Cougars select Wulff as coach
Washington State has found its next football coach, 70 miles up the road in Cheney. Paul Wulff, coach of the Eastern Washington Eagles...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Washington State has found its next football coach, 70 miles up the road in Cheney.
Paul Wulff, coach of the Eastern Washington Eagles, will be introduced at a news conference this afternoon as the new coach of the Cougars.
Wulff, 40, was an offensive lineman at Washington State under coaches Jim Walden, Dennis Erickson and Mike Price from 1986-89 after redshirting in 1985. He was a center on the 1988 Cougars team that upset No. 1 UCLA, beat Washington in the Apple Cup and won the Aloha Bowl.
Wulff has been the coach at Eastern for eight seasons and has a 53-40 record. Three of his past four teams have made the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, including this year's team that finished 9-4 after losing in the national quarterfinals to defending champion Appalachian State, 38-35.
Appalachian State will play for the national title against Delaware on Friday.
Wulff has been named Big Sky Conference coach of the year three times.
He was spotted at the WSU men's basketball game Sunday against Portland State and reportedly had been interviewed earlier in the day by WSU President Elson S. Floyd.
Wulff is the choice of WSU athletic director Jim Sterk, whose past moves include hiring Dick Bennett and then his son, Tony, as men's basketball coaches; hiring June Daugherty as women's basketball coach; and the promotion of Bill Doba to succeed Mike Price as football coach late in 2002.
Doba, 67, stepped down after five years as Cougars coach Nov. 26 in what was termed a "mutual decision."
Wulff was the favorite candidate of former WSU coach Jim Walden, now the color commentator for Cougars broadcasts.
"He'll be a good choice for the Cougars," Walden said Monday night.
Walden has praised Wulff's creativity, his familiarity with WSU, close relations with Washington high-school football coaches and potential to recruit in California as a California native.
Wulff grew up in Davis and has been called "a survivor" by some admirers.
His mother disappeared when he was 12 and his father was the suspect, but Wulff said there never was enough evidence to bring him to trial. Wulff was raised by relatives and an older brother after his mother disappeared.
Wulff's first wife, Tammy, died of brain cancer in 2002. He has remarried, and he and wife Sherry have two young sons, plus her 12-year-old daughter.
Wulff is the third WSU coach in the past 20 years to have head-coaching roots in the Big Sky Conference. Erickson's first head-coaching job was at Idaho, and Price's first job was at Weber State.
Price, 61, now coach at Texas-El Paso, was interested in returning to WSU but withdrew this past weekend, citing a desire to remain at UTEP.
The Cougars are known to have interviewed Wulff; John L. Smith, 59, a former WSU defensive coordinator under Erickson who has been head coach at Idaho, Utah State, Louisville and Michigan State; and Kevin Sumlin, 43, a former WSU graduate assistant who is co-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma.
The final decision is believed to have come down to Wulff or Smith.
Wulff is almost sure to retain some current WSU assistants on his staff. He was teammates with WSU quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach and running backs coach Steve Broussard.
Meanwhile, Central Washington coach Beau Baldwin said "at this point I have no intention of leaving Central" for the Eastern job. Baldwin led Central to a 10-3 record this season and into the quarterfinals of the Division II playoffs.
The Yakima Herald-Republic contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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