(Photos by Robert Hubner, WSU Photo Services)
PULLMAN — WSU Director of Athletics Jim Sterk Tuesday named Eastern Washington University coach Paul Wulff as the new head football coach of the Cougars. Wulff becomes WSU’s 31st head coach and the first WSU football letterwinner and graduate to lead the Cougars since Phil Sarboe served as head coach from 1945-49.
“We conducted an extensive national search and met with some outstanding candidates,” said Sterk. “In the end I feel we hired the best person for the job. Paul has had success as a head coach, has great passion for this job and this university, and is a man of great character and integrity.”
“Obviously this has been a dream of mine since I joined the coaching profession,” said Wulff, who replaces Bill Doba, the former Cougar coach who spent 19 years on the sideline at WSU, the last five as head coach. “It is my alma mater, a university with great tradition and a program I feel very strongly about. WSU is an important place in my development as a human being with respect to the university culture. Being named head coach is the biggest honor I have ever received and I am excited about the opportunity.”
A 1990 graduate of WSU and a four-year letterwinner, Wulff has spent the previous 15 seasons at EWU, the final eight as head coach. There he amassed a record of 53-40. During his eight-year head coaching tenure Wulff was named Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year three times (2001, 2004, 2005) and led the Eagles into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs three times in the last four years.
This past season he guided the Eagles to a 9-4 mark, including a quarterfinal appearance at the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs, falling to two-time defending champion Appalachian State. It marked the seventh time in his eight years at Eastern that his teams posted winning records.
“I greatly appreciate the work of Jim Sterk and the advisory committee in running an efficient, thorough and successful search,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “Paul Wulff has had great success at Eastern Washington University and his Cougar roots run deep. I look forward to him having a long and outstanding tenure here at Washington State University.”
“We put together a logical, thoughtful process, one full of diversity, and one I feel was followed by everyone involved,” said Dr. Ken Casavant, WSU Faculty Athletics Representative and chair of the advisory committee. “We threw out a wide net over the candidate pool and after the process produced a number of quality candidates, Jim (Sterk), Dr. Floyd and I felt we came away with the best coach for WSU.”
In 2004 EWU reached the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs, falling 35-34 to Sam Houston State. It was the first appearance by the Eagles in the postseason since a semifinal showing in 1997. The Eagles reached the playoffs the following season, dropping a narrow 41-38 decision at Northern Iowa in the first round.
Offense has been a hallmark of Wulff’s teams as the Eagles led the FCS in total offense in 2001, finished fourth in 2004 and 2005, and was sixth in the category this season. Eastern also led the nation in total offense in 1997 when Wulff served as the offensive line coach.
“Paul is absolutely first class and I have had a good relationship with him since he’s been at Eastern” said Dave Miller, head coach at Lakes High School in Lakewood, Wash. “Our team has gone to the Eastern (Washington) camp each of the last 22 years and we keep going back because of the way we have been treated. There is nobody better in the state of Washington, coach Wulff and his staff are top notch. Paul is a great hire and a perfect fit for WSU and he will hit ground running with all his high school ties in the state.”
Wulff began his coaching career at EWU in 1993 as a volunteer assistant working with the offensive line. He was named offensive line/strength coach the following season and spent four years in the position before being promoted to offensive coordinator/offensive line/strength coach in 1998.
Wulff coached 21 players to 54 Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) All-America honors in his first seven years at the helm of the EWU program, and two more of his players were recently named to the Sports Network’s 2007 FCS All-America team. Of the 21 players to earn All-America recognition, 15 have been offensive lineman.
(Photo above by Tim Marsh, University Relations)
Additionally, Wulff has mentored 15 players who have earned 18 total CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII honors and a total of 131 All-Big Sky Conference Academic team members.
As a student-athlete and four-year starter at center for the Cougars from 1986-89, Wulff was an All-America honoree himself as a senior, earning honorable mention accolades from The Sporting News. Wulff started at center under three different coaches after redshirting in 1985. He played for Jim Walden in 1986, Dennis Erickson from 1987-88 and Mike Price in 1989. He was also a member of WSU’s 1988 Aloha Bowl championship team.
After a successful collegiate career Wulff went on to play football professionally. He signed with the National Football League’s New York Jets as a free agent and also played for the World League’s Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks and New York-New Jersey Knights.
He and his wife Sherry have a 12-year-old daughter, Katie, and two sons, four-year-old Max and one-year-old Sam.
* For additional quotes from Wulff and Sterk, go to http://wsucougars.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/121107aac.html
* To watch a video of the press conference, go click on the following link to WSU Athletics website at http://all-access.cstv.com/cstv/player/player.html?code=wast&sport=m-footbl&category=Press Conference (MediaType)&media=54893