Archive for the ‘Jim Sterk’ Category

Is Fat the Way to NCAA Glory?

July 2, 2009


Greetings Coug Nation! Hope you are all set to enjoy a nice holiday weekend while we celebrate the birth of this great nation.

I am lifting this from Colin Cowherd’s ESPN radio show, but he made a point today that bears some thought. If you haven’t heard, they released the list of the fattest states in the country. Have you seen the list?


It’s striking for one big thing – since 2006, nine of the “top” ten obese states are in the south. Mississippi is in the lead, with Alabama closing in. In other words, red states = fat states.

Why does this even matter? Well, think about the SEC for a moment. What are they known for? Speed, for one thing. They have tremendous speed, especially on defense, throughout the SEC. But the bigger thing they have over most other conferences in America? SIZE. The SEC’s linemen on offense and especially defense are huge, among the biggest in the country. And compared to the PAC-10? It’s an eye-opener. Just check out the average size of some of these starting SEC d-lines:

LSU: 281.75 pounds
Florida: 286.25 pounds
Alabama: 287 pounds
Ole Miss: 287.5 pounds

Now, check out some of the average size of some of the PAC-10’s starting d-lines:

USC: 282.5 pounds
Cal: 292.75 pounds

Hang on a second. USC and Cal are actually BIGGER than the touted SEC powerhouses? It’s true. But, they are also the exception to the rule. USC is on another level obviously. They are an NFL pipeline, and produce NFL-ready defensive linemen from all over the country. And they own the state of California, where the biggest, best of the best usually go to Troy. And Cal has changed to a 3-4 exclusively, and that calls for bigger defensive linemen (particularly defensive ends). They also have a wide recruiting net right now, so the numbers are going to be bigger for their starting d-line.

But where you start to see the separation are with the rest of the conference, especially where they play a 4-3 defense…and ESPECIALLY in the northwest! Check out these d-lines:

Oregon: 260.50 pounds
Oregon State: 264.75 pounds
Washington: 277.75 pounds (note – this includes 348-pound defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu. The rest of the starting linemen are under 270).
Finally, WSU: 271 pounds.

Now, of course, the defensive lines don’t play against each other. It’s not like Oregon’s D-line has to face off against Florida’s D-line. And some of these schools feature speed-over-brawn. Remember WSU’s top defenses this decade had converted outside linebackers as defensive end, like Isaac Brown and DD Acholonu. Both those guys were barely 230, and that’s half the starting d-line.

But it is interesting to see the differences, where the SEC lines are approaching an average of 290 pounds, while the NW schools are between 260 and 275 or so.

Think it’s any coincidence that the heaviest regions produce the heaviest players? Where fit states like Washington and Oregon (both tied for 28th in the country in obesity) have some of the smaller defensive linemen? What’s also amazing is to think about the size of Mississippi and compare it to Oregon. Oregon produces only a handful of D-1 prospects every year, while Mississippi might produce 30 in any given year. Both states have about the same population (roughly 3.5 million people). Yet Mississippi is the fattest state in the country. There is no comparison. It’s a huge difference (literally).

It makes you wonder if there is any hope, nationally, for the NW schools. Do they have to try and dip into regions where they normally don’t, hoping to get some of the 300-pounders and try to compete? Or do they do what Wulff has tried recently, getting the 250-lb kids with great frames, and then try and add the “right” thirty, forty, even fifty pounds over time? I guess when you are recruiting kids from your base who are going to be on the smaller side, yet you want to compete, you pretty much have to search for those desirable frames that can see added weight without destroying the player’s mobility and speed!

The thing to watch around here will be when LSU comes to Seattle to open the season vs. UW. Football players usually lose some weight as the season wears on, but out of the chute, even after training camp, the lines should be at their heaviest.


Just watch the game or even catch the highlights from that opener, and use the ‘ol eyeball test. LSU will come at you in waves of near-300-pounders up front, and over the course of four quarters, that size difference can wear teams down.

Finally, they are making news in the athletic department again.


Yep, ticket sales and donations are down. Yep, we’re poor. Yep, the economy sucks. Yep, we need to get the stadium renovation done. Rinse. Repeat. Per the article:

Fiscal year 2009 came to an end Tuesday, and the WSU Athletic Foundation forecasts a $1.5 million drop in donations from last year’s record total of $8.26 million. Final numbers have yet to be calculated.

Donors dropped from 6,200 to 5,500 in one year. WSU already had the fewest athletic donors and donation dollars in the Pacific-10 Conference.

We’ve heard it before, and we’ll keep hearing this message until things change. I hope we can do our part around here, but so far, we still don’t have anything to announce (I know, I know).

That’s it for today. Enjoy it, enjoy your weekend, and as always..GO COUGS!


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Soft Schedule = Hope for ’09?

April 30, 2009


Wolverine opens this weekend. Early reviews? Eh. Sounds as though it’s just OK. Maybe the lone Wolverine angle can’t quite carry an entire movie? But a little something for the ladies, I’m sure there are plenty of shots of HUUUUUUUGGGEEE Jackman without his shirt on. And the X-men geeks can, well, get their GEEK on. So enjoy, as the summer blockbuster season is now officially upon us!

Meanwhile, looking at the WSU football schedule for this year, one thing hit me like a 2×4 across the face. Is it me, or does it NOT look all that difficult? Now the PAC-10 slate is it’s usual toughness, in the round-robin approach that is now the norm. In-conference road games at USC, Oregon and Cal won’t be a walk in the park. And for what it’s worth, the great Ted Miller weighed in on the craziness of the round-robin scheduling of the PAC-10.

