Archive for April, 2008

Youth Movement Kicks Off for M’s

April 30, 2008

The Brad Wilkerson Era in Seattle has come to a sad conclusion. “Wilky” as he was dubbed by adoring teammates has been handed his walking papers. I’m really going to miss that sub-.200 average with no pop or range in right field.

In all seriousness, too bad it didn’t work out. It was a nice idea if he could have hit and played defense, but from opening day he looked like a broken-down horse on his last legs. Sort of like an NFL running back who loses a few steps, when the skills start to go on a power-hitter, they go quick.

But don’t fret M’s fans. The baby M’s are on the way! The M’s have recalled not only Wladimir Baltentien from Tacoma, but they have ALSO called up the top catching prospect in baseball right now in Jeff Clement. KJR speculates that at least Balentien will be in the lineup tonight and is basically your new right fielder. Also, Clement is now in the mix for backing up Johjima at catcher, while getting the majority of his hacks from the DH spot. Jose “Turbo” Vidro likely becomes an $8.5 million dollar pinch-hitter for the rest of the way. Given that Turbo has a vesting option on his deal for next season if he gets a certain number of plate appearances, this should be the beginning of the end for the ground ball specialist (which isn’t a good thing to be when you are a hitter!).

Clement is a hell of a hitter and is simply on fire right now. He was hitting .397 and an onbase-plus-slugging percentage of 1.200+. That’s pretty remarkable. His walk-to-strikeout ratio is almost 2-to-1. He’s part of that great 2005 draft class with Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Braun, Jeff Zimmerman, Troy Tulowitzki, and Clay Bucholtz among others. He’s done everything he can in the minors and is a perfect fit with his left-handed stick in Safeco. M’s scout Roger Hansen said the other day that he could very well be better than Jason Varitek. The kid is ready.

Balentien has shown tremendous progress in the last year and change. He has always had fantastic power, but the strike-zone judgment was an ongoing issue. Something changed last year though, and ever since the 2007 season he’s been a different, more mature hitter. The P-I had a nice piece on him today, so give it a look.

The M’s also DFA’d Greg Norton, which is a little unusual. I guess he was the cheapest, non-guaranteed guy to dump, which is probably why the corpse of Miguel Cairo and his guaranteed MLB deal is still on this team. At least Norton had some punch from the left side and hit 17 HR’s last year. Too bad. But Greg Norton off the bench isn’t going to save this team. They desperately need hitting, and they are going to give it a go with their two top hitters that both look ready to go. The M’s starting pitching has been simply fantastic this year, in the top 3 in the bigs in terms or starters’ ERA. You can’t continue to waste such good efforts on the mound with a few runs here or there. It should be an interesting month of May!

Moving on, another day, another good read on Gary Rogers, this time in the Everett Herald. The pride of Kamiak is finally getting his chance. The more I read and hear about Rogers, the more I think we are all going to be walking around next fall muttering “IF ONLY he had more eligibility…..”

Finally, Cougfan has a decent take on the WSU hoops revenue. The revenue almost doubled for the ’07-’08 season, up to $950K. Nice. But per the article, we have quite a ways to go. Hard to believe that it costs $9,000 at Arizona as the entry-level donation for just the right to buy season tickets, yet at WSU it’s a measly $75. WOW. Arizona hoops is a big deal in Tucson, but supply and demand makes you think a bump in our hoops ticket prices is on the way. Given the quality of the product of late, it would be hard to argue against it.

Happy Humpday!

Program Reboot Might Take a While….

April 29, 2008

We’ve been saying it since the day Wulff was hired and the initial articles appeared. Wulff went out of his way on more than one occasion to mention the current culture of the team, and how he believes some things need to change. Now that he’s had a full spring practice session under his belt, spent time with the players on and off the field, what does he see? In a quote-heavy article with the Evergreen, Wulff opened up on where we are, and where we’d like to be.

