COLE MORGAN in crimson, 2006
COLE MORGAN, THE quarterbacking nomad whose college career finally hit its stride last season at Central Washington, is back in crimson. And he’s firing some zingers. Not on the gridiron but on the CF.C football message board. For four years, as a Cougar grayshirt, redshirt and then backup, Morgan said he was equally amused, delighted and outraged by what he read on the board.
But he never made a post. Until this past Friday. And unlike the vast majority of folks, he actually used his own name as his handle, and triggered a lengthy thread of replies. What brought Morgan to the keyboard was the nonstop love-fest surrounding Jake Locker. Mind you, Morgan thinks Locker is a first-class guy with tremendous talent.
The lens through which Morgan is viewing this outpouring of maple syrup, however, is tinted by the Ghost of Alex Brink.
Brink, of course, was a record-setter who did a mountain of good things for Washington State from 2004-07 but seemingly couldn’t do enough to ever quiet a vocal group of critics.
Now Morgan sees Locker, whose career so far pales significantly compared with Brink’s, being showered with adoration.
“There is no justice,” he said over breakfast with Cougfan.com two weeks ago. “They’re having parades for Jake, while Alex would get nitpicked after completing 20 of 23 passes to beat Oregon (in 2006).”
In his message board post, which you can find HERE, Morgan says “The constant harassment that he (Brink) received was coming from fans who quite simply didn't know better. So in hearing all about Jake all the time I felt as though I had to throw some facts at some fans who might really enjoy seeing them.”
Morgan detailed the wins, losses and other statistical evidence that illustrate his point quite convincingly.
Morgan says Brink was on a higher level than every other quarterback at WSU and most in the Pac-10. “The reads he would make, the adjustments he would make, the moves he would make under pressure were just something to behold. As a quarterback, you see things, little things that have big impact. I’d watch Alex and marvel. He was a great quarterback.”
Brink, who spent a year-plus with the NFL’s Houston Texans, is now in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Morgan, a graduate of Ballard High, is back home in Seattle with a WSU diploma on his wall. Befitting a guy with a lot of energy and personality to match, he has a variety of irons in the fire. He and his former high school coach, Doug Trainor, have started a company. In May, they plan to kick off the first nationwide 7-on-7 high school passing tournament. They’ll hold 42 days worth of competition at 20 locales around the country, with the top team from each state then competing for the national championship in Las Vegas in July.
Morgan and Trainor are also teaming up in another way. Morgan will be the offensive coordinator this fall at Bellingham High, where Trainor is the head man.
“We’ll be mixing Coach (Todd) Sturdy’s no-huddle with some of what we did at WSU under Levy (Mike Levenseller) and Rosie (Timm Rosenbach),” Morgan says.
It’s only fitting that Morgan would draw on multiple sources for his playbook. He’s had a circuitous football path since leading Ballard to within a whisker of the state championship in 2003. He was all set to play at Montana until Rosenbach called with an offer to come to Pullman. He grayshirted the 2004 season, redshirted in 2005 and then was a backup to Brink in 2006 and ’07.
In the spring of 2008, after Brink graduated and Bill Doba departed, he battled Gary Rogers, Kevin Lopina and Marshall Lobbestael for the starting nod under first-year coach Paul Wulff. With his fate seemingly tied to a clipboard, he transferred over the summer to Division II Western Washington, where he would be the understudy for one season before taking the helm himself.
All was going as planned until Western, on the verge of Morgan's senior season, dropped its football program with no forewarning.
Morgan's long-sought starting job was gone. Undaunted, he accepted an invitation to join the Wildcats at Central Washington.
His patience finally was rewarded this past season. After coming off the bench with great effect early on, he eventually took over the starting job and helped the Wildcats to a 12-1 record. In the Division II semifinals against eventual national champion Northwest Missouri State, Morgan orchestrated a 70-yard, 10-play scoring drive that brought CWU to 21-20 with 11 seconds left.
“We kick the PAT and head to overtime, right?” Morgan says wistfully. “It was blocked.”
Disappointing, yes, but what a way for a quarterback to go out on his last-ever drive. And in the broader picture of a college career that looked high-centered more than once, the season was truly one to savor. Morgan completed 118 of 209 passes for 1,537 yards, 9 TDs and 5 INTs.
Now, Morgan says, he wants to take the wealth of knowledge and experience he collected through his unconventional trek through college sports and share it with the next generation.
And while he’s at it, he just might share a tale or two about the brilliance of a guy named Alex Brink.