But getting back to the schedule for a second. I know in recent seasons, we’ve had what was regarded as a difficult schedule, at least according to Phil Steele. Last year, not so bad, but still rated as the 28th most difficult schedule of 2008 (*out of 120 teams). But 2007 was entirely more difficult, coming in as the 3rd toughest in the country. So, I thought I would see what old Phil had to say about the 2009 schedules, etc. And guess what? He’s already got something up on ’09, including a breakdown of toughest to weakest schedules for the upcoming season.

And the hunch was absolutely correct – WSU is rated as having the 96th most “difficult” schedule based on win percentages from last year! Replacing Okie State with 1-11 SMU might have something to do with it….but still, when you are coming off 2-11 yourself, having a strength of schedule rating in the 90’s doesn’t sound too bad.

Side note – the school that hates us right now with the hotness of a thousand suns (UW)? They were rated as having the most difficult schedule in the country in both 2007 and 2008. But 2009? 84th most difficult. What’s weird is that includes having LSU to open their season. But they also added Idaho, so, there you go. But whatever.

In that same rivalry mode, Jerry Brewer of the Times tries to pour gasoline on the hate-fest. But it didn’t really go anywhere.

“I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s no animosity between me and Jim,” Woodward said Wednesday, adding that the two will probably have fun with this controversy during the Pac-10 Conference meetings in Phoenix next week. “I think the world of Jim.”

And our own favorite, Jim Moore, tried the same approach, to try and instigate things. This time, both sides were a little more blunt, with Woodward sticking to his “they should have told their alums to zip it” view, while Sterk saying it was just insane for an AD to criticize a school President:

“It was so unbelievable, the statement,” Sterk said. “It’s one thing to say something about a coach or an AD, but to make a statement about a president really crosses the line.

“In the higher-education world, the president is held in high esteem. Us ADs, no one gives a rip about us … I’m joking, but (ripping a) president is in a completely different category. You don’t do that.”

Maybe they can stick them both in a jar, shake it up a little bit, see if they will fight!


But you know what? It makes for good copy, but I’m over it already. Just move on. But one can imagine their handshake when they see each other next week, that Jim Sterk just might give the grip a little extra squeeze?

That’s about it for a slow Thursday. Still hoping for some news on the Martin Stadium fundraiser in the next day or so. ENJOY YOUR THURSDAY, and GO COUGS!

Sterk Stays Above it All, Plus Other Stuff

April 29, 2009


So we all saw the comments from Scott Woodward, UW AD, over their failure in Olympia to secure taxpayer dollars towards their $300 million dollar renovation. For a refresher, Woodward said he held out “remote hope” that something could be done, but knew they were up against it.

“How do you lay off teachers and cut back on programs and then build a stadium?” Woodward said Monday in commenting publicly on the bill’s failure for the first time. “That was the psychological disconnect that a lot of people had a hard time getting around and I understand that wholeheartedly.”

Fair enough. The guy understood that times are tight, and politically this was going to be an extremely hard sell. But he didn’t stop there. When asked about the loud, mouthy WSU alums who had the audacity to actually speak out against UW’s request of using taxpayer funds towards their massive renovation? “It was just an irritant, that’s the best way to put it.”

I’m sure it was irritating. Irritating, as would any individual or group when they complain to the legislature that they oh, I don’t know, might want to second-guess handing over dollars for what would become a single-purpose facility, hosting six or seven events a year? But it’s understandable that Woodward would be irritated. I was irritated, and I’m a WSU guy!

But then, something happened. Instead of taking the high road and ending it there, Woodward lashed out at Jim Sterk and Elson Floyd. “The most disappointing thing about it is that [WSU president] Elson Floyd and [WSU athletic director] Jim Sterk didn’t do anything to try to contain that little group of Cougars that were out there doing that. It was a shame that they didn’t show leadership or courage to curtail something like that.”

Whoa.

Think Jim Sterk took this lying down? He didn’t. Per Grippi yesterday evening, Sterk responded to the call-out:

“It was so inappropriate that I laughed, basically,” Sterk said Tuesday. “I could not believe those comments were coming from him. One, to me as athletic director but then, two, to the president of the university.”

Does it even need to be said?? IT IS SO ON! But there was more, much more.

Washington State made a decision to not get involved in light of the financial stresses on a state legislature dealing with a $9-billion deficit.

“WSU felt it was not appropriate for the institution, for us to ask for any stadium support during this legislative session,” Sterk said. “The legislature and the governor, they were already facing all the significant challenges of the economic crisis. So that’s why we didn’t take a position.

“When the economy improves and if the legislature and the governor change their minds on stadium funding, as long as it’s fair to both institutions, WSU would join UW in the discussions.”

There’s more in the article, so we highly encourage you all to check it out.

Obviously this is a WSU blog. So can you guess what our reaction would be to all this?? But even taking the view from 10,000 feet, it’s clear. Sterk was right all along, and he’s right again here. It was always in WSU’s best interests to stay out of the way on this one. The university was right in the idea of watching how this whole thing plays out, and then, act accordingly. If UW gets access to the treasure trove of tax dollars, well, you can bet Elson Floyd and Jim Sterk will be running up the steps in Olympia, plans in hand, ready to ask for help. Until then, things will proceed as normal, with private donations as the backbone of our renovation.

Sterk’s comments were direct, to the point, and most importantly, STILL ABOVE THE FRAY. He clearly had a chance to return some nasty fire over the Cascades, yet chose to do what he’s done all along. He responded, yet still refused to get in the mud. And you know what happens when you mud wrestle with a pig? You both get dirty, and the pig is happy. It just isn’t worth it. BRAVO JIM STERK!

