Over the long hot summer – OK, not so hot and it didn't seem all that long either – we kept seeing Paul Wulff's name pop up on the Internet and television. It always had to do with his job status. It wore on us. And it got us to thinking. How does all that stuff affect the players? So we decided to ask. Which is the basis for our story this morning in the S-R. Read on for more on that and your Sunday morning links.
• When I was talking to a half-dozen players recently, I was struck by their willingness to examine the effect such hot seat talk has on their lives – and the openness in talking about it. As I said, this is the basis for my story. Of course, any talk of Wulff's status needed his thoughts and those of his boss, athletic director Bill Moos. There are quite a few of those in the story, but we have more from them below, along with more thoughts from the players. ... It's obvious this is a crucial year for Wulff and the Cougars. There's little doubt they have to be better, to compete each week, to take the heat off. But I don't believe Moos has a set number of wins that the team needs to achieve written on piece of paper somewhere. There's much more than that to how he rates progress. If you look at Moos' track record, it's pretty obvious he's prone to giving coaches the benefit of the doubt (see Ernie Kent) and has to be pretty convinced it's necessary before he makes a change. And Moos does know a little about building football programs. He's had a hand in the long-term success at Montana (one of the top two or three 1AA schools in the nation) and Oregon. ... Enough of my rambling. Here are more of the comments we gathered that didn't make the story ...
• Jared Karstetter: "My perspective on it is, coach Wulff is our coach. Here at Washington State, I feel like we have a family atmosphere and the coaches have always had our back in things. As long as coach Wulff is the coach here, the players are all pretty good about having his back as well and I think everyone plays hard for him."
• Travis Long: "I know (the hot seat talk) won't (affect) me. I can't speak for others. They're my coaches now, currently, so I'm going to listen to them, I'm going to play for them. I can't let future decisions affect what's happening now." ... "I love our coaching staff. I think what they're doing for Washington State, they obviously had to come in and take care of some stuff. That's what needed to happen. They needed to get some different type of players into the program. We had a rough two years, but we've got two recruiting classes full of solid players they wanted, that play their style."
• Jeff Tuel: "They are the hardest working coaches I've ever seen or heard of. The recruiting these guys do is ridiculous. The hours they put in, I honestly don't know how these guys do it sometimes. I hear they are here until three in the morning and back at seven. Cans of Red Bull in the meeting rooms. I mean, they bust their tails and they work really hard."
• Bill Moos: "As I've looked closely at our football program, I've been quite impressed with many aspects of it, most notably the recruiting aspect. We now have some quality Pac-10 caliber players. They're a little sparse in the upperclassmen but this new group is quite impressive." ... "I know how hard Paul and the staff have worked to create those recruiting relationships and bring a better caliber of athlete in. I'm hoping that can translate into more victories this year ... but it has really impressed me, it shows our future could be bright." ... "I've been really been impressed, too, with the work ethic and the attitude of this team, and the leadership that is starting to emerge."
• Paul Wulff on what he told his players concerning the chatter in the media: "You hear how great someone is, and that's usually not the case, and you hear how bad somebody is, and that's also not the case. So you need to be intelligent in how information is presented out there and realize it all is really not healthy. We've spent too much time building and doing the right thing for this program, which we are doing, to let something on the outside affect our performance." ... "All that matters to me is that I've got support from my athletic director and administration, and they understand how to build a program, like Bill does. There is no (athletic director) better in the country that understands how you build quality football programs. He's seen it done, he knows when quality is being built. Who could you ask for better knowledge of that from an administrative standpoint than Bill Moos?" ... "President Floyd made the absolute best decision he could make. He hired the one person who understands Washington State better than anybody out there. It was an unbelievable hire by President Floyd, period. He knows how it has to work at Washington State." ... "This team is going to win some games this year. I don't know how many. If we stay healthy, we get on a roll, we can surprise a lot of football teams. There's no question we want to win more than we lose which puts us, what, in a bowl game. That's a ... goal we should be setting our eyes on right now without question." ... "(Moos) was in my interview. I laid (my plan) out, I haven't wavered. He was, I think, my biggest fan for me to get the job. As the last two years have gone along, people have paid attention to why we've been where were, he understands what's happening. He realizes we've just gotten out of the hole, now we're starting to put the foundation together and start building some walls. Any reasonable person who understands this game and has been part of the rebuilding process would understand that."
• Now on to the links. The Oregonian's John Hunt looks at how the questions facing the conference due to the expansion. ... Parity in the Pac-10 means, according to Rick Neuheisel as quoted in George Schroeder's column, that everyone but the Cougars think they can win the conference (and no, I didn't hear him say this). ... One thing that can't be argued, no college conference made more news this summer than the Pac-10. ... Wonder how that new conference logo came to be? You can find out here. ... Back to the field, Arizona has questions to answer in camp. ... ASU has one really big one. Who will play quarterback? ... On the court, the Sun Devils are fighting a misconception in recruiting.
• That's all for this morning. We'll be back if events warrant. Until then ...