Sorensen: Rypien to Boise? Get over it!

I HAVE HEARD the teeth gnashing and handwringing on the Cougfan.com message boards following the weekend announcement that record-shattering Spokane quarterback Brett Rypien is headed to Boise State next season. Folks, I have but three words of advice: get over it. Please. This happens all the time at colleges all across the country.

Highly rated prep QBs head out of their home states for college on a regular basis. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees are a few such examples that come immediately to mind.

If you look at the 2014 recruiting cycle, just three of the 10 top-rated prep quarterbacks nationally opted to stay home to play their college ball. Three. Seventy percent of that elite group eschewed the in-state call.

Granted, having a highly rated prospect from your backyard, like Rypien, go somewhere else is disappointing for fans. And the fact this slinger from Shadle Park High comes from WSU quarterbacking royalty, in uncle Mark Rypien, adds to the chagrin.

But is the sky falling because a 17-year old kid from Spokane decided the best place for him is in the Mountain West Conference, in Boise, Idaho, rather than in the Pac-12 with Ol' Wazzu? Heck no.



The most important factor in recruiting is the "fit." And it takes on a greater degree of significance when you're talking about a quarterback. Rypien said one of the reasons he chose Boise State was the opportunity to win a lot of games in his four years.

He didn't talk about earning the starting job following a redshirt freshman season. Or when he was an upper classman.

He talked about he himself winning a lot of games over four years.

To me, that very clearly means he has every intention of becoming BSU's starting quarterback on Day One.

If a big part of the fit in a prospect's eyes is the chance to play early, and everything indicates it was a huge box to check off for Rypien, then good for Boise State.

Given the depth WSU sports at QB right now, early playing time for Rypien very likely would have been a pipe dream in Pullman. Not so in Boise.

Much can change quickly in college football, but all things being equal, the odds of Rypien leap frogging WSU QBs Tyler Bruggman, Luke Falk and Peyton Bender would be slim. Maybe one, or even two, but all three in his first year? No way. And highly unlikely in the second as well.

For upset Cougar fans, I think the big picture is important to remember. For one, a QB who expects to be playing right away and isn't is going to get frustrated. That's why there are so many transfers at that position around the country each year. Moreover, we've seen what happens when a freshman is tossed into the starting role right off the bat. Even great Cougar quarterbacks like Drew Bledsoe and Alex Brink had big growing pains as freshmen.

If starting as a freshman is indeed in the cards for Rypien at Boise State, it might well be a very big case of growing pains early on for that team, with the hope being it will pay off down the road. It's an educated gamble. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. It does have a better chance of working in the Mountain West than it does the Pac-12.


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But what I most took out of Rypien's decision is this: WSU head coach Mike Leach is a stand-up guy. He didn't sell his soul to tell a kid during the recruiting process that a starting job is all but his to lose the second he arrives on campus.

Leach wants everyone to compete for starting jobs and to do so constantly. He tells every player starting jobs are based on performance in practice, in the offseason and through spring ball and fall camp. And then, by how they perform on Saturdays. And then the process starts all over again the next year.

Some high school players want college coaches to tell them what they want to hear. They want to be told that because of how great they are, they have a tremendous chance to start as a true freshman. But just think of the Pandora's Box that opens, once reality hits them in the face after they arrive on campus.

And from a big picture standpoint, you're not going to win consistently in football starting a lot of freshmen -- especially at quarterback. Not in the Pac-12, anyway.

As a player, coming out of high school and junior college, I have seen the best and worst of the recruiting process. As a high school coach for 29 years, I have seen it. And as a dad with two of kids who have received college scholarships and earned starting positions in their sports I have seen it.

Any short-term gains on Signing Day that are made by quasi-promising the world to recruits are wiped away, and then some, when those kids see first-hand how far they must travel to beat out the "other guy."

Leach will get his QB for this recruiting class. The one he gets might not be rated four stars like Rypien and he might not have a dozen other BCS offers. And Leach doesn't care. He wants a guy who is the right fit for WSU football, and his 12-year history as a head coach shows that he'll find his guy.

In the meantime, when it comes to the Cougar quarterbacks, what's not to like? Connor Halliday's 2014 senior season figures to contain fireworks, an uber-promising second-year freshman -- Bruggman -- is waiting in the wings, while another, Falk, is hard on his heels. And in August true freshman Peyton Bender, who turned down Penn State to come to WSU, will be in uniform.

And likely sometime in the next month or two, we'll have WSU's 2015 QB to look forward to as well.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Paul Sorensen played safety for the Cougars from 1980-81, earning first-team All-American honors as a senior. He then spent two seasons in the NFL on the Bengals' and 49ers' practice squads and later played in the USFL. From 1985-98 he was the color commentator on radio broadcasts of Cougar football. He has held a similar role on Eastern Washington University broadcasts over the last several years. Also a long-time assistant coach in the Greater Spokane League, he's been writing periodically for CF.C since 1999. His columns here are labeled SLAP! The acronym stands for Sorensen Looks At the Program. The word also aptly describes the way Paul played safety and the way he does color commentary: in-your-face, nothing held back.

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