Yes, Recruiting DOES Matter

We at the WSU Football Blog staff are first and foremost die-hard Coug fans. You know this when you read this stuff. So the following comes at you with the idea that this isn’t to rip on WSU, but to simply help further explain an angle as to why we are where WE are right now.
It’s a normal human reaction to play the blame-game. It happens in every sport, at every level. Joe Torre is likely out of his job this week after the Yanks came up short, again. Is it his fault that his starting pitching was so poor? Is it his fault Roger Clemens got $28 million pro-rated in one of the biggest wastes of money of all-time? Probably not, but Joe will get the axe. I’m not comparing the Cougars to the Yankees, but I am using it as an example that people want to blame someone for failure to succeed. And, obviously Alex Brink and Bill Doba get the brunt of the blame for where we are.
The thing I’ve been harping on, and something that some of you have downplayed, is recruiting. The hype and the 4-and-5 stars are overrated, you said. The Cougars are better off getting the lower-rated guys and developing them, and that there are a lot of highly-rated players that never pan out. But ask anyone that involved with this sport, at any level, and they will tell you flat-out that recruiting is THE LIFEBLOOD of a program. It’s a fun experience to win with a bunch of scrappy kids that the other big programs passed on for whatever reason, but it’s becoming painfully obvious that it’s harder than ever to actually pull it off with lesser talent. Things have changed drastically since our big run in 01-03, and diamonds in the rough are harder than ever to find. Not only do you need a lot of luck, but you also need a coaching staff that can coach ‘em up better than the average bear. Beano Cook always said that Mike Price had to be one of the best coaches in the nation, period, because he always did more with less, and we always tout Price for finding guys that others overlooked, such as Rien Long, Jason Gesser, etc. You know the list.
Anyway, we said a few weeks ago to go back in time, and look at the recruiting classes under the Doba era. Go look at the first few years, especially 2004 and 2005, and then look at where we are today. I’m sure none of you actually did it. But Bud Withers did, and wrote an excellent article about how we got into this position. Among the highlights:
  1. 2003 – 16 signees, including Brink and Jason Hill. But only 7 are even in the program anymore.
  2. 2004 – Collins, Harrison, Bumpus and Brackenridge. But out of 28, only 13 are still in the program(!). That 2004 class is this year’s true senior class.
  3. 2005 – 21 signees, but only 10 are left. This is the biggest failure of any of them. Just 10 players left from a class signed two-plus years ago? BRUTAL.

Withers also points out the dreadful special teams – zero touchbacks this year, while the rest of the Pac-10 has 34. I was touting Drew Dunning’s excellence for bailing us out, time and again, and a huge part of our successful run (does anyone shudder at the thought of trotting Romeen out there, trying to make field goals against USC in that amazing 2002 game?? How frustrating would that have been??). Did you know that WSU kickers are 34 for 60 since Dunning graduated!?!? DOH.

This is the most powerful statement yet: “So of the 65 players added from 2003-05, only 30 remain. Of those who left, 12 were JC recruits who yielded mixed results, leaving 23 who simply washed out of the program.”

We’re a program that’s traditionally thin anyway, even under Price. But to have less than 50% of the players you signed from 2003-2005 that are still even on the roster?? Is there any doubt now as to why we are where we are!??

We are exhibit A of why recruiting makes you – or breaks you. I challenge anyone to argue against this point. Before you want to throw Brink under the bus, yet again, for “just not being clutch” or whatever else you can come up with, you must consider that less than half the players signed from 2003-2005 are even in the program.

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