We used to be in there, now we’re out here
It would be nice to say it was a stroke of coaching genius on Wulff’s part to insert freshman Connor Halliday as the quarterback, but it was nothing more than a desperation move.
Now Wulff’s future is in the hands of a freshman (there’s no way he will actually start Marshall Lobbestael again, is there?). After throwing for 494 yards and four touchdowns against ASU, Halliday is Wulff’s last hope to win the final two games and get the Cougars to a bowl game. Oh yeah, and save Wulff’s job.
If Halliday can’t beat a red-hot Utah team followed by the Huskies in the Apple Cup, Wulff surely is gone. He should be.
Before Saturday, the Cougars did not look like they had gotten much better this season – despite what the Ducks said after their “close” 43-28 win. The WSU defense is no better, the offense is not much better and the record is only marginally better.
Four straight blowout losses, including horribly lackluster efforts against Oregon State and Cal, showed more than enough for everyone to know this team was just not making the progress it should be.
Wulff has not done a good job of making his case on the field, so he has resorted to stumping for his job off the field.
He downplayed the 44-21 loss to the Beavers in Seattle by claiming that people expecting the Cougars to win qualifies as improvement. That’s a lame way to explain away a home loss to one-win team.
In the wake of the listless 30-7 defeat in Berkeley last weekend, Wulff was once again lobbying for more time to turn WSU back into a winner.
“It goes back to [fans] understanding that this was the worst BCS football program in America by a long, long, long ways when I got here,” he told reporters. “That’s just fact. And we’ve been operating the first two years with low scholarship numbers and everything else. We’ve got great young recruiting classes and we’ve still got a young football team that has a bright future, and it takes time when it’s in bad, bad shape. I didn’t make it. I’m here to fix it, and things like this don’t get fixed in three years, four years like people want.”
So how long does it take? Seven or eight years? Who wants to wait a decade for their team to be competitive? With the ASU win, Wulff is 9-38 with just four conference wins since he took over in 2008. The Cougars won two games in 2008. If they don’t win another one this season (a distinct possibility), they will have made a two-game improvement in three years.
Cougar fans are used to failure and disappointment, but is it too much to ask for a winner every once in a while?
Mike Price had plenty of stinker seasons, but he also managed to take the Cougs to a bowl game every few years. Before his ill-fated decision to leave for Hickville, he took WSU to two Rose Bowls in six years and had three 10-win seasons. That is as good as it has ever been for WSU, and a decade later the Cougars are so far from that, fans would be happy to settle for a .500 season for the first time since 2006.
Apparently that is too much to ask of Wulff. He wants more time, but that luxury does not exist at this level. It’s a hard-luck business, and he had to know he risked being the guy who set up WSU for the next coach to win.
And who knows? Maybe he hasn’t even done that. The defense is no better than it was last year, and the offense – while seemingly full of talent – has been maddeningly inconsistent.
The Cougars’ season was largely derailed in the first game, when junior starter Jeff Tuel was lost for what has turned out to be almost the entire the season. Marshall Lobbestael stumbled along for two months, costing the Cougars wins at San Diego State and UCLA with turnovers.
This team could already have six wins, and Wulff’s seat might not be so hot. But it is. And he’s counting on a freshman to save his job.
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