Jim Walden sets the record straight

FOR THE OFTEN outspoken and always entertaining Jim Walden, the No. 1 order of business Wednesday in his first radio interview since a series of them in December that landed him in hot water at Ol' Wazzu was to make sure the faithful know where he stands on Mike Leach. Walden's spirited defense of Paul Wulff last fall doesn't color his view of Leach. He supports the new coach 100 percent.

In fact, it may be more than 100 percent because of the raw deal Leach received in his previous job.

"I represent thousands of football coaches who, no matter where Mike Leach went, we were going to pull for him because of how he got screwed at Texas Tech, and I mean that sincerely," Walden told Toby Howell and MooseJaw Miller of Spokane's 1510 KGA Sports Radio.

And for the record, the former WSU head coach loves the wide splits Leach uses with the offensive line.

Walden was less effusive when the conversation turned toward the awkward way he himself was dismissed from his duties as the color commentator on Cougar radio broadcasts.

Being told of his canning via a letter that arrived last week from athletic director Bill Moos was strange enough given how long Walden and Moos have known each other. Moreover, Walden is a WSU Hall of Fame member and a very large donor to, and volunteer fundraiser for, the athletic department.

But when Walden heard Moos talking about the matter on KIRO Radio in Seattle on Monday he became downright indignant.

As he listened to Moos explain away the dismissal as simply being time for a change of perspective, much like freshening up uniforms, Walden said, "I thought ‘Bill, tell them the truth.' They let me go, and I have every bit of respect for the reason they would've because I totally publicly supported Paul Wulff (by) trying to do my damndest to see if I could get him the one more year that I truly believe he deserved."

Walden's criticism of Wulff's firing wasn't mentioned by Moos in either the pink slip letter or in the KIRO interview.

As to the reason for communicating the news by letter rather than phone, Moos cited a "hectic travel schedule" as the main reason.

"Here's what it comes down to when it's all said and done," Walden said. "When Bill said we had a hectic week of travel ... I was in Harrison, Idaho (his home), last Tuesday. Most everybody in the athletic department has my phone number, my email address and so that kinda bothered me. It actually kinda hurts."

Walden and Moos have known each other for more than 30 years and Walden's wife Nancy has known Moos for more than 40.

Walden also said he didn't understand why WSU waited until May to fire him.

"They only threw one guy (from the broadcast team) to the curb. Why didn't (Moos) just give me a call last January? ... I would have been the most positive guy in the world by saying ‘ya know, I've been working on a one-year contract for 11 years. If you don't want me in that booth let's keep our friendship and I'll step aside and wish you all the luck in the world'. But he didn't call."

Walden said the lack of communication gave him a sneaking suspicion he wouldn't be back in the booth in 2012.

"The thing that hurt me the most was not losing the job. Hell, I've been fired from better spots than that," Walden said. "There were some friendships involved and evidently they weren't friendships."

Walden also said he's not wild about the three-man booth WSU has in store this fall with Bob Robertson, Bud Nameck and new color man Shawn McWashington. In his view, putting Nameck in the booth with the legendary Robertson is a sign of disrespect to the 83-year-old broadcast hall of famer.

"Will he be standing behind him to check his pulse?" Walden quipped.

Walden said the end of his broadcasting career won't keep him from attending the Cougs' home-opener against Eastern Washington. He plans to throw a massive tailgate party.

"I'll buy a couple kegs," Walden said. "... they'll probably give me a B parking pass somewhere and I'll have my former players come out and hopefully some of my friends will come get a free beer. As Bill Moos says, ‘we will celebrate the past.'"

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