Commentary: As Brink goes, so go the Cougars

OK, THE OFF chance Washington State had in Los Angeles Saturday leaned to the "none" side of "slim and none." The Cougs needed an absolutely flawless classic from quarterback Alex Brink. Anything less would leave Wazzu's defense on the Coliseum turf too long for the abusing. And flawless was how Alex Brink's first four minutes came up.

The number one team in the country scored first, hardly a shock. Touchdowns on USC's opening series fall into place like rain in Seattle. When Brink and the Wazzu offense sired back with a touchdown of their own, the battle of Heisman Trophy candidates was on.

Heisman candidates?

John David Booty, SC's latest quarterback throb, is of course a leading candidate to win the Heisman as college football's featured attraction. But WSU's Brink? He has about as much chance of winning the Heisman as Fred Thompson has of winning the Presidential nomination.


But there it was, SC's Booty and Wazzu's Brink, Heismano –a- mano.

Down seven, Brink drove the Cougs 84 hard yards for the 7-7 reply and hope-- however unreasonable -- flickered. Booty was good, Brink was even better. Brink, off to a blistering start, was everything he had to be. Given the choice I would have taken Alex Brink over JD Booty.

If only that was the story. If not every story demanded a middle and an ending.

We knew the Trojans were good enough to score on every possession and they nearly did. Wazzu's defense caved time and time again but at least it caved reluctantly. We knew, too, that USC could feast on the Cougs' erratic kicking game and it did. When WSU punted, Darryl Blunt flubbed a perfect snap that virtually gave USC its fourth score.

We were ready for that but not for the petering out of Alex Brink's magic. When his touch went poof in the second series it became clear that he will go down as a perpetual work in progress. He's good enough to allow to us to hope for the impossible, knowing how ugly the possible can be. The possible here was that SC would float through 60 minutes without having to punt and they did that.

We knew one player --even a Heisman candidate --wouldn't match USC point for point, but that's exactly what we hoped for. When the offense went south we were disappointed- -again- -with Alex Brink. Unfair no doubt, but demand will not let up next week or next month. After four games the Cougs are as good as their quarterback.

Saturday that wasn't enough.

Brink was unstoppable for four minutes; Booty was unstoppable for the better part of four quarters.

So write off the late, brief Heisman Trophy candidacy of Alex Brink. It was fun while it lasted. The candidacy is over. Only the disappointment lingers.

Alex Brink has to be better than good. Saturday he lapsed from brilliant to out-of-sync to outright freshmanish. What goes up must stay up and because it can't, Alex Brink will fail us with his imperfections.

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