Moving on, hey, remember the photo contest? Well, we’re down to the LAST COUPLE OF DAYS OF VOTING. We’re up to around 300 votes right now, and it’s pretty tight…

“Mama Sledge”, the mother of rising Coug linebacker Mike Ledgerwood, has a slight lead over “Devard Daaaughling”. But “Bone the Dawgs” is lurking, just a few votes back. Polls close at 11:59 PM tomorrow, April 30th. Check out the link for the finalists, and keep voting. Good luck!

Lost in all the fray over stadiums, dollars, etc, was Grippi’s STRONG spring wrap-up for WSU football. Grippi looks at each position, and weighs in with his “Player to Watch”, “Unanswered Question”, “Time to Step Up”, and “What the coordinator said”. It’s a really good wrap on a spring that, let’s face it, didn’t go according to plan. Not when there were so many freakin’ injuries. I guess the good news is that it doesn’t appear that any of the nicks and cuts suffered by so many players weren’t of the season-ending variety. At least in April, it looks like most of the guys who were out will be ready to go by August. But we’ll see about that.

The most encouraging thing is that, according to Chris Ball in Grippi’s article, the culture is starting to take. Proof of that could be the big change in so many players’ weights, showing that the hard work in the weight room and at the training table was starting to mesh:

“We’ve instilled our culture,” defensive co-coordinator and associate head coach Chris Ball said. “With instilling our culture, the kids understand what to expect out of practice. When we come out here and coach, we’re coaching ball, not coaching how to run on-and-off the field. They’re doing that stuff.”

Sounds like light-years from last year, where they were so far behind they were teaching players how to get into a proper three-point stance?? And as Grippi has said on a few occasions while freezing his behind off for many practices….the team is, in fact, more physical, something we never heard last season. Physical in football is VERY, VERY GOOD! But they still have a full fall camp to survive. August is going to be hot and intense. Let’s hope they save some in the tank for Stanford in early September, and beyond??

Finally, we are hopeful the fund-raising idea can get finalized in the next couple of days. We will have an update for you, of some kind, probably on Friday. Until then, enjoy your Wednesday, and GO COUGS!

Are Coug Fans Sinking Sonics 2.0?

April 23, 2009

So late yesterday, there was some news on the controversial bill, SB6116. One of the bill’s sponsors, senator Ed Murray, declared to the Seattle Times that “the bill is dead”. The bill is a wide-reaching piece of legislation designed to allow King County to allocate some existing tax money when it becomes available in the near future, for a renovation of Key Arena, affordable low-income housing, the arts…..and POSSIBLY Husky Stadium. We say possibly, because, well, the bill doesn’t actually say “and Husky Stadium”. Instead the bill talks about maintenance for other sports “stadiums” in the county. Obviously Husky Stadium would fall into that category, but so does Safeco Field and Qwest Field, two venues that are terrific today, but will also need some work in the years ahead.

But to break it all down, the bill gives King County the ability to decide for themselves if they should funnel some of the tax money to Husky Stadium. If anyone remembers the pain of the M’s and Seahawks stadium issues, and how the King County council nearly blew both of those situations, you have to wonder if UW would ever see the money. Or at the very least, it’s possible that the County, in total and complete COVER YOUR BEHIND mode, would simply push it to a public vote (much as we saw with the M’s and Seahawks). They don’t want the ill will from the anti-everything crowd by authorizing tax money for a college stadium in an economy like this.

Anyway, all that out of the way, the bottom line is that the bill looked promising, but now has hit a road block. Why? According to Brian Robinson at Save Our Sonics, they are lining up to blame YOU, Coug fans. Check it out:

This thing passed rules because they had the votes. It got put to the floor waiting for a vote that had already happened behind closed doors like they always do. The straw count had shown that it would pass so they allowed it to be put to vote.

Suddenly we had the worst case scenario. A split caused when eastern district republicans started to feel some pushback from WSU alumni. It wasn’t really that much, but enough to start getting questions asked. When questions got asked people started to wonder “is this worth it?” The momentum that had built stalled.

Then Ed Murray sent his message that it was dead to (Jim) Brunner. To put it really simply he was willing to carry the weight, but he didn’t want to carry it uphill. He said to Brunner clearly “it is dead.”

Let me be clear on one thing – I love the work of Brian Robinson. Nobody has done more for the cause to return the NBA to Seattle than this guy. He’s the one who has taken the whole effort on his back, rallied the fans, and tried to do everything he can to point out what a fraud the OKC owners were at the time they were playing their get out of town game. But to then shift gears and try to put the proper pressure on the state to get this thing done is very admirable. And I don’t believe he hates the WSU fan. But it sure seems like some of the blame game is starting. And when Cougfan goes out of their way to fight this thing, well, we are the easy targets. Don’t say you weren’t warned IF this thing doesn’t come to fruition.

THAT SAID, even after yesterday, it’s really, truly NOT DEAD YET. As Tim Ceis of Seattle said last night, it is still alive, and won’t be dead until the entire legislative session shuts down. And even then, it’s not truly dead. The settlement with Clay Bennett says that in order for Seattle to receive another $30 million, the city must have approval for funding by 12/31/2009. I’m no expert (CLEARLY), but it is always possible something could happen, like a special session or something, before the end of the year?

Moving on, WSU Nation is still dealing with our own shocker yesterday in that less-than-uplifting chat with Jim Sterk. If you didn’t see it, please do yourself a favor and check it out here. Lots of things to be concerned about, but basically a sledgehammer reminder about where we are in the PAC, where we need to go, and most of all, why we are moving the Apple Cup to Qwest. It’s the money honey, pure and simple. We don’t have much, and we need more if we want to even attempt to level the playing field.

