OSU football: WSU once was good
Oklahoma State opens its season with perhaps the worst football team in the six conferences that receive automatic berths to the BCS. Washington State has been awful: 2-11 in 2008, 1-11 in 2009. WSU’s only Pac-10 victory was a 2008 win over Washington, which went winless that season.
Since Mike Price’s departure in January 2003 — after the Rose Bowl against OU, Price left for Alabama, where because of personal scandal he never coached a game — the Cougars have been a stunning decline.
WSU was 10-3 in Bill Doba’s first year, 2003, continuing a remarkable success story. Washington State made Rose Bowls in the 1997 and 2002 seasons, which is like Baylor winning the Big 12 or Vanderbilt the SEC. Washington State has absolutely nothing with which to compete in the Pac-10. Yet under Price, WSU did it.
In that 2003 season, Washington State beat Texas — and Vince Young — 28-20 in the Holiday Bowl.
But check out the Cougars’ slide since then: 5-6, 4-7, 6-6, 5-7, 2-11, 1-11.
New coach Paul Wulff is 3-22, and Washington State has returned to the destitute program it was in the late 1960s, before Jim Sweeney brought hope to Pullman and began a tradition of WSU scratching out victories because of quality coaching.
Washington State’s coaches include a long series of names you will recognize. Sweeney (who went on to Fresno State), Jackie Sherrill (Pitt, Texas A&M), Warren Powers (Missouri), Jim Walden (Iowa State), Dennis Erickson (Miami, Arizona State, Seahawks, 49ers) and Mike Price (who has done an excellent job at UTEP since the ‘Bama scandal).
Washington State’s problems started with Doba, who apparently quit recruiting. WSU panicked during the Rose Bowl preparations. Price accepted the Alabama job and announced half his staff was following him to Tuscaloosa. Washington State, fearing it wouldn’t have a staff with which to compete in one of its biggest games ever, brokered a deal that convinced Price to remain through the Rose Bowl, while also working for Alabama. Price and Doba were named co-coaches for the Rose Bowl.
Washington State lost, both the Rose Bowl to OU (34-14) and its traction in competing with the likes of USC, Oregon and Washington. In the seven years from 1997 through 2003, Washington State, tucked away in far eastern Washington, four times won 10 games.
Since then, WSU is 23-48 and seemingly getting worse before it gets better.
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