Archive for the ‘Ryan Leaf’ Category

Bad News Friday?

May 22, 2009

It seems as if it’s tradition in the business and political world to float “bad news” on Friday. You know, to hope that nobody is paying attention due to the weekend, that sort of thing? Maybe sneak something through that is controversial, but hope that it all fades from the public consciousness by the time Monday rolls around? But some not-so-good things have emerged in the WSU universe in the last few days.

First, Ryan Leaf. It just continues to “get away” from him, doesn’t it? This time, indicted on burglary charges, controlled substances, etc, etc, etc. Not good.

We’ve all heard the knucklehead stories about Leaf, far too many to mention here. We have a friend who played golf with him at Coeur D’ Alene once, and the guy was such an immature baby and he played so poorly that he walked off the course mid-round. There’s another story of him getting completely bombed with Kerry Collins at a celebrity golf tournament several years ago, and not recognizing Johnny Unitas, told him “hey old man, GET ME A BEER!”

But Ryan Leaf is a difficult nut in the WSU universe. It’s difficult because Leaf gave us all something special on the field in that breakthrough ’97 season. If you are reading this, it is very likely you lived and died with that 1997 team, and were either at the Apple Cup in Husky Stadium or made it to Pasadena for the classic vs. Michigan. So much glory that year, and he was a gigantic part of school history.

When the bad news comes in bunches on the guy over the years, while it’s tempting, we don’t want to totally push him in front of the moving train. But at the same time, the guy has redefined the spoiled brat/super privileged who has blown it on every conceivable level that it boggles the mind. How could someone so talented, so lucky to have what he had, just piss it all away? Maybe someday he’ll write a book (OK, he’ll have someone write it for him) and shed some light on where it all went so wrong?

Meanwhile, the Cougs are losing a linebacker. Marshall Pirtz, a young, hard-hitting linebacker who was somewhat behind on the depth chart, is leaving WSU. NOTE – it’s a premium article but the headline states he’s “leaving for more playing time”. Pirtz played on special teams last year in his redshirt frosh season, and recorded just four tackles on the year.

Pirtz signed as an undersized, somewhat overlooked prospect out of Boise. I still remember watching the recruiting film on Pirtz after signing day, and being awfully impressed with the kid. He was undersized, but could run, and flat-out HIT people with a passion. Doba loved him at the football dinner that year, throwing out the “he loves to hit with his face” line when describing him. Pirtz had put on some weight, and was up to 244 lbs in an effort to get ready to play the strongside linebacker position. Coming into spring he was listed as the backup to Andy Mattingly on the depth chart. But for whatever reason, it didn’t quite work out. Good luck to Marshall.

Next, the stadium fund-raiser/scholarship effort. It continues to drag on and we do not have a final answer for you. I will leave it to BH to give a more extensive update, hopefully next week. Not bad news….at least not yet….but it is what it is at this point, which is still not full-blown reality. Believe me when we say we are trying to get it going. But we will update you all when we get it figured out.

Anyone out there been reading Buster Sports? They have been writing a ton of new content on the upcoming PAC-10 season from Nick Daschel. His latest in his EIGHT part, “Five Things to Watch” segment says this about potentially the worst game for the upcoming season:

Here is all you have to know about the Sept. 19 game in Pullman between SMU and Washington State: combined, these two teams beat one Division I school in 2008. And that was an 0-12 Washington, by the Cougars, in double overtime.

It’s awfully easy to look at the ’08 records and dismiss both squads the following year. You know, they sucked last year, they’ll suck again. I think we all believe that WSU is going to be better, maybe not in pure W/L record, but it will be a better product on the field. And I’m sure they believe the same thing at SMU. But whatever. It’s preview season, and it’s an easy choice for U-G-L-Y game of the year.

I guess he could have looked at the huge showdown of 2-win Idaho at winless UW on September 12th? Weren’t those teams a combined 2-22? And WSU did in fact beat UW? Oh well.

Finally, some of you may have noticed it was a slow week around here. Well, that is sort of by design. First of all, it’s May. There isn’t a ton of Coug news out there. Second of all, we have lives too. I wanted to get the next “fish wrap” out there, but things come up. You know how it is. But don’t sweat it, we aren’t going away. At least not for a while.

ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY WEEKEND, and as always, GO COUGS!

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He Ain’t Heavy….

January 21, 2009

He’s my brother.

So UW honks have been extra honkish about the verbal commit of young Desmond Trufant, the three-star special out of Tacoma. Desmond is a 5-11, 170lb senior who is regarded as an excellent all-around athlete and has the proverbial “high ceiling” tag. Extremely thin right now, but if he’s anything like his older brother, he’ll put on just enough weight to maintain his quickness and ball hawking skills.

