That was fast.
A day after WSU's 35-28 Apple Cup loss, athletic director Bill Moos confirmed coach Paul Wulff is staying with the Cougars.
I was a firm believer for most of the season that Wulff should be fired. The Cougs finished the season ninth or 10th in the Pac-10 in most statistical categories. I especially wanted him gone after seeing the Cougs lose 42-0 to Arizona State, a team many believed they should have beaten. And yes, the Tempe Chainsaw Massacre will forever live on in infamy.
And yet ...
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People have seen improvement on the field, even if it hasn't translated into wins. In the final two games, the Cougs dismantled Oregon State, which was ranked earlier in the season, and posed a serious threat to UW's bowl chances. Also, Wulff can recruit. The Woodland, Calif., native has been particularly good at tapping the Central California market, snapping up quarterback Jeff Tuel of Fresno, wide receiver Marquess Wilson of Tulare and safety Deone Bucannon of Fairfield. (Bucannon's hometown is about 30 miles down the road from Davis, where Wulff played high school football.) Tuel is only a sophomore this year, and Wilson and Bucannon are freshmen, so we should expect more growth in the coming season. Also, running back James Montgomery, a former Sacramento-area high school star, might return for his sixth year of eligibility. He sat out the 2008 season after transferring from California, where he was the third-leading rusher in 2007 behind current NFL players Justin Forsett and Jahvid Best (DeSean Jackson, another future pro, was fourth). Last year, Montgomery suffered a life-threatening leg injury, but this season, he came back and was WSU's leading rusher.
Keeping Wulff is a big risk, especially with the imminent conference expansion. But Cougs can be a very loyal breed, and I suspect Moos did not want to boot a fellow WSU alumnus, especially one who came up through the program and believes in it so strongly. At some point, though, restoring the program to some form of respectability must be a priority. I hope Moos made it clear to Wulff that if there aren't more wins next year, then he is gone without fail.