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Old ties will be renewed at WSU on Saturday


COUGARS

What did Paul Wulff have to say on his Thursday conference call? Not a lot, actually, as he was late arriving. But there were a couple of pieces of news, and our story for tomorrow’s paper on former Cougar Jason McEndoo, so read on.



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• The news is … Bernard Wolfgramm has been upgraded from questionable to probable for Saturday’s game. He’s been battling a shoulder. However, middle backer Mike Ledgerwood was still questionable, so that probably means he won’t be available. That opens time for Hallston Higgins and C.J. Mizell. The latter has been practicing with a bit more fervor the past couple days, so maybe that will translate into more time. … Jared Karstetter and Gino Simone look like they’ll both be going, so the receiving corps is almost back to full strength. … I asked Wulff if there were any changes to the two-deep, and he said the ones having to do with the injuries. But I was really wondering about the offensive line and he said that hasn’t been decided yet. “We’re still working through a few of the offensive line issues,” he said. … Wulff was asked if the blogs and message boards caused problems with the youngsters on the team, in light of the message this week that this was a must-win game, and he said no, because the players are instructed to stay off them. The criticism contained within, he added, doesn’t help. “Those people either have no accountability or any credibility,” he said. “It has nothing to do with football.” … There were some talk about Mike Kramer and his place in Wulff’s past and present. … He was asked about Montana State’s freshman quarterback and Wulff reiterated he’s worried about his ability to make plays. … The key for the Cougars? Wulff said it was to execute the offense and move the ball. … With Jared Byers out – he’s a special teams standout – and Ledgerwood more than likely out, Wulff said there will have to be some fine-tuning on the special teams.

• And now our story. We talked with former Cougar offensive lineman Jason McEndoo this week. If you remember, he was a member of the WSU Rose Bowl squad (Ryan Leaf had his memories of McEndoo and that season on Cougfan earlier) who is now the offensive line coach for Montana State. I also talked with Kramer and Wulff, two people who crossed paths with McEndoo over the years. The upshot is this story. …

There was more to the conversations of course, and we can pass on some of it. … McEndoo understands what WSU is going through right now: “I remember 1995, playing Stanford at home, with less than 5,000 people in the stands,” he said. “I’ve been at that point where these guys are, you know? Been down a little bit.” … On Mike Kramer plucking him from Mt. Spokane High and giving him a Division I job: “I am indebted to him for hiring me at 29-years-old to be a first time Division I position coach. That just doesn’t happen. I wasn’t a graduate assistant, I didn’t spend time as a student assistant, I didn’t work my way up the ranks through that kind of stuff. He hired me on the spot to be full-time position coach. What a great honor. I felt very fortunate.” … Once, while at Mt. Spokane, he took the C squad over to Lake City to play. He had 18 guys. They get off the bus and Van Troxel’s team has 65. So McEndoo says, let’s just play for a while, no special teams, that kind of stuff. Troxel says no, we’re playing a game. So McEndoo puts together a punt team, kickoff team, etc., on the fly and they play. . “Finally, after the third quarter, I called a time out and said we were done.” He earned a lesson that day, which he relates back to a former coach who told him, “It’s not how many you have, it’s who you show up with. That’s one thing I really try to instill in my players at Montana State. I only need five guys. If you’re one of those five, that means you’re showing up on game day and that’s all we need.” …

When Wulff got the WSU job he talked a little with McEndoo about the line coach position. They also talked some after last season. “There were some minimal things, but nothing ever materialized or became formal,” McEndoo said. “Paul and I had a few conversations both times. Obviously, in any sort of hiring situation, you’ve got to go with the guys you feel like are going to be the best fit.” And Wulff said that’s why he went in a different direction both times. “Where we were at in our program right now, we needed a veteran coach who could pull this group together,” he said. That was also the case three years ago. … When Wulff and McEndoo talked just after Wulff’s wife died, they realized something. There were a lot of people who cared. “Even the Cougar nation,” Wulff said. “How fortunate both of us were to be in situations where you could draw on a family tree that’s out there you didn’t even realize existed. It makes you appreciate so much what this university, and the people from here, are about. It is just so unique. You feel blessed you have that connection.” … When I asked Kramer why he hired McEndoo, a guy with no experience, he talked about Mike Price and how guys who played for him knew how to win with less, mentioning the other former Cougs he had hired. And McEndoo had his own talents. “He was a guy who knew success as a player, knew living in a small town as a player, and knew how it was to be recruited as a national recruit,” Kramer said. “When he made a choice to come to Washington State, and have a great career, those are all the elements of a guy who can coach in the netherworld of coaching, out in the boonies, per se.” Kramer said McEndoo became an excellent recruiter, adding 70 percent of MSU’s starters were recruited by him. Half of them started there as walk-ons.

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• That’s all for now. We’ll be back after practice. Until then …

 


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