When asked about the off-the-field issues of late, Wulff was candid:

“There’s improvement, but we’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We still have players that don’t fully understand the responsibility you have of being a college student-athlete, and that it’s different than being a college student. They need to be held to a higher standard – whether they like it or not they’re going to be – so they might as well accept it. There’s a lot of success so far, we’re just not where our culture’s gonna be yet. We’re working on that.”

Culture is a hard thing to peg. It’s not as easy as just being introduced at a press conference with a WSU hat on and the WSU banner and glowing quotes from all parts of the state. It’s much, much more than that. It’s the changes in the way things have been done, from the smallest detail to the actual football game itself, that Wulff and company are trying to correct.

I don’t want to throw Doba under the bus here. He did a great service to the school when Mike Price cashed his lottery ticket. He won 10 games his first year, including the Holiday Bowl which rates as one of the biggest wins in school history on his way to co-Pac-10 coach of the year honors. He got his kids ready to go in three out of four Apple Cups, something we will always be thankful for. He suffered a terrible tragedy with his wife that no man should have to go through, no matter the stage in his life or the situation. He was a class act at every step of the way.

But given the poor academics that are starting to show with the loss of scholarships, and the constant things we hear about the general surprise Wulff has felt in regards to the changes that need to be made in regards to depth and culture, well, it’s time to say it – Doba was over his head. It’s sad, it’s unfortunate, it’s generally too bad, but it’s hard to argue with the results.

We’ve heard the rumors just like you, about what things were like towards the end of Doba’s reign. The lack of organization, attention to detail, the attrition, the failure on the recruiting front on so many levels. Then you have the fake punts, the Brink/Swogger QB mess, etc. We don’t need to fully rehash everything. But maybe the biggest problem with Doba was the lack of the CEO mentality, because, well, it’s not in his DNA. You can’t become something you aren’t after doing something a certain way your entire life. The old dog-new trick isn’t just some stupid saying that has been around forever without having some substance to it. Doba was an NCAA assistant from 1977 through the 2002 season. To expect him to suddenly become this great head coach after carrying someone else’s clubs for over 25 years was just too much.

What the program needed was a no-doubter. You know, the guy who has someone carry his bags all the time? The guy who sits in the front seat, and the rest pile into the back of the van? When there is absolutely NO DOUBT who is in charge? The guy who has an ego, who has wanted to be in charge? Look around at the other successful programs in the conference right now, you’ll know what I mean. Dennis Erickson is a coaching nomad who is always looking for the next best thing. He’s got a reputation of things being fast and loose and his players reflect that. But when he walks into the room, he’s in charge. Period. There’s no uncertainty about who the head coach is and what the goals are. He’s a prick when he needs to be, a guy who can make big decisions without having each assistant chime in.

Look at Pete Carroll. He’s nicknamed High School Harry for a reason. They have a great time down there, but he’s also got the ability to reel everyone in when it’s time to get some work done. How that guy keeps all that 5-star talent focused in Hollywood every week is just remarkable. There was an amazing stat about Lawrence Jackson, the new Seahawk draftee who was a 4-year starter at USC. He won 46 games in his 4 seasons. 46 WINS!?!? I didn’t even know they played 46 GAMES in 4 years, let alone bag 46 victories. And to win that many in one of the best conferences around?? Amazing. We pat ourselves on the back for having three straight 10 win seasons from 01-03, but that is merely a flea on the shoulder to the mighty Trojans. And down in LA, there is, again, zero doubt who is in charge.

You can say the same thing about Mike Bellotti at Oregon, or Mike Riley at Oregon State. Think there is any doubt that Jeff Tedford is in charge at Cal? Neu-weasel might generally be a phony, dishonest, full-of-it clown, but things are very clear down in the land of powder blue as to who’s the captain of that ship.

So, the bottom line to this rant? The article opens some eyes to one big thing. This blanket term of “culture” is thrown around a lot, but changing culture is more than just placing someone as the head coach or painting the walls a different color. It’s so much more than that. And I am thrilled to hear these things already from Paul Wulff. He hasn’t even been in charge for 6 months and there is already a strong emphasis on changing the way things are done at WSU. No beating around the bush or hiding from the truth. And to that, there is NO DOUBT who is in charge! We have a head coach who knows the drill, and it’s in his DNA to be a head coach. But with that, we have to give it some time, have some patience. Understand that this isn’t going to simply turn over in the blink of an eye, but it will happen.

