Jason Gesser knows the fine line

THE FINE LINE in college coaching between stability and polishing up the resume was never clearer for Washington State quarterbacking legend Jason Gesser than it was this past season. Two plays, one at Nebraska in the opener and another against San Jose State at mid year, effectively were the difference between the Wyoming Cowboys going 7-5 or the staff, including Gesser, being swept out.

"We went into our final game, against Utah State, knowing that if we won we were going to a bowl game for the second time in three years, and if we lost we were going to be looking for new jobs the next day," Gesser told Cougfan.com last week over coffee while in Seattle visiting his mom.

"This profession can be crazy," he said.

Gesser's career illustrates that point.

In the span of two years he went from coaching Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish to taking over as interim head coach at Idaho in 2012. When Paul Petrino assumed the permanent mantle at Idaho, Gesser joined Dave Christensen's staff at Wyoming as the quarterbacks coach.

That was almost exactly one year ago. And now the winningest quarterback in Cougar history is looking for work again.

While his tenure in Laramie lasted just a season, Gesser points with pride to the Cowboys' passing attack, which was the 24th most prolific in the nation in 2013, and the 31.3 points per game the team averaged.

His work there and at Idaho, coupled with a reputation for outstanding results on the recruiting trail and a plain old passion for the game, attracted serious interest from a couple of schools -- but no job.

"It's all about timing, finding the right fit at the right time," he said.

Virtually all FBS openings have been filled at this stage, though a handful more could open once NFL teams fill out their staffs following the draft.

So for now, Gesser is back home in Pullman with his wife Kali and their three kids: daughter Jordyn, 10, son Kolten, 8, and the newest member of the clan, eight-month-old son Kruz.

"Pullman is our home base," says Gesser.

So much so that Kali and the kids remained there while Gesser was at Wyoming.

"It was really tough being away, and a lot of work for Kali, but we felt it was important to have that stability," he said. "The kids are thriving in Pullman. Kali has a great job in pharmaceutical sales -- not to mention she's a volunteer coach with the Cougar volleyball team! And we knew the situation at Wyoming could be one and done unless we made a bowl game."

While the career outlook is uncertain, Gesser said he's relishing the time with his family and using every spare moment to make sure the football world knows he's available. He continues the networking process (and yes, he has visited with Mike Leach, in case there was any doubt) and he's expanding his thinking to include scouting and front-office roles in professional football.

He's also exploring broadcasting opportunities, and may even find time to write some columns for Cougfan.com.

"Whether it's coaching or otherwise, I don't want to just take a job for a year," he said. "If I change career paths, I want to give it a good shot. Whatever the next step is, I'm going to go out and be the best at it that I can be."


  • Following his parents' divorce when he was a toddler, money was so tight that he and his dad lived for a time out of a car. Moving in with his grandparents in junior high brought stability to his life and put him on the road to becoming an honor student who loaded up on AP classes at St. Louis college prep in Honolulu.

  • Getting near-straight As in high school was no easy task, Gesser says, because he battled dyslexia. "I was up to 3 in the morning some nights constantly going over the material. I have a snapshot memory -- if I can visualize something in my mind I have it. That really helped me with my school work."

  • Asked if the dyslexia ever created a problem for him on the football field, he smiled as he recalled the one instance. It was at UCLA in 2002 when the Cougars clinched the Pac-10 title and a Rose Bowl berth. In the first quarter of that game, the Bruins' Ben Emanuel picked off a Gesser pass and returned it for a touchdown. "I flipped the routes the receivers were running. Devard (Darling) was running a post and I was throwing a curl," he remembers. "The curl was actually on the other side of the field." The Cougs won that game 48-27.


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