But as Atlanta Coug pointed out in comments on Monday, what’s up with a Trufant going to UW? After all, big brother Marcus is regarded as one of the greatest WSU defensive backs of all-time, and one of the best in recent Pac-10 history. He was a high first-round draft pick by the Seahawks, has been a starter his entire professional career, has been to a Pro Bowl and has already cashed in, big-time, on the free agent market. And the middle Trufant brother, Isaiah, played for EWU….and Paul Wulff!

Yes, there already has been a younger Trufant who didn’t go to WSU.

Consider Isaiah Trufant, DB, EWU: Middle brother between Marcus and Desmond. Has been heard repeatedly saying “Marcus Marcus Marcus!” when railing against the success of the older Trufant (ok, really bad Brady Bunch joke). Seriously though, Isaiah had a decent Big Sky career. Twice an all-Big Sky pick, he compensated by his lack of size (5-8, 170) by playing hard and fast, regarded as a very high-character kid. Went on to play some arena football, first in Spokane and then signed with the Arizona Rattlers. Of course, Isaiah might have updated his resume with the news that the Arena Football League will shut down in 2009 due to some tough economic times. It’s rough out there.
EDGE: BIG BROTHER

So it seemed like a slam dunk. How could the younger Trufant possibly head to UW?

The reasons why are many, but mainly it’s a point of personal preference. Some want to simply blaze their own trail. If you have ever been a younger sibling in your family, have you always done exactly what your older brother/sister have done? Or did you do your own thing? And Desmond, in his quotes after his commitment, has been quick to point out that he wants to be part of a UW turnaround, and this first class could go a long way towards better days.

And while Desmond claims WSU came after him pretty hard, there is even some speculation out there that WSU wasn’t so enamored with Desmond, and with the number of defensive backs in this recruiting class now at six, they wanted to save the scholarship for another position of need, such as defensive tackle. But personally I don’t buy it. Of those six defensive back verbals, five of them are considered safeties and only one is a true corner. If history is any teacher, we know that some of those safety commits will eventually become linebackers at WSU. Louis Bland was a safety last year, remember? Anyway, at least I believe that if Desmond Trufant wanted to be a Cougar, he would have been a Cougar. He’s not an all-world candidate, but he is a three-star player from Washington, rated as the #74 player at his position in the country. Why would WSU say no to him?

Personally, as a Coug fan I’m a little disappointed. It would be a cool thing to see another Trufant patrolling the WSU secondary. But the reality is not every little brother follows big brother. It happens, but bloodlines don’t guarantee a thing.

But you know what else? In the big picture, from a WSU perspective, this might not be that big of a deal. First of all, how can you lose something that was never yours to begin with? Despite the “blood” ties and all that to WSU and coach Wulff, well, Desmond never really had WSU as his recruiting favorite. And he never did give them a verbal commitment. He never even had an official visit to Pullman. He appears to have been more interested in ASU all along, and then UW swooped in and nabbed him.

And, at least in recent WSU history, little brother has NOT topped big brother. It’s true. So let UW crow about getting young Trufant. If history has anything to do with it, there is absolutely no guarantee that he’ll ever approach his the level of play set by Marcus.

Consider some recent WSU brother combo’s, and how that worked out:

1) The Hanson Brothers

Big Brother: Jason Hanson, kicker, WSU – all-everything kicker who is STILL PLAYING in the NFL, still setting records, showing no signs of slowing down. An extraordinary kicking career in a miserable sweat-sewer city like Detroit, but still, a great career. But his WSU career was just as good – Hanson’s percentage of 57.1 for field goals from 50 yards or greater is both a school and a Pac-10 record. He holds the record for most field goals from 50 yards or more (20), and 40 yards or more (39). His school records include most points scored (328), most games with two or more field goals (20), field goals (63), and PATs(139). In addition to his placekicking duties he also punted, and was named as an All-American in his junior year (thanks Wikipedia).
Little Brother: Travis Hanson, kicker, UW – Played from 1990-1993 and was solid, but never considered spectacular. Certainly never approached his brother’s level. He made 35 career field goals, a little more than half of Jason’s total. But Travis was the kicker on that great ’91 UW team, so, he does have some hardware on a team level that Jason never received. Quick word of advice – DON’T GOOGLE for an image of Travis Hanson. Apparently there is another Travis Hanson out there that I don’t think many of you would like to see. Well, OK, maybe SOME of you would like to see it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But just a word of warning. Anyway, EDGE – BIG BROTHER.