Happy Tuesday!

Trouble Finds Roof, Again

April 28, 2008

Say it ain’t so Andy! Yep, apparently the anger demons have once again taken down Andy Roof. Per the Evergreen, Roof assaulted THREE MEN outside a house party on Saturday night, where one was left unconscious. Yikes. I guess those 28 days in rehab didn’t do the trick. I think we all would be pretty shocked if he puts on a WSU uniform again. You don’t want to kick a kid when he’s down, but man, Andy, you need some help. Good luck to you.

One more piece of bad news. Looks like Doba left a “phantom” on his way out the door to the lake place. While the WSU athletic department overall is doing well in the classroom, graduating 92 % of players who exhaust their eligibility which is good for second only to Stanford in the conference, well, the football program failed to come through. As a result of poor academics, the football program will lose six scholarships, down to 79 from the standard 85. This isn’t good news for any football program in America, but for WSU, where depth is always an issue, this is not a happy deal. At least Wulff wasn’t surprised by this:

“When I got the job we knew we were going to take a hit this upcoming year,” Wulff said. “We have to go in with a mindset that this next year we’re going to play with 79 instead of 85.”

Sigh. We’ve heard all along that Wulff has been taken aback by the rebuilding job in front of him, and that was mainly due to depth on the field. But it’s clear there is heavy lifting ahead off the field as well. Just remember Cougar Nation, if/when we hit some rough spots over the next few seasons, think about the condition of the program when it was handed off before you complain about what you see on the field. This thing is going to take a while to get it into the shape Wulff needs it in order to be successful. Let’s give it some time.

Finally, some good news – Brink’s draft revisited. Even though Houston recently released QB Craig Nall, the Texans will still have five QB’s on the roster, including Brink. Given that teams usually have two QB’s active on gameday, plus a third emergency QB, that leaves Brink at the back of the line. But stranger things have happened. And given that he’s now an official draftee, he’s going to get a shot. Gary Kubiak comes from a west coast offense background, so not having a Bledsoe-like arm might be OK for the Texans. Again, good luck Alex.

But the news is good for our draft hopefuls as well, as many are finding free-agent homes. As many have already heard, Michael Bumpus is a Seahawk signee. Who knows, given the Deion Branch injury, there may be a real shot at making the roster. He’ll have to fight for table scraps with UW WR Anthony Russo, who also signed.

At least Bump can learn from Bobby Engram, who is a pretty good role model in terms of playing the slot and how to get open. And the west coast offense might be a great fit for a guy like Bump, a system designed for the intermediate passing game and doesn’t require a bunch of burners running 4.3 40’s every play. I know it’s a stretch, but if Bumpus has any hope at the next level, that’s a system that could work and a guy in Engram that he could emulate pretty well.

But others have signed, including Husain Abdullah in Minnesota, Jed Collins in Philly, and even Charles Dillon ended up in Indianapolis. The odds are long for each, but again, undrafted free agents make it every year for one reason or another. Anything can happen.


April 27, 2008

With the 16th pick of the 7th round of the NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select……

Nice goin’ kid. Regardless of all the poison over the years, you did it. So you aren’t perfect, but who is? Who knows, maybe an NFL QB coach can improve those mechanics, and suddenly you can hit that 15-yard out with enough velocity.

Thanks again for the 10,000+ yards and three Apple Cup victories. We are all proud of you at WSU Football Blog (well, almost all of us are!) and now go make the club. Hey, even if it’s just the practice squad or whatever, at least you could collect an NFL paycheck. The dream can continue.

For WSU purposes, that’s now 14 straight years we’ve had a player drafted. What an NFL FACTORY! 🙂

Abdullah, Collins Our Best NFL Hope

April 25, 2008

What’s up with Tim Tebow and buxom young women?? Every time you turn around there’s something new. It is what it is. He’ll probably have a good day tomorrow and he’s not even eligible for the draft. Tim Tebow, we continue to salute you.

