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July 10, 2009
The Pres' Palouse Park Bench - Trouble With A Capital T
If there was one thing in the world Washington State University is synonymous with, what would it be? Besides alcohol, wheat and the strangely absent cow from any pasture in the Palouse. If you guessed troublemaking then you are spot on, and it seems those who get into trouble knee-deep most often and most publicly are players on the football team. Now, I can sit here and discuss the litany of reasons to explain their less than stellar behavior but most of the time it ends with "that cop is a very unreasonable person."
Since its summer and fall practice is closing in, I wanted to figure out who the best performing troublemakers of all time at WSU were. This means they had to have at least a decent playing career but also found themselves in a bit of a pickle a time or two. Whether it's academic ineligibility or a problem having too much of the cure then driving, they're all here including any transgressions out of school as well. This isn't quite your father's all-time team, but I'm not your father, and if I am, then it's news to me.
So here is your All-Time All-Cougar Football Troublemakers. Let's start with the side of the ball that scores the points (most of the time anyhow) - the offense.
Ryan Leaf, Quarterback, 1994-1998
This one is easy. Leaf didn't get into trouble at school but he was sure a pain in the butt from a public relations standpoint. His immaturity showed through during his time in Pullman, constantly screaming at teammates and fellow-students. His problems after being drafted are well documented enough but among them is the title of biggest draft flop ever. Add to that his latest charges for drugs and attempted burglary and Leaf cements himself on this list.
Andy Roof, Offensive Line, 2004-2008
Almost easier than Leaf. Roof's rap sheet is longer than an endangered Palouse earthworm. It starts with a misdemeanor assault charge from November 2006 that was ultimately dismissed. Then Roof racked up three DUI charges which caused him to be suspended from the team for the entirety of the 2007 season. And just when it looked like he was turning it all around, he got in an early morning fight after a party, after which police requested six assault charges including one felony. After that, the university had had enough and the student-conduct board expelled him from school in August of last year. Roof had a lot of talent but could never stay on the field to prove it.
DeMaundray Woolridge, Running Back, 2005-2007
Woolridge was part of an excellent three-headed monster at the tailback position during the 2006 season with Dwight Tardy and Darrell Hutsona. The team rode their backs to a top-25 ranking and a 6-3 record, one win away from a bowl berth but they went on to lose their last three games. Apparently, Woolridge took this hard because his grades slipped even lower from where they were. He left the team the next spring because he was ineligible but hung around WSU for a semester or two before making a big leap and transferring eight miles to the University of Idaho.
Now for the defense - and it does not rest.
Xavier Hicks, Safety, 2005-current
Hicks is the backbone of the current Cougar secondary and his big hits are legendary. There is no doubting his skill but there are serious doubts about his judgment. Hicks was charged with felony second-degree assault after putting rubbing alcohol in his roommates contact-lens case and second degree theft for fraudulent charges on the same roommates credit card. The cherry on top was Hicks' recent charge for driving with a suspended license although he claims he didn't know the license was not valid. That gets about a -2 on the believability scale.
Andy Mattingly, Linebacker, 2005-current
Another in a rather troublesome bunch of Bill Doba recruits, Mattingly has put up solid numbers ever since his arrival in Pullman, even playing decently during his move to defensive end out of necessity. But Mattingly's trouble has nearly become the stuff of legend at WSU. In January 2008 while in Spokane, Mattingly allegedly hit a man with a frying pan with such force that it broke the handle off the pan. Mattingly eventually pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of aggravated assault and is serving to years of probation.
Ropati Pitoitua, Defensive Tackle, 2003-2007
Pitoitua was a monster of a presence up front for the Cougars for a number of years. His ability to pierce through a line and spear tackle a quarterback into the ground was something that was a treat to see every time it happened. But he was suspended for the first game of 2007 against Idaho for a minor in possession citation in April of that year. Then he was arrested and sentenced to two days in jail for operating a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol. Thankfully, it was lesson learned from then on for the Lakewood native.
Some special teams players who were not so special.
Darryl Blunt, Punter, 2005-2007
Blunt was an exceptional punter during his time at Washington State after transferring from Portland State. As a matter of fact he never got in trouble with the law or violated any team rules. But it was his behavior in the locker room that puts him on this list. After a frustrating loss in Arizona in 2007, senior quarterback Alex Brink was trying to rally the troops in the locker room. As the story goes, Brink got into an altercation with Blunt when the sophomore punter refused to put down his cell phone. Doba had seen enough and the next week, the punting duties were handed to Reid Forrest and Blunt eventually left the team later that season with Forrest taking his #8 jersey.
Loren Langley, Place Kicker, 2004-2007
Langley was an all-state kicker coming out of Puyallup High. In fact, he was one of the best kickers in the Pac-10 until he missed a couple easy field goals in the 2005 Apple Cup which seemed to rattle his psyche for the rest of his tenure at school. Langley didn't really commit a crime; he's just guilty of robbing the football team of wins.
Starting next week, it's a few weeks of previews on the other sports that have fall campaigns beginning with women's soccer who will be looking to make it back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances this season.
Who Cares Pick of the Week: Saskatchewan Roughriders over the Toronto Argonauts 24-17 in the CFL. Seriously, why can't they just play on a 100 yard long field with normal end zones and four downs? Riddle me that.
Dunderhead of the Week: A 23-year old Berlin man who drove home drunk from a club after his girlfriend broke up with him. Problem: He has no driver's license either. Bigger problem: he was driving a farm tractor he stole down the autobahn. If you're going to steal a car, try a cheap Honda. Not a John Deere.
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