On Monday's show we had an opportunity to talk to Washington State senior quarterback Jeff Tuel about the recent departure of star wide receiver Marquess Wilson and all the extracurricular noise that has engulfed Washington State recently.
First and foremost, Tuel is way beyond his years in terms of maturity and strength. He embodies everything you would like to see in any person. He's accountable, honest and unwavering in his support of friends and for people in authority.
That support for both Cougars head coach Mike Leach and Wilson was clearly on display when he joined the show.
"He’s my friend. To be a friend I’m not gonna bring up all the extra stuff right now and just let him get away from it all and if he needs someone to talk to then I’ll be there for him," Tuel on a conversation with Wilson after last Saturday.
Tuel's support for Wilson extended to Leach and the coaches as well.
"I’m a team player and I’ll support whoever is coaching here. If it was the old staff and coach Wulff was here I’d support him and have his back until the end. The new coaching staff is here and I support this staff to the end and have their backs and coach Leach. I’m a team player and I’ll do whatever I can to help the team and I play for my coaches here."
Tuel went on to talk more about his relationship with Wilson and how the two got along while at WSU.
"One of my best friends here, honestly, real good guy and has left his mark on this university and has done a lot of good things. You know me, I’ve got nothing bad to say about any of my teammates."
With the departure of Wilson, some feel that more will be on their way out. In addition, many worry about how this will affect recruiting. Tuel was asked if he would still advise high school players to attend Washington State.
"Oh, hell yeah! I still love this place. It’s a great place to go to school and play football. We are up and coming and we are going through a little tough time right now. But, whenever there is a change that happens, it’s a fact. When there is a coaching change a lot of guys leave the program for whatever reason and that’s just part of the process."
But, one area that Tuel would not elaborate was whether or not he had seen anything that crossed the line in terms of physical abuse.
"I’m just going to stay out of the whole thing, I think it’s the smart thing to do to not even comment on it and just stay out of it."
Every player that has played under Leach has commented that he is a tough coach that demands maximum effort. However, is Leach too tough?
"All coaches want to get the best out of their players and all coaches have different ways of doing it and I think that’s exactly what’s happened here. He’s (Leach) just trying to get the best out of his players," Tuel said.
Despite all the negativity surrounding the program, Tuel was quick to say that the team is in a better place.
"Honestly we are doing real good, believe it or not this is one of the best places we’ve been all year from playing one of our best ball games,"said Tuel.
But, despite Tuel saying that the program is in a good place, the loss of a friend and team still resonates.
"As a friend you are upset, as a teammate you are a little disappointed. It’s just tough to see a guy like that step away from the program in the fashion that it’s taken place."
In closing, Tuel had a message for all Cougar fans:
"Hang in there, stick with us. We are coming along, we are doing just fine. It’s all going to work out and not to worry because we are busting our tails over here and we are working hard day in and day out. Hang with us and the light will come through."