I wanted to write today about the small signs of progress. You know, the youth making some small steps forward, the modified pistol offense that showed they are trying to think outside the box, stuff like that. But I’m sorry to say this, but….I’m tired of it, you’re tired of it, we’re all tired of it. It’s the same story every week, but the end result is an overmatched and outgunned football program on many levels. It’s time to just call it what it is – another week of an epic rebuilding job, with a completely predictable outcome. Nothing more, nothing less.
But all that went on with the game itself, the 30+ missed tackles and never forcing a USC punt? The saddest part of Saturday was the crowd. A sunny, warm, late September Saturday game vs. a top NCAA opponent in USC, and we draw an announced crowd of 24,000? And according to those who were in the stands, the actual attendance might have been considerably less, maybe 20,000 if we are lucky? And once the floodgates opened in the third quarter, it was drive home safely time? How in the world do we draw a number like that, given the weather and level of opponent?
No, I’m not blaming the people for not coming to the game. This isn’t a blast job on those of you who weren’t there, not at all. Instead, it’s time to examine why this is happening.
The worst thing in sports is an apathetic fan base. It is something all franchises, on any level, absolutely dread. When you have a passionate fan base, when you win the fans are happy, when you lose, they get pissed. But at least get an emotion out of people, you know what I mean? When a fan base demands action and doesn’t tolerate losing, at least they have some juice for their beloved team/program/whatever. But here we are. It’s as if we have all come to accept the inevitable, that here we are in year three of Wulff’s regime and we expect the worst every Saturday.
The scary part is that many of us have just accepted the situation and convinced ourselves that it is OK to lose right now. We’re young, we’re inexperienced, just deal with the blowouts and shut up….but keep supporting the team, of course. But when you aren’t even getting a reaction, when you “lose the crowd”, so to speak, then you are in serious trouble. Apathy kills all the things that are necessary to compete off the field. Funds are tight in this economy, obviously, and many of us have to carefully pick and choose where our discretionary income ends up. But to have an uninteresting product on the field kills any kind of momentum you are trying to create off of it.
Let’s face it, we got lucky with our A.D. situation last spring. No offense to Jim Sterk, but his time had run it’s course, and it was time for him to move on down the road. And lo and behold, Bill Moos just fell into our laps in an incredible stroke of luck. And now, after several months of formulating a plan, Mr. Moos is out there trying to execute his vision of getting us out of the muck and back to relevancy. For example, he has put together a plan for a football only facility to be built into Martin Stadium. Over 100,000 square feet are potentially available to be renovated under the press box side of the field, where football offices, locker rooms, a WSU hall of fame, all of it could be built into the existing stadium. It’s a great move forward for the players, and Moos understands the things that will attract top-tier talent. Just look at his track record, his successes at Oregon. He knows what works and what doesn’t in recruiting, and having luxury style football facilities certainly trumps adding 5,000 seats to a half-empty stadium right now! It’s a great plan by Moos, and it will definitely help in upping the level of talent choosing to spend four to five years in Pullman. And improve the product on the field, you give the fans a reason to WANT to help off the field!
But to raise funds for these kinds of things, you have to have something that people want to be a part of. You have to get the passion going, stir up the emotions, get them excited again. You have to give people a reason to write that check, hop in the car and give them the burning desire to make the trek to Pullman and take in a fun, exciting, memorable college football Saturday.
And that passion is simply missing from the equation right now.
It is sad to say it, but I think it is quite obvious now. The losses over the last couple of years have caused considerable damage to this fan base. People are giving up. But this didn’t just happen overnight. It started at the end of Doba’s watch, when things went south in a hurry. But it continued into this regime. It was like the first year with Wulff was OK, we get it. We’re a mess of epic proportions, it’s an ugly coaching changeover, we understand and we’ll hang in there. It will get a lot better, and soon. Second year, OK, we’re young, and wow are we injured! Again, we’re a mess on the field and the blowouts continue. But good things are happening off the field, where we are actually having players eat right, lift weights and go to class. We get it. Just wait until next year!
Well, next year is here. After Wulff was quoted several times that we would see a new level of competitiveness in 2010, it just isn’t happening. All the good will and hope for improvement seemed to disappear in about 15 minutes vs. Oklahoma State in week one. And when you add in the considerable damage absorbed by the fan base the last couple of years, you have to wonder if they are ever going to dig out of this hole. No matter the message that things are better behind the scenes, no matter the sound bites and radio shows and press conferences that we are getting better, once the curtain goes up and the lights go on? It’s just more pain and suffering. And like it or not, Saturday’s crowd is proof positive that apathy isn’t just starting to set in, it’s here folks. And that is a dangerous area for this program right now.
Who knows what will happen next. But something has to change, and it has to change fast.
OK, off the soap box. Blog-ballot time, as we actually remember to vote this week! Read on for the ballot, if you care:
And Grippi also has some quotes from Wulff from yesterday.
All for now. Go Cougs.