Anyway, happy Friday. Hopefully tomorrow is happy for Husain Abdullah and Jed Collins, our two best hopes for playing on Sundays.

As Brinhater “opined” yesterday (much to the chagrin of few of you), Alex is looking at 7th round/undrafted free agency. Brink has been getting some good vibes from various teams, and is hopeful for the call this weekend. But no, I’m not going to pile on. Too much has been said about Brink over the years, some of it completely not his fault. Enough. And I will always counter the anti-Brink rhetoric with “yeah, but those Apple Cups…” and in Forrest Gump style, that’s all I have to say about that. UW has struggled, to be kind, over the last 3-4 years. But still, those games were pretty important at the time. In other words, I’ll TAKE IT. And so will Brink.

Now for some WSU draft history. Our last ten drafts are actually OK. Not great, but not the end of the world (although you can see it from here). Check it out:

WR Jason Hill, 3rd round, #76 overall – San Francisco
SS Eric Frampton, 5th round, #165 overall – Oakland

RB Jerome Harrison, 5th round, #145 overall – Cleveland

CB Karl Paymah, 3rd round, #76 overall – Denver
OT Calvin Armstrong, 6th round, #211 overall – Philly
DB Hamza Abdullah, 7th round, #231 overall – Tampa Bay

WR Devard Darling, 3rd round, #82 overall – Baltimore
CB Jason David, 4th round, #125 overall – Indy
SS Erik Coleman, 5th round, #143 overall – NY Jets

CB Marcus Trufant, 1st round, #11 overall – Seattle
DT Rien Long, 4th round, #126 overall – Tennessee

LB Raonall Smith, 2nd round, #38 overall – Minnesota
FS Lamont Thompson, 2nd round, #41 overall – Cincinnati

WR Milton Wynn, 4th round, #116 overall – St. Louis

DT Rob Meier, 7th round, #241 overall – Jacksonville

CB Dee Moronkola, 7th round, #242 overall – Jacksonville

QB Ryan Leaf, 1st round, #2 overall – San Diego
DT Leon Bender, 2nd round, #31 overall – Oakland
DE Dorian Boose, 2nd round, #56 overall – NY Jets
C Jason McEndoo, 7th round, #197 overall – Seattle

Some WSU draft tidbits: For the last thirteen drafts overall, we’ve had at least one player selected. Even the King of Poop Island years produced at least one guy the NFL wanted bad enough to spend a draft choice on. Nothing wrong with that! That said, in the last 10 drafts, we’ve had a total of 20 players selected. That’s “good” for MRS. LAST in the Pac-10. 10 out of 10. OUCH. However, maybe our recent draft history bodes well for Husain Abdullah. 7 of the last 13 WSU draft picks have been DB’s. And since 1998, 13 out of our 20 total draft picks have been defensive players.

Anyway, here’s the takes on our top two kids, Abdullah and Collins. Note – Abdullah and Collins are the two best prospects we have. Bumpus, Ropati and Brink are all projected as undrafted free-agents, at best, so we won’t go into detail there. Click on their names if you want the NFL poop on them :

Husain Abdullah: 6-0, 204, 4.67-40 time. Grades out at 3.28 in SI’s grading system. That basically means a late-rounder/practice squad/special teams fence-sitter.

BIOGRAPHY: Three-year starter who posted career-high totals of 84/4/5 as a senior after 66/3/4 the previous year.

POSITIVES: Athletic defensive back with marginal ball skills. Diagnoses the action, flashes the ability to play sideline-to-sideline, and has a nice first move to the ball. Aggressively defends the run and puts his shoulders into ball-carriers. Displays a sense of timing, quickly closes to the action, and displays good hands for the pick.

NEGATIVES: Wastes a lot of motion, not efficient, and must learn to play within himself. Average footwork and skill moving in reverse.

ANALYSIS: Abdullah is a competitive safety who’s best suited for a zone system where the action is in front of him.

