Cougars coach retained after 2-10 season
PULLMAN – Paul Wulff will return for his fourth year as head football coach at Washington State, something athletic director Bill Moos made clear Sunday.
Wulff and Moos met Sunday afternoon in Moos’ office and Wulff learned the news in a roundabout way.
The two first chatted about the Apple Cup, the good and bad elements of it.
“Then we just talked about what we can continue to do to keep making us better,” Wulff said. “We didn’t talk long enough to go through all of it but we will continue to meet and talk, just to keep each other updated.
“Basically, we talked about how supportive he is and we’re building and growing a program. That was really the extent of it.”
There was speculation concerning Wulff’s status much of the season, as Moos, who took over at WSU in the spring, continually stated it would be evaluated after the season. It ended Saturday with the Cougars’ 35-28 Apple Cup defeat to Washington at Martin Stadium.
So Moos and Wulff went through the first part of the evaluation process Sunday. Afterward, Moos made it official.
“President (Elson) Floyd has said from the beginning that the decision on Paul Wulff’s future is mine,” Moos said in a media release. ”I appreciate his trust and know that his goal, like mine, is to see Cougar football be successful and compete for championships.
“That being said, it is my feeling at this particular time that the best course of action to move in that direction is to continue with the current leadership.”
Wulff is 5-32 in his first three seasons at WSU after posting a 53-40 record in eight years as Eastern Washington’s head coach. The Cougars finished 2-10 this season, with the highlight a 31-14 upset of Oregon State in Corvallis three weeks ago.
His tenure has included a nearly complete overhaul of the Cougar roster – WSU started 10 freshmen or sophomores in the Apple Cup – and changes in off-field activities like weightlifting and nutrition.
With that in mind, Wulff said there was no goals set for next year other than a simple one: “We want to win more games.”
“No one wants to win more games than the guy you are talking with right now,” said Wulff, who is still working under the five-year contract he signed in 2007. “I accepted with the idea we’re going to build a program that will ultimately win a lot of football games and compete for championships. We’re doing all the things it takes and is required to do that.”
If a change had been made, Washington State would have owed Wulff about $600,000.
The future of WSU’s assistant coaches was left in his hands, Wulff said. Each is working under contracts that expire in the winter.
Cougar players, when asked about Wulff’s future after the Apple Cup, expressed their backing.
“I know we support him 100 percent,” junior offensive lineman B.J. Guerra said Saturday. “Coach Wulff has grown on us all over the past three years. I love what he’s doing. Everybody’s buying in, we’re supporting him 100 percent.”
Later Sunday, Wulff looked back at the Apple Cup defeat, stating again Washington’s big three of quarterback Jake Locker, running back Chris Polk and receiver Jermaine Kearse “were the difference.”
He also bemoaned the Cougars’ poor tackling and the early lack of execution by their offense.
Improving those areas, he said, will be a focus for an offseason that began Sunday. A handful of Cougar assistants are already on the road recruiting and Wulff himself will leave today for California and points beyond.
The recruiting got a kick-start over the weekend, Wulff said, with three junior college players committing on their visits. That would put WSU at 22 commitments for next year, nearing the first-year limit of 25 initial scholarships.
As for his fate, Wulff chuckled a bit.
“I know, out there, there is a lot of stuff being said,” he observed. “Behind the scenes I think people are seeing the good things that are happening. It’s always been a positive feeling in the department.
“Bill has great support for me and our process, and it seems like it’s been made a bigger deal than the reality of it all along.”
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