For those that follow me on twitter, especially in the fall during college football season, you know that I am a diehard WSU Cougar. I live and die with the Cougs, I bleed crimson. I have been a Coug all of my life, long before I ever took my first class in Pullman. As I have gotten older, and I have gotten older, my love of the Cougs has not diminished, if anything it has gotten stronger. One thing that I have learned though over the years is that it isn’t always easy being a Coug.
After leaving the pacific northwest after school, I grew up in northern Idaho, I lived in Arizona for 23 years. During those 23 years I went to as many of the WSU games against the Sun Devils and Wildcats as I could. I also watched any game that actually got televised, which weren’t many in those days. Heck, a lot of this was even before radio stations started streaming content over the internet. Ok, truth be told, some of this was even before the average person had access to the internet.
I only bring this background up as a way to show that in those days, especially when you didn’t live in the northwest, being a Coug was a real challenge. I also bring it up to give a guess as to how long I have been a Coug, and that I have shared in the success as well as the very bleak times that the team has gone through.
From my point of view, the real decline of the program, which we are still struggling to dig our way out of, started with the departure of Mike Price, of course the Cougs enjoyed more success under Price than anytime before or since. Those Cougs that are quite a bit younger than me don’t know what it feels like to have a very successful program and a team that is ranked in the top 5 in the country, I do remember that, and know how it feels.
It is almost shocking how fast the program fell from grace after the departure of Price. Before you knew it, we fell from a Rose Bowl team to a team that was getting blown out each and every time we stepped on the field. We entered a decade where if we won 3 games a season it was actually a better season than the one before. Success just wasn’t in the cards for the Cougs. It was really hard being a Coug, but for us loyal fans, we still waved the flag and still bled crimson.
I know that I was excited when WSU finally fired Bill Doba and hired Paul Wulff. In my mind it should have happened a few years earlier than it did, and we all had high hopes that the passion that Wulff brought to WSU, he was a Coug after all, would be what it took to bring WSU out of the mess it had been in for years. Sadly that didn’t happen, and while Wulff’s tenure at WSU was short, I do believe that it was important. While we might not have gotten the wins that we wanted, Wulff was able to recruit a few players that were instrumental in WSU getting to a bowl game last year. I also think Wulff played a part in trying to get the culture changed with the program. While Wulff was put into a no-win situation, that isn’t uncommon in college football, and the list of interim coaches in rebuilding programs is quite large.
This of course leads us to the Mike Leach era at WSU. I am a fan of Coach Leach. While the 2014 season wasn’t what any of us wanted, lets remember that in just 3 years Coach Leach has won more games than Coach Wulff did in 4 years. What is important to look at though are the losses, not the wins. It wasn’t very many years ago when a good day was simply not getting shut out, typically by 30+ points. Even though we did’t have many wins this season, a lot of those losses were in very tight games that should have been won if not for stupid little mistakes or blown calls.
WSU has a lot of very talented players, possibly the best roster in years, but we have to remember that they are also a VERY young team. The WSU ship is on the right course, and while a lot of Cougs might be very discouraged after the 2014 season, the future does look bright. If you expected WSU to go from a 3 and 9 team to a 9 and 3 team overnight, you were’t being realistic. The wins will come.
Ok, with all of that said, I am as disappointed as anyone, possibly even more so, as I am old enough to have enjoyed the really good days at WSU, but even with disappointing season, there is no better place to be at an Apple Cup in Martin Stadium, even if it was only 17 degrees out and my feet were numb from the cold.
Oh yeah, GoCougs!!!!!!!!!!