PULLMAN -- The Great Brink vs. Rogers Debate was finally, convincingly put to rest Saturday, but in the process the seeds of Rogers vs. Lopina were planted and then fertilized heavily after the game and again Sunday by Paul Wulff. There’s a big difference, though, between this new QB controversy and the old one.
Under Brink, the Cougs were perpetually a play or two away from earning a post-season invitation.
No such nail-biting concerns to pre-occupy the faithful this season.
Which means fan chatter with this new QB debate is more likely to be tinged with indifference than indignation.
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Given how out-manned the Cougs have looked the last two weeks, does it really matter who’s at the controls of the offense? After two losses and a scorecard reading 105 to 16, the Cougars are so far from mediocrity you must legitimately wonder if Wulff’s news team could keep pace with the Eastern Eagles he left behind.
The argument in favor of Gary Rogers is straightforward: With that arm and physical talent, coupled with four rusty years on the bench, six quarters of game-time does not a season make. Give him a chance to get his sea legs on the likes of Baylor and Portland State and then see where he’s standing.
The case for Kevin Lopina, the junior who transferred in from Kansas State two years ago, is also pretty clear. The guy has wheels, which seemed perfectly suited Saturday for the Cougs' new offense. He also throws a nice mid-range ball, as evidenced by his two strikes Saturday to Ben Woodard and Devin Frischknecht.
Wulff said Sunday we may know as soon as Tuesday evening who will be starting in Waco on Saturday. Call me an old sentimentalist, but for Rogers’ sake, I hope he’s still the man. Four years biding time, and earning the job over and throughout the spring session and fall camp, warrants at least one more shot at the brass ring.
SPEAKING OF QUARTERBACKS, WSU’s stadium announcer, Glenn Johnson, had fans flipping through their programs with several seconds left in the first half on Saturday when he suggested that perhaps it was time to see Brock Mansion in the game.
Brock Mansion is Cal’s third-string quarterback. Glenn made the suggestion -- the likes of which I can’t ever remember a PA announcer doing at any game at any level -- after Cal first-string QB Kevin Riley fired a long bomb to the end zone, even though the Bears were ahead 42-3.
Johnson’s unprecedented suggestion was understandable. That play call by Cal coach Jeff Tedford was beyond poor taste. In fact, fans listening to the game on the radio heard Jim Walden almost come out of his seat in ire. He called Tedford a classless lout and said he’d tell that to his face, too.
For the record, Mr. Mansion did get into the game -- about mid-way through the fourth period. Not a lot of time, but enough for the young man to score Cal’s final TD on a one-yard keeper.
HATS OFF TO COUGAR specialists Reid Forrest and Patrick Rooney. Forrest, in his first game back since suffering a broken ankle in July, averaged 41.2 yards on eight punts, with a long of 58 and two that were downed inside the two. Rooney had two kickoffs that were touchbacks. Over the previous two seasons combined, WSU managed just eight touchbacks in 24 games.
WSU’S NEW COUGZILLATRON scoreboard is all that it has been touted to be: Big and crystal clear. There was a small programming glitch in the second quarter, however. While the glitch was being corrected, the board seamlessly flashed a series of dissolving Cougar heads while Richie Valens’ “LaBamba” played over the sound system.
The move prompted one fan in section 26 to wish aloud that for every mistake the Cougs made you could just play a little catchy music to make it all better.
Se necesita una poca de gracia, indeed. The score at the time was “only” 35-3.
ODDSMAKERS HAVE INSTALLED Baylor as a 2 ½-point favorite for Saturday’s game with the Cougs. Kickoff is at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time. The game will be televised on FSN. And The Village Pub in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood will have its 28 flat screens tuned in and $5 food and drink specials on the menu for Cougar fans.
Baylor has lost nine straight games to Division I-A opponents. The Bears beat tiny Northwestern State 51-6 on Saturday. They have less than 20 players on the entire roster who don’t hail from Texas. Back up quarterback Robert Ryans is an old prep teammate of Cougar linebacker Greg Trent. Both are from Keller, Texas.
• Among the old Cougar players in Pullman over the weekend for the 20th anniversary of WSU’s 1988 Aloha Bowl team were Jay Languein, best remembered for his Apple Cup recovery of the punt that Shawn Landrum blocked, linebacker Chris Moton, whose late-game heroics saved the Cougs’ bacon that season against Stanford and UCLA, and offensive lineman John Husby, an all-Pac-10 performer who helped Steve Broussard and Rich Swinton each rush for more than 1,000 yards that year. Curiously absent from the celebration was the quarterback, Timm Rosenbach, who purportedly is working as a hunting and fishing guide in Montana. Languein is in financial management in Bellevue, Moton is a school teacher in Southern California and Husby oversees cargo operations at Alaska Airlines. Before moving into corporate America a decade ago, Husby was an assistant coach at Cal.
• The second quarter roughing the passer penalty on WSU’s Andy Mattingly may have been the result of pent-up frustration. Mattingly and Cal’s Sean Cattouse had faced off with each other seven times on Bear kickoffs and there clearly was bad blood between them, with words exchanged after virtually every kick. Cal QB Kevin Riley may have simply taken the shot Mattingly wished for Cattouse.
• The most curious penalty on Saturday was the illegal receiver downfield flag thrown on WSU running back Marcus Richmond.