Dear Bill Moos:
It is a cold November morning in Pullman, Washington. The kind of cold morning that bites you within moments of stepping outside.
In fact, if you’re a senior, you don’t even think about going outside on morning such as this. It’s THAT kind of cold.
But on this cold November morning, the heat is on in Pullman, Washington.
And the reason for this Heat is that College Game Day is in town..
You see, on this Saturday morning in 2012, an 8-0 Washington State Cougar football team is playing an undefeated Oregon squad for the inside track to host the conference championship game and play for the National Title.
Of course, few could see this day coming. After coming off of a shaky 4-8 season in 2011, most of the conference media have treated the Cougs as an afterthought in the conference race. In fact, John Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News started the season by calling the Conference the “Pac-11” on his blog.
But this year, instead of being the conference doormat, the WSU Cougars have captured National headlines.
Marquess Wilson is viewed by Mel Kiper as a top 15 NFL draft pick.
And senior Jeff Tuel has followed an injury ridden Junior campaign to emerge as a leading finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
But on this morning, the folks at ESPN will not talk be talking about Jeff Tuel or Marquess Wilson.
Instead, they’ll be talking about Paul Wulff.
You see, for the next 10 minutes, viewers across the country will hear about Paul Wulff’s life story:
They’ll see the images of the countless scoreboards that read 69, 56, and 65 to nothing during Wulff’s early years.
And undoubtedly, they’ll talk about the 8-41 record he brought into his fifth season at Washington State.
But as the feature progresses, viewers will also see and hear about the unsolved murder of Wulff’s parent, the dear wife who died of cancer, and they’ll hear about the struggle of his early years at Eastern and WSU.
And by the end of the piece, they’ll hear Jeremy Schapp talk about how Paul Wulff’s story represents everything that Washington State University is all about.
They’ll see and hear about how WSU is a special place: A place where underdogs can and do reach their full potential, graduate, and launch themselves toward lives of prosperity and contribution.
But most of all, the nation will hear the words “character,” “resilience,” “perseverance,” and most of all, “commitment,” describe and define Wulff, his football team, and the alma mater that he cares about so deeply.
They will paint Wulff as a hero.
And they will praise you for summoning the amazing will to see him through to this day.
As the old adage tells us, leadership is easy when the going is good. But, true leadership tends to manifest itself when the going gets especially rough.
And as you know, in dark times, leaders are the ones who see light that no others can see.
They pay little mind to the voices of skeptics who describe themselves as realists.
And they ignore the demands of those who seek instant gratification, recognizing that no matter what you do for them, no amount of success is ever enough.
So, in 2010, after a second straight 1-11 campaign, you shocked the world by retaining Wulff for another year.
And you did the same in 2011 when another injury plagued season turned a 3-0 start into a 4-8 debacle.
But this day is not about the past.
Because on this day, you and the rest of the country realize the brilliance and boldness of your vision.
Because on this day, a national television audience is captivated as the Cougs rally to beat Oregon, and in so doing, reach 9-0 for the first time in 70 years.
And, as the first sellout in years empties onto the field in celebration, you watch a beaming Paul Wulff talk to Erin Andrews about what this victory means to him and the program.
And as he heads toward the locker room, you catch each other’s eyes.
And you know.
You both know.
The program has finally arrived.
And you know that over the next 15 years, a legacy of excellence and championships will be born.
And you and the rest of America will know that you made it all happen.