the Bennett’s plus June Daugherty have been strong. And it’s hard to really call Doba Sterk’s hire, really. The program needed a “Steward” at the point that Price quit on us, and at the time it was the perfect marriage that just didn’t work out long-term. Short term, perfect, long term, not so good. But to have Moos come out and say that not only is he going to filter through the coach-speak bullsh*t on who will want be here long-term, but to come out and say “we’re trying to seize the opportunity to jump on a down Washington program”?? WOW! That’s music to our ears, wouldn’t you say? Why not come out and say something like that? Let’s get after this thing and make a hire that will get the buzz overflowing again.

There’s tons of links today, including lists of candidates, etc. For that stuff, go to Vince’s latest blog entry. As far as what we’re up to? Hey, we’re full of speculation too and we’re hearing crazy rumors just like anyone else. But for now, we’ll let the dust settle a little bit and we’ll see who emerges, and then we’ll post more thoughts on what could be considered the true candidates. Let’s also not forget one other big thing. There’s some really, really prime-time jobs out there right now – Michigan, Nebraska, Arkansas among others – and there’s likely more to come, including right here in the Pac-10 if UCLA pulls the plug on Dorrell, or if villagers burn down Montlake in protest to another last-place finish at UW. So while we’ve got wild lists and ideas, so do a lot of other schools, with quite frankly, better jobs available. But hey, again, Moos is showing some onions already in this, so HOORAY for Bill Moos and thank you Oregon!

PLEASE STOP

November 27, 2007

Alright, Cougar Nation, I know its been a long day.

I know its been an emotional ride following the season, the Apple Cup victory, and now Doba’s departure.

And I know, dear Big Apple, that losing your coach was hard on you today, and I’m glad you stood up for him, but do you think you could allow Brinkhater to forever rest? In other words, would you stop with your news conference stuff and just go away?

Sorry, I digress.

Now, speaking of Mr. Price, there are good reasons why he should not be the man. The BIGGEST of the reasons pertains to the same issues surrounding Doba. Namely, what is the succession plan? Given Price’s age, how long would he want to do it? And who would he hand the program off to when he left?

Those, dear Crimson faithful are good questions.

But, can we spare the other comments about needing new blood?

I mean, DID YOU ALL FORGET THAT WE WENT TO TWO ROSE BOWLS WITH PRICE?

DID YOU ALL FORGET THAT BEFORE PRICE THERE WERE ZERO ROSE BOWLS IN 67 YEARS?

My god, we wanted Doba gone cuz he couldn’t lead us to a bowl, and we don’t want Price back because he went 4-8 at a second rate school in the middle of the Sun Bowl? Come on.

So, please, lets be a bit more heady than what we’ve been so far. If there’s a dynamite guy out there that can:

A) Win

and

B) Stay

Then I am ALL FOR IT.

But don’t, Cougar Nation, look a gift horse in the mouth.

We are WSU and what we don’t need is to forget what Price did here: The Unthinkable.

Buh-Bye

November 26, 2007

Before we get to all the blather, first and foremost, a big thank you and shout out to Ole Bill.


Without question, the guy put his heart and soul into the program. Moreover, when you think about how he handled his wife’s illness during a gut-wrenching 4-7 campain (that was ssssssooo close to a 9-2 season), and you have to tip your hat to the man. He really is a class act.

But today was about standing up and saying that 11-23 (or whatever it was in the conference over the past four years) was not acceptable–especially coming off three consecutive 10 win seasons. And so, in that way, you can say that WSU can no longer be considered a doormat program.

From the continuous academic casualties, to the lack of recruiting, to the fall of the D (before he took it back), to the relentless defense of the Big Apple, Doba put loyalty before Ws. And that is why he lost his job. In this case, the nice guy finished last.

What IS surprising is the apperant news that ALL of the Assistants are gone. WOW!

And because of that, you can expect that the announcement of a new Head Coach will be days away (not weeks). NO ONE cleans house completely unless someone else is coming in right quick. They have someone in mind, no doubt about it.

So, give us your comments and thoughts, but here’s mine:

We’ve come full circle.

Source: Doba Will Return; Gibson to the NFL?

November 26, 2007

Barring something unforseen, it appears the Bill Doba era is going to continue. The TNT’s Todd Miles reported today that a source close to the program had this to say:

“A source close to the program said while athletic director Jim Sterk and Doba have maintained an amicable relationship, it is “president (Elson S. Floyd) who wants (the coaches) gone … but when he asked about it in the middle of the (season) and found out it would cost $2.8 million, he backed off.”

Not a shock. Might as well say it now, but the WSU Football Blog staff heard the exact same thing about 5 or so weeks ago, in regards to president Floyd. But I guess they decided to keep things as they are. Who knows, though, they can always change their mind if they can figure out the payout structure as something that we’ve speculated on all along in terms of taking several years to pay it off, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen now.

Doba also said that as of Sunday night, he HAD NOT SPOKEN TO STERK OR FLOYD, and was still scheduled to hit the recruiting trail on Monday. If they were going to let him go, wouldn’t they say “Hey Bill, why don’t you delay that trip of yours and swing by the office on Monday for a little chat.”

