Reporters swarmed around the defensive end, wanting a few sage words for the shell-shocked Crimson Nation. And who better to stand up for the team than Shavies, the same guy who consoled young teammates long into the night after Mike Price announced he was going to Alabama.
As workman-like and rock-solid as he is on the field, Shavies was gracious and matter-of-fact in defeat.
The Cougar defense felt great, was playing great, but just wore down, he said. Oklahoma's Sooners are a fine team, he added. And no, the distraction of Coach Price moving to Tuscaloosa did not effect the outcome of this lopsided clash of Big 12 and Pac-10 champions.
Shavies, a fifth-year senior who will soon be joining Bill Doba's staff as a graduate assistant, has seen it all in his career: From the outhouse of the late '90s to the penthouse of the last two years, and now, finally, a good old fashioned butt kicking that put an emphatic end to the Mike Price era.
No matter what Shavies said, however, the inevitable question loomed large on the minds of the 55,000 Cougar faithful filing out of the stadium at game's end: Could the imposters masquerading today as the same Cougars who won 10 games this season possibly have put up a better fight were it not for the Price affair?
No one will ever know, of course. But one thing was certain on this sun-drenched day beneath the San Gabriel Mountains -- Oklahoma's domination was complete. The Sooners had a 14-minute advantage in time of possession, held the Cougars to a stunning four net yards of rushing, and limited the once high-powered Cougars to just 11 first downs.
With the Cougar offense sputtering and the scrappy defense spending too much time on the field, the Sooners jumped to a 17-0 halftime lead and waltzed to victory in their first-ever Rose Bowl appearance.
WSU is now 1-3 in the Granddaddy of Them All, last winning in 1916.
Price is now 0-2 in the Rose Bowl and 0-1 in the forecasting department as Alabama's new head coach, having guaranteed victory against Oklahoma today during his first press conference in Tuscaloosa two weeks ago.
Clearly, Price is no Joe Namath when it comes to bold predictions. He also, apparently, is no Knute Rockne. The lackluster Cougars needed one fiery speech of inspiration at intermission. Win one for the lame duck coach, perhaps?
Alas, the Cougars opened the second half with a Jason Gesser interception that led to an Oklahoma field goal and a 20-0 lead.
In many ways the 89th Rose Bowl was a metaphor of the worst parts of Price's 14-year tenure in Pullman: crucial -- and silly -- penalties, opportunities squandered, and halftime adjustments -- or lack of -- to scratch your head over.
The final 30 minutes of Price's last Apple Cup, perhaps the most disappointing chapter of Cougar football over the last 50 years, is about the only comparison to this start-to-finish meltdown in Pasadena.
Three days of closed practices yielded no trick plays or diabolical schemes to confound the mighty Sooners. Play-action, misdirection and, of course, Price's patented off-tackle on third and 19 weren't enough to slow the Norman conquerors.
In fact, for a long while -- 54 minutes to be exact -- it appeared that Price would cap his Cougar career by presiding over the first shutout absorbed by a Washington State team in 19 years. That was 214 games ago -- back in 1984 at Ohio State. Five years before Price became head coach.
Thankfully, Gesser connected with Jerome Riley to get that dubious monkey off the Cougars' back with slightly more than six minutes left in the game. But it was far too little, far too late. Teddy Lehman, Tommy Harris, Lance Mitchell & Co. put on a clinic in swarming and sacking. The Sooner D harassed, flummoxed and toyed with the Cougar offense most of the day.
Visions of guys like Jonathan Jackson and Dusty Dvoracek figured to be dancing in Gesser's head for days and in Price's for the most of the off season because none of 'em are seniors, and they play Price's Bama team on Sept. 6.
"It's just as well Price was the head man for one final game. We can hang this ugliness on him and then start with a clean slate next fall with an untainted Bill Doba," said one well-heeled Cougar fan at game's end.
Indeed, Doba's defensive unit, despite getting no relief from the offense that Price presided over, played tough much of the day. And in the early going, it seemed they were bending but definitely not breaking even though the Sooners' offense controlled the ball for nearly 11 of the game's first 15 minutes.
But in the end, it really didn't matter how well or how bad the defense performed. Because the Cougar offense just couldn't get anything going. And on the rare occasions when it did, calamity typically followed -- Gesser missing a wide open receiver during the second quarter and getting picked off by Andre Woolfolk at the Oklahoma two-yard line, and Drew Dunning missing badly on a 51-yard field goal attempt four minutes later.
So it was on a day when a hopeful Cougar nation believed that its 85-year winning drought in Pasadena would come to an end. It was a sad finale for Price and loyal band of warriors -- especially the wily veterans like Shavies, Derrick Roache and Marcus Trufant -- who fought hard to raise the team to a level of national prominence that, ironically, brought Tuscaloosa calling just when the promised land seemed within reach.
|WASHINGTON ST (7)||0||0||0||14||14|
OKLAHOMA: FG, TREY DICARLO 45 YD, 2:47
|Time of possession||37:14||22:46|
Quentin Griffin, 30-144; Kejuan Jones, 6-6; Renaldo Works,
2-4; Paul Thompson, 1-4; J.D. Runnels, 1-2; Nate Hybl
WASHINGTON ST: Jermaine Green, 8-45; John Tippins, 2-12; Jonathan Smith, 2-2; Jerome Riley, 2-(-8); Jason Gesser, 7-(-47)
Nate Hybl, 19-29-240- 0
WASHINGTON ST: Jason Gesser, 17-34-239- 2.
Will Peoples, 3-80; Antwone Savage, 4-52; Trent Smith,
5-38; Curtis Fagan, 3-31; James Moses, 1-19; Travis
Wilson, 1-15; Quentin Griffin, 2-5
WASHINGTON ST: Jerome Riley, 9-139; Devard Darling, 5-75; Scott Lunde, 2-17; Mike Bush, 1-8