LOS ANGELES – The past three years haven’t been exactly what Jared Karstetter expected.
But there is always this fall.
Karstetter, the senior-to-be, was Washington State’s player representative Tuesday at the first Pac-12 media day, sitting next to coach Paul Wulff on the dais in the commissary at Fox’s movie studios in West Los Angeles.
But Karstetter wasn’t about to go all Hollywood about the supporting role.
That’s not the receiver from Spokane’s style. And besides, having been part of teams that have won just five times in three years, Karstetter has learned some tough lessons in humility.
“The hardest part of it is the amount of time and effort we put in being college athletes,” Karstetter said over lunch after answering just one question during the press conference with his coach. “We’re all really competitive, and when you work as hard as we do, you’re usually successful.
“Not being successful, it’s been really hard for me. But we’ve just kept grinding and grinding. It’s a real tribute to coach Wulff and his staff last year that they were able to keep us on track the whole year. At the end, you saw what that did.”
Wulff introduced Karstetter to the media as one of his first recruits when he came to Pullman from Eastern Washington, but in actuality Karstetter had decided on WSU long before.
He was a Cougars fan growing up and when former coach Bill Doba offered a scholarship, Karstetter jumped.
The change of the guard didn’t change his mind. And Wulff was happy to have him.
“He’s a big time competitor and that’s what so great about him,” Wulff said. “He was willing to take the challenge on, knowing there was going to be some rebuilding to do.”
Karstetter’s toughness has been tested the past three years, but none more than his freshman one, when the changeover and the subsequent dismal season caused dissension.
“At first everyone wasn’t on the same page,” he said. “But that’s change. Anytime people have to deal with change, when they are used to something and then we weren’t as successful, it completely divided everything.
“That was probably the hardest situation I’ve dealt with. Now, it’s completely different, which is nice.”
That’s why the Cougars experienced a bit of success at the end of last season Karstetter said. And why he expects them to do better this one.
“Everyone is on the same page,” he said. “I’m excited for this year.”
Wulff is as well, saying this season’s team will make big strides. How big, he’s not sure. But he’s sure winning will be a part of it.
“It’s very important we take a big step (early) because we’ve all been working toward that,” he said. “There isn’t a person in that football program that doesn’t believe we’re going to take a big step. How big? We’re not sure yet.
“We will take one and it’s going to be big.”
If it isn’t, the discussions about Wulff’s future, already stoked by a 5-32 three-year record, will boil to the surface. It’s a scenario Wulff understands, but such talk is something he’ll try to keep from his players.
“I was hired to build a program,” Wulff said. “That’s what I’m doing, building a program. And our players’ job is to play football and to represent their school. They are not to worry about what outside people say about me or themselves or the state of Cougar football.
“They are there to be a student and to play their (butts) off and to have a hell of good time playing football. If they’re listening or hearing anything else, my job is to make sure they don’t listen to it.”