Meanwhile, Howie Stalwick keeps it up, this time writing a long pro/con story on retaining Doba. Give it a read, it’s worth your while.

Finally, the TNT’s Todd Miles reports that Brandon Gibson has already submitted his name for the NFL draft. Great. I’ve been fearful of this for the entire season, and you can clearly see the NFL talent on that kid. Not so much the TD catch to win the game, but the slant that he took to the house on Saturday, where he split the safeties and just ran away from everyone, now that is a play that NFL scouts will drool over. He’s already speculated as a 3rd-rounder by Rob Rang, and that’s good for Gibson, bad for the Cougs. I wonder what sort of advice Jason Hill would give him right about now?? How about “GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!!!?!?”

I’m very interested to see how they spin this as a positive move towards the future. We’ll be back after the Doba announcement for reaction/spinning/complaining/whatever. Happy Monday!

Doba’s Future Decided Tomorrow…..or Not

November 25, 2007

There’s no question what Doba’s thinking right now. He clearly has the cat-ate-canary look on his mug, and can you blame him? But you have to wonder what’s going through Willingham’s mind at that moment. “What do I say to the media after this one? Why the hell can’t our defense stop anyone in the 4th quarter? How in the world have we lost 2 of the 3 Apple Cups that I’ve been a part of?” More than likely, “F*CK EVERYONE!!”

Ok, not really “f*ck everyone”. He’s too classy for that. Maybe something like “to heck with all of you” as he retreated for some post-game chocolate milk?

So now that you’ve digested what’s happened and slept on it, today is a new day. And it’s time to fire up the elephant in the corner of the room that will not go away – the Bill Doba speculation. Jim Sterk was cornered by the Seattle Times and FINALLY said something, both before and after the game. Among some of the notable quotes:

  • Sterk said the dramatic 42-35 victory Apple Cup victory will be taken into consideration but said, “You want to take a full body of work before you make a decision on something like this.”
  • Sterk said he will be making the decision whether to keep or fire Doba but that new WSU president Elson Floyd will be “involved as the leader of Washington State University.” Involved? Yeah, you could say that.
  • Sterk acknowledged Saturday before kickoff that if a change is made, former Cougars coach Mike Price is a potential candidate. “He would be somebody on a list of coaches that I would obviously consider but by no means is he the guy,” Sterk said. Wow. That’s somewhat of a bomb-shell if you ask me. All along, Price has been asked and has basically not commented on it, and/or danced around the question altogether. The rumors have been there since mid-season of a Price reunion, and some of those rumors grew some legs a few weeks ago when the idea of a “Bennett” situation arose, where Price would come for something like a 4-year deal, and would bring Eric Price with him. Then when Price retired (at 67, same age as Doba right now), Eric would get the job as a mid-40’s head coach. Not that this is all going to happen, but, to think that with all the no-comments out of Sterk lately, to actually say that Price would be on the list?? Wow. It should also be acknowledged that Price’s UTEP Miners just finished the season at 4-8 after last night’s defeat. Do you really want to run out and trumpet the return of a 4-8 head coach?
  • On the idea of IF Price comes back, would Doba stay as the DC and all would be right in the world? “I seriously doubt that,” Sterk said. That’s not a shock, really, when you consider everything. In fact, it could be a very uncomfortable situation if the two were to try and co-exist again. Yes, Doba oozes class from every pore, but hey, he’s got an ego too. And to think he’d be basically fired and to think he’d accept a demotion when he’s got a golden parachute waiting for him in retirement, where the good folks and family of the Midwest beckon to him with beautiful music?? I don’t see it happening either.
  • In Bud Withers’ Seattle Times column:

    “15 minutes after the game in a stadium mostly deserted, I found Sterk in the end zone and asked him if he could fire a guy who has won three out of five Apple Cups.
    Big belly laugh. And he said, “That’s a very good stat. I like that stat.” And he said there’s been no decision made, adding, “I think we’ll talk next week. We’ll make a statement of the time-line, or give an indication what our process might be. Right now, we’ll just enjoy the victory.”

  • John Blanchette also weighed in, and basically says that one game in another post-season-less campaign shouldn’t be the thing that decides Doba’s fate. Blanchette also threw cold water on the idea that things are fine, when looking at 4 games in which the Cougars lost by at least 4 touchdowns. A team with a senior QB, deep receiving corps, etc, and they lost 4 games this year by at least 4 touchdowns? And a 5th game by 3 TD’s, at Wisconsin?
  • What’s interesting to me is what Doba said to Blanchette, again digging in his heels about the coaching staff and defiantly stating that no changes need to be made. He also claims that “It’s recruiting – you give those guys the talent that USC has, we’re going to be pretty good, too. That’s the thing. We’re making strides there.” Really? So a wild swing from getting blown out and embarrassed one week, only to come back and be competitive and even win the next week, isn’t something that should be hung on the coaching staff? Ooooo-kee-dokie.
  • Here’s maybe the strongest hint from Sterk that status-quo will win out here:

    “It’s had its ups and downs,” he said, when asked about how the football program is positioned. “Bill over the years has gone through some adversity. I think there’s an uptick, if you will, on the recruiting class last year and the players involved in the program.”

