Give Wulff help, implores Sterk after loss

LOBBESTAEL HITS PAYDIRT

EUGENE -- Jim Sterk doesn't need secondhand reports to know how Washington State is struggling on the field. As the clock painfully ticked off Saturday evening at Autzen Stadium, the WSU athletic director was right there on the sidelines. Asked if the woes in the loss column are hurting plans to push forward with Phase III of the Martin Stadium renovation, he was succinct.

The economy is more of a deterrent among donors and potential donors than the losses, Jim Sterk told CF.C shortly after of the final whistle in Saturday's 52-6 setback.

"People realize there are new players playing, with a lot of freshmen," Sterk said. "They realize they are seeing the future. It will pay dividends down the road. Today it's not much fun."

Indeed, in the first-half alone more than 25 Cougar true freshmen, second-year freshmen or sophomores saw action.

Even if games like the one Saturday are far from fun for Cougs, Sterk is emphatic that it's a good time -- even a critical time -- to upgrade Martin Stadium.

STERK EYES CARNAGE SATURDAY

"The third phase can really help the program, the (athletic) department and the university," Sterk said.

The 2,200 luxury and premium seats that are the centerpiece of Phase III will generate nearly as much game-day revenue as the rest of the stadium combined. Moreover, notes Sterk, world-class facilities will allow head coach Paul Wulff and his staff to attract more world-class athletes.

In effect, for the long-term health of the program, WSU can't afford not to complete Phase III.

As for the football program's youth, gour true freshmen started for the Cougars on Saturday and a fifth, running back Carl Winston, rushed for 56 yards as he made his collegiate debut. Another youngster taking his first college snaps was left offensive guard Alex Reitnouer, who also made his first-ever start because of so many injuries ahead of him on the depth chart.

"It was really a disappointing way to start my college career," said the 263-pound Reitnouer, who added that he was "glad I got the opportunity."

Jeff Tuel, another true freshman, picked a tough place for a first start. The quarterback went down late in the first quarter with a hip pointer, and didn't return after throwing just three passes.

"It's part of the game," Tuel said of the injury, which he said felt much better by game's end than it did at halftime. "It happens."

"Paul (Wulff) and his staff have gotten kids that want to contribute right away," Sterk said of recruiting during this losing skid. "They are getting commitments because of that. We need to show progress. We need to show to that special kid what they can do.

"We have young guys out there like Travis Long and Gino Simone," Sterk added. "They are going to be recruiting the next wave of kids."
LOUIS BLAND TELLS THE TALE: COUGS RECOVER MUFFED OREGON PUNT. THE PLAY SET UP WSU'S ONLY TD ON SATURDAY.

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