The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Pac-12 Media Day: All We Got is All We Need

The true culture of WSU football put on display at Pac-12 media day 2023
WSU+head+coach+Jake+Dickert+and+his+team+celebrate+after+defeating+Colorado+State+38-7%2C+Sep.+17.
COLE QUINN
WSU head coach Jake Dickert and his team celebrate after defeating Colorado State 38-7, Sep. 17.

In the landscape of Power Five college football, even just in the Pac-12, WSU is one of the most overlooked programs every year. That is where the saying, ‘Cougs vs. everybody’ comes from and where this season’s slogan comes from as well. 

The 2023 slogan is “all we got is all we need,” as said WSU head football Coach Jake Dickert at the 2023 Pac-12 media day. And both still drive the program and the players each season.

“It’s been around about as long as I’ve been there and it’s really just an identity that we want to keep going because we feel like nobody wants the Cougs to win and we’re all we got and we’re all we need. So as long as we have each other we can rely on ourselves, we’re gonna be facing so many different obstacles, but it’s us vs the world basically,” said WSU defensive lineman Ron Stone Jr.

While being interviewed, coach Dickert was asked about each of the perceived disadvantages WSU football faces each year, one of which is name-image-likeness deals.

“The college landscape is changing, NIL might be a big city thing and rule we’re going to continue to evolve to do it in our own way,” Dickert said. “I think we doubled down on recruiting kids from the Pacific Northwest, guys that understand what it’s like to be in our place and have a passion for it. I don’t care about stars I care about finding the best fit for our program and the guys that are going to attack it.”

Dickert said he believes federal legislation to equal the playing field across the country should be put in place but WSU is taking a no-excuses approach. In the end, winning comes down to executing better than the opponent, not NIL.

Another issue WSU and many schools face in recruiting with NIL in place is tampering. Dickert has been vocal on this issue in the past, so naturally it was brought up to him again on media day in regard to the University of Alabama Birmingham Head Coach Trent Dilfer’s comments.

“I think it’s an issue. I think coach [Lane] Kiffin hit it on the head with the pay-for-play and some of those things that are happening and the enticements that are happening behind the scenes. I think it puts a lot of pressure on young people,” Dickert said. “It’s a competitive balance that is needed, consistency in NIL, consistency in scheduling, let’s determine who the best team is.”

One key thing when it comes to working with players enticed by tampering is trust between him and the players, Dickert said. The players need to know the coach’s office is open at all times. Temptations are real, but the key is that players know they can be open with the coach.  That way the coach can work with them and show them the value in the program.

WSU may not be located in a NIL hotspot, but there are improvements coming to the football program and facilities that will help retain talent, including a brand new indoor training facility and the ‘Champions Center,’ which will house academic resources, Dickert said.

“It’s going to be a state-of-the-art place where guys can go learn and part of that is player development but it’s two-pronged, it’s going to house all of our mental resources and that’s only 100 feet away from our dorms,” Dickert said. “I’m really proud of Washington State and being at the forefront of what we’re trying to do not only physically for our students but mentally as well.”

Another improvement Dickert mentioned was the new practice turf recently implemented. It may not be the biggest market, but WSU continues to grow the program and viewership, ranking fourth among the 10 Pac-12 teams remaining past 2023 in TV viewership last season according to USA Today.

Aside from the improvements the program has made, Dickert in year two as head coach seems to have grown a lot as well, in more aspects than just football.

“I’ve been called to something greater than just the fundamentals of the game and that’s being a true culture builder. Trying to find ways to get 18- to 23-year-old young men to see the game outside of their own little atmosphere. I think it’s tough to do in today’s world in today’s climate,” Dickert said. “I like to say balance in college football, it’s impossible. It’s managing the imbalance.”

The WSU football program has a special word: ‘why’ with an exclamation point, Dickert said. Making sure players understand why they are doing things the way they are makes it easier for Dickert to empower the coaching staff and team leadership council.

In the changing college football landscape, the Cougs, like everyone else, have plenty of roster and coaching turnover. Quarterback Cam Ward gave a shoutout to transfers like Josh Kelly, D.T. Sheffield, Devin Richardson and Ahmad McCullough for what they have done so far and will do this season. 

Also with a new offensive coordinator in 27-year-old Ben Arbuckle, both Ward and Dickert were asked about his fit so far and how he was picked from Western Kentucky’s number two ranked passing offense (352.1 yards per game) in college football last year to lead the Cougs offense this year. 

“Coach Arbuckle and I see eye-to-eye, first thing we implemented was what I need to work on as a leader and as a quarterback. I’ve changed tremendously since last season, especially thanks to him, especially thanks to coach Dickert and my teammates,” Ward said.

“He’s a small-town Texas guy and I love it,” Dickert said. “The more I talked to him, I just saw his energy in his life and the language of his offense is the same. As you went throughout that process, you saw him being the right fit for our offense for Pullman, Washington.”

It’s a quarterback-driven conference and while Ward is confident he has improved to be one of the top QBs in the conference, Stone is excited about the opportunity for him and the defense to play against the best and show the defensive improvement of the team under new defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding.

Stone said he encountered the energy and passion of the team, fans and students during spring ball and travels across the state to promote and fundraise for Cougar Athletics.

“I really enjoy the opportunity to go to some of those alumni events and meet all the people and shake hands, tell my story and hear their story,” Stone said. “What I really take away is how much Cougs want to give back to other Cougs. How much we embrace, because Cougs vs everyone is for everything, it’s not just athletics, you know. It’s us finding a way to cling together and really push ourselves to the top.”

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About the Contributors
LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor
Luke Westfall is a junior in Broadcast News from Custer, WA. He is an avid fanatic of the many sports at many levels who spends all his available time indulging in them. Luke began working at the Evergreen in Spring 2022.
COLE QUINN, Evergreen Sports Photographer
Cole Quinn is a photographer and columnist for the Daily Evergreen. Cole primarily shoots sports for the Daily Evergreen and writes album reviews in his spare time. Cole is a junior broadcast production major and sports communication minor from Snoqualmie, Washington. Cole started working for the Evergreen in the fall of 2020 as a photographer. Cole was the Photo Editor during his sophomore year and Deputy Photo Editor for the fall 2022 semester.