We have a lot to share tonight, from Paul Wulff's press conferences to Ken Bone's – tomorrow is signing day – to football practice. But before we get there, I want to share some personal thoughts about the person who is going to be filling this position come the first of the year. Please read on.
• When I decided a few months ago to take The Spokesman-Review's early retirement offer and ride off into the sunset, my boss, Joe Palmquist, solicited my advice on who he should talk with as my replacement. I immediately thought of Christian Caple. After the uproar of the past couple days, I thought you might want to know why. Christian covered the football part of this beat last year, working for the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. In the months he covered the Cougars (and for his paper that also meant doing WSU soccer, volleyball and prep sports) I got to know him, talk with him, read his work. I was impressed by his reporting skills. Ya, I read the piece he wrote for the UW Daily that has everyone's shorts in bunches and gave him crap about it. Why not? He deserved it. But I also understand what college newspapers write concerning their rivals. Heck, if UC Irvine had had a real newspaper when I was there, I might have wrote something darn similar about Cal State Fullerton (don't get me started on the Titans' parking lots). Though I'm sure it never would have been as well-crafted as Christian's piece. What I saw in Christian was a kid – I've lived long enough to call him that – who wanted to be a newspaper sports reporter, respected the profession and took pride in his work. I saw a lot of me at his age. Listen, if you had read the stuff I wrote for the Orange County Register when I covered UC Irvine basketball for the paper, you would have thought I was a Titan. They Anteaters were bad and I was a smart-ass. Not a good combination. I was learning the profession. Though I thought I knew it all. Christian was so much further ahead of me in that regard it's not even funny. He wants to excel, to do a complete job, to fulfill the trust readers have in their newspaper. That's a rare commodity in this day and age, trust me. Do I think I've done a good job covering this beat? Sure I do. I have an ego. But I also know there have been some holes in my coverage. And you guys deserve someone who is going to fill those holes. That's why I recommended Christian for the job. He's young and inexperienced, sure. But given the economics of the newspaper business these days, young and inexperienced were going to be baselines for the job. I believe he'll work for you, the readers, with everything he has. He'll ask tough questions, get you the answers. He'll grow with the job and get better and better. Give him a chance. I'm in his corner. … Of course, if he screws up, I'm going to be the first guy to skin him alive. …
• OK, let's move on. … We listened to Paul Wulff's conference calls today and can pass along what he said. Much of what he had to say related to the questions of his future and the discussion of same I relayed in a story for tomorrow's S-R. You can read that here. As for the other items, he talked about how much of an influence Dennis Erickson had on him as a mentor, giving him a blueprint in how to treat players, how good ASU's defense is and Brock Osweiler's consistency as a quarterback. He also talked about whether he would play Connor Halliday at quarterback this weekend, saying that would be evaluated after they watch the redshirt freshman practice this week. As an aside, Halliday took a large percentage of the first-team snaps today, which would dovetail nicely with what Wulff had to say. … In his local presser, Wulff talked about many of those same subjects but also went into a bit more about the Cougars' play against California, which he called “one of those days” in which you get a little dazed. He said the effort was fine but the focus was not even close to what was needed. Why? He said that happens to players over the course of a season. … He defended his quotes about California's players being as good as anyone's in the conference, saying when the Bears have lost it has been because of poor quarterback play and turnovers. … There was quite a bit of discussion on the schedule with Jim Moore wondering about the two months with just one stop in Pullman and how bad that was. Wulff said it was tough but it's behind them now. And, he added, it's no one's fault, just the way it worked out. … He also said that next year the schedule is so much better, with the Cougars tentatively having just one two-week stretch away from Pullman. … Along those lines, he talked about how much better the Cougars will be next year, with a lot of veteran players returning and a year under the belt of the freshmen and sophomores. … That's the best of it. … OK, on to basketball. Coach Ken Bone said that his injured starters – Reggie Moore (groin), Faisal Aden (concussion) and Abe Lodwick (sprained foot) – are all still questionable for Monday's opener at Gonzaga. It's never good to play a ranked team on its home court without three starters but that may be what the Cougars are facing. If Moore can't go, freshman DaVonté Lacy will start in his spot. If Aden's out, it will be transfer Mike Ladd. And if Lodwick sits, it will be either Patrick Simon, Will DiIorio or Charlie Enquist, depending on the matchup. … Bone thinks Gonzaga's frontcourt is about as good as it gets in the nation and the backcourt isn't shabby either. … Someone asked him to compare D.J. Shelton and DeAngelo Casto (not it) and Bone said there really is no comparison, at least not between Shelton now and Casto last season. Maybe when Casto was a freshman, but Shelton has a long ways to go. … One other note. Women's basketball coach June Daugherty revealed today she's agreed to a two-year contract extension which will take her original seven-year contract through the 2015-16 season. Daugherty has won 27.4 of her games here as she tries to rebuild the WSU program. Wonder if, by extending her, athletic director Bill Moos is laying the groundwork for an extension of Paul Wulff's contract. Wulff has won 17.4 percent of his games.
• That's all we have for tonight. We'll be back in the morning. Until then …