PROJECTION: Early Seventh Round

WSU Football Blog Says: Interesting how much ink Abdullah has picked up this week. Vince at mentioned it early, how there was very little out there, then suddenly there were a few different stories in different NFL markets that popped up. Could it be teams are suddenly interested in him more than the experts thought? Maybe his agent is pumping their guy this week? Whatever the case, he’s on the radar. I think we’ll see him go on Sunday, but I think he is definitely going to be drafted. Could be a decent special teams guy early. He needs to get stronger though. Anyone remember that TD against Idaho, where the Idaho WR literally ripped the ball right out of Abdullah’s hands in the end zone? An average WR from Idaho shouldn’t be able to rip the ball out of Abdullah’s hands for a TD. He had a heck of a year though and with our recent track record of putting DB’s in the NFL, he’s got a shot.

Jed Collins: 6-1 1/2, 255, 4.85-40 time. SI grade of 3.25. Late rounder/practice squad/special teams guy.

BIOGRAPHY: All-Conference selection as a senior when he became a full-time starter and posted career-high numbers of 52/512/3.

POSITIVES: Sure-handed pass-catching tight end with an improving game. Quickly gets into routes, nicely adjusts to the errant throw, and uses his frame to shield away opponents. Gives effort blocking, stays with assignments, and works hard to produce.

NEGATIVES: Mostly a short-yardage pass-catcher and lacks the speed to break free downfield. Lacks footwork in pass protection, bends at the waist, and possesses marginal playing strength.

ANALYSIS: Collins did a terrific job in his first season as a starter and he could find a spot in the NFL as a backup.

PROJECTION: Late Seventh Round

WSU Football Blog Says: Moxie, moxie, and more moxie. Jed is full of it. He’s not a top-shelf NFL talent in terms of measurables, but there are teams out there that value character, intelligence, and team-first guys in a big way. Collins can catch the ball, he can block, and he’s played well in a pass-happy offense. I will always remember him from the Oregon game and UCLA game in ’06, and also the UCLA game in ’07. The ’06 games for his receiving, but the ’07 game for his blocking. We had an outstanding game running the ball on UCLA’s D in ’07, and Collins was basically an H-back for the entire game, motioning across the line and becoming the lead blocker on counters or sweeps. Then he would motion across and then at the snap reverse his direction and block on inside dive plays. I could see a team like New England or Seattle, organizations that value character, taking a shot with Collins. Go get ’em Jedzilla!

Hey, what do you know, VIDEO of Collins!

Finally, what would a day be without an update on the best soap opera going? Another day, more damaging e-mails. Even the national media is in on it now, with ESPN’s latest headline “Newly revealed e-mails could cause headaches for Sonics owner”. And now, Clay’s favorite human being, David Stern, might be deposed, under oath??

Momentum is on the Seattle side of the ledger and you have to wonder how much longer Bennett and the rest will want to deal with this hornet’s nest. Because, uh, it’s only going to get worse from here on out. The city and Howard’s attorney are going to keep piling on. Ultimately you have to wonder when enough is enough and Bennett’s group pulls the plug.

Keep on Running

April 24, 2008

Just keep goin’ baby…

Just keep runnin’, runnin’, runnin’, runnin’, and runnin’ til you’re WAY out of town.

Honestly, Cougar Nation, I have never looked more forward to an NFL draft in me entire life.

I mean, I am simply BEYOND flabbergasted that the Big Apple is anywhere near someone’s draft board. It simply is beyond me. WWWWWWWAAAAAYYYYY beyond me.

I thought long and hard about a wager that I could make with the Cougar faithful about Alex getting drafted, but couldn’t come up with anything.

That said, I am more than open to a friendly wager about his prospects of being on an opening day roster. So, if you have any good ideas, go ahead and post-away. I’m ready and willing to put up a weekend of manlove with Stl_Glenn for anyone who beats me.

So, here’s my prediction for any of you “takers” out there: NONE. There is NO CHANCE King Klipboard has of making a roster. NONE.

