Seen & Heard on Planet Coug
WSU helmet
Cougfan.com Contributing Writer
Posted Dec 9, 2010


YOU GOTTA HAND it to WSU President Elson Floyd. He knows what he doesn’t know. He hired Bill Moos because the former Cougar player and associate AD is as good as anyone in the land at what he does. So Floyd let Moos decide whether Paul Wulff would – rightfully, in my opinion – be back next season to complete the turnaround he has so painstakingly orchestrated over the last three seasons.

I tip my hat to Floyd because he let reason win out over emotion.

Floyd, you see, is like many of us -- a passionate football fan who isn’t an expert on the Xs and Os or the complex intricacies of the sport. I don't know the man, but I know so many people who do that I believe I have a decent read on him.

My sense is that with sports he sometimes wears his emotions on his sleeve like a regular fan. And like the rest of us, his conclusions aren’t necessarily rooted in a Holtzian knowledge of the game.

I also get the impression President Floyd knows that athletics is the biggest image-building tool a university possesses. Like any good academician, he probably thinks that's awful, but he’s a realist -- and a far-sighted one as near as I can tell -- so he plays the hand he's dealt. That means he wants badly to win on game day.

So last year, it was both surprising (because college presidents usually view discretion as the better part of valor) and not surprising (because he’s a football fan like the rest of us) that he made no secret of his disdain for Wulff. In fact, Floyd was so loud about it at least one player from the last recruiting class gave pause to his verbal commitment to the Cougs.

But then Floyd and Wulff sat down to talk following Jim Sterk’s departure to San Diego State and the president came away with a new view of the program and the head coach, I've been told by numerous people.

Still, don’t forget, Floyd likes to win. So the guess here is that Floyd the Football Fan was figuratively throwing Cheetos at the TV every time the Cougars lost this season.

Floyd the President, however, knows what he doesn’t know. And Floyd the President knows that he hired Moos for a reason.

The result, as we learned Sunday, is that Wulff is safe. And like Paul Sorensen stated in his column last week, I think the decision positions the Cougs for long-term success. I’m calling it right here: The 2011 season will be a huge launching pad for WSU. The Cougs will start out with five straight wins and go bowling over the holidays.

WHILE MOOS MOSTLY WALKS ON WATER in my book, I have to admit I’m scratching my head a bit over the timing of his endorsement for his head coach. He said last summer that he waits to the end of the season to fully review his coaches, and I understand that. But this year was odd because there was a 21-day gap between the the second-to-last-game and the finale. With radio silence from Moos during that span, it left pundits and cyber-jockies filling the void with massive speculation. Wulff was twisting in the wind in the court of public opinion and it also ground WSU recruiting to a halt as opposing coaches fueled the fire of uncertainty.

Given the speed with which Moos acted on Wulff’s behalf after the Apple Cup, I’m guessing the evaluation of his head coach wasn’t completed overnight. Which begs the question: Why the heck let the speculators control those 21 days between the OSU game and the Apple Cup?


SORENSEN TAKES DOWN WILLIAMS

BACK TO PAUL SORENSEN FOR A moment. How’s this for a "like father like son" moment: In Saturday’s state Class 4A football title game between Skyline and Ferris, Ferris’ all-league safety Cody Sorensen put a hit on star Spartan receiver Kasen Williams that sent the future Husky out of the game for a couple of series. Now take a step back in time to the 1980 Apple Cup in Spokane, when Cody’s dad, WSU safety Paul Sorensen, put a hit on Kasen’s dad, Husky receiver Aaron Williams, that knocked the elder Williams out of the game. Cody, by the way, had two interceptions and 11 tackles in Ferris’ victory Saturday.

Cody is one of three known all-league performers from Spokane who have been invited to walk on at WSU in the fall. The others are Dillon Beschel of Ferris and Branson Schmidt of Central Valley.

WHO WILL BE THE COUGARS’ PUNTER next season? I saw that question on the CF.C message board the other day and it took me by surprise. Why? Because Reid Forrest, one of the best in Cougar history, has been such a fixture over the years that it seemed like he’d always be around. Alas, the Pride of Ephrata is finally done. As for successors, the answer for 2011 was supposed to be Jake Miller, the thunder-legged kid out of Central Valley High in Spokane. He was an invited walk on at WSU this fall but left Pullman just a week into August workouts.

Dan Wagner, Forrest’s long-time backup, figures to be in there contending for the honors in 2011. Wagner has punted for the Cougars in a game one time since he walked on in 2007. In the 2008 season opener against Oklahoma State, Forrest was injured so Wagner took over and kicked eight times for a 39-yard- per-boot average with a long of 51. Many of you also may remember Wagner from the 2009 Apple Cup. He went in at QB for the final series of the first half because Kevin Lopina was knocked out of the game and Marshall Lobbestael had to temporarily leave the field with neck pain.

Another guy who may get a shot at the 2011 punting job is Tana Pritchard, the multi-dimensional star from Clover Park High near Tacoma who has committed verbally to WSU. He’s a standout quarterback and defensive back who is projected to be a college linebacker. And he also punts -- to the tune of 47.1 yards per boot this season en route to earning All-State honors at the position.

CONGRATS TO THE EIGHT COUGAR footballers who earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors this week: Jared Karstetter, B.J. Guerra, Zack Williams, Travis Long, Tyree Toomer, Marquess Wilson, Reid Forrest and Jeff Tuel. Forrest not getting picked to the first- or second-team is an outrage. So was Wilson's not being picked Freshman Offensive Player of the Year.

IN YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF WHY it’s embarrassing to associate with Huskies comes this missive from the Palouse: A 20-year-old UW student from Snohomish was charged with third-degree assault on a law officer (a felony) for allegedly spitting on a Whitman County deputy while being arrested Saturday after the Apple Cup. The UW student also was charged with resisting arrest and being intoxicated as a minor. Turns out a few folks on our side of the rivalry weren’t on their best behavior Saturday, either. Some 21 fans were arrested and a number of fans injured due to flying snowballs, iceballs, etc.

IF ANYBODY READING THIS IS FROM Spokane, I'd suggest heading over to Gonzaga U. right now and delivering some Metamucil to poor Mark Few. Did you get a load of his expression on the sidelines during last night's Cougar rout of the Zags? My goodness, that man looks like he could use some fiber before it's too late. I've seen more animation coming out of an undertaker's convention. The Cougs played great D and were hotter than blazes from three-point range but the lasting impression for me was the play of Marcus Capers. He does a bit of everything and his lock-down defense is a treat to watch. Love that guy.


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