Wulff not concerned about job security
By Michael Simeona, MyNorthwest.com intern
In his third season as head coach at Washington State, Paul Wulff has led the Cougars to a 5-31 record, the lowest winning percentage of any head coach in the program’s history.
With the 103rd Apple Cup kicking off at Martin Stadium this Saturday, it’s safe to say a win over the Huskies would go a long way in extending the Wulff era in Pullman. Wulff’s job security has been questioned all season long considering the Cougars hadn’t shown much competitiveness in conference play until the upset against Oregon State on Nov. 13. Although Wulff has been on the hot seat for much of his three-year tenure at WSU, he knows he’s responsible for what is being put out there on the field.
“Whenever a program goes through a down spell someone wants to point a finger at somebody,” Wulff said. “And you know what? It’s the head coach, regardless of sport, and I understand that.”
Wulff took over as head coach in 2008 where he inherited a program in disarray after losing eight scholarships for failing to meet academic standards during the Bill Doba era. The team was plagued by multiple off-field incidents under Doba’s watch, after 25 players were arrested in an 18-month period for offenses that carried possible jail time. In fact, one former WSU player said “you ain’t got nothin’ to do but get drunk and smoke weed, and not go to class because you’re too tired from doing what you’re doing,” when describing what it was like to play for the Cougars.
Two weeks ago, the Pac-10 announced that Washington State led all schools within the conference with seven members on the 2010 All-Academic First Team, along with one Second Team selection and four Honorable Mention selections. The program has made tremendous strides with regards to academics in a short time period, which is a sign of progress according to Wulff.
“When we got here our academics were in really bad shape and that is drastically changing,” said Wulff on Tuesday’s Kevin Calabro show. “I think that is more of it as to what is going on behind the scenes. Like I said all along, as we get academics – off-field issues cleaned up, we get our work ethic instilled, we improve our talent – the wins are gonna come. But that’s kind of the last thing that evolves after you get all those other things back in line.”
Bill Moos took over as Athletic Director in May, after former AD Jim Sterk bolted for San Diego State. Moos spent 16 years as AD for the Oregon Ducks where he aligned with head coach Mike Bellotti to help build the foundation for a now-dominant football program. While Bellotti is currently a college football analyst for ESPN, some have speculated how he would be a good fit to replace Wulff as head coach considering his previous relationship with Moos.
Wulff isn’t worried about speculation concerning his job security as he claims to have built a good rapport with Moos, a WSU alum himself.
“I think ultimately just working with Bill, who is clearly one of the best athletic director’s in the country in understanding how you do things, I feel good. I have a good relationship with Bill, and he has built football programs in the past. He and I believe in doing it the same way.”
Ultimately, the fate of Wulff’s coaching career depends on one thing, winning, which is something that hasn’t come all too often during his short tenure at WSU. Saturday’s Apple Cup may seal Wulff’s fate, considering whichever team comes out of the game with a victory can hold it over their rivals’ heads for a whole calendar year.
“I think there’s a lot of emotion in this game, period,” Wulff exclaimed. “If we win the ball game and it comes out the way we want, and obviously knocks (UW) out of something, then that’s something they got to deal with.
“We’re just looking forward to the opportunity, and we just want to play good football again.”
You can listen to the entire Paul Wulff interview, including how he plans to break out his trademark “Apple Cup Dance” if the Cougars beat the Huskies, right here .