“Washington State Football-There are No Words”
Grief stricken…Heart Broken…Saddened.
It is what Washington State football is all about today.
There will be no off season workouts for the units today.
There will be no heavy metal music blaring in the weight room.
There will be no jokes cracked by Cougars coach Mike Leach.
There is silence most everywhere around the Athletic facilities in Pullman, Washington.
This the day after starting quarterback Tyler Hilinski took his own life, a shotgun to the head, with a suicide note on a table, in his apartment. Police found him after he missed the team’s off season morning workout.
The responses via twitter, and via interviews are all one and the same.
Tears, prayers, shock, disappointment and blame.
No one knew the young 21-year old QB from Upland, California had problems, issues, depression.
Teammates asked for prayers for his family. Competing schools wrote glowing letters of tribute about the young man. Even ex-Cougars and Chargers QB-Ryan Leaf expressed regret, wishing he could have been there to counsel the young man thru whatever tough times he was having.
Mike Leach has worked so hard to resurrect the Washington State program. To teach his kids how to compete. To get his QBs ready for the NFL. To make Martin Stadium a destination point on campus.
To make Washington State football special again. To return it to glory days of Mike Price-Ryan Leaf….Jim Walden and the option….Drew Bledsoe-Mark Rypien-Tim Rosenbaach-Jack Thompson and others of good eras of years gone by.
Hilinski had all the makings of the next really good one on the Palouse. Leach coached him hard, made it tough, and watched the kid lead his team to a triple overtime win over Boise State, and then in a bowl game.
The young QB came off as happy, a lucky-go guy, thrilled at what was just ahead of him, three years likely as the starting QB of a program on the rise. He was a young leader, learning on the job trying to carry on in the tradition of the Crimson & Gray.
Just 3-weeks removed from his Holiday Bowl appearance, the WSU-Michigan State game, up next will be the saddest of funeral services possible.
The hardest part ahead will be answering the questions. What went wrong. How could Hilinski be around so many people daily, and no one have knowledge of problems.
Great athletes are all wired differently. Love to compete. Can hold up to the tough love coaches give them. Can grow on the job. Become winners.
The issues, whatever they were, overwhelmed Tyler Hilinski to the point he did not feel he could reach out for anyone.
The joys of the growth of the Cougars program have been set aside right now. The Memorial Service will be extremely hard to be around. Going forward will not be fun.
The players, the program, the coach, will not be able to leave this behind. This is so much worse than losing an Apple Cup game to the cross-state Washington Huskies.
There will be an emotional emptiness going forward from now till spring ball into fall camp.
The loss of life hangs heavy all around the Washington State campus.
There are just no words to describe what everyone involved, or who follows or covers the program, can feel at this hour.
You hope Tyler Hilinski is at peace.