September 7, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington State Cougars wide receiver Brett Bartolone (19) runs the ball against the Southern California Trojans during the first half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Washington State finally blew the doors off of an FCS team under Mike Leach and it’s significant in many ways for the program. These are the three that top my list:
- Legitimacy Leads Recruiting
Yep, the Cougs can finally be viewed as “back” in the Pac-12, as far as being a legitimate contender for bowl games. Of course there’s still plenty of work to do to make that happen in 2013, but the progress is immediately evident in these games. Wins like this are fabulous recruiting helpers in the sense that big-time kids look for a team that can take care of their business. Even close wins against the USC’s are huge, especially in the short term, but a blowout of a school like SUU says that you are more than a fluke. Also it’s one of those stats that kids look at when determining their chances of being recognized at your school. The legitimacy of the football program to kids like Marcus Griffin (already committed but suddenly being heavily wooed by the entire West coast) is huge for the continued growth of the program in-conference as those kids’ choices are validated on the field.
Like Deone Bucannon said in his post-game “I can’t even describe in words what coach Leach does with programs and what he does as a coach. He makes it easy for us and it speaks volumes of him as a coach.” That’s something that kids want to hear when talking to current players on their visits. Also, 48 points on the score board will help (wink, wink).
- Fun for the Kids, Important for the Fan Base
It’s no fun scrutinizing your team as a fan. It does seem like we do it in a far too powerful microscope, so much so that we criticize our quarterbacks for playing less than perfect games against two of the most athletic defenses in the country. Especially in a home opener, the fans want to see their team out-perform the competition. To watch your team dominate when they’re supposed to (and your qb play a near-perfect game to boot) zaps all of the scrutiny out of the fan base. Fans that are focused on how good their football team can be is going to show up and support them.
- Opportunity to Iron Out the Kinks and a Stress-Free Week
The Cougs still have things to work on. Isiah Myers running the wrong route and costing the offense and interception, Deone Bucannon holding a receiver and taking away a pick 6. It’s all good after a win, but it’s much more fun to iron these kinds of mistakes out in a stress-free environment. Stress usually leads to frustration, which can ultimately stunt the growth of certain individuals in game-situations. Guaranteed this week will be (more) stress-free and a great opportunity to grow as a team before really having to ramp it back up for Stanford in two weeks. And no, Idaho will not challenge this team.