Tuel isn't thinking about 2013 ‘what ifs'

PULLMAN -- Senior quarterback Jeff Tuel has yet to hear back from the NCAA regarding his fifth year of eligibility. It's generally considered a long shot the NCAA would give the green but even so, Tuel said there are no guarantees he would elect to return to WSU for another season if given the opportunity.

At the beginning of fall camp in August, Mike Leach was optimistic Tuel would know by month's end whether or he would be granted a fifth year of eligibility. Midway through October, there is still no timetable as to when that decision will be made.

"I mean honestly, I haven't put too much thought into it," Tuel said. "I'd like to find out before you have to declare whether you're staying or going, but honestly I haven't put any thought into it."

Tuel said regardless of whether he is granted a medical redshirt, he hasn't yet made the decision on whether he would stay in school for a fifth year, or look toward his future.

"Family, a future, a ton of things (go into that decision)," Tuel said. "I need to sit down and evaluate the positives and negatives."

Leach noted a couple weeks ago if Tuel's situation doesn't warrant a fifth year of eligibility, the rule shouldn't exist.

Tuel's case is an interesting one. With medical hardships, the rule is basically built around two benchmarks: First, that the player played in less than 30 percent of the season and second, that the injury/illness occurred prior to the first game of the second half of the season.

Tuel is well below the 30 percent threshold, but the timing is at issue. The rule says the injury, in a 12-game season, has to occur prior to the seventh game. Tuel played in just three games all year in 2011, but his last one, before going down with injury a second time, was in Week 7 against Oregon State. Here's where it gets interesting: In the three games he played in, Tuel effectively took only 50 percent of the offensive snaps, meaning he truly played in about 1½ games this past season. So the spirit of the rule suggests the Cougs may have an argument for him getting an extra year.

LEACH SAID MONDAY that Tuel would receive the first team snaps during the bye week, one in which the Cougs will practice only Tuesday and Wednesday. Leach was undecided on who would start at Stanford, the Cougs' next game on Oct. 27. Tuel said his preparation won't change regardless of circumstances.

"I never did and never will go into a season thinking ‘Well, if I get my extra year back' or ‘Well, I've got another year'," Tuel said. "I'm just going to go into it a week at a time and just keep doing what I do."

Tuel said this season has been difficult for a number of reasons. The senior leader said he didn't foresee this kind of start for the team, and added that it has been disappointing being unable to maintain his health. WSU doesn't release injury information but Tuel was knocked out of the Eastern game and didn't return until the tail end of Week 5. The last two weeks have seen Connor Halliday get pulled in favor Tuel after interception-filled starts.

"I'd much rather be up here saying ‘Hey we won, and it was great', but that's not that case," Tuel said. "I mean obviously we had high hopes, and we'd like to have a better record than we do now, and obviously I would have had like to have stayed healthy, but we've just got to be battling through it. It's part of the game, you never know what's going to happen."

Tuel was emphatic the Cougs still have goals they intend on achieving.

"This year isn't over for us," Tuel said. "I'm not ready to give a definition to my senior year and this football team because we have a lot of things we can still do."

At 2-5, Washington State will need to win four of their final five regular season games to become bowl eligible.

Also on the podium Monday were cornerback Daniel Simmons and center Elliott Bosch.