Sept. 22, 2012; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars football team runs out before a game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
We are about a week away from the start of another season for Cougar football. And for over a century, this has been a time of year filled with anxious anticipation for coaches, players and fans alike.
Faded are the memories of the painful rebuilding process of a beleaguered Washington State program.
Spanning the past decade or so, WSU fortunes have gone from a Rose Bowl berth to the basement below the cellar in Pac-12 standings.
Is there any justification for optimism across Cougar Nation in 2013?
Nov. 23, 2012; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach watches game action against the Washington Huskies during the first half at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
The WSU football roster for this team led by Coach Mike Leach and his staff is evolving in three significant areas: athleticism; academics and chemistry.
There is depth at every position charted. If you have any doubts, this season writers have penned more stories specifying attributes about players than are warranted for a club coming off a 3-9 campaign in 2012.
Primarily the proliferation of articles, analysis, reporting and essays covering Cougar football can be linked to the credible steps Coach Leach and his staff are taking. And if you somehow haven’t noticed the internet clutter created in the wake of the storm swirling around Cougar football, do a Google search. You’ll get about 883,000 results (0.22 seconds).
Academically, Coach Leach has provided much needed leadership to motivate his roster of student-athletes to excel in the classroom. Not only are grades improved for the guys who will proudly wear crimson and gray uniforms as they roar onto the field of Jordan-Hare Stadium this coming Saturday, this team is on pace to be a Top 25 program academically.
There is a palpable chemistry exuding positive energy from the WSU football program these days. After a 10-day stint opening fall camp in nearby Lewiston, ID, virtually every player spoke of the family closeness they share with one another. In other words, not only do these guys like each other they will gladly go into battle on the gridiron as brothers.
Then there is the deft hand thoughtfully imprinting changes in all Washington State athletics.
Bill Moos has crafted a plan dedicated to exceed the expectations of anyone and everyone associated with WSU. When it comes to building an athletic program, Moos brought a wealth of experience to Pullman when he landed his dream job a couple of years ago. No question his alma mater is reaping huge benefit. Each project Moos and his staff have taken on has been completed ahead of schedule and under budget without sacrificing quality. You better believe that adds to the chemistry of the Cougar football program and every team on the WSU campus.
Let the final countdown continue toward 4pm PST next Saturday when Washington State visits Auburn, another football program in the initial stages of rebuilding. These are two teams striving to simply wear down their opponent by a preponderance offensive plays designed to sap the strength of a defense. This writer is salivating at the prospect of seeing how Game 1 plays out.
The time for fearless predictions, forecasts, rankings and projections made without supporting game results is winding down.
Jan 1, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; General view during the 2013 Rose Bowl game between the Stanford Cardinal and the Wisconsin Badgers at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Between next Saturday and December 7th, every team in the Pac-12 has their eye on the prize…a trip to Pasadena to play in the Granddaddy of all college post-season games, the Rose Bowl.
This promises to be a tremendously competitive Conference of Champions race unaffected by conventional wisdom, experienced insight and self-important commentary.
Set the game clock to 15:00 remaining in the first quarter. Let the referee blow the whistle to begin play. Fans can get set to once again enjoy the pageantry that is college football.
Washington State Cougar football is poised to succeed as a brotherhood on the field and in the classroom. The level of success achieved will play out in the coming months and promises to be fun to witness.