COMMENTARY: The Roof Affair, Seattle and more

PULLMAN –Andy Roof has discovered first-hand that justice works slowly. Or was it injustice? Tuesday's announcement that Roof has been expelled from Washington State came four days before the Cougars' opening game and four MONTHS after he was involved in a campus brawl.


If you listen to Pullman police -- or the male student whose cheekbone was allegedly shattered by the fist of the 6-foot-4, 277-pound Roof -- Roof was an out-of-control giant reeking havoc on innocent victims. Roof says it was self-defense.

Who do we believe? Particularly when his coach, a disciplinarian, has cited eyewitness accounts in repeatedly supporting Roof's claims of innocence.

The whole truth may never come out. Lord knows it won't come out quickly if the Whitman County prosecutor's office has its say. I mean, really -- four months? And let's not hear anything about "students were away from Pullman all summer." This just in: The cell phone is alive and well.

If Roof is telling the truth, a young man seemingly on the way to turning his life around has been horribly wronged. If Roof is not telling the truth, good luck and good riddance.

Wulff, who has seen at least six players arrested since he took over as WSU's coach in December, has wisely resisted the temptation to lambaste authorities for letting Roof hang from the edge of the cliff for so long, undoubtedly some would respond by saying the coach is not in a position to preach too loudly about the model citizens in his midst.

Still, we hope the good folks -- well, we HOPE they're good folks -- on the Student Conduct Board pause to consider the following statement from Wulff. Mind you, Roof was arrested after the brawl and hit with six assault charges, but the Whitman County prosecutor has yet to determine whether he will be prosecuted.

"For any human being, or anybody on our team, we're always looking for people to better themselves and to continue to make smarter and wiser decisions," Wulff said.

"When people are doing that and are clearly showing those signs, we want to continue to reward those people in our program, because that's what we're here to do. They're going to make mistakes; we're here to help them along the way."

Let's just hope the Student Conduct Board didn't make a mistake.

BACK TO FOOTBALL. The long, drawn-out Roof scenario just gives Wulff one more reason to want Saturday to arrive soon. Like, say, yesterday. "I woke up this morning, and I had about a 3-second flash of excitement in my gut that definitely stood out," Wulff said. "All right; we're finally here."

Wulff is making no promises about his first season as coach at his alma mater. He said prior to fall camp that WSU will always aim for a bowl game, but with all the injuries and inexperience and perhaps some veterans who just haven't panned out, Wulff knows his first season or two -- at least -- will present a major challenge.

Yesterday's other big news didn't help. The announcement that fifth-year senior guard Dan Rowlands, a 21-game starter, is ending his football career due to what WSU termed "persistent, chronic pain in both shoulders", will be a big hurdle to overcome.

Ah, but this is Wulff's dream job, and his love for WSU rang loud and clear when he spoke with reporters Tuesday.

"I think it's a great place for the people who end up coming here," Wulff said. "They love it. For the people who visit, they fall in love with it. It's just a matter of getting people here."

Asked to compare the football program now with the one he played for in the 1980s, Wulff said, "It's a lot better (now) for a number of reasons.

"The university as a whole has really established itself as a great institution. The (athletic) facilities have grown dramatically. The amount of fans and people with great passion about the place has more than doubled in terms of their intensity about the university and being loyal Cougars.

"It's so much more exciting."

Wulff intends to make it even more so, but he'll probably need a year or two before it will happen on a regular basis.

Wulff on Seattle: Like his predecessor, Bill Doba, Wulff emphasizes the positives in talking about WSU's annual "home" game in Seattle. It's clear, however, that Wulff and Doba are on the same page in that they would prefer to play in Pullman in a perfect world. "I'm a little new to this whole game from the outside looking in," Wulff said. "Over the few years they've done it, I wasn't a big fan of it.

"But I do see, now that I'm inside, the amount of fans that do live over there and how important they are to our program. To bring a game to them does add a benefit, and it exposes our team to west-side young recruits."

Interpretation: I hate giving up the home-field advantage of Martin Stadium, but since Qwest Field packs in close to twice as many fannies as Martin … let's get those turnstiles spinnin‘, baby. An extra 20,000 tickets sold pays for a whole lot of footballs, whistles and jocks. Not to mention coaches' paychecks.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Coug fans are invited to the CF.C breakfast tailgate this Saturday in the "Tailgater's Heaven" parking area near the Viaduct. Looks for the flags and signs marking the spot.

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