If Paul Wulff is going down, he should go down fighting
Nov 10, 2011, 10:49 AM | Updated: 3:57 pm
By Jim Moore
Washington State coach Paul Wulff joins the Kevin Calabro Show every Thursday at 3:15, which means he’ll be on again this afternoon.
I have a hard time coming up with questions every week, and today will be especially difficult. I say this because I’m torn by the following reasons:
• As part of the agreement with sister station, KTTH, which broadcasts the Cougar football games, Wulff is obligated to come on the show. So because of that, I don’t want to pepper him with a bunch of uncomfortable questions about his job status.
• Then again, I don’t want to throw softball questions at him either because if I’m a listener, I don’t want to hear that crap.
• I tell myself to be an unbiased professional journalist and ask straight-forward questions, but I can’t stop the fired-up Coug from suddenly showing up because I’m frustrated with my football team.
So I don’t know what will happen today. I hope I show some restraint and remind myself that Wulff’s a Coug and I’m still pulling for him and that maybe, just maybe, we can still win our last three games and go to a bowl game and save his job.
That pipedream will no doubt end Saturday night when Arizona State comes to Pullman and drills us — oddsmakers favor the Sun Devils by 13 points.
But I like to think that weather favors the Cougs — the forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of snow and temperatures in the high 20s. The shivering Sun Devils could be adversely affected.
Plus we’re finally home after playing just one game at Martin Stadium in two months — that’s got to be an advantage for the Cougs if it snows or not.
Whether you think Wulff should remain or not, I am guessing that WSU athletic director Bill Moos has made the decision to change coaches at the end of the year.
If you’re a Wulff supporter, you’ll be upset and think it’s unfair, citing improvement in the program the last four years. You can also rightfully point to our idiotic schedule and the loss of Jeff Tuel severely impacting our chances to post a winning record.
But at this point, your arguments aren’t enough to save Wulff anymore. Can we be honest about this? There is not another program in the country that would have allowed Wulff to stay for four years with his record. He’s 8-38, and most of those wins came over the weakest sisters in college football.
If we lose the next three games, we’ll be 8-41 under Wulff and have the most losses of any team during a four-year period in conference history. The current record is held by the Beavers, who went 3-40-1 from 1979-82.
Wulff’s winning percentage is far-and-away the worst in WSU history at .174, under-cutting the former leader, Jim Sweeney, who was at .340 with a 26-59-1 record from 1968-75. (As you’ll recall, Sweeney’s last game was gut-wrenching, a one-point loss in the 1975 Apple Cup. I heard the DawgFather himself say the other day that Washington should have lost that game by three touchdowns.)
Wulff supporters can counter by saying the cupboard was bare when the new coach took over, so what do you expect, an overnight transformation? No, I didn’t expect that. But I do wonder how bare that cupboard was when you consider that we did go 5-7 in 2007 and beat the Huskies in Bill Doba’s last game as coach. Granted, we did lose Alex Brink and Brandon Gibson, but still … to get clobbered in every single game the following year? To this day, I can’t believe how utterly hapless we were in 2008.
One more thing about the bare cupboard: A reader at my website left a comment the other day saying if he had a nickel for every time he’s heard about the bare cupboard, he’d be a rich man. Let’s agree that it was a bare cupboard — as the reader pointed out, aren’t we four years removed from that damn bare cupboard?
The Cougars have lost five straight games and must win their final three to become bowl eligible. (AP)
“And Mother Hubbard still doesn’t have a bone,” the reader wrote.
And forget about 2008, 2009 and 2010. Let’s look at 2011, the season in which we were supposed to return to prominence or at least look like a halfway decent football team again. You know what, we have looked halfway decent for the most part, which qualifies as improvement for the Cougs under Wulff.
But honestly, we’re still one of the worst teams in the Pac-12 and the country. We show glimpses of promise but we still pretty much suck.
We should have hung on to our leads at San Diego State and UCLA, we got lucky to beat Colorado, we should have beaten Oregon State or at least lost in a competitive way at CenturyLink Field, and never mind those games, Wulff lost me last week in a 30-7 loss at Cal.
We needed that Cal game in the worst way and we didn’t show up. I truly would not have minded it if we had showed some spunk and lost. But we were pummeled and didn’t fight back.
And going for a field goal when we were down 30-0 in the third quarter? Absolutely ridiculous.
Then for Wulff to say that Cal is the most talented team in the conference after the game? Absolutely ridiculous times two.
In case there is any mistake on how I feel about that statement, let me bold-face the following comment and put it in capital letters: CAL IS NOT THE MOST TALENTED TEAM IN THE CONFERENCE! STANFORD IS, OR OREGON IS, OR USC IS, OR HECK, ASU IS, MAYBE EVEN WASHINGTON IS, BUT CAL?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
I can’t take it anymore. In my 37 years of watching Cougar football, I have never had high expectations. And if I die tomorrow, that’s OK — I wanted to see the Cougars make it to the Rose Bowl in my lifetime and they’ve been there twice.
I’d just like to see us win once in awhile. I’d like to see a coach with a little more pizzazz if that’s all right. I want the Cougars to be fun again.
After we lost to Oregon State, Wulff was surprised at the backlash, saying that it was just Round 7, we lost Round 7, but we were moving on to Round 8. It was a boxing analogy I guess, and I didn’t want to tell him at the time that Round 8 was against Oregon.
Anyway, here’s my point: We’ve moved on to Round 10, and if I could give Wulff some advice it’s this: Swing as hard as you can, coach. Throw lefts and rights. Throw uppercuts and jabs. Then throw a roundhouse right and hope it connects against ASU, Utah and Washington.
You’re behind on all of the judges’ cards and have no chance to win a decision. So get the kitchen sink out and use it! Try a fake field goal. Try a fake punt. Go for a two-point conversion. Trot out the Statue of Liberty. Have Marquess Wilson or another one of your receivers make like Colin Henderson and throw a pass. Do something, anything, out of the ordinary. Fight back, dammit!!! If the trick plays don’t work, so what?
Throw one flurry after another and knock ’em all out, coach. Because if you don’t, come Nov. 27, you’ll be on the canvas yourself.
Listen to Jim Moore weekday afternoons from 3 to 6 on “The Kevin Calabro Show.” You can reach Jim here and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo. He also writes for his website.