Doesn’t sound like an AD who is ready to throw his coach under the bus.

I think, as WSU fans, we ask this of the athletic department and President Floyd – PLEASE MAKE A DECISION AND DON’T LOOK BACK! A Monday announcement to give details on Doba’s future…..or not? Maybe it’ll just be a statement that they are “continuning to evaluate the situation” or something along those lines? That’s a really BAD idea. Recruiting is in the hottest part of the year, and even Doba mentioned that recruits are due in to visit Pullman next weekend. Either do your business and fire him, or get off the pot and say he’s back for the remainder of his contract, including the assistants. But you can’t let a guy, OR THE PROGRAM, twist in the November winds while recruiting is in full-swing. If they let this linger for any amount of time, it will potentially destroy any hope of even a solid recruiting class, and as we all know, recruiting classes are the absolute backbone of your program. Particularly a program like WSU, where depth is always an issue, even in the best of times. Please, Sterk and Floyd, make your decision and live with it, whatever it is.

(hat tip to Cougfan for an unforgettable picture!)

The Big Apple

November 25, 2007

Well, after taking his due for not taking us to the post-season, Alex Brink came through in spades tonight. Congrats to him, to Bill Doba, and to the entire team for bucking up and playing one hell of a game.

As a result, Brinkhater undeservedly just won his first National Championship.

But, this night belongs squarely to #10. And as a result, he will be known as the quarterback who could beat the Huskies–and could do so in a clutch fashion. He is truly the “Big Apple.”

And since our careers are forever intertwined, this is the last post of the mighty Brinkhater. Starting tomorrow and forever after, you will see my post as the “Big Apple,” “BA” for short.

Congrats to Alex for going out in style. B.A. will miss you, B.A.

Huck the Fuskies, we RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Football Friday, Week Apple Cup

November 24, 2007

Happy Football Friday, post Thanksgiving Style. Don’t know about you all, but Brinkhater feels an awful lot like the coach of Kansas after yesterday’s spread.

Time to fire up the fat pants:

As for our Cougars, well, if this was the traditional Apple Cup week (you know, the one that happens the week BEFORE Thanksgiving), you could automatically mail this one in as a big fat, stinkin’ loss. Instead, this team has spent the week together with no student distractions or without the normal ability to “get away” from this failure of a program. Instead, they’ve all been fed a long week of serious introspection (plus, they’ve shared Thanksgiving and all that other stuff).

Plus, you have to think that with all of the rumors about Doba’s departure as well as the senior class’ overwhelming failure to get to a bowl game, that this group is really circling the wagons.

To add to all that, you have a Westside press that is doing their utmost to convince the world that the Puppies are something other than 4-7. Honestly, you would think that this group was 8-3 or better based on the press coverage.

So, the tables are turned and you have a Husky team with all of the expectations and a Cougar team that is all-but forgotten. Usually, when the talent gap is not that wide (as in the case this year), the underdog pounces on the opportunity.

Moreover, as Brinkhater has noted here and elsewhere on the W-W-W, the Huskies are the one Pac-10 team other than UCLA that little Alex has a lot of confidence against. You have to think that with both receivers ready to go + Collins that he is poised to have a big day.

But what this game comes down to is three simple, simple points. And they are thus:

1) Can the offensive line help establish a BIT of a running game, AND can they protect Alex Brink for his swan song performance? For the past few years, our O-Line has been VERY poor against the Dawgs. At the same time, the Dawgs’ D line has played WAY above their heads in this game. This trench battle will be particularly huge.

2) Can Jake establish a deep passing game? Our game plan this week will be to pressure Jake while trying to keep the game in front..If Jake can strike over the top early, this game could get ugly. But, when he can’t, the Dawgs become predictable. Watch the deep pass early in this game.
3) Can the Cougs make a couple of Big Plays? As we’ve noted all season long, this team moves the football, but somehow struggles to score points. A couple of big plays early may help this group finish drives in a way that has eluded this group all season.

The prediction: All week long I’ve been going with the same Brinkhater, soothsayer instincts that have guided me to an amazing 11-0 season. Despite how much I hate the puppies, I keep seeing a quick 14-0 Husky lead turn into a classic 34-17 drubbing. I really can’t imagine a different outcome on so many different levels.

But, in the end, I can’t hide my Crimson colors. My gut says that the defense will find a way to keep it close and Alex and company will come up with a deciding play late.

Cougs win 25-23 in a who-cares Apple Cup classic (but fellas, do yourselves a favor, PLEASE jump up and down on that purple W once again, it may be a lllllllloooonggg time before we win against the Dawgs again!).

Elsewhere:

Oregon 31 UCLA 17. UCLA has no firepower, Oregon’s D will be mad, and the world will see that Brady Leaf plays okay when he’s in a different set. Sets up a nice loss to the Beavs next week.

Notre Dame 31 Stanford 17. Charlie Weiss shows that the Pac-10 is the worst major conference next to the Big 10.

Kansas 31 Mizzou 30…Kansas secures a spot in the National Championship game no matter what.

Enjoy the games.