In terms of our other brethren, I give Bumpus the All-Arena endorsement. Enjoy your career in Albany, Bump. After that, I think that Bump may have a broadcasting career. He’s a good looking kid and despite his academic struggles, he seems to be a real articulate kid. Get your masters, Bump!

Meanwhile, Byrd has a good chance at being all world at eating Brats at tailgate parties, but not much more. I think the move to guard hurt him a lot last year.

But, I really like the chance of Abdullah and Jedzilla making a team. I like A’s prospect as a nickel guy as well as a special teams player. And I think that Jedzilla has special teams and/or practice team written all over him. He may not be fast enough for combine drills, but his game speed is solid and his hands and blocking make him a legit threat to make a roster. I really like that kid and actually like him to land in Miami as a Free Agent (did someone say that Brinkhater has sources? Hmmmmmm)

The big question, of course, is what players the “big purple” may land in the pros. Pretty amazing, but they are looking at the real chance of having a goose egg year in the draft.

Imagine that: The Huskies with NO ONE in the pros? Man, has big brother gotten fat or what?

Also: stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for a weekly segment to be called the “Brinkhater Diaries.” I am modeling it after Larry King’s columns in USA today. Just a bunch of rambling without the burden of having to complete any sentences (I call it Ditka-eeze)…..

Like Hooty promised earlier last fall, I plan on drinking somewhat heavily before each post…we’ll see if you all can tell any difference between that work and the other schumlch I’ve dealt over the last four years…

Until then…

Howard’s End Game More Than We Thought?

April 23, 2008

So Howard Schultz’s lawsuit news a little over a week ago was met with the usual rhetoric of this is just a PR stunt. I even spoke to a family member who knows Schultz personally over the weekend, and he said among many things that if he ever does file it, it’s only a publicity stunt to try to win back a region that has, for lack of better words, HATES HIS GUTS for “selling out”.

Well, breaking news tonight has Schultz filing the lawsuit. And guess what? It’s got some real teeth. Not just little candy-corn sized baby teeth either. We’re talking “WOW” teeth. Think John Elway.

Somehow, Schultz and his lawyer, Richard “I’m going to DESTROY YOU” Yarmuth, has unearthed some pretty damaging e-mails. One floated thus far has an exchange from Clay to his boys, saying two days BEFORE the sale was announced, that they could simply buy the team and then do a “sweet flip” all the way to OKC when the arena fails! Whoops. Um, yeah, you see, that’s not EXACTLY good faith. Schultz has already given some information for the suit under oath that this thing was a fraudulent deal from day one, and the interesting part of all is that Schultz isn’t even claiming that he wants back in to NBA ownership! In reality, Schultz and his legal team are asking that the Bennett group simply be removed as owners, and they get their money back. Then, the team is turned over to an independent party, which would then seek out LOCAL ownership in Seattle (Ballmer…Steve Ballmer).

But hey, what the heck do I know? Don’t take my word for it. Check out what a legal analyst at had to say about it in a very quick, yet informative, read that will outline exactly why Schultz could have Bennett on the run in a major way. Maybe the best part of the ESPN piece has that they at least believe that this is very, very serious for Bennett and the words “historic” were mentioned. And that most of all, you haven’t seen Schultz giving a press conference/talk show tour on this thing. In fact Schultz and his attorney refused to comment for ESPN. If it’s a PR move, you make the rounds. If it isn’t, you keep your mouth shut and let the suit do the talking.

Just keep piling it on. Back this scumbag and the NBA into a corner and see what they offer. This is knee-buckling stuff here. The NBA and Bennett in particular are going to have absolutely no choice but to offer the ultimate sweetheart deal to make this go away. They cannot allow Bennett and his morons to testify under oath.

I think it was Conan the Barbarian who said it best:

Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?
Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.
Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

CRUSH these guys!

Hang in There Mr. Mayor

April 21, 2008

A sad story might be taking a turn for the better about Glenn Johnson, the voice of your Cougars. He was hospitalized on Sunday with stroke-like symptoms and very little was known. Now, however, the news is heading in the right direction. He’s now doing much better per his wife, and the diagnosis sounds as though it was merely a severe blood-pressure spike with some short-term memory loss.

