PULLMAN – Chris Ball is ready for his starring role.
With Washington State University football coach Paul Wulff sidelined by an NCAA-mandated suspension, the Cougars’ assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator will play the role of head coach for the first three days of practice.
But this isn’t the first time the 46-year-old Ball has filled the part.
“It’s just part of the title,” Ball said, laughing. “I’ve been assistant head coach other places when the head coach had to go do something.”
The three days of leading workouts are an audition of sorts for Ball, who admits to wanting to move up the ladder.
“Yeah, I do,” he answered when asked if he wants to be a head coach some day, “but it’s not like I’m dying to be.”
But before he accepts the challenges being a full-time head coach brings, he has a bigger one to deal with.
“The No. 1 thing right now, what I’m so obsessed with right now is getting this thing turned back around,” said Ball, who has coached at 10 schools, including Alabama and Pittsburgh. “The challenging part of it is really intriguing me and I’m excited about it.
“I really, really want to get this thing back on track, win some games, and get this thing the way it was when we left.”
This is Ball’s third tour of duty in Pullman, where he was a graduate assistant in 1989 before returning to coach Mike Price’s defensive backs for three years starting in 2000.
Ball followed the former Cougars coach to Tuscaloosa, Ala., after consecutive 10-win seasons, but Pullman was always in the back of his mind.
When Wulff replaced Bill Doba and called with an opening, Ball weighed the opportunities at Pitt – he said he was offered the defensive coordinator spot after accepting the WSU position – against those available in the Palouse. The family-friendly nature of Pullman, coupled with his experiences in the prior stints, easily won out.