2) The Bledsoe Brothers
Big Brother: Drew Bledsoe, QB, WSU
– Does it really need to be rehashed? One of the greatest players in school history, regardless of position, Bledsoe’s junior year was one of the best ever at WSU. In 28 career starts he established WSU records in single-game passing yards (476), single-season pass completions (241), and at the time, single-season passing yards (3,246). Bledsoe was named Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year as a junior and was the number-one draft pick in the NFL in 1993. A long, storied professional career who made his mark on the NFL passing record book, going to four Pro Bowls, including the youngest Pro Bowl starter ever at age 22, and twice was named All-Pro, the highest NFL honor one can achieve outside of being named MVP of the league. He even started in the Super Bowl. When Bledsoe retired in April 2007, he left fifth in NFL history in pass attempts (6,717) and completions (3,839), seventh in passing yards (44,611), and 13th in touchdown passes (251). Just a fantastic NFL career.
Little brother: Adam Bledsoe, QB, Colorado: He was once a well-hyped QB recruit out of Walla Walla. A big kid with a strong arm, Boulder was teaming with excitement when Bledsoe decided to be a Buffalo…..but I think they are STILL waiting for him to make a play. Young Bledsoe never really did anything in his time at Colorado, a career backup QB who ultimately transferred to Western Oregon in the summer of 2000, his senior year. EDGE – BIG BROTHER.

3) The Leaf Brothers
Ryan Leaf, QB, WSU
– Like Bledsoe, a WSU legend. Unlike Bledsoe, an NFL disaster. A disaster so bad that they are still in production of the Ryan Leaf story…..

But I digress. People just need to take one look at 1997 to realize what a special QB Ryan Leaf was at the collegiate level. He averaged 330 yards per game and threw a then-Pac-10-record 33 TD passes that season. WSU’s offense had school records in the following categories:

64 TD’s
483 points
Almost 6,000 yards of total offense (5922) in 12 games
Average of 493 yards of O per game.

Leaf threw for 3968 yards that year and was responsible for 40 TD’s either passing or rushing, also school records. They were an offensive machine, riding Leaf’s arm all the way to a 10-win season, a Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl bid vs. Michigan. We know how that game worked out, and like a golfer looking for a ball hopelessly lost in knee-deep rough, WSU Nation is STILL out there looking for two more seconds….but hey, when you get invited to NYC for the Heisman presentation and you finish 3rd in the voting behind Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning, you are pretty damn special.
Little brother: Brady Leaf, QB, Oregon – There was major disappointment in the Palouse when Brady went Green-n-Gold. I count myself among many who questioned the decision, and watched with hope that he would come to Pullman. Wouldn’t it be great to get Leaf’s little brother? Wouldn’t it be cool to watch him grow and evolve running the SAME OFFENSE his big brother ran at WSU!? The hype alone of having another big, strong-armed QB with the last name of Leaf running the show at WSU could sell a few season tickets, couldn’t it? Well, Brady wasn’t exactly Ryan, and has now hung up the helmet after a rather undistinguished career at Oregon. Now Brady did have some bright spots, but he was pretty up-and-down. And he largely played in Dennis Dixon’s shadow. Once Chip Kelly showed up with his spread read-option offense for Leaf’s senior year, he was the epitome of fish-out-of-water. But what’s weird is how good Brady Leaf did against WSU. In two career games against the Cougs, Leaf went 28-for-44 for 361 yards and three TD’s, including a furious second half comeback in 2006 that fell short.

I have to admit…..I STILL wonder how Brady Leaf would have worked in Pullman. Maybe Brady beats out Alex Brink? There is very little doubt that Leaf had the skill-set to excel in a one-back, spread-em-out passing offense. Maybe he is the one little brother who got away. Oh well. EDGE: BIG BROTHER.

So there you have it. At least in the WSU universe, the older brother has topped the little brother, and by a pretty wide margin. Who knows what happens with Desmond Trufant. But as a WSU fan, you can probably chill a little bit knowing that he will be in purple-n-gold.

Speaking of purple-n-gold, there are some UW examples here as well. Damon Huard was better than Brock Huard, and clearly better than Luke Huard, who kicked around North Carolina before giving it up. Marques Tuiasosopo is an all-timer at UW, but what about the other Tui’s who came after him? Not even close. I’m sure there are others, but we really don’t CARE, do we??

ENJOY YOUR WEDNESDAY, and GO COUGS!

The Gess is Best; What Up With Those Beavs?

