As the football team comes out of its bye week and prepares to face UCLA, Saturday, I want to take this opportunity to address the topic of our football program, as it has become a subject of much conversation for Cougar fans over the past month.
First, let me say that I appreciate all Cougar fans who demonstrate their support of the program through their donations, by being a season ticket holder, or both. Your backing is of great importance to the department as the development of our student-athletes and athletic programs occur largely because of the support of Cougars such as you.
As supporters of Cougar Athletics, you should rightfully expect only the utmost efforts from our coaches and staff in striving to achieve the best for our student-athletes, both on and off the field of play. Anything less is unacceptable.
I realize there is a great deal of disappointment in our fan base regarding our start to the season. I understand the feelings of frustration expressed by you and many other fans, and much of the frustration I am hearing is about recruiting, and why we have not been able to retain players in the program.
Recently, there was a newspaper story documenting our recruiting from Coach Bill Doba's first signee class in 2003 to 2005. Those three classes were the ones that immediately occurred after our 2003 Rose Bowl appearance. In summary, of the 65 players added during this time, 30 remain with the program.
Did you know that of the 53 total freshmen to enter from 1998 to 2000, the three years following our 1998 Rose Bowl appearance, 32 were still on the roster after four years (60.4%) and 22 were on the roster after five years (41.5%)?
Furthermore, in Coach Doba's first recruiting class (2003), he signed 16 players, seven of which are still on the roster (43.8%). That percentage is higher than the three-year period of 1998-2000 for fifth-year players.
As you can see, the recruiting retention numbers from 1998 to 2000 and from 2003 to 2005 are similar in nature. In addition, during the three years immediately following the 1998 to 2000 time period, the program enjoyed unprecedented success with three consecutive 10-win seasons.
My point is not to say that it is okay for players to leave our program. In a perfect world, I want all of our players who are recruited to be retained but because of a multitude of factors this does not happen. My point is to say the player retention level under Coach Doba is not unique for the program.
While it is important to review the past, what I want to do is to focus my attention on the players who are still here, and future players to the program.
I remind you that there is still much more of the season to be played. Our student-athletes and coaches are doing all they can to turn things around. They are of the highest quality and character, and want nothing more than to give Cougar fans everywhere a season they can be proud of.
I know I have mentioned this before but it is worth repeating. It is time to assist our coaches in getting high quality players to make the decision of coming to WSU. The biggest disadvantage our coaches have in the recruiting battle is facilities. A primary element on whether an 18-year-old decides to attend one university over another is the school's facilities.
Our current facilities are not what top recruits or fans should expect of a Pac-10 institution; yet, we are asking our program to compete in one of the toughest conferences in the nation.
One of the numerous benefits of the current stadium renovation is to enhance recruiting, which will, in turn, enhance the program. Just look around the league through the eyes of an 18-year-old recruit. Our stadium, in its current state, places our football staff at a huge competitive disadvantage in comparison to our Bowl Championship Series (BCS) counterparts.
In conclusion, I want to emphasize how important your positive support has in helping our team achieve its goals. Your demonstration of positive support (for example, your attendance at football games or donations) plays a tremendous role in the development of our football program now and in the future.
I know all of you look back with great fondness to the run we had from 2001-03. There is no doubt this was a tremendous era for the football program. We can get back to this level of success and we are more committed and determined than ever to do it.