Well, that didn't take long at all. Here I was thinking it'd take until about the middle of the week for Bill Moos to announce a decision on Paul Wulff's job status but he waited until the next day to get it done. So far, every Wulff-coached team at WSU has fallen far short of many other folks' expectations and mine. One could say, that statement is about as obvious as it gets.
Either way though, I have a very clear expectation for next season: a bowl game. This is the fourth year of the rebuilding project. It's clear the offense has improved drastically even from last season, with a 1,000 yard receiver and a quarterback who rated Top 5 in the conference (statistically anyhow). In addition, Rickey Galvin will be back from his catastrophic arm injury, Kristoff Williams should be completely healthy and if Bishop Sankey's commitment holds up, the offense could actually feature some incredible weapons.
The biggest question mark obviously remains the defense, especially the lines. With Kooyman's departure, Rankin should be able to slide back over to defensive end but the question remains what will happen to the interior. We have no idea of the potential of Toni Pole and Anthony Laurenzi has been good but I'm not sure he can deal with the grind of a Pac-12 (how cool is that to say?) schedule. Louis Bland should be healthy enough to make a comeback which will serve the linebacking core well, providing a lot of competition for CJ Mizell, Alex Hoffman-Ellis, Sekope Kaufusi and Darren Markle. The secondary will still be incredibly young but they played all year gaining valuable experience so I'm not as worried about them.
Given all of that, I honestly don't think six wins is out of the question. Spending another offseason in the weight room will make this team bigger and stronger. And since the Pac-10 didn't fill out its bowl commitments, not as many teams will get the extra practice time that goes along with a bowl as they should, so the playing field will stay a little more even than it should've. With a couple extra teams in the conference, half a dozen wins may not guarantee a bowl but it's a damn good start and at least it makes you eligible. This means the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (horrible name) and the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl (great location) are not out of the question.
That is my minimum expectation. Anything less than that and Wulff and his crew should be gone. Four years is plenty to build a program back to respectability and if this team isn't in a bowl at the end of season, the reigns are all Mike Bellotti's if he still wants them.
Moving on to a more pressing item, the basketball team is going to run the floor with Gonzaga tonight. Am I saying this mostly out of hope that my viewing party with friends won't be a bust? No, but hopefully the 12-pack of some of Deschutes Brewery's finest ales won't go to complete waste.
This Cougar team could make a heck of a statement by beating this Gonzaga team. No, it's not the same Bulldog squad of years past but after playing a close game against a likely over ranked Kansas State team, the Cougs should be primed for a defeat of a sub par Gonzaga team. Pushing the favor-meter even further towards the Cougs is a healthy DeAngelo Casto and Reggie Moore who is getting healthier by the day.
I will however need to see one improvement in this game: the Zzu Cru. Why do I find myself in constant criticism of this student group? I managed to get home from work early enough to catch the second half of the Kansas State game and the Cougs were within as like as a few points. But there were hardly any students jumping up and down! I understand from second hand reports, Beasley Coliseum was eardrum-shattering loud, but at times, when the team needed the support the most, the students were virtually silent. What does it take to get you excited people?
I'm going to play the old "back in my day" card I thought I wouldn't have to play until I was a father but whatever. When the Zzu Cru was in its heyday, even before I arrived on campus in 2006, people made noise, jumped up and down and wreaked havoc no matter what the score was. In fact, I looked forward to the half when the opposing team was attacking my end of the court so I could scream and yell at them. It just feels like the life has been sucked out of the Zzu Cru. Perhaps it is because these teams aren't getting to the tournament like they were when I was a youngling. But they are playing a hated rival from up the road who made incredibly derogatory remarks toward one of our players last year (I'm not going to rehash what was said but it still offends me).
Their coach has a holier-than-thou attitude. Their players and fans and toupee sporting play-by-play lap dog are the same way. They give no real reason why they don't want Seattle University in the conference once they're eligible even though they meet practically every requirement. They think better college basketball fans can't possibly exist anywhere else.
I want them beaten into the ground. Get ahead by double digits and never take your foot off the gas pedal. Bury them. Then dig them up and bury them again. Get it done.
Last Week: 2-1
Overall: 53-19 (best football picks ever!)
We'll get back to the picks when the bowl season rolls around and start with basketball once the conference schedule gets underway.
Dunderhead of the Week: A man who I met through a friend that said he heard from someone he knows with my employer (the Seattle Mariners) that they were close to signing Derek Jeter. No, you didn't misread that. Derek Jeter. Moron.
And, of course, John Buccigross.
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The 2010 athletic season is here…and you know what that means…It's time for a whole new season of Cougar Athletics! Football, soccer and volleyball, just to name a few, are preparing for their 2010 seasons. If you need "game action" photographs for your newspaper, magazine, web site, blog, etc., then Greg Davis Sports Photography should be your choice for all things "Cougar" and "Pac-10 Conference"! Coverage for specific athletes or upcoming events is also available. Check out the images from games, practices and events from last season, and be sure to come back often for uploads from all of this season's action.