Jim Walden shares his view of Planet Coug

COUGAR RADIO color analyst and former head coach Jim Walden entertained a lunch-hour crowd of Cougfan.com subscribers the other day and waxed eloquent about his steadfast support of Paul Wulff's rebuild, recruiting, the no-huddle offense, Qwest Field, Ricky Reynolds and more. Here are the highlights from the wide-ranging Q & A that took place in the CF.C Chat Room.

COUGFANcom: Welcome to everyone and special welcome to our guest, Jim Walden. We're going to kick things off with a question from a long-time subscriber who couldn't logon this afternoon: Coach, you struggled in your first three years at WSU but the boo birds seemed pretty tame compared to what we're seeing now with Paul Wulff. Is it just a different era? Or maybe things were bad for you too but we didn't realize?

Jim Walden: That's a great question. That`s why I fight so far for Paul. Some people think I fight because he played for me but I'm not. I was the fourth head coach in 4 years. It was in bad shape. But it wasn't in as bad a shape as Paul found it. The AD, Mr. Jankovich, wanted to fire me after the end of my three years. What save me was I won three of my last four, I believe, and my President, saved me. And give him a chance to coach his own players. S&%t, these players that are here, there are 2 full classes that are Paul's. Let's emphasize that: TWO! That first year, he took the job in December with 2 commitments or whatever it was. So it's 2 classes of his guys. That's not enough. He deserves, without a doubt, one full term.

SDCoug: Coach, you talk about how Paul should be given 4+ years and is doing a great job of building the program, but I think most only see the onfield results. Can you talk to why you believe he's doing a great job & the program is heading in the right direction (BTW, I agree with you)?

Jim Walden: No. 1, I've already touched on this but I think he should be given 4 full years. Not every program needs that but based on what he found when he got here, he needs, ANYONE WOULD NEED, 4 years. I'm not trying to speak for the President and AD but he needs 4 years. Why do I feel good about where we're heading, he has recruited damn good classes in back to back years and his first one was pretty good given the circumstances too. The last 2 classes are proving what I've said before, they might be the best back to back classes in the last 25 years, BUT THEY ARE FRESHMEN AND RS-FRESHMEN. But we've got to, as George Raveling said, let them get old enough to shave. I absolutely still feel this way. One game does not a season make. This is a football team that will grow in ability as the season progresses, barring injuries like we had the last two years. We will be competitive before this season ends. Will we lose some games, and probably more than we win, yes, I think we've always said that. But we'll be competitive.

Wakajaka: I would like to know what it's going to take to actually run the "no huddle" offense we keep hearing about. Now they're saying there's too many freshmen to do it. Seems like most teams will always have a freshman or two in the lineup in the two deeps, so why can't we run it? I would also like to It sounds like we're going to once again not run the "no huddle" offense, this time due to the amount of freshmen we have on offense Considering there are only a handful on the two deep, when should we expect to ever use it? In a related not, how can OSU install a new offense in one season and make it look so productive?

Jim Walden: Experience is the key to any offense, huddle or not. If the guys are still learning, if you've got a bunch of brand new offensive linemen, new receivers, sophomore QB, Montgomery wasn't here last year, and now Galvin is gone... you have to establish an offense first. And then plugging in new guys won't matter as much. Put another way, how long does it take someone to get comfortable in a new job, how much experience do you need. You'll be a hell of a lot more confident and capable when you've been doing it for 3-4 years.

Wakajaka: coach, I understand you point, but then how can OSU come in an install a new offense in one season and run it up on us?

Jim Walden: One, it was an inverted wishbone, I hadn't seen that in 3 years. Two, our players, the good ones Paul Wulff has brought in, are 2 years into this program. Oklahoma State had a higher baseline when Gundy arrived and they've got more than 2 recruiting classes of his own guys. Three, Oklahaom State has won 18 games the last 3 years, we've been winning 3. That experience gap tells you all you should need to know.

LongDuckDong1: Hello Coach...you said on Ian's show last week that the blow outs were over. The reason a lot of us are concerned is that while the offense showed glimmers of hope, the defense, which was supposed to be our strength, showed zero improvement whatsoever...it was the same old same old...any thoughts?

