It took 38 years but Tormey finally a Coug

FINALLY, CHRIS TORMEY is a Cougar. It took nearly 40 years and included two stops each at Idaho and Washington along the way, but the road he wanted to be on in 1973 has finally reopened in 2011. The highly respected coach and recruiter is joining Paul Wulff's staff at Washington State, has learned through multiple sources.

Tormey, who spent nine years as head coach at Idaho and Nevada and was a critical cog in helping Don James build Washington's best teams, will join WSU as the linebackers coach. He replaces Travis Neikamp, who served as LB coach for the last three seasons and is now taking on a newly created position overseeing WSU football camps, clinics and on-campus recruiting.

Tormey's body of work at a consistently high level in both coaching and recruiting, coupled with a true team-first mentality, is said to be what won over Wulff.

Tormey has a long and distinguished coaching history, which includes the past two seasons coaching special teams and safeties at Hawaii for old friend Greg McMackin.

Coming to Pullman, though, is almost destiny fulfilled.

As a star lineman at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane in the early 1970s, he verbally committed to play college ball for the Cougars. But then a blown knee in the opening game of his senior season and a miscommunication on the Cougar coaching staff conspired against him.

"They recruited me hard and offered me a scholarship, then pulled it," Tormey told the Seattle P-I in 2002 when he was the head coach at Nevada preparing to play WSU at Qwest Field. "I had taken my official visit, but I don't think the head coach, Jim Sweeney, and the recruiting coach were on the same page. I was crushed. I got over it."

Well, kind of.

With the Cougars taking their offer off the table, and his knee injury raising question marks, his choices were limited to Colorado State, Montana State and Idaho.

He picked Idaho because "I'd have a chance to play against the Cougars for four years. I wanted a chance to line up against those Cougars," he said in the 2002 P-I story.

Tormey became an all-league performer for the Vandals but never was able to beat the Cougars in the annual Battle of the Palouse. That changed, however, when he came became head coach at Idaho two decades later. On a sunny Palouse day in 1999, Tormey orchestrated a shocking upset of the Cougs. Twice the Vandals came from behind to take the lead and wound up winning 28-17. It was the first Idaho victory against WSU since 1965.

Despite that tenuous history with the Cougar Nation, Tormey does have some proud crimson blood in the family. His brother Bill and sister Julie are WSU graduates. In addition, Tormey cut his coaching teeth at Idaho as an assistant to former WSU head coach Dennis Erickson.

"Even though he coached for the Huskies, I have nothing but respect for Chris Tormey. He's a credit to the profession," former WSU coach Mike Price said on the eve of that 2002 game at Qwest.

TORMEY'S REPUTATION IN college coaching took wing early on as an assistant at UW. From 1984 to 1992 he variously coached tight ends, linebackers and the secondary, and in 1993 and '94 he was the Huskies' defensive coordinator. During his tenure the Huskies appeared in 10 bowl games and won half of the 1991 national championship. While at Washington he also developed a reputation as a top-flight recruiter, luring such notables as Napoleon Kaufman, Mark Brunell and Rashaan Shehee to Seattle from California.

In 2003, after his fourth season as head coach at Nevada, Tormey was fired by the same man he had replaced -- Nevada athletic director Chris Ault, who subsequently appointed himself the new head coach. Tormey's release caught the coaching world off guard because he had steadily rebuilt the program, getting them to 6-6 in his final season and defeating Washington in Seattle along the way. He then returned to Washington in 2004 as linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator.

"I've known Chris for many years and he's always been a first class person and excellent football coach," Hawaii head coach Greg McMackin said when he hired Tormey. "He's also one of the best recruiters in the country ... His work ethic is second to none."

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