Nov. 10, 2012; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars wide receiver Brett Bartolone (19) makes the catch between UCLA Bruins cornerback Anthony Jefferson (8) and linebacker Eric Kendricks (6) during the second half at Martin Stadium. UCLA won 44-36. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade"
Charles Dickens was obviously describing Pullman in the spring and it’s my favorite time of the football off season! Watching the Apple Cup victory over and over again, I find myself noticing various things about different positions. I’ve been fact finding and doing a little research on the Washington State receiving core and trying to gauge where the Cougars are with that position.
Let’s have a look at the head coach. Mike Leach has always been a big believer in work ethic over raw talent, he (as do I) believes that no matter how big the talent, it’s all wasted without effort. The biggest obstacle for coach Leach, I believe, has been the culture for Washington State. Always a talented team (some more than others) and whoever has the most talent is the go-to-guy. With the small community in Pullman and the nature of Wazzu, this creates a celebrity status for the players and they start to feel untouchable and even some above the law, sort of a Charlie Sheen type situation if you will. In my opinion this has been what needs to change most at WSU.
Some of the best teams are the most humble in this sport. Look, this is a TEAM sport, there are stars and the team needs them but make no mistake, the true stars consider themselves part of the team and lucky to be part of any team. Even though this Bay writer is a San Francisco 49ers fan, I will use one of the most inspirational players in the NFL, Russell Wilson, as an example. Stop, think about it…. Got it?
If not, watch any given interview with this guy. Russell is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, playing for a team who no one besides Northwest fans cared about before last season, now he has changed the entire view on what Seahawk football is about. He’s got Hawk fans believing they’re not only significant in the NFL but a POWERHOUSE in the NFL! This team was a joke a mere two seasons ago and he changed the culture, and he is humble as pie every step of the way.
I think if this changes at WSU with THIS receiving core, it will be one of the greatest groups of players to set foot on this campus. There are still long roads to be traveled here though. Even after spending the last 4-6 years being embarrassed time after time, sometimes on national television, our beloved Cougs think there is room to slack and that they’ve earned that right. Someone needs to step up and change this within the receivers, be a leader, hold everyone accountable. I know that the coaches do that but they can only do so much. No one affects us like our peers, I mean look at Ron White “I was considered by my peers to be a good comedian, so that’s all I ever strive to do was get some recognition from my peers”. Folks, let’s face it, our coaches can coach us, our leaders can lead us but no one controls the effort we invest in something like our peers or those on our same level. That’s what this group of Cougar receivers needs, to push each other.
I will wrap this one up but just keep an eye out this spring and see the way Leach talks about his receivers. Notice the way he talks about some of his big success stories and what made them great, then look what he says about our team. He’s not just a negative guy as the media portrays him, he does give credit where credit is due but he will not praise weak effort and I applaud him for that! I look forward to seeing where this receiving core ends up come fall but for now as Leach said “We’re a work in progress”