Burning Snowman’s thoughts on Jeff Tuel


Thursday night I was sitting at my favorite watering hole watching the Bills and Browns play. Why would I watch these two mostly awful NFL football teams duke it out when both MLB playoffs and some solid college football are available? Well, unfortunately, my fantasy team was down due to injury and bye weeks to just C.J. Spiller and Willis McGahee to shoulder the running back load. So I sit and watch two teams I could care less about in the overall scheme of professional football. Then, on one play, the game became much more exciting. 


As E.J. Manual got pushed out of bounds and his knee bent a direction it is clearly not supposed to, it hit me: Jeff Tuel is going to get to play professional football. There he is, strapping on the helmet and getting an earful from a coach on the sidelines. I watched as he ran out onto the field and got under center, officially becoming an NFL quarterback. We can’t help but draw connections to his first start in crimson and gray, jogging onto the field at the Coliseum against USC.

The most striking memory I have of that game was of the Tuel clan sitting in the stands. Each of them in WSU jerseys, personalized to read Tuel on the back, standing and cheering for Jeff to get his chance in the big time world of college football. And in one of the biggest stages on the west coast he performed admirably on a team that couldn’t perform its way out of a paper bag. 



So much Tuel to Gino, what could have been….

Thursday felt very much the same. Here was a young man who probably wasn’t ready or prepared to enter a football game, thrust into action under necessity. You would have to think that if EJ Manual could not have started the season (remember he came back early from injury to begin), that Jeff’s first showing in the pros would have gone much better. He did not play particularly well, but a pass interference call on a sure touchdown and a few drops by receivers would have changed that line to be more respectable. But there he was, Jeff Tuel, berated former QB of Washington State and undrafted free agent taking the field. 


And I’d like to think, that just like his parents in the Coliseum so many years ago, around the nation his family of Cougar faithful were standing and cheering on one of our own. That’s the beauty of WSU, once you’re here, you’re family. And no matter where you go, where you travel to, or what new profession you start; deep down we’re all still Cougs. Its why we say Go Cougs. Its why we Wave the Flag. Its why we don the Crimson and Gray. Forever joined and connected by our shared experiences and shared passion for our university.

But we didn’t just fall in love with Jeff from that one game. There have been QB’s of Cougar lore who played one game or one drive and will forever be remembered (Josh Swogger, Gary Rodgers). No, Jeff continued to battle for 4 very, very long years. He never had much of a supporting cast around him, never had the great wide receivers of Leaf or Bledsoe, never had the offensive line of anyone, and never had a defense that could keep a game close. For so long it was all on his shoulders, and he performed to the best of his abilities. Last Thanksgiving he was finally rewarded for all that hard work and toil, and for us, that Apple Cup victory may be the highlight of Tuel’s career. But for him, for him it was just the beginning.

When you look around the interwebs and see the different thoughts and comments posted on Tuel’s performance, many are not positive though. And just like someone saying something bad about one of your family members, that’s frustrating. Because we know what this kid is capable of, we’ve seen how he can dominate a football field both with his arm and his legs. He has all the mental and physical tools (PUNS) to succeed, he just needs a chance,

Unfortunately, this morning the Bills announced that Thad Lewis will start next week. It’s a situation that seems tilted against Tuel for the immediate future, and for that I’m disappointed. But who knows, as we saw this week fate is pretty fickle. So I wouldn’t rule out another opportunity for our young QB, I wouldn’t exactly call Lewis a proven commodity either.  

But either way, a hearty congratulations to Jeff Tuel. Your Cougar family is proud of you and all you’ve accomplished; it feels great to see you have the opportunities at the highest level. The 4 years you spent with us in Pullman has forever engrained you into our hearts, I for one couldn’t be prouder. We’ll be watching and cheering from the stands, the bar, and the home so see you succeed. And as always, GO COUGS!

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