Time for the 'D' word?

NOW THAT IT'S official and Washington State has finished the season ranked in the Top 10 for the third consecutive year -- following a third consecutive 10-win season -- it's time to break out the "D" word.

That's right. Dynasty.

Don't be afraid. It's okay. You can say it. Here, let me help.

Dynasty is a term —- at least in an athletic context —- without a clear definition. In professional sports it usually involves at least a three-year run of Lombardi Trophies or Stanley Cups. Following those parameters, no college football team has ever been a true "dynasty." And we all know that's not true. Just ask any Notre Dame, Alabama, USC, Oklahoma, or Miami fan.

My point is this: The word "dynasty" will always be a subjective word in the world of college football. There is no NCAA sanctioned definition for the word (yet), nor has anything resembling the BCS mess been implemented to tell us when we can or can't label a team with that hallowed word.

So, without those shackles, I choose to label the 2001-2003 era of Cougar football a Dynasty.

And I'm not without ammo.

WSU is the first Pac-10 team to record three consecutive 10-win seasons since Southern Cal did it 70 years ago in the old Pacific Coast Conference. Maybe this will help put that incredible statistic into perspective: Joe Paterno was seven years old the last time a Pac-10 team won 10 games three years straight.

The Cougs are the only Pac-10 team to earn three consecutive Top 10 finishes in the final AP rankings since Southern Cal accomplished it from 1972-74 when the conference was still the Pac-8. Let's put that feat into perspective: UCLA coach Karl Dorrell was 11 years old the last time a Pac-10 team finished with a Top Ten AP ranking three straight years.

Aside from the Cougs, only Oklahoma and Miami have been ranked in the Top 10 each of the last three seasons.

At 30-8 over the past three seasons, Ol' Wazzu has the seventh best record in Div-1 football.

Like all true dynasties, WSU has been damn near impossible to beat in the confines of Martin Stadium, dropping just two games these past three campaigns. It should also be noted that both defeats came on the final play of the game and that —- on the road or at home —- the Cougs have not suffered back-to-back defeats during this glorious era.

WSU leads the nation in sacks over the past three years. Actually, the Cougs' 168 sacks over the last four seasons is also best in the country.

Two of the last three years the Pac-10 Coach of the Year honor has gone to the Cougar boss; Mike Price in 2001 and Bill Doba in 2003. Aside from being honored by the conference, Doba was also name the Pac's top coach by ESPN. In addition, Price was honored regional coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association in 2001 and 2002.

In 2002, Cougar defensive tackle Rien Long was awarded the Outland Trophy, QB Jason Gesser finished 8th in Heisman voting and was awarded the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, and cornerback Marcus Trufant was a first round NFL draft pick.

Six Wazzu players have been named first-team All-American over the past three seasons.

Following the past three seasons, 13 Cougs have been named first team All Pac-10; second only to USC's 15, which was bolstered by the nine Trojans selected to the 2003 squad.

The Cougs three season bowl run includes nary a poor man's bowl (Vegas, Humanitarian, Silicon Valley), but rather the top three Pac-10 post-season venues: Rose, Holiday, and Sun.

Here's another dandy: Ol' Wazzu has been ranked in the Top 25 for all but eight weeks since the opening kickoff of 2001, including an incredible 28 week run that took a brief rest only to start up again following week three of the '03 season.

So, with this body of Crimson and Gray evidence to back me up, I declare the 2001-2003 era of Washington State Cougar football to be a True Dynasty.

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