washington state blog

MMQB: A look into potential WSU Cougars coaching candidates

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As we wait to hear from Washington State AD Bill Moos on the future of current head coach Paul Wulff, I will  take some time to introduce the fan base to a few names that could be in Moos’ top 5 candidates that could possibly interview for a possible coaching vacancy.


Is there such thing as good fit or is it a matter of finding the right guy for the program?

I think it’s a matter of both, but then again finding a guy that meets both qualifications is a very rare thing.

Generally speaking, most coaches can only provide one of those characteristics. That certainly isn’t a bad thing.

Take Paul Wulff for example.

He is the perfect case of not a good fit as he was the right guy for the time of his hire. He was not a good fit on the football field. His decision making process was rather conservative, and it may have cost the Cougars two wins this season.

Wulff was the right guy for the program in the sense of his ability to recruit the foundation of  the talent base we currently enjoy. He also was able to change the culture of a laid back, chill program into one that fights for every inch on the football field.

That in itself is a success considering the mountain he had to climb to get the program to this point.

I think Cougar fans have come to the realization, as much as they would like to have Wulff return, (Wulff is a very popular figure in Pullman) it maybe time to see if there is someone that can get the program over the top.

But Who? Is there a coach out there that can be a good as well as the right guy where it counts?


Let’s take a look at a few names that could make sense for Washington State.

1. Mike Leach

Resume: Head coach at Texas Tech for 10 seasons – 2000-09
Record: 84-43 (47-33) – regular season, 5-4 – bowl record
Bowl wins: Tangerine, Houston, Holiday, Insight.com, and Gator

Leach has been out of football since December of 2009 for his mis-treatment of player Adam James. The firing and subsequent lawsuits against Texas Tech and ABC/ESPN have shied universities with open coaching vacancies away from Leach because of any potential scandal that could ensue from his hiring.

There is no question that his offensive pedigree would be a good fit to the returning offensive talent in Pullman. Most of the returning and incoming players were recruited for the spread offense in mind.

Which Leach runs.

2. Kevin Sumlin

Resume: Current head Coach at Houston –  C-USA
Record: 35-16 (24-8) – regular season, 1-1 – bowl record
Bowl wins: Armed Forces bowl – 2008
Annual salary: 1.13 million

Sumlin, the former WSU graduate assistant (1988-90) runs the same variation of the spread offense as Mike Leach, just without all the baggage.

Bill Moos

AD Bill Moos and school president Elson Floyd Have some BIG decisions to make today!

This season Sumlin has enjoyed the greatest season of his career. The Cougars are 12-0 while outscoring opponents 632-251, an average score of 52-20.

The question becomes, would sumlin leave the success he’s had in Houston for the lure of a BCS conference school?

Obviously the money could very well play a factor in whether or not Sumlin leaves.

3. Dave Christiansen

Resume: Current head coach at Wyoming – MWC
Record: 17-18 (9-12) – regular season, 1-0 bowl record
Bowl wins: New Mexico – 2009

Christiansen, the former university of Washington player (1980-82) and offensive line coach (1988) enjoyed a good season this year in Laramie.

The Cowboys went 7-4 (4-2) while having it’s best rushing season in the Christiansen era (181.5 per game), scoring 302 points, with an average of 25 per game. The main issue of the 2011 season for the Cowboys was on the defensive side of the ball.

Opposing RB’s were able to have great success against the Cowboys. Rushing for 227.1 YPC, leading opponents to score 305 points against Wyoming’s defense.

4. John L. Smith

Resume: Former head coach at Idaho (1989-94), Utah State (1995-97), Louiville (1998-02), and Michigan St (2003-06). Currently is special teams coordinator at Arkansas
Record: 132-86 (83-44) – Regular season, 1-6 bowl record
Bowl wins: Liberty – 2001 as HC at Louisville

Smith, the former WSU defensive coordinator (1987-88) and Big-10 coach of the year (2003) has enjoyed regular season success running the same spread offensive schemes as current head coach Paul Wulff, but his accumin as a coach comes from the defensive side of things as Smith has been a DC at four stops in his coaching career (Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, and WSU).

This could be enticing for Cougars brass looking for a coach that stops the opposing team from running all over the Cougs.

If indeed AD Bill Moos and school president Elson Floyd do dismiss Wulff as head coach, it would behoove these two to take advantage of the momentum the program has created.

With a newly remolded Martin stadium set to open shortly, and the upgraded facilities, it’s imperative to get a coach that can not only carry on the fierce competition with players, but can also breathe a new life back into the student body and the overall fan base.

Whether it’s fair or unfair to Paul Wulff, the 40 losses spread out over these last four seasons have taken it’s toll on Cougar nation.

We need a positive solution, and maybe these guys can do that.      

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About Insider Steve

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  • Anonymous

    time for Wulff to go!

    • Insider Steve

      Bill Moos has spoken

  • Randyandkendis

    What about Teryl Austin from the Baltimore Ravens?

    • Insider Steve

      Moos wants a flashy offense. Something multiple from spread formations. Two guys on his list, Mike Leach and Kevin Sumlin, do that extremely well. Scott Linehan’s name has appeared, but I really think Moos is enamored with Mike Leach

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