Countdown to College Football: Day 26 - Washington State
Monday arrives, and we will preview the alma mater of a few of our writers here, myself included. Time to look at Old Wazzu.
School: Washington State University
Fight Song: The Fight Song
Head Coach: Mike Leach (113-77, 29-34 at WSU)
Stadium: Martin Stadium (Capacity: 32,952)
Best Place to Eat on Campus:
This was a difficult decision. Pullman, despite having only a handful of stoplights, has a good selection of restaurants. Sella's is a fantastic spot with fatty, oily, delicious calzones and pizza. I recommend the pesto artichoke calzone, trust me. The Coug is a must visit, but you are there to drink, food is secondary. After much debate between our baseball pick guy and myself, the finest place to eat in Pullman, for our purposes, is Cougar Country Drive In. It's a local institution, serves greasy burgers, a delightful fry sauce, and an old school menu board. They've diversified the menu over the years, but just order a cheeseburger basket, that's why you, me, and everyone else is there in the first place.
Greatest Moment in Program History:
When it comes to WSU football, there are brief flareups of success followed by years of failure and disappointment. As a small school hidden in the desolate rolling hills of Eastern Washington, the fight for talent is constant. Mike Price made a living turning unheralded recruits and junior college transfers into competitive teams every few years. If the players didn't develop, the Cougars didn't win. In 1981 with good old boy Jim Walden running the veer offense, WSU found themselves at the doorstep of the Rose Bowl. Their cross state bully, Washington, bled them slowly, winning 23-10 and winning the Rose Bowl for themselves.
In 1997, WSU once again found themselves in a situation where a win over Washington in Seattle would give them their first Rose Bowl in 67 years. Against a loaded Washington team that put 14 players in the NFL, WSU picked off Brock Huard five times, winning 41-36 and earning a trip to the Rose Bowl.
Current State of the Program:
When Mike Leach took over WSU in 2012, the Cougars had gone 9-40 in the previous four seasons. The team lacked depth, toughness and talent. Leach was in charge of rebuilding the rebuild, and it would take time. In 2012, Leach clashed with the team, they didn't enjoy his hard driving mentality, they didn't enjoy the sandpit, and the "Ah shucks, just try your best" mentality of the previous staff was nowhere to be found. WSU went 3-9, enjoyed a fluky 6-7 season in 2013, then went 3-9 in 2014. The 2014 season was undone by a facade of a defense, but it was obvious the talent on the team was far better than it was when Leach took over. Sure enough, in 2015 WSU went 9-4, then last year went 8-5. These were only the fourth back to back winning seasons since the end of World war 2. The team continues to get deeper and faster every season, yet they have a bad habit of falling apart to open and close seasons. WSU doesn't have the excuse of being young this year, and it should be a disappointment if WSU doesn't equal or surpass last years win total.
vs Montana State - W
vs Boise State - L
vs Oregon State - W
vs Nevada - W
vs USC - L
at Oregon - W
at California - W
vs Colorado - W
at Arizona - W
vs Stanford - W
at Utah - W
at Washington - L