Wulff blasts coaches trying to poach verbals

PAUL WULFF today during his press conference expressed frustration with other coaches, including some in the Pac-10, attempting to lure committed WSU players. And he was just getting warmed up. Also, he would like to see an early signing period, the Pac-10 return to an eight-game conference schedule, he clarifies the status of quarterback Jeff Tuel and more.

It began with a question on if college football should have an early signing period.

WSU coach Paul Wulff said he would like to see college football follow basketball with an early signing day, which begins tomorrow. And a lot of that stems from what he believes is a lack of integrity from a few of his Pac-10 colleagues.

CF.C has reported 17 known verbal commitments for the 2010 Cougar class. Wulff said other schools in the conference have targeted between five and seven of those Cougar commits.

"The negative that comes into play that I think is a bad message to 18- and 17-year olds is that (we teach them) that you can commit and your word is good ... and then other schools come in and try to get them to change their mind -- I think that is 100 percent the wrong message," said Wulff. "It shows a lack of class upon those schools that do that...I think it's immature. I think it's wrong.

"I think it just shows the character of the people that try to do that. I think if I was a recruit, and a parent, I'd be very leery of someone who does try to do that...We've had several of our kids who have committed to us being talked to by other Pac-10 schools, which I (do) think speaks highly of the kids we have committed.

"If it takes them six months or eight months longer for them to find them, or to wait until we get them committed, to me that shows their lack of work. They try to come in on the back door... To me, I think that shows little to no class."

WHAT ABOUT about defensive lineman Cory Mackay, who reversed his commitment from Washington to WSU in '08? Wulff said there is a specific difference in the case of a guy like Mackay, who was seriously injured a May car accident in Washtucna -- and the difference is that Mackay again approached the Cougars' coaching staff after Wulff was hired.

"If a kid has committed elsewhere and re-approaches us ... we would talk with that individual," he said. "But it's certainly not something we're going to seek out."

Wulff said he has heard the same complaints from other coaches in the conference. He added that he does not foresee the Cougs losing any commitments to other schools.

WSU has lost one player within the conference in each of Wulff's first two years -- cornerback Brian Baucham (USC) in 2008 and defensive lineman Geoff Meinken (Stanford) last year. Prior to Wulff's arrival, the Cougs saw Trey Henderson and Vincent Joseph switch commitments from WSU to USC with days left before Signing Day in '07 and '06.

Wulff also favors an early signing period because prospects are beginning to make their decisions much earlier in the year than a decade ago. The Cougars do not have many scholarships remaining for the class that will sign in February, and Wulff said his staff already is offering high-school juniors. He said an early signing period would allow coaches to focus more on younger athletes in addition to curtailing some of the poaching efforts.

IN CONTRAST TO former WSU coach Mike Price, who lobbied for years for a full round-robin conference schedule, Wulff would like the schedule to return to eight conference games. The Pac-10 moved to eight conference games, which generally was standard since it added Arizona and Arizona State in 1978, to nine in 2006.

"If you want to have a chance to put another Pac-10 team in the BCS series, you have to go with eight conference games," he said, adding that scheduling four nonconference games would not be a problem. "There's a chance that none of our teams will be in a BCS game, which is ridiculous. Prior to that, we had more teams that were finishing 10-1 and were undefeated."

Wulff said there is a split among conference coaches on the topic, which was discussed prior to the season. He said some like that Pac-10 teams do not "duck" anyone, unlike in other conferences.

The Cougars have a 8-25 record in conference play since the change occurred. There are three games remaining, including Saturday's 2 p.m. contest against UCLA at Martin Stadium.

WULFF SAID TRUE FRESHMAN QUARTERBACK Jeff Tuel now is a "game-time decision" after he suffered a subluxed right kneecap during last week's 48-7 loss at Arizona. He said the kneecap popped immediately popped back into place, and Tuel now is off crutches and walking around.

"All signs are that he will recover quickly," Wulff said.

He said it is not ideal that Tuel is unable to practice, but Wulff believes "he can handle it. He's got a good football IQ."

UCLA redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Prince also was injured during Saturday's 24-23 win against Washington after he suffered a concussion on a second-quarter hit by linebacker Donald Butler. But the Bruins (4-5 overall, 1-5 conference) now list him as probable.

WHEN IT COMES to UCLA, Wulff said the key will be the Cougars' ability to score points. The Bruins only are 60th among 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, allowing 358.7 yards per game. But Wulff said their defensive tackles -- junior Brian Price and senior Jess Ward -- are talented.

"They have maybe the best defensive line in the Pac-10 with the Price kid," Wulff said. "They're very active in there. Our guards and center have their work cut out for them."

Despite WSU's success against UCLA -- the Cougars have won five of the last six meetings between the schools at Martin Stadium -- and the Bruins' own struggles under Rick Neuheisel, Wulff said his team faces a significant challenge.

"I think our team is kind of wounded right now," he said. "We're trying to overcome some injuries and play competitive and hard."

But Wulff also is happy to be back at Martin Stadium the next two weeks. WSU has played one home game -- Oct. 10 against Arizona State -- since its 30-27 overtime win Sept. 19 against Southern Methodist.

"We're very excited," he said. "Five out of six weeks on the road is very challenging for any team. We need Cougar fans helping us out being very noisy."

  • Wulff said he is optimistic that safeties Chima Nwachukwu (ankle) and Jay Matthews (shoulder) will be able to play Saturday. Senior tight end Tony Thompson remains questionable because he has suffered multiple concussions during his career.

  • Sophomore Steven Ayers, who began the season at left tackle, will start at that position against UCLA. Ayers suffered an ankle injury Sept. 26 at USC that lingered for more than a month. Redshirt freshman Tyson Pencer started at that position against Arizona, but suffered a high ankle sprain. Wulff said true freshman Alex Reitnouer will serve as the backup.

  • Sophomore Jared Karstetter has a team-high 420 yards and six touchdowns on 27 receptions. Wulff said Karstetter has played throughout the season despite a torn tendon in his thumb that will require surgery. Karstetter has the thumb taped before every game.

    "He's a tough kid who wants to be really good," Wulff said. "He's got a warrior mentality."

  • Temperatures are expected to dip into the 30s around kickoff against UCLA. Wulff said he hopes it will snow.

    "I think it's an advantage, but I don't think it's that big of an advantage," he said. "It depends on their maturity. Have they been through it before?"

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