The issue of getting booted from the PAC-10 has many layers. But as one person told me late last night, the thing the conference is looking at with our situation is the gate, season ticket sales, and donations. It’s no secret that we are behind the rest of the PAC, but, to see it stated by Jim Sterk himself that we are $14 million in budget…behind the NUMBER NINE team in the conference? That’s a lot of ground to make up. And in no uncertain terms, Jim Sterk and the rest at WSU were told several years ago to get going on that stadium expansion to keep their standing in the conference. And if it didn’t come together? Well, there COULD be another vote.

It’s not like teams get booted from BCS conferences all the time. If anything, the conferences have gone the other way, where they have grown or expanded (BIG 10, BIG 12, SEC, ACC all in the last 10 or so years have changed). But it’s not like teams NEVER get kicked out of said BCS conferences. Some quick searching last night found one recent team booted from a BCS conference, in Temple from the Big East.


The reasons for their ouster were many, according to ESPN:

“The Owls were kicked out of the Big East after 13 years for failing to meet minimum requirements for membership, most notably in attendance, facilities and fielding a competitive team.

The Owls were overmatched in the Big East and haven’t had a winning record since going 7-4 under Jerry Berndt in 1990. They went 2-9 last season and are 19-60 in seven seasons under coach Bobby Wallace.

Big East teams decided in 2001 that it was no longer worth the automatic win to keep Temple around. The conference gave the Owls a shove out of the nest and told them to look elsewhere.

Even when the Big East was fighting high-profile defections, they never gave Temple another look.”

GULP.

Suddenly the Qwest Field Apple Cup for six years doesn’t sound so awful, does it? What I hope here is that Sterk is giving us the full picture. I HOPE this isn’t an empty threat to spur donations. When you are trying to recruit high-quality student athletes to your university, and you have your AD going on a chat to say that we are on shaky ground to even stay in the conference? Doesn’t exactly help the cause, does it? But for him to go public with this, when everyone is paying attention? It’s probably a very real possibility that unless we get our act together, the PAC-10 will give it a serious look.

That’s about it for a downer of a Thursday. ENJOY IT, and as always, GO COUGS.

Negative for Fans, No Big Deal for Team?

April 17, 2009


Ouch.

So here we are. Reaction pours in from all corners of the state. Is it safe to say that the majority view on the idea of moving the Apple Cup to Qwest is a really bad idea? A lot of comments, here and everywhere, more or less back that up. Today’s article from Bud Withers shows that even true purple-blooded Husky fans don’t like it. Mike Lude, the former AD?

“If I were still the athletic director,” said the man who once was AD at Washington, “they’d have to do it over my dead body.

“It would be a tragedy.”

I have to say I would think the UW fan base wouldn’t be quite so hating on this. The game is just a few miles south of their campus, they don’t have to travel to “the armpit of Eastern WA” in late November, as someone put it yesterday in comments, etc. And the finances, forget about it. To trade in a miserable trip to Pullman where they only take home a few hundred thousand, to now play in Qwest Field for upwards of $2 million? WHERE DO WE SIGN?? I thought there were many reasons that this is a major benefit to the purple-n-gold, but maybe not.

But, what did the powers-that-be expect the overwhelming response was going to be? We love it? I mean honestly, we are COLLEGE FOOTBALL FANS. College athletics are some of the most emotional athletic competitions on the planet. The NFL is intense, sure, and the NBA playoffs at least can get pretty hot. But there is more of a sense of “ownership” by students, alumni and just fans, at least in a lot of regions throughout this country, in NCAA athletics. There isn’t a Steinbrenner or Nintendo in the ownership box. We believe (right or wrong) that WE are part owners of this thing. That WE are right there with them, doing the heavy lifting and carrying the torch for our respective institutions. We are the ticket buying public, we write checks for the athletic department, we buy the apparel, and most of all, WE are the butts in the seats!

So to rip the game out of the heart of both campuses to make some extra money? It’s a little naive to think that the initial wave of fan reaction was going to be positive.

However it also must be said – not everyone hates this in the blogosphere. The lads at Cougcenter? They like it, to the point they sound like they are endorsing it. And after reading some of their arguments for the game, they do raise some decent points. They might be in the minority today, but they appear to be on the bandwagon.


Moving on, Grippi bellies up with his offering on the WSU reaction. The players don’t sound real upset by it. But coach Wulff kind of goes around and around with it, but doesn’t exactly hate it. In fact he likes the idea of a guaranteed bye with moving the game to after Thanksgiving in a twelve game schedule. But most of all, don’t forget he’s in the administration. He is all too aware of the bottom-line challenges that we are facing in the coming days.

In the same article, Grippi notes how Pullman isn’t skipping down main street over this one.

In a more concrete development, the Pullman Chamber of Commerce sent an open letter to WSU athletic director Jim Sterk, stating the group was “astounded at the idea of moving the Apple Cup game to Seattle for the next 6 years,” and urging Sterk take into account “the broader economic and psychological impacts of moving this game out of town.”

The letter, signed by chamber president Tom Handy and executive director Tammy Lewis, cited Apple Cup economic impacts that, according to those surveyed, are for some, “double or triple the revenues they reap from a regular home game weekend.”

NOT IN LOVE WITH THIS. Not. One. Bit. And can you blame them? Punting double or triple the revenues they get compared to a regular game pretty much sucks for said college town. And let’s face it, they don’t (or won’t) come from all corners of the state to watch New Mexico or SMU in Pullman, will they?

