When Paul Wulff returned to his alma mater at Washington State he inherited the shell of a football program, beset by poor recruiting, academic sanctions that led to scholarship reductions and a level of apathy.
Whether he's done enough in four years to bring the Cougars closer to the level of respectability their fans demand is a polarizing debate among the crimson-and-gray faithful, and a decision that ultimately lies in the hands of Washington State athletic director Bill Moos.
It's with that backdrop that the Cougars enter the 104th Apple Cup on Saturday night against rival Washington at Seattle's CenturyLink Field.
Any tangible significance at stake in this version of the Apple Cup escaped a week ago when Utah pulled out a 30-27 overtime victory over the Cougars, ensuring Washington State (4-7) of another year without a trip to the postseason.
Washington (6-5) wrapped up a bowl trip a month ago, though it's looked far from bowl-worthy while dropping its past three.