Sadly, that's all come to end.
Due to financial burdens, the walk-on linebacker will be transferring to Montana State and suiting up for Mike Kramer's Bobcats next fall. Jim Farley, Doc's father, broke the news to Cougfan.com over the weekend.
The Hamilton, Mont., native developed a cult following among the Cougar Nation -- initially calling notice to his unique name -- because of his gridiron grit and determination and some heartfelt revelations into his character and family by his dad on the CF.C message board.
Ironically, it was the very thing that made Doc a fan favorite and nearly earned him a scholarship -- his aggressive special teams play -- that ended up costing him his shot at a full ride. Just one week after being honored with a Fox Sports Net "Cougar Claw," for his game-saving fumble recovery against Arizona, he tore his left ACL chasing down an Arizona State Sun Devil. Season over. And, as it turns out, so too his career at Washington State.
Although his rehab is going nicely (he's cleared to start jogging next week), Doc would be unable to participate in spring ball, which in turn eliminates Cougar coach Bill Doba's opportunity to make a scholarship evaluation. Reluctantly, Doc informed his coach that the family simply couldn't afford it any longer.
Doba has faxed Doc's release to MSU and already called the Bobcat coaching staff to sing the praises of both the player and his family.
"From day one, we have thought Coach Doba is a first-class coach and gentleman," Jim said. "And that still remains our feelings toward him. He will always be a hero to our family."
Despite earning All-State honors two years running at Hamilton High and being named to the Great Falls Tribune Super 25 as a senior, Doc received no interest from Division 1-A schools and only cursory glances from 1-AA programs.
But traits like heart, instinct, and toughness can't be measured, and with that belief Doc and his dad met with Doba. After reviewing film and talking to the Farleys, the coach (defensive coordinator at that time) was sufficiently impressed to invite Doc to walk-on that fall.
"Coach Doba treated us like some long lost relatives," Jim recalled. "We thought we would be lucky if he just talked to nobodies like us for a few minutes. To our surprise, he said ‘lets look at some film.' He was breaking down play after play on the films, stopping to give Doc pointers. I thought ‘wow, this guy is incredible, taking so much time to help Doc and we are just people walking in off the street.'"
A year later the red-shirt freshman was on the traveling squad and excelling on special teams.
Cougar annals are full of the names of the unnoticed and unwanted, those players who said to hell with the naysayers, listening only to their own heart, defying all odds by achieving gridiron glory on the Palouse hills. Indeed, WSU tradition is based on this very theme of overachievement and indomitable spirit, which is why our school mascot is named after the ultimate "little engine that could," Butch Meeker.
And that is why players like Doc Farley are inherently special to us at Washington State. That is why we celebrate a Scott Lunde or Mawuli Davis scholarship like it was for our own son or nephew or brother. And that is why Doc's departure stings like it does.
No one knows for certain what glories, if any, awaited Doc with three more seasons of eligibility at ol' Wazzu. But the Doc Farley story at Washington State isn't about gridiron glories. No, it's much more important than that. It's about dreams and iron-wills; sacrifice and pride. It's about the bond between parents and a son. It's about a university and a group of fans opening their arms to a Montana family like they were old friends. And it's about a kid who thought that running out of the Martin Stadium tunnel on game day was about as earthly close to heaven as you could get.
"We will always be Cougs at heart, thanks to CF.C, WSU, Coach Doba, and the terrific Doc fans out there in Cougland " Jim said. "We will still be wearing our Crimson and Gray screaming like fools when watching the Cougs on TV, cheering them on."