As happens more often than not, the end of the football season comes & for the WSU Cougars and “everything” but yet “nothing” is ridding on their success in the Apple Cup. This year was no exception, with Cougars muddling though another painful losing 1-7 (conference) season. Meanwhile, their arch rival Washington Huskies showed up with their bowl hopes on the Apple Cup line for the first time in many seasons. So with with no bowl games or conference championships to play for, the Coug’s were playing for pride and the possibility of knocking Huskies out of a bowl game. For those who have followed Cougar football, this Apple Cup game day situation could be best summed up as the good old days.
However this year, there was something else to play for and that was Coach Paul Wulff’s job. Now some will say it was never in question, but Athletic Director Bill Moos silence up until game day spoke volumes as to what was really on the line. So for the 103rd time in history, the Cougars and the Huskies did battle on a cold windy day in Pullman. The outcome, a 35-28 victory for the Huskies in one of the best played games by both teams in many years. Either team could have won the game although game officials some how managed to steal the excitement with a series of last minute game-under-review calls on a last few seconds Coug sideline catch. So while Cougars could not overcome a late Jake Locker 29 yd TD catch to Husky receiver Jerome Kearse, Washington State played one of their best game of the year.
Cougar QB Jeff Tuel threw for 298 yards, 3 touchdowns, and Paul Wulff’s job in and otherwise fairly even stat match up game. The only exception was in the rushing dept., with Husky running back Polk putting up most of the 315 vs 110 yards in the game. With the game wrapped up, there was big new for both teams as the Huskies moved on to a bowl game for the first time in 8 years and Washington State Bill Moos announcing the retention of Paul Wulff as the head football coach for the next year.
So while Coach Wulff keeps his job and his 5-32, 3-year win record (worst ever in the Pac-10) for another year, there is still considerable debate within the Cougar nation as to whether this was the right call. This is especially true with WAZZU game attendance dwindling faster than beer at Pullman frat house party. But Moos was in a tough spot. No budget to bring in real coaching talent & the bigger issue of having been part of the selection committee to hire Coach Wulff. So he did the only real thing he could do, he threw for the end-zone like QB Tuel, played the game well, and kept Wulff for another year. Go Cougs!