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WSU hires Howard, lets Roberson go

COUGARS

It hasn't been much of a secret another football staff change was coming at Washington State. Well, the change will be announced today, with former Lewis and Clark High and WSU player Malik Roberson out as the defensive line coach. The replacement might be a surprise to some, but not really to anyone who knew what WSU was looking for. Read on.

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• When Paul Wulff rambled down U.S. 195 a few years ago to take over the Washington State football program, he brought a handful of assistant coaches with him. Two of the youngest and least experienced have now been replaced, with linebackers coach Travis Niekamp kicked upstairs to an administrative role and now Roberson let go, as the school announced his contract will not be renewed. In are veteran Chris Tormey, to coach the linebackers, and now former UCLA defensive line and associate head coach Todd Howard, an ex-NFL player and an 18-year coaching veteran. Howard, who was part of Karl Dorrell's staff in Westwood, was fired today by the Rick Neuheisel and the Bruins. But I have been told the WSU hire has been in the works for some time (and he agreed to take the job more than a week ago), so it's not as if this is Wulff swooping in and picking up damaged goods. Far from it. As one long-time UCLA booster told me this week, WSU is getting a good coach, one whom the players loved and did his job well. And that's just as a defensive line assistant, a role in which he helped develop players like Brian Price, Korey Bosworth, Bruce Davis and Brigham Harwell. But there is more to Howard than that. He also recruited Los Angeles for the Bruins and his contacts in the basin are extensive. That should help the Cougars in the area. Plus, and this should not be overlooked, as he brings diversity to a staff that doesn't have a lot. With Roberson's departure – he was the only African-American on the staff – WSU would have been bereft of diversity on the staff. If you want to know more about Howard, you can check out his UCLA bio here. ... I'm not an expert on football coaching by any means, but this hire seems to be a good one for WSU. Howard has a ton of experience, he recruits an area WSU wants to be visible in and he comes from another Pac-10 school, one he'll probably want to help dismantle next year. In the past two years, WSU has hired four assistants with 106 years of coaching experience combined. ... There is also one other change to the defense. Chris Ball will remain assistant head coach but will also take over sole defensive coordinator duties. Jody Sears will remain cornerbacks coach but will lose his co-defensive coordinator title.

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• That's all for now. We'll be back from the game. Until then ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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