When the final seconds ticked off the clock and the huskies claimed the 2011 Apple Cup with a 38-21 win, the response from myself and my Cougar brethren was oddly quiet.
Typically on such an occasion, I would engage some sort of childish hissy-fit, ranging from the throwing of an object across the room, to the ripping off of the Cougar shirt I was wearing or just a succession of shots of whatever alcohol happened to be closest. Of course, all of this would be followed by furious texting/emailing/calling and enraged complaints about the inadequacy of the refs/play-calling/recruiting/clock management/etc.
Not this year, though.
When the huskies stormed the field in triumph, I could only shrug my shoulders and see this for what it was: Short-term pain which would result in long-term pleasure.
You know what I'm talking about - it's all over the news. Rumors "leaked" by "sources close to the situation" don't get leaked without reason. A savvy PR pro like Moos knows what he's doing. He's not going to drop a bombshell. By the time his announcement comes on Monday or Tuesday, the entire Cougar nation will have had two days to chew on the dismissal of a die-hard Coug as coach. It won't surprise anyone. The inevitable feelings of hurt and betrayal that many will feel will have started to subside. We will be ready to move on.
The fact is, this is the right decision.
The fan base is grossly fractured, and dangerously ambivalent. When Moos set about re-defining Cougar athletics, the thing it needed most was a shot in the arm in the coaching ranks. He can build new facilities, remodel old ones, re-design uniforms and wave the flag all he wants, but none of that will give the majority of fans the "spark" that they so desperately needed.
A new coach and a new direction are key. You can walk around the alumni events with a hand out, hoping that the fans will miraculously start giving more, but you'll always know that no one is going to donate anything more if it doesn't appear that the school believes its own sales-pitch. You can't tell donors that things are gonna get better and then not prove to them that you're doing everything in your power to make it happen.
Bill Moos needs to make this move because he believes that this program will be nationally-relevant year in and year out. He knows full well that this school has the ability to be a power house again and when it happens this next time, there's no way he'll squander that opportunity to push this program to the next level.
Paul Wulff is by all accounts a great Cougar, but he's not the right guy, right now.
Wulff, even in what appears to have been his last game, did nothing out of the ordinary. It was typical Wulff - the players fought hard, showed some athleticism and never gave up. Unfortunately, they also failed to execute on key plays, made some pretty big errors, and were asked to run the same maddeningly predictable plays that were not suited for the personnel on the field and not surprising to even one of the nation's worst defenses.
Like I've said in the past, I've always been in love with the idea of Paul Wulff, but now, it's time to move away from it. Having a Coug at the helm, one who understands Pullman is great, but what the Cougs need now is someone who understands rebuilding at the major college level.
In addition, they need someone that will awaken the fan base. It's typical for people to say that they need to make a "splash," but I think that's the wrong term. A "splash" indicates that it's something big, but something lacking substance. The Cougs need simply to be bold.
When WSU hired Bill Moos a year and a half ago, it was done with the 'idea that he would no longer settle for the "coug'd it", "woe is me", "little school" mentality. Now, it's time for him to do what we hired him for. It's time for the fans to let him do what we hired him for.
Paul Wulff took on a tough and thankless job and laid the foundation for success. I have no doubt that we will all thank him for it down the road.
But for now, it's time for Bill Moos to be bold and move this program forward.