Jim Walden: The blowout came because we gave up 28 cheap points, the defense was handed a sack of you know what for 21 of those points. I agree with your assessment on the defense as far as the defensive line, they can play a lot better than that. A lot better. And the tackling will improve as thr defensive line gets better. I disagree with you on the secondary, I saw no drastic screw ups, and at some point what I saw was OSU make some plays and just beat us. But I think the secondary played reasonably well, the linebackers had some misses but they played better than you're giving them credit for. All of them can also play better, based on what I've seen in practice and from the first game.

DesMoinesWACoug: Coach, how alarming where Jeff Tuel's comments to the media after the Oklahoma St game. He seemed to imply that at least some players went out there expecting not to compete.

Jim Walden: It was alarming that he said it but I don't think he meant it the way people took it. This is a young team. You have to not take young players so literal some times, and young guys, they play nervous sometimes and that's what I think he was saying. That's a prime example of experience, also. We have a lot of young kids and that extends to how they deal with the media.

Wakajaka: In regards to the problems from last week that coaches said were "correctable", how much can we really expect to improve in one week of practice?

Jim Walden: You can expect to see 100 percent improvement if they do their job. In blocks, tackles, everything. When you believe, when you're confident, tackles take care of themselves. If they start believing they are as good as they are, you'll see that difference on the field. Losing Rickey Galvin, losing a receiver on the 4th or 5th series, losing another receiver who didn't even start, that hurt them a bit.

ZzuAlum: Putting yourself in Paul Wulff's shoes, what would you tell the men in the locker-room for your pre-game speech prior to the MSU game? How do you keep their heads up and ensure this game instills the much needed confidence?

Jim Walden: I wouldn't tell them very much Saturday, they'd be so pissed off at me by Thursday it would have all been said. Call Mike Utley and ask him about the moped. I had a young football team that year, and that's what you do sometimes, you scare the you know what out of young kids. I would have said a s&*%tload on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and I'm sure as s&%t positive that the players don't like Paul this week.

SDCoug: How can you change a players practice habits, as has been alluded to with Mizell? Does that have to come from within, or can you coach that out somehow? He looked impressive in the game, but agree starting must be earned.

Jim Walden: Yes, you can. I don't know that his practice habits are bad or anything. He reacted in the game more than anything, and when he got in there the game was pretty much a done deal. You can't forgive those mistakes as much in the first quarter. But you'll see more of CJ Mizell as the year goes along, he's a good player.

Cougb4u: Hey Coach, What do you think was the major factor or factors to the downturn in talent on the team in which Coach Wulff inherited? I'm not trying to point the finger, it just seems like the drop off happened pretty quick and it didn't seem like it was just Coach Doba's personal life that led to the demise.

Jim Walden: Go to the last 10-win season, and then look at the records of our teams after that. We went directly to 5-win seasons. As the Price athletes left the program, the athletes replacing them played hard, and I loved them, but they weren't the same type of athletes. It didn't happen overnight, it went due south over a few years.

CrimsonCK: Jim how come we have such short memories at WSU? If memory serves me correct Mike Price toiled for the better part of a decade before he found success.

Jim Walden: It's good sometimes to have short memories. But I agree with you, that we are fair to our coaches is all I want. And this crap about firing him, which has been going on since about his second week, is just that, crap. Give this man his 4 years, that's all I'm saying.

Exact question lost, but about the porous defense at OSU.

Jim Walden: Defensively I would have emphasized more flying to the ball and getting off the blocks. More emotion, playing hard. Stop being afraid to make a mistake. And as I said, they would not be happy with me because I would have been screaming it. On offense, I would open it up. If I'm going to get beat, I'm going to throw some punches. I would expand it a little more offensively ...

Exact question lost, but about threat of having a culture of losing.

Jim Walden: ...Developing a winning belief is the hardest thing you'll have to do, and how do you do that. You bring in better athletes to improve. And that's they key. Good athletes win and the sooner you can bring them in, through your recruiting classes, you'll change it. And that's what's remarkable, how Paul and his staff have recruited even though they're losing.

LongDuckDong1: Hello Coach...is it me...or does Tuel seem more comfortable in the shotgun? Good thing we have nice depth at the RB spot but sure would have love to see Galvin out there...but Staden will make plays for us.

