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Price Is Getting What He Deserves

Sat., Jan. 17, 1998

Editorial writers love to rant about the extravagance and corruption of college football.

It’s easy to do.

The sports pages abound with stories of college football programs under investigation for NCAA rule violations. Of opportunistic coaches and athletic directors leapfrogging from one university to the next. Of star athletes raping and plundering their way through campus life. Of coaches making more money than their college presidents.

Well, Washington State University football coach Mike Price soon will sign a contract that’ll pay him more than twice as much as President Sam Smith, if guaranteed outside income is figured in. And we aren’t griping. As Babe Ruth would have said: Price had a better year than the president.

Seriously, though, Price has earned his new, long-term contract, which will pay him the median salary among Pacific-10 football coaches: $450,000 annually. He has proven himself on and off the football field. Not only did he take the Cougars to their first Rose Bowl in 67 years, but all 26 seniors are on a path to graduate.

WSU is fortunate to retain Price. Sure, there are no dream jobs out there right now. But he’s a hot commodity anyway. Here you have a personable man, respected and even loved by players and assistant coaches, who brought little-known Moo U within 2 seconds of toppling No. 1-ranked Michigan in the granddaddy of all bowl games. Price proved his loyalty to his alma mater last year when he turned down an offer of more money from the University of Minnesota.

“Win-one-for-the-Gipper” loyalty died at most colleges when Knute Rockne’s plane went down. Yet, that cherished old value has enjoyed a good run during Price’s nine years at WSU. Assistant coaches have stayed. Athletic Director Rick Dickson turned down a job of a lifetime in early December because he was afraid it would distract from the Rose Bowl focus - and his contract negotiations with Price. Even quarterback Ryan Leaf hesitated before doing the sensible thing and turning professional, such was his loyalty to Price.

The Cougars aren’t going to the Rose Bowl next year. Or, at least, conventional wisdom says they’re not. They’re losing too many key seniors and, of course, Leaf. But they’ll be well-coached again. Jim Livengood, the former WSU athletic director who’s now at Arizona, said of Price before the Rose Bowl: “He was a great coach when he was 3-8 and he’s a great coach when he’s 10-1.”

Now, he’s finally a well-paid, great coach.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board


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