Oct 31, 2013; Pullman, WA, USA; General view of Martin Stadium during the NCAA football game between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Washington State Cougars. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Washington State athletic director Bill Moos cautioned fans of Cougar football during his weekly “Cougar Calls” with Bud Nameck. He offered sound justification to resist those who are spreading gloom and doom.
“I think we’re making progress. I think we’re more competitive than we were a year ago,” cited Moos.
Sure, you might be scoffing the optimism of Moos because the Cougs (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) have been on the wrong side of blowouts losing the last three Pac-12 games.
For those ready to write off this season for Cougar football, here’s some facts which should be considered.
“The combined record of the people who have beaten us is 32-5 (actually it’s 32-7). So they’re beating a lot of people,” reminds Moos to those who are ready to jump ship.
No one is suggesting WSU’s record is something to get excited about, especially not Bill Moos. As a former Washington State player, he does have insights and perspective beyond the scope of most of us.
Oct 12, 2013; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach looks on against the Oregon State Beavers during the second half at Martin Stadium. The Beavers beat the Cougars 52-24. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Coach Mike Leach and his staff have yet to deliver bowl eligibility, but there is a charted course leading toward good things on the gridiron. “With our facility enhancements and a big name coach like Mike Leach and his staff, our recruiting is going extremely well.”
In the context of rebuilding Cougar football, Moos pointed out, “I think we’re at almost at 20, 21 commitments for a recruiting class that has to cap out at 25 per NCAA rules. Along with last year’s recruiting class, these are highly recruited players.”
The man who has crafted a blueprint to revitalize the entire WSU athletic program offered a specific example of the caliber of student-athletes looking to become a part of Cougar football.
“We had a defensive end (Dimarya Mixon 6-4, 270 out of Texas) in that I talked to on Thursday. He’s already been offered by Washington, UCLA, Cal, Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and he’s wanting to come up and take a look at us. This has been the case with our recruiting efforts since Mike Leach has been here.”
Not since Mike Price was the head man have top tier recruits seriously considered committing to Washington State.
"“Give us a year or two with the recruits I’m talking about and the program that Mike Leach is putting together at Washington State, we’ll be mentioned in that same breath (with top Pac-12 programs). There’s a lot of fun lying ahead.”— Bill Moos, Washington State athletic director"
What has exacerbated the frustration of Cougar Nation is the way teams have dominated WSU in four of their last five games.
Oct 31, 2013; Pullman, WA, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils tailback Marion Grice (1) is defended by Washington State Cougars linebacker Darryl Monroe (13) at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Moos calmly reflected on the Cougar ‘D’ surrendering the kind of stats most opposing offensive coordinators dream about.
“They’re giving up a lot of yards and a lot of points to teams that are putting up a lot of yards and a lot of points on a lot of teams.”
Not one to make excuses, Moos turned his focus to the WSU offense.
Oct 31, 2013; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars receiver Gabe Marks (9) is pursued by Arizona State Sun Devils linebacker Carl Bradford (52) on a 34-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
“We need to score a lot of points. Our offense has got to click. We need to be scoring 35-40 points. And we will when Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense is in sync and we’ve got all the right players in the right positions.”
By this point of the season, even young players are starting to learn what it takes to play Pac-12 level football. Make no mistake that young talents like sophomore Gabe Marks on offense or Daquawn Brown on defense have yet to mature and reach their full potential. But those are just two of about 25 first and second year players learning right now what it takes to contend for post season play.
Take heed from the architect of WSU athletics.
"“We’re going to be competitive next year and we’re going to be in the mix to be in bowl games and maybe in the mix to be a player in the Pac-12 Northern Division. That’s what the blueprint is and that’s what we’re expecting.”— Bill Moos"