I talked to a good friend in Spokane last night, who is part of a key demographic of WSU eastern WA alums. A season-ticket holder for several years, in his late-30’s, married with young children, a homeowner, and some disposable income living in Spokane. You know what his reaction was? Disgust. And if he was forced to buy a ticket for that game as part of his season ticket package, how fast can he get his tickets on Craigslist, Ebay, Stub-Hub or anything else for that matter?? To him, it is a sellout move by the administration and a big chunk of the season-ticket base in Spokane is feeling awfully betrayed by this.

In a down economy, we are all making tough choices with our discretionary income. Will something like this lead to some sort of backlash? Time will tell. While the financial carrot is awfully large in this, man, I would tread lightly when dealing with the biggest contingent of your fanbase – the eastern WA alums.

We’ll see what happens in the coming days. It sounds like it could be announced soon, as in early next week.

That’s it. ENJOY YOUR FRIDAY, and GO COUGS!

So That Happened…

June 22, 2008

Well, what can you say? The Times story has broken, and it’s not pretty. Top-fold, front-page Seattle Times story about the struggles of your football program isn’t a good Sunday. Granted we’re at a point in time today that newspapers are in big trouble, and bad news sells papers (if it bleeds, it leads, etc). And I don’t care what anyone says, this story is to help placate some cranky UW’ers when their program was dragged through the mud for the scathing ’00 Rose Bowl champions run afoul of the law.

But I have to admit it…..I thought this would be worse. Yes, like all of you, I’m disappointed by what appears to be a program with kids making far too many mistakes in the Bill Doba era. Yes, Doba himself admits that they really blew it after the Holiday Bowl, getting “too big for our britches” or something along those lines. And Bill Doba looked the other way, ran too loose of a ship, etc. But was much of any of this stuff actually new “news”?

Now, obviously DUI’s are no laughing matter. Drive hammered, get nailed. DUI’s are big mistakes that kill a lot of people every year, and the penalties for such things should be severe, no matter the individual or the circumstances. And I was surprised about Mattingly drilling another kid with a frying pan (WTF?). That was a little weird. Then again, one of his friends had his teeth knocked out. Not to totally defend the action, but Mattingly was doing what a lot of kids that age do, which was to seek retribution for his friend. Stupid? Yes. Does it happen? All the time.

But all that said, was there anything that blew you away? Maybe all the bad news this offseason has made us numb to everything? No cover-ups by Whitman county prosecutors. No grades being changed by crooked administrators or coaches. No murder, rape, or weapons possessions. No plasma TV’s, $50,000 loans, illegal gifts to players, illegal recruiting practices or anything else that happens at a lot of other schools.

That said, the article is, overall, an embarrassment. It’s something that the coaches are going to have to address on the recruiting trail when Mom and Pops ask what was that all about. Wulff has said it since day one, that there is a real culture change needed on a variety of levels. He wasn’t kidding was he??

The thing I didn’t like most of all was what Courtney Williams had to say:

“WSU is a hard school to go to, man,” Williams says. “You ain’t got nothin’ to do but get drunk and smoke weed, and not go to class because you’re too tired from doing what you’re doing.”

Ouch.

And Leon Burtnett basically laid it out that we are the little brother in-state, never once in his time at WSU getting a player over UW. We have the built-in disadvantages, we have the small market, small stadium, blah blah blah. But again, nothing that we haven’t heard before, right?

But yet, you have to consider the individual as well. Aren’t people, even young men, at least accountable for their actions? Do angels come to WSU and suddenly transform into drunken, weed-smoking thugs looking to fight? Of course not. Is there something to the idea that there can be some slow times in Pullman, especially if you are from an inner-city situation and used to the bright lights? Absolutely. As the old saying goes, “idle hands do the devil’s work”. In other words, boys with little supervision and extra time on their hands can be a less-than-ideal situation! But the individual needs to figure that out and do the right thing, and the majority of them have figured out how to do just that.

But on that theme, Hooty weighed in on what was coming, and it is a perspective of reality:

‘Thankfully Andy Roof “only” broke that guy’s face. We can still fall back on the “at least our football players haven’t killed anyone” argument.

Rubbing alcohol mixed into contact solution? Is that really much worse than peeing in someone’s half-filled pitcher under the table at the Coug? We’re probably ALL guilty of that, right? Are you with me? Guys? Jen?

Fights on Greek Row are certainly no cause for alarm. I’d probably worry if there WEREN’T a scrape or two every now and then. I myself was once sucker-punched by Calvin Griggs. It’s part of life on a college campus.

Here’s the thing…

Every position in football (with a couple obvious exceptions) REQUIRES that in addition to physical skill, players have the ability to turn to a source of rage to get them through the battles of the game. Chris Spielman used to line up and look across the line, imagining the guys on the other side raping his wife and hurting his family. He said at times he’d have tears in his eyes when the ball was snapped. Is that healthy? No, but it’s what allowed him to play with rage.

One could make the argument without making too much of a stretch, that it’s unreasonable to expect an individual to completely harness that rage and limit it to the football field. It’s not a far cry from training a soldier to kill; send him off to war to do what he was trained to do; and then have him come home and immediately blend right back into life as we know it. It doesn’t make sense.

Before anyone throws a college-aged football player under the bus and passes judgment on him, they should first try and understand what it takes to actually play the game of football at this level; and then think back to when they were in college and all the stupid shit they did and got away with, because they weren’t subject to the scrutiny of the media.

What did the Times accomplish with their series on UW? Nothing. Water under the bridge as far as I’m concerned. It all happened at a different time, under different leadership. As far as the program was concerned, they had moved on. The only thing shocking about that story was the preferrential treatment some of those guys received from the judicial system. THAT’S your real story.

Just like UW, we too have moved on, so take your best shot while you have the chance. “

Finally, it’s not all bad. It only seems that way from the article. It was very lightly touched on, but for example, the team currently has a GPA of 2.72, highest in 30 years. Alex Brink was a model student and claims that the support systems are in place, but in the end the individual needs to be accountable for their own actions. They already cut ties to a kid that was looking like a potential problem in Calvin Schmidtke. And coach Wulff has already created a new approach, implementing something called the “Unity Council”, consisting of 16 players that will sit in judgment against players who make mistakes. They will recommend punishment from missing classes and meetings to more serious criminal charges.

More than anything else, Wulff has a personal stake in all this. Not only is he the head coach at a place he’s always wanted to be, but as a former player and student, this is HIS school, HIS team. I think Jim Sterk said it best in his e-mail:

“Although the attitude and behavior of our football student-athletes is not in a crisis situation, there is room for improvement,” WSU athletic director Jim Sterk said in an e-mail last week to boosters to brace them for today’s story. “While there are no quick fixes, the program is heading in the right direction.”

We should certainly acknowledge the mistakes, and not downplay them. They happened. But the focus should be on what happens today and tomorrow. At least now the stuff is out in the open and the coaches and administrators can talk about the things that are going right. But this is hardly a program that is out of control. And for that matter, don’t fully dwell on what went wrong yesterday. Today is all you can control anyway.

WSU Football Blog Exclusive: Kaddy Reports From the Columbia River Dinner

June 10, 2008

A HUGE hat-tip to our own Kaddy, who had the privilege of attending the Friday night Columbia River Cougar Club dinner. Among the attendees were both head coaches, Paul Wulff and rockstar-Tony Bennett. Read on for the full deal (great job Kaddy!):

The Columbia River Cougar Club dinner & auction has a history of being the single biggest annual fundraiser for WSU Athletics, and this year was no different. I had the privilege of attending this event for the third straight year, and it might have been the best one so far. Last year, the highlight of the evening came during the live auction, when honorary guest Drew Bledsoe was auctioned off to the higher bidder as a gold partner the following day. When his price tag reaced $6000, I didn’t think anything could top that this year. Well, I was wrong.

This year, someone in the crowd paid $9,000 to golf with Bennett the next day. (That someone happens to be the same person that donated the $2.4 million scoreboard to Martin Stadium, and the same someone that financed the entire construction of our indoor practice facility.)

As you might have guessed, this year’s highlight quickly turned into the Tony Bennett show, as he got the party started with a few comments to the crowd. The questions came up surrounding his decision to stay at WSU, naturally. Tony said he felt obligated to interview with LSU, since his wife was from there, but he had zero interest. He also told President Floyd that he wanted to stay at WSU, but ONLY if Jim Sterk was still there – more on that later. He even ended his time on stage with the punchline of a joke aimed squarely at Ty Willingham! This really warmed up the crowd for Paul Wulff, who spoke next. Wulff started out explaining how the APR system worked, and how the end-result is a little misleading. He pointedly stated that it was by no means a death sentence, and that he and his staff have already addressed it and moved on. You can tell how far CPW has come…he was very comfortable in front of the crowd. He brought all the coaches to the event, and lined them up on stage – Bruiser is still the shortest, but coach Todd Sturdy isn’t much taller.

As usual, I got caught up in the Cougar love fest, and went home the proud owner of some nice Cougar memorabilia, including (but not limited to) a football helmet, an autographed Bledsoe jersey, and yes, a much lighter checkbook.

A note of interest: KJR’s Ian Furness, the MC for the evening, went through a Q&A session with Jim Sterk on stage, and it quickly became apparent that Sterk is now a hot commodity amongst the Athletic Director community. Furness asked him straight up if he planned to stick around Pullman, since it was clear that he had suitors after him, and Sterk said he wasn’t going anywhere. I personally believe that we have one of the best AD’s around.

The Cougar Celebrity Classic was the next day, with somewhat crummy weather. I golfed with one of the Grad Assistants who works with the linebackers. He said that Cory Evans helps with all the other linebackers with their assignments….he’s a really sharp kid. Stripling is the first substitute, and while he doesn’t know many of the plays, he’s such a great playmaker that he always seems to find the ball.

There were a couple of updated photos of the stadium remodel – the north side in particular (I don’t believe you can see these anywhere else??):

(Editor note – let me just say, BEAUTIFUL renderings. That north side of the stadium is going to be something we can be proud of. I wish the interior shot would have included the new scoreboard rendering, but man, when this little stadium renovation is done, we are going to have a very cool, intimate, on-campus gameday experience that will be nothing but an asset to the university!)

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the organizer of the event, Todd Thrasher, who did a wonderful job. He was hung over as hell the next day at the golf course, but managed to keep a smile on his face in between trips to the can!

Last but not least, a picture of our table guests with the most handsome coach our wives have ever seen (note the positioning of the female guests in regards to coach handsome?).


Great job Kaddy!

Tuesday Linkage

June 3, 2008

Non-Oregon related post, so, Duck fans, no need to read this….Just some Tuesday random things of interest in Coug-ville.

  • The NCAA preview mags are hitting the stands. Lindy’s hit last week, and now Athlon’s has made it. If you are scoring at home, Lindy’s has us at 10th, while Athlon’s sees us at 9th. I guess it isn’t a real surprise, given the questions of depth and losing guys like Brink, Bumpus, Collins, etc. I still like EA Sports and the Armed Forces Bowl prediction, but we’ll get into that later this summer.

  • Athlon’s and Lindy’s both slurpin’ up some Tebow. Athlon’s has him as the top Heisman contender and we’re likely to see him repeat. (I don’t know why I’m pointing that out, other than we love to see who or what is hanging around the rock star.)
  • The “mystery” kicker has been revealed! Cougfan broke the story yesterday, but finally, the JC kicker Wulff has been talking about since shortly after signing day is a known commodity. Nico Grasu, a 6-1, 190 lb kicker from the class of ’07, has enrolled at WSU and will be ready for fall camp. Wulff mentioned a few times at the Seattle football dinner that this mystery kicker has a strong leg, particularly great on kickoffs (hello!). What a welcome thought, a kicker who can actually get the ball into the endzone? Cougfan’s story is a premium one, but I found this profile of him on as site called “Chris Sailer Kicking”. Check out the link, it’s a quick read and you get the idea that he’s well-regarded for kickoffs. Maybe, just MAYBE, the days of the squib are over!?!
  • The Evergreen has a commentary about how we need “Sheriff Wulff” to clean up the football team. Nothing earth-shattering, but a good view from campus on the heavy lifting ahead for coach Wulff. We’ve already said it a thousand times since December, but this is going to be a tough climb to change this thing and get it pointed in the right direction. Hopefully we’ve seen the bottom, but it could get worse. Just be patient, that’s all.
  • AD Jim Sterk talked to Cougfan and sounded optimistic about the stadium renovations. Major fundraising is about to start for Phase III, and it could break ground in January ’09, that is if the luxury seating sales go as planned. So far, so good. Our own “Kaddy” mentioned a rumor making the rounds that there could finally be a naming rights deal coming together, but we haven’t heard anything substantial on that. Stay tuned.
  • Non-Coug related – the Sonics story is picking up steam. Less than 2 weeks now until the trial, and the P-I ran an article about how ugly things could get if it makes it to court. Save Our Sonics founder Brian Robinson hinted last week that there are rumblings that the NBA is starting to push hard for an agreeable settlement for all sides, and the bottom line sounds like the court case could result in some black eyes and bloody noses for all involved. I’ve swung both ways on this thing, part of me saying let’s drag these liars into court and make them sweat, force them to stay and make them eat at least $30 million in losses over the next two years. You know, pound of flesh, scorched earth, the whole thing. But then I see the hype surrounding Lakers-Celtics, and I remember back to how great the NBA can be when you are actually good. I think about the power players involved in this court case, and I believe that at the end of the day, somehow a settlement will be reached to guarantee the NBA in one form or another in Seattle.
  • Finally, coach Tony had a lot to say about Pullman and how it’s the place for him. Cougfan has a story about him, and he talked at length about a variety of things, including the schedule, Pullman, the incoming recruiting class, etc. Jim Moore had a big story on him last week as well. Both articles were sounding awfully good.


    I told Brinkhater that I heard a radio interview with Tony last week on KRKO-1380, and he really and truly sounded happy and content to be in Pullman. It’s not that we’ve totally doubted him, but I know I’ve at least taken a pessimistic view on how long he’ll stick around. You know, too young, too successful, too handsome, too this, too that to stay at WSU. Well, I will say this – after turning down Indiana, LSU, Marquette and who knows what other programs (Stanford? Cal?), as well as Michigan last year, I’ve crossed over to the believer side of things. Hearing him speak in his own words about the community, the direction of the program, the recruits coming in, I honestly believe now what the other optimists have been saying all along – he really IS happy. And he is going to stay for some time. So, I’m choosing to relax, not follow every ‘net rumor, and just enjoy the time he is actually here. I’m not totally naive, and I know that the day will probably come that he will leave. That will be a heart-breaking day. But I think what would be even worse would be to wake up the morning after he leaves, and ask myself why I didn’t just enjoy the time that he was here instead of wringing my hands on where he might go. I don’t want to feel like that, do you?

    Happy Tuesday!

UPDATE – Kevin Sumlin Interviewed today; So Who’s REALLY on the List?

December 7, 2007

Updated 12/7/07, 2:30 PM – As reported by the Spokesman, Oklahoma assistant Kevin Sumlin has interviewed today for the job. So the ball is officially rolling. John L will get an audience, we know that. But what about Wulff??

At this point, I wouldn’t even doubt that these guys were contacted by Moos. I don’t know if they’d work in Pullman though, but with the writers strike, you never know. I don’t think coach McConaughey would be ok with the “shirts must be worn at all times” rules for a head coach though, so it’s probably a pipe dream. And the other guy, I think he’s still stranded on an island somewhere.

Ok, bad joke. But you get the idea. Who the heck is really on the list? Who’s been contacted? Who’s yet to speak with the team? And why is it that we’re two weeks in and there’s not even an known interview yet? Is Sterk up to his Bennett-like tricks??

First, here are four of the most prominent names that we know of who have admitted to being contacted about the job:

1) Paul Wulff
I don’t know if you caught his interview last night, but give it a listen here if you dare. I’ve heard him talk before in small shots, but this is the longest I’ve heard him. He’s definitely got the passion for the job. He’s confident, yet not overly arrogant and he certainly doesn’t talk in “coach speak” filled with cliche’s, etc. He’s a Coug, there’s no doubt about it, and that could sell really well. He pushes the whole underdog mentality and he totally understands what Pullman is all about. And, no, there will be no coordinator deal while he’s biding his time to be the head guy. In fact, in the interview he admits that WSU has approached him in the past about being an assistant or a coordinator and he turned them down. He is a HEAD COACH, and don’t forget it.

Here’s the thing though. In his interview he says flat-out he’s been contacted, but, still no interview. We’re almost two weeks into this thing and no interview? And he’s just 75 miles up the road? That seems a little odd. Or is it?

First of all, Wulff said publicly that last week he was interested but didn’t want to talk about it as he was getting ready to play a playoff game. So he wouldn’t even be ready to talk until this week. Then, Jim Sterk was in NYC for the first part of this week to attend an awards presentation. So, Sterk has only just got back into the office. There’s literally like 1 or 2 days, tops, that they could even meet. So I really think he’s going to get his shot at this thing, but the timing has to be just right. And, based on what we’ve been told around here, you can lean heavily towards the idea that as far as some people know, he IS very close if not the #1 guy on the list right now.

Here’s a Youtube video by Wulff, asking fans to help raise funds for an EWU football program that is on the rise, but definitely needs money:

2) John L Smith
We’ve joked that John L has set up a campaign headquarters and wants to get this job so bad he can taste it. He’s a former WSU assistant and had a lot of BCS experience, so he does fit the bill to a certain degree about what some people are looking for. But I don’t know. Age is against him, 59 right now and not getting any younger. We already know we’ve been beat up in recruiting circles this year based on age, so do we want to go back there for a guy who is known for kind of “losing it” at Michigan State??

And who could forget “the slap”?

Is that the guy Sterk wants to hire? Hmmm. We do know that it’s likely that Smith will be meeting with Sterk, potentially even today or some time this weekend.

3) DeWayne Walker

He’s got the reputation at UCLA for being an excellent position coach and a fantastic recruiter. He’s young and has a lot of energy, something that is going to be required for this job. He’s African-American, and that’s something that is considered in this. The downside is the UCLA situation itself, and Walker is very much a viable candidate for that job as the head coach. So if we want him, there’s going to be some stiff competition. Plus he’s never been a head coach, and that could be an issue with Sterk.

4) Mike Price
He’s been contacted, admits interest, yet that’s as far as it’s gone. He’s said as recently as Wednesday that WSU is “his school” and he’s interested. But then in the next breath says he’s working on an extension for UTEP? Maybe this is a case of “Mike, we’re going in another direction but we’ll do you a favor. This thing is going to take a while, so, we’ll float your name as someone we’re interested in. You can use that as a hammer in your contract extension talks with UTEP and you can get that one last big extension.” It sounds like a dirty trick, but look around the country. It happens EVERY DAY with college coaches! The latest is Grobe from Wake Forest, who was all but done and was going to take the job at Arkansas yesterday, only to suddenly get a great contract extension! Wouldn’t be the first time – nor the last time – something like that went down. I do think that there’s a shot Price could come back, but from what we hear, it’s not likely.

Now, rumors:

June Jones was floated over the last few days, and in particular last night the rumors started to percolate. KRKO 1380’s Jeff Aaron said on the air that he heard yesterday that Jones is the new hot rumor floating around the WSU athletic department offices. It kind of makes you wonder, is it realistic? Well, as our good friend Kaddy points out, Jones only makes $800K at Hawaii. I believe we could match that, if not exceed it. He’s the king of the world over there, sure, but it is a WAC school and there’s always the lure of BCS competition. He’s from Portland so he does have some NW ties, although nothing directly related to WSU. Still, there are some strange things about Jones. One rumor is that he’s very friendly with the female coeds. Even one rumor had him so friendly with one notable Hawaii volleyball player that she ended up suddenly transfering all the way to Alabama. The talk was that she “with child”. Hmm, screwing the students might not go over well with Jim?!?

There was someone named “Bucky” who floated a Barry Alvarez rumor last week. It sort of makes some sense if you think about the Bennett connection. Retired guy with great success recently is brought in to get the program to another level, maybe even a succession plan behind him. Sterk was in Madison this fall of course, for the opener, so you know their paths have crossed. And I would imagine that if “Dick Bennett is on line 1 Barry” happened on a regular day in Madison, that Barry would pick up the phone. And, Alvarez has been in rumor mills since he retired, so stranger things have happened (like Bennett to WSU??). But Alvarez is a Wisconsin guy, he’s their AD right now so why would he even want to get back into the grind?

Other names floating include Turner Gill, for obvious reasons and rumored to have talked with Sterk already, although no confirmation there. Gill says he isn’t really looking for anything new at this time after striking out with Nebraska. Brady Hoke of Ball State is on the radar, but it might not be a match. In fact, Hoke is showing up in other rumor mills, including Michigan where he was a former assistant. Bob Gregory admitted he got a call about it, but nothing has happened there.

So, that’s where we are. With Sterk’s statement of “no more comments!” in regards to this search, well, rumors are going to fester. Someone is going to go online at a message board or (gasp!) a blog and say, “I’ve heard so-and-so is interested!” This is what happens when there’s no communication. Like it or not, the rumors are only going to get hotter as things roll forward.

Meanwhile, hats of to UW. I’m not kidding either. Have you seen their latest commits??? Fogerson from O’Dea, the kid who ran for 297 and 4 TD’s in the state title game last weekend, finishing with over 2500 yards and 36 TD’s this year (wow!). He actually committed to Ohio State, but now says he’s going to be a Husky? And then the number one fish in the state, Ta’amu of Rainier Beach, now says he’s going to UW? They are looking at a top-15 class in the nation, at least. Not that we were going to compete with these guys on the recruiting trail, and we usually pursue a different kind of kid, but they are flat-out killing right now. Willingham has set up a fence around the state and right now, he’s keeping ’em home. That’s HUGE.

Meanwhile we have 3 commits, and probably half our assistants are working the phones on trying to land a new job when they are still on our payroll. Come on Jim, this thing could turn out to be a total mess if you don’t get moving. Please, MAKE A GREAT HIRE HERE. The heat is on!

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!