Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cougars fire Wulff!

By Kshell

After days of debating and meetings the Washington State Cougars finally decided it was time to end the Paul Wulff era in Pullman. This is a tough day for Cougar fans as Wulff is a former player for them. In fact he was on the 1988 team that defeated the Huskies and won a bowl game.  Wulff took over a tough situation as his previous coach Bill Doba left him with practically nothing and it showed his first two years. At the end of the year Wulff was fired in year four which saw his starting quarterback Jeff Tuel go down. Wulff promised a bowl game this year and fell two games shy as he went 4-8 on the season. For his career at Washington State Wulff went 9-40, 6-40 vs D-1 schools and 4-32 in conference play. The pressure was on to fire Wulff despite the players support and love for their coach. Now the Cougars will be looking at their head coach since Mike Price left them weeks prior to their Rose Bowl game.

When Wulff took over the Cougars program he inherited a mess which reflected in his record. His first two years on the job he went just 3-22(1-17 in conference). The Cougars lost by 30 plus points seven times in 2008, 40 plus points five times and 50 plus points four times and lost by 63 points to California and 69 points to USC. That year was a success to the Cougars despite finishing 2-11(1-8) because they defeated the Huskies. In 2009 the results stayed the same as Wulff struggled through a 1-11 season(0-9) while getting shutout in the conference. During 2009 the Cougars lost by 30 plus points seven times, 40 plus points two times. During his third year the Cougars improved but still only went 2-10(1-8) which put the pressure on Wulff this year. After starting off 3-1 the Cougars finished the year losing seven of their last eight games finishing 4-8(2-6). The Cougars have had some close losses the past two years losing by less than seven points four times in the past two years. Ultimately as a coach your job is to win and Wulff has recruited decently meaning the next coach will inherit a team that should go to a bowl game.

Fair or not Wulff will be linked with such duds as Tyrone Willingham. Willingham in four years at Washington went 11-37(6-29) which was previously seen as the worst era in conference history. Wulff ended up beating that mark going 9-40(4-32). Both took over programs in bad shape and left the program stocked with more talent than they arrived. Both were surly with the media and often didn't share much. The difference is the players cared for Wulff while the players at Washington absolutely hated Willingham. Willingham was also at a better school which has more advantages so his failures have no excuses unlike Wulff. Steve Sarkisian took over Willingham's mess and in three short years has the Huskies going to their second straight bowl game. The Cougars are hoping for the same as they'll gain back a healthy Jeff Tuel plus other nice players. Are the Cougars ready to take the Pac-12 by storm? no they aren't. Are they at least ready to go to a bowl game for the first time since 2003? yes they are. They still aren't an overly talented bunch but there is a enough pieces in the passing game for a pass happy coach(Mike Leach) to succeed in year one. Wulff did the dirty work but ultimately wasn't ever going to be the guy to take them over the top.

In conclusion, as a Husky fan I'm sad that Paul Wulff has been fired. No in reality this is a tough day as he was an alum who played for the Cougars. Cougar fans so wanted him to succeed unlike any other coach because the Cougars was his #1 job he was never going to leave them ever. The problem is the fans and maybe administration let that cloud their judgement that a football coaches job is to win games. Wulff didn't win enough games and he'll most likely never be a head coach on any level again. Wulff coached his alma mater but in the end these four years went as terribly as they possibly could have for Wulff and Cougar nation. The Cougars will now look to embrace their new head coach as their rivals prepare for their next bowl opponent. Maybe next year the Cougars will be preparing for their next bowl opponent although Wulff won't be there to see it unfold.

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