Aside from him improving, here’s the best part from the article:

“Johnson’s wife, Kathy, told the Associated Press his prognosis is good. Johnson’s speech apparently has not been affected.” SWEET!

I can’t wait to hear “and that’s another….Cougar….FIRST DOWN!” And of course…..”HERE….COME……THE COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOGS!” A crisp fall Saturday in Pullman just wouldn’t be the same without the Mayor, so, get well soon, rest up, and we’ll see you in early September.

Did you all see the article and video about the current state of Martin Stadium? This latest phase is really coming together. I really enjoyed the first phase last fall, as I know many of you felt the same, but this next phase is really doing to make things look different. Mix in the Cub renovation and man, the gameday experience could be a lot different this fall. I’m thrilled with the eye-candy talk, re: scoreboard. $2.5 million, including a new sound system? Very nice. Still no pics of the actual scoreboard, but most of you have seen the powerpoint.

Finally, Cougfan has an article about recruiting in the state of Washington and how the new WSU staff is going to go after it. It’s a premium article so you know the drill, we won’t link to it here. But it goes in line with something I’ve been thinking about and have discussed with my UW brother-in-law for a while now. The bottom line is the state of Washington is a HUGE factor, for our success and UW’s.

Think about this. Go look at the rosters from our glory 01-03 run. Yes, Gesser was a huge part of that, the MVP in school history. But remember the offensive line? Tyler Hunt, Derrick Roche, etc, all in-state guys. How about on the other side of the ball? Acholonu, Jeremy Williams, Marcus Trufant, Rien Long, Erik Coleman, Will Derting, etc. All guys from in-state, all major factors in our best of times.

Now think back to the last few seasons. Who were our better players? Jason Hill, Michael Bumpus, Jerome Harrison? How about Alex Brink or Josh Swogger? All out-of-state guys. Now you do have to add Mkristo Bruce and Scott Davis in there, both in-state guys. But in truth, they were part of the Price era. Bruce was a redshirt in ’02, and Davis was part of the ’03 class but was fully committed to WSU in ’02, when Price recruited him.

It’s as if the struggles of our program didn’t just happen because Price left. We were suddenly losing out on the in-state guys, the gems that were discovered by turning over rocks. It’s as if our tough times of late have coincided when the absolute core of the team came from out of the state. Now, one could argue that Doba did a better job on in-state kids the last few years.

It’s easy to look at our roster right now and realize that Brandon Gibson is our best player and if he stays healthy, he will most likely be a first-day NFL draft pick in ’09. How about Andy Mattingly? He’s got the look of a defensive MVP for ’08. Kenny Alfred is an excellent center and some have pegged him as having an NFL future since his true frosh season. And Gary Rogers, if things keep going in the right direction, in this new offense could simply EXPLODE next year. All four kids, all probably regarded as our best players, all from Washington.

Maybe it makes a lot more sense about how Wulff has talked so strongly about recruiting the state, how important that is. That isn’t just chatter for press releases or message boards. It’s as though he totally “gets it” in how important Washington is to the program. And the best part for that effort is how well regarded Wulff is among high school coaches in Washington. Remember, the press release when Wulff was hired had quotes from an in-state high school football coach. His reputation while recruiting for EWU is outstanding, and clearly an asset for the future of this program. It might not happen overnight, but it WILL happen with Wulff! Just have some patience and enjoy the steps in the rebuilding effort.

Bad Day for Seattle…or is it?

April 18, 2008

So David Stern helped his glutenous, disgusting, lying friend out and he has the NBA approval to take his team home. No surprise. And the state leaders are ripping the decision, from the mayor to the governor to the US senators, to Oklahoma City.

