The Washington State Cougars went into the weekend in very high hopes that Brett Rypien, nephew of former Coug-great Mark Rypien, would be committing crimson sometime soon. Saturday though, Brett did something not many expected.
Now, before going off the rails here Cougar fans, let’s take a moment to remember that while Rypien is the 6th rated QB in the country (ESPN and Scout) he is far from a lock for early (or any) playing time at WSU. Meanwhile, new head coach Bryan Harsin of the Broncos can realistically offer him the day 1 starting nod. Also remember that Harsin is really big on throwing the football when he has the trigger-man to do it, having coached as the offensive coordinator from 2001 to 2010 at BSU we can say that with relative confidence.
That said, this will sting Cougar nation for awhile. The Cougs are in terrific shape at the quarterback position, but Rypien’s commitment would have validated a whole lot of things about Mike Leach and also made this one of the best young quarterback schools in the Pac-12. Not that it won’t happen still (or perhaps already has), the recruiting year is just getting started but it would have been a big step forward in the eye of national public perception nonetheless.
Personally, I can’t say I definitely saw this coming but my original inclination was that he would go elsewhere. I had just recently really latched onto the idea that Rypien would be ours and it was going to be really exciting to watch the quarterback battle with him in it. But as it unfolds, my original fear of not enough space right now on the depth chart seems to be a big part of the problem in trying to land Rypien, or any other high-profile quarterback this upcoming season.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s the best possible problem Wazzu could have, too many good quarterbacks in the fold to legitimately “give” anybody promises on playing time. Not that Mike Leach would do that anyway. When Rypien would have hit campus in 2015, Tyler Bruggman figures to take over as the heir-apparent to Connor Halliday in the starting gig. Bruggman, being a redshirt sophomore, then likely holds onto the job for the remainder of his career for the very same reason Halliday is hanging onto it this season, experience.
That would put Rypien (or whomever) into their redshirt junior season before really getting their chance, barring injury to the original starter. And that’s not all, third-string quarterback Luke Falk looks pretty good and Fort Lauderdale’s Peyton Bender is on the way in as well. Either one of those two guys could just as easily take the reigns and run with the Cougars’ starting job next season if Bruggman doesn’t compete hard enough. It is, after all, a big reason why Austin Apodaca recently left the program.
Rypien placed a big premium on early playing time, and why not? He most certainly looks good enough to be a quality starter for four seasons somewhere. With all that congestion on the Cougar depth chart going into next season, it may be that the opportunity wouldn’t have come at WSU. The Broncos are getting one heck of a prospect and Harsin is off-and-running with a huge coup for his first recruiting class. Will Boise State not fall off as much as we thought?