Linebackers coach Travis Niekamp is changing jobs. He's leaving his on-field position to take over a newly created spot within the athletic department, coordinator of football development. With the opening, football coach Paul Wulff will be looking for his third new assistant in two years. Read on for more.
• The WSU sports information department issued the news about Niekamp this afternoon, with the release describing his new duties. Though the process of replacing Niekamp wasn't discussed, my guess is Wulff will be looking for a more experienced assistant to fill the position, just as he did last year when Harold Etheridge was replaced and Steve Broussard moved on the Arizona State. I also don't believe Niekamp's position will be the only one changed by March 31, when the assistants' contracts expire. ... We have a short story you can read here ...
Washington State football coach Paul Wulff has made a change on his staff, the first of this offseason.
Wulff announced Friday former linebackers' coach Travis Niekamp, who came over with Wulff from Eastern Washington, was being reassigned within the athletic department.
Niekamp, 36, will fill a newly created position of coordinator of football development, effective immediately.
His duties will include overseeing football camps and clinics, on-campus recruiting activities and other unspecified tasks. There is no on-field coaching associated with the new position.
"Travis will continue to play a large role in the growth of our player development and overall football program," Wulff said in a news release. "He is extremely well organized, a tireless worker and understands the necessity of this position, all factors that make us better."
Wulff said he has begun a search for a replacement.
Before joining Wulff at EWU, Niekamp coached at his alma mater, Illinois State, and at Army.
Last year WSU finished 118th out of 120 FBS schools in defense, and 115th in rushing defense. The Cougars (2-10) were last in the Pac-10 in five major defensive statistics.
After the 2009 season, offensive line coach Harold Etheridge's contract was not renewed and running backs coach and special teams coordinator Steve Broussard left to join Dennis Erickson's staff at Arizona State. They were replaced by veteran coaches Steve Morton and Dave Ungerer, respectively.
Earlier this week the football coaching website Footballscoop.com reported Niekamp and defensive line coach Malik Roberson would be replaced. A WSU spokesman, responding to the report, said no changes had been made at that time.
• Watched as WSU practiced today in preparation for tomorrow's basketball game at Stanford. We don't have a story coming, but we have some thoughts. ... Didn't notice last night, but during his 36-point performance, Klay Thompson had to head over to the bench and have trainer Nick Gallotto tend to a slightly dislocated finger on his shooting hand. I was told it was at quite a weird angle until Gallotto fixed it. ... His hand was fine today, but the Cougars are a bit beat up after the overtime loss to Cal. There were a lot of ice bags after today's workout. ... That being said, coach Ken Bone talked about the mental aspect of getting a team over a tough road defeat in just 48 hours. At the end of last year, he said, the team wasn't good at putting losses behind it. This year he feels the players are better and it showed after opening Pac-10 play with back-to-back losses in LA. The next weekend WSU posted 14-point wins over the Oregon schools. Still, the challenge now is to do that after just one road defeat, not two. ... Asked Bone about DeAngelo Casto not starting and he said it was due to Casto being late for the team bus as they were leaving Pullman. He added it's a team rule and anyone not following it will miss time, pointing out it happened to Thompson last season. ... What is Bone looking for tomorrow? Offensively, he said, the Cougars really need either Reggie Moore or Faisal Aden to help out Thompson with the scoring load. They both struggled shooting the ball against Cal. Defensively, they have to play smart and execute the game plan against a Cardinal team that's starting to put its game together.
• That's it for today. We'll be back in the morning. Until then ...