Hang on a second. Oklahoma City? Didn’t they just WIN the NBA, in one way or another? Well, be careful what you wish for. As Deadspin reported yesterday, Clay Bennett is an equal opportunity A-HOLE, including to his own homies:

“Rep. Charlie Joyner, R-Midwest City, who also voted against the bill, said he received an e-mail from Bennett that said the team might not come to Oklahoma City unless the House passes the tax incentive. “I just don’t think this thing has been handled right. That’s kind of holding legislators hostage,” Joyner said.”

He’s quite a guy, that Bennett. The definition of crap with feet. Simultaneously trying to screw two cities at the same time? That’s pretty unbelievable. Be careful what you wish for, Okies, because you are getting ALL Clay-Clay, 24/7.

I know, this thing isn’t over obviously. The courts will have the final say, and the mayor and others sound pretty determined to fight like hell. But overall, I guess I’m just sad with today’s news. Why? Well, the NBA has said Seattle is no longer good enough to be in the club. That just kind of hurts more than anything else. What’s also sad is that the NBA owners are simply looking out for their own asses. For some strange reason, I hoped they would come to their senses and realize how dumb this is, and either delay the vote or pipe-dream city, turn down the request. At least Paul Allen and Mark Cuban didn’t follow along like the rest of the sheep. But they voted for this because they want to have the ability to move themselves if/WHEN things get even worse in their own situations. They don’t care about how great a city Seattle really is for the NBA. The media market, the gateway to Asia, the wealth and high level of education, the 41 years of NBA history, they just don’t care. They only want the threat to play hardball with their own politicians. Having the Sonics leave Seattle does more to help their own cause.

We’ll see what happens. But let’s not kid ourselves. Everyone and everything has a price. If the right number is floated to the mayor, who knows? A dollar figure that would pay off the remaining Key debt and ease the pain of a tenant bailing out might be pretty hard to turn down. They do have leverage here, and Bennett and the league are going to be chomping at the bit to get a settlement that allows them to leave. If that settlement includes a promise of an expansion team and helps pay for the cost to redo the Key? That would be hard to ignore.

But bottom line, if the league is this stupid and arrogant, willing to bail on a city like this? Willing to inflict this much damage on the ticket-buying fans? Good riddance. If the relationship has to end, there might not be a better time to pull the plug! The NBA has some serious issues right now, with teams losing money, the league is still haunted by the Pistons-Pacers brawl, an NBA ref was possibly fixing games, on and on it goes. And we still have a lot to care about around here in the fantasy world of sports. The Cougs are our Cougs, on the hardwood and the football field, and we have a lot to feel good about in the coming years with Wulff and Bennett. The Seahawks and M’s are thriving franchises with excellent ownership and great stadiums. We’ll live without the NBA.

Cougs Land Casto

April 17, 2008

I guess the sweet call of Big-Time Georgetown just wasn’t sweet enough. There was some speculation that this could happen yesterday, but today is a new day. Vince at has broken the story this afternoon that Washington 4-A State Player of the Year DeAngelo Casto is headed for Pullman!

Now, he still has to become eligible. Casto says things are cool and he’s on target to be able to join the team next year, but stay tuned there.

If you haven’t seen him, Casto is a wonderfully talented 6-8 power forward who has really evolved. His offensive game needs some improvement, but he’s got all the tools you look for at a young age. Regarded as a tremendous leaper, he’s also known for a soft touch around the perimeter. He’s got a very strong frame, and you can see that once he gets into an NCAA lifting program, he could really pack on the muscle. He’s a nice addition to next year’s team and who knows, perhaps he’ll break through and see some court time as a true frosh?

The exciting thing about Casto is how well he performed when the lights were the brightest over the last couple of seasons. He averaged a double-double the last two years combined, but just in hte state tourney alone this year, he averaged nearly 19 points per game on a deep, talented championship team. Casto also set a tournament record with 25 blocked shots in four games, including a dominating EIGHT in the title game!

I think this basically solidifies this year’s recruiting class as the greatest in school history, at least in regards to pre-season hype. Marcus Capers, James Watson, Klay Thompson, Michael Harthun, Nick Witherill, and now DeAngelo Casto makes this a class that we could be talking about for a long, long time. Nice “get” Tony, and welcome to the family DeAngelo!