On the heels of what senior linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis called a “disgraceful performance” in an article printed in The Seattle Times after losing to Oregon State on Saturday, it’s only natural that the question be asked. Is Paul Wulff the right man for the job?
I say yes.
My thought process has gone on a roller coaster this year.
Before the season started, my mantra was bowl game or bust for Wulff’s job status. Then Jeff Tuel got hurt, and I declared this season a wash. Then Marshall Lobbestael quieted doubters and had them standing at 3-1 before heading to UCLA, where I was waffling on whether to put the ultimatum back on Wulff.
Then reality hit. No, not the reality of three straight losses, but the reality of who are we going to get that is going to turn this program around as fast as fans want it to?
I think fans see what’s happened at the University of Washington since Steve Sarkisian took over and are wondering why we’re not at the same place.
First off, Sarkisian had more to work with coming in, namely Jake Locker. Hate him all you want, you can’t deny his talent. What did Wulff have? Not much. Also, flat out, Seattle is a better recruitment weapon than Pullman.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Pullman. I would love to retire in Pullman, and I was born and raised in Seattle. I can only imagine the difficulties to sell this place to a high school kid and the fact that Wulff has gotten some of the players he has is a testament to the rebuilding project in affect and that it’s working.
But it’s not fast enough for people’s liking.
If Wulff were to be fired, who do you want? Mike Belotti?
It’s an easy name to resort to because of the connection he has with Bill Moos when both were employed by the University of Oregon, but there was a third party. Phil Knight. Granted, Belotti had a 68-percent winning percentage in 14 seasons as the Ducks head coach, but a question that will never and can never be answered is how much did Knight and his successful attempt of pimping out that entire football complex have to do with getting players to come in?
Finally, why would Belotti, who turns 62 in December, want to come back to rebuild a program?
I don’t think it can be debated that the best football coach Washington State has ever had is Mike Price. But in all his accolades and taking the Cougars to two Rose Bowls in six years and five bowl games in his 14-year tenure, he was still just five games better than .500 as head coach. And when he took over in 1989, he inherited a 9-3 team coming off an Aloha Bowl victory. Look at what he’s doing now at the University of Texas-El Paso. After his first two seasons, he’d taken them to back-to-back eight-win seasons and bowl appearances (to his credit), but since then, he has not had a winning season despite playing in a non-BCS conference.
The Cougars had three consecutive ten-win seasons and expectations shot through the roof. Before that, Mike Price had never led WSU to winning seasons two years in a row. Maybe we should look as those three years as an outlier instead of the new standard.
I’m not saying the Cougars can never reach that standard because Price proved it can work, but it can’t be done by someone who uses WSU as a stepping stone to bigger things, and that’s the risk you run by bringing in a new regime.
Why go for the young up-and-comer that will just bolt at the for something more prolific (Tony Bennett anyone?) when you have a former player who bleeds crimson and gray. While the results may not be exactly where you want them to be, there’s no doubt that they’re improving.