PULLMAN — Six weeks into the season, there has been a change on the Washington State coaching staff. Mike Leach announced Monday that Cougars’ special teams coach Eric Russell has been fired.

Leach said Russell has been dismissed from his duties, with the task of running the special teams unit to be divided among the assistants.

Offensive quality control assistant Eric Mele will now become the “head” of the special teams unit, and will separate responsibilities of the special teams