Stay or Go?
When Washington St. Cougars Paul Wulff elected to go for the tie on Saturday instead of going for the win, he did more then just lose another game. He re-opened a Pandora’s box of sorts. That one decision was just a microcosm of some of the criticism Wulff has been facing all season.
A validation to some fans who from the beginning of his tenure, wondered if Wulff was in over his head. For others, that decision was nothing more then a sound move from a guy who knew exactly what the situation called for.
That is where we are today.
In a similar situation as we were in four weeks ago when the team suffered a tough loss against Oregon State. The only difference being some of those unanswered questions have been answered.
There are generally two sides to every story. In some cases those two sides can combine together to tell one interesting story.
In Pullman – where Bill Moos will have that decision to make shortly, that seems to be the case in regards to Head Coach Paul Wulff.
The good side
I think we all know what type of team Wulff took over after the 2007 season. It was a program that had come off a run of some of the worst recruiting classes in the school’s history.
Essentially that left Wullf a team that was one year away from completely falling apart together. It did, and without any tools to help navigate those first two seasons, no one was really surprised by the team’s win/loss record.
Most fans are not using Wulff’s 9-39 overall record or even his 4-29 conference record as an indictment against him.
After all, being handed a team in which Paul Wulff had described on numerous occasions as being “the worst BCS program in the country, by a long long ways.”
No one could expect winning to happen right away.
What Paul Wulff has managed to do well in his short time on campus has been recruiting. Wulff and staff have put together some very impressive classes that have not only added depth, but also has added some much needed fire power at the skilled positions.
QB’s Jeff Tuel, Conner Halliday, Cody Clements, and incoming freshman Austin Apodaca have added so much talent to the QB pool, that some already have conceded Washington State have the most QB depth in the conference beyond 2012.
The Bad side
There are fans out there that believe a lack of talent is not a convenient enough of an excuse for where the team is currently at. That a 9-39 record just proves what they have believed from the beginning. That Paul Wulff was completely in over his head, and there is a vast difference between Eastern Washington and the Pac-12.
By itself, Paul Wulff’s 9-39 record is by far the worst stretch over the last 3 seasons of any team in major college football. That’s grounds for termination by itself, but it has been his in-game strategies that have given these fans more gasoline to throw on the fire.
How the Cougs lost at SDST, and UCLA was just the start.
Pointing to Wulff sticking with one element (run or pass) of the offense a little too long without any in-game adjustments. Essentially giving off the appearance of being out-coached in both losses.
Then to add insult to injury, Wulff’s rather candid approach with the media. After the loss at Cal, Wulff described his team with “when we kicked off, we weren’t there mentally. Their performance today was not acceptable.”
Twenty-four hours later Wulff was singing a completely different tune saying, “I go back and look at the game and our guys played hard. I thought Cal played a hell of a ballgame.”
It’s never a good thing to admit you didn’t have your team prepared to play a game. Regardless of the length of travel your team had to endure. There are some thing you say to the media, and then there are things you simply cannot admit to.
I expect this to be a relatively quick one for AD Bill Moos.
With recruiting being a year round procedure, little time can be wasted on letting a coaching decision linger to far into the off-season. Moos will look at the whole picture, and then be asked to make an unbiased decision for the betterment of the program.
I think he understands better then most the positive gains Wulff has contributed to this football team. Recruiting has been his biggest strength.
I know Moos has seen the way his players have responded. They wouldn’t have attended Washington State if they felt like Wulff couldn’t get them to where they wanted to be.
That is why I believe a win for Wulff in this Apple Cup will be so important for his long term future.
He has yet to get that big win against a quality opponent that he can point to Moos and say look, all of our hard work in recruiting is paying off.
That is what Bill Moos needs to see to look past the 9-39 record.
It’s something tangible that Moos can take back to Elson Floyd and say yes, that’s our guy, and be secure with that decision.
I like Paul Wulff, but unfortunately I honestly do not know if he can survive a 4-8 season after what was supposed to be. I know it’s tough when you lose an important piece like Jeff Tuel so early in the season, but guess what, that’s football.
Whether you think that is fair or unfair, the decision will be made with Washington State football, and only Washington State football in mind.