Jim Walden: Good observation, I feel that Tuel does look more comfortable and looks better in the shotgun. But you'd have to ask him.

Wakajaka: in regards to the way the DL and LB's seemed to get locked up by their blockers, just curious how this could happen. Was this OSU's blocking scheme and we just weren't used to the technique, or something else?

Jim Walden: How did it happen. Two things. We didn't do a good job up front, and OSU was good offensively. We can play better up front, and I believe we will ...

MatriarchCoug: Coach, getting back to the recruiting after Price - how do you compare the athletes now being recruited by Wulff & co? Are they "Price" caliber?

Jim Walden: Absolutely. They much more resemble the athletes I saw that made up the '01, '02 and '03 teams.

Fab5Coug: Coach, you've been very clear about the youth of the program. Can you single out any of the upperclassmen in their third years in the program that have really made strides. I think that would help with the hope that our frosh will grow to be quality Pac 10 players.

Jim Walden: First of all, you have to remember the 3rd years are the class Wulff put together between Dec. 15 and Feb. 1 or whatever it was. But some of those guys who have been with Wulff 3 years regardless of what class they came in -- Blackledge, Hannam, Beck, Chima, Kooyman, all of those guys have improved under Wulff and are playing much better this year. Zack Williams, Guerra, Karstetter, Montgomery, they've all gotten better, we just don't have enough of them and so we've had to fill in with freshmen and 2nd year recruits.

ZzuAlum: Coach, it's early but what do you see is this teams biggest strength, and how can Coach Wulff leverage it to make a difference in the coming games?

Jim Walden: For the first time in 3 years, I don't think there's any question the special teams are the strongest. That will only get better. That will help coach Wulff in field position and the Cougs can use that to their advantage. Field position will make you better but you have to block and tackle.

Jim Walden: One thing I want to say, well hell there a lot of things I want to say, but one of them is this: I would back anyone who was there but I get a little upset because Paul Wulff has not gotten a Steve Sarkisian honeymoon. As far as I know, and I know a lot about this, there were 6 other prominent coaches for this job. He won it by being the most impressive. It's not like he dropped out of a damn airplane and got it. I do not understand why we've been bitching and moaning about him from Day 1. People do not understand the shape this program was in, as I talked about earlier.

ZzuAlum: Hey Coach, what do you think about the Oregon/OState games in Qwest? Do you think Qwest is being fully utilized or over-utilized?

Jim Walden: I absolutely support an Oregon or Oregon State in Qwest. The benefits include the west side alums, they deserve to have a game over there.

cougsince74: Hey coach was wondering in all your years at Wazzu, did you ever see such a spate of injuries? What do you supposed is causing all the catastrophic and continual injuries? Thanks.

Jim Walden: No, never. Some times injuries happen more with less athleticism. I don't know that it's anything you can change, there's no magic button, you just have to fight through it.

Wakajaka: off of the Wulff subject for a second...wondering who do you think was the biggest unknown you recruited that no one seemed to want that turned out to be your biggest surprise?

Jim Walden: Ricky Reynolds. We took him out of an all-star game in August. He came in and started three years for us and played another 10 in the NFL. That's good recruiting. :-) Ruben Mayes was another. cougsince74: Do you and CPW ever get a chance to just sit and chat football for a few minutes?

Jim Walden: We talked a lot this summer, and some of the things even I didn't know, made me know even more that he deserves that 4 years.

Jim Walden: I just want to say to all the people who love and care about Washington State. I would appeal to you to stop the bitching, or at least be more careful of the criticism. Stop the ragging, stop the complaining. Why? The players there read that. And it gets into their minds and they feel rotten because they think you don^`2019t appreciate what they're trying to do, and they feel rotten because they feel they're letting down their coach. I'm not making this shit up. It's a given. It will tear apart the program. The more you complain, every day you do that, you're telling those recruits we already have on board, you're giving them doubts. You're also giving ammunition to the coaches recruiting against WSU, they're going to call them and read them all these negative posts. If you don't like what's going on, if you don't want to give any money, just step away for a time. But please, for those of us who want this program to get better, stop, because what you're doing is hurting the program. That's all I wanted to say. Thanks for having me on, thanks to all of, and Go Cougs!!!

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