December 30, 2007

I guess it was a little predictible, but the first-ever WSU Football Blog poll question has selected Jason Gesser as the runaway winner for “Best WSU QB Ever”. More than size or stats, Gesser just plain won. And who can ever forget his guts vs. UCLA in 2002? That performance still resonates today, and will always be with Coug fans everywhere.

Gesser finished with 61 out of 140 individual votes, or 43% of all votes cast. Bledsoe took 2nd with 39 votes, or 27%, followed by Leaf, who finished with 30 votes or 21%. Also interesting…but not really….was Brink finishing way back, with 10 votes, tied with the Throwin’ Samoan.

I guess the voting shows one huge thing – wins, well, win votes. Statistically, Brink is the all-time leader in passing yards and TD’s at WSU, and even won 3 Apple Cups, but he never tasted post-season play. That is the end-result of all this. But maybe it’s not fair for Brink. Maybe some time needs to pass before it’s even much of a debate. He did what he could with limited tools, and was absolutely great in his Apple Cup performances, so he’ll always rate as one of the best. But clearly he’ll never be looked upon as THE best, and no matter if it’s 140 or 140,000 votes, he’ll likely never break the Gesser-Bledsoe-Leaf ratings.

Predictably, this is a slow time right now for the football program. The holidays, the dead period in recruiting, and of course, no bowl game. But there is a little recruiting news. Cougfan has a story about Andrei Lintz, a 2-star TE prospect out of Bellingham. He holds an offer from WSU and has the Cougs as his leader. The usual NW schools are in the mix, but he hasn’t been offered from UW, Oregon or OSU. He’s a big, versatile kid at 6-4, 227, playing both ways and even punted in 2005.

The Sporting News has a story about the 1997 Rose Bowl breakthrough (it should be on the news feed to the right, but here’s a link). What a team, and what a season. The Fab Five, the Fat Five, Leaf getting Heisman hype, Price the coach of the year, and even the defense was #1 in the Pac-10 in total D. That team was just so flippin’ special, and really, pretty damn close to winning a national title. If they execute in the end vs. ASU, and they get another snap vs. Michigan, who the hell knows what could have been?

Like Nuss wrote about on his blog, he was covering the Cougars in 1997 for the Evergreen. He saw Mike Price weeping after that ASU loss. Not because they had simply lost the game, but because that was such a special team, and such a special season. That team was NOT a paper tiger. Remember, they had to go to USC, which was never easy, to Oregon, which is always tough, to ASU, which of course was the only regular season loss, and to UW, which was a top-10 team for a lot of 1997. They had OSU as their bye, and the Beav’s were smack-dab in the middle of 27 straight losing seasons. They earned every inch of that season. Ah, memories.

Finally, hats off to Oregon State. Another 9-win, bowl-winning season. And thanks for representing the lousy Pac-10 showing thus far in the bowl season. To think that they won 9 games, and a bowl game, with a lousy QB situation (11 td’s, 21 int’s?) and the loss of the #1 returning WR in Stroughter?? Amazing coaching job by Riley by getting 9 wins out of a season that had 5-7 written all over it, especially when they were sitting at 2-3! They ran off 7 wins in their last 8 games. Nobody in the Pac-10 circles the wagons better than Mike Riley and the Beav’s. Don’t believe me? Last year, guess how they started their season? 2-3. How did they finish? 10-4, with a bowl victory. Amazing.

It really is impressive what they’ve been able to establish after so many years of misery. 27 straight losing seasons is hard to turn around! But think about where they are now – They’ve now won 5 of their 6 bowl games in this decade. They now have 58 victories since 2000, behind only USC and Oregon in the Pac-10. They’ve won 4 of their last 6 games vs. the hated Quacks. It’s all about that 2000 season, with the Erickson excitement and Fiesta Bowl romp that got it all rolling. Now they have a fantastic, intimate 45,000+ seat facility that is first-class in every way.

As Kaddy and I have conversed, OSU did it, yes, with a sugar-daddy in the Reser sponsorship. But they’ve also done a genius thing, and that is reach out to the middle-level donor. The young alums that are establishing themselves in society are able to not only get season tickets, but the school makes them feel “special” I guess is the way to put it. OSU makes the middle guy feel important, if not downright VITAL, to the program’s success, and they’ve managed to reel in those fish and not wasting energy in trying to land the White Whale. /criticism: Maybe our athletic department needs to worry less about landing Moby Dick (cough*Paul Allen*cough) and more about getting the middle guy with $500 in his pocket and would love to feel like he’s important?? /end critcism. Just sayin’.

We’ll have a new poll question up this week. The first one was an easy place to start, but if you have any suggestions, leave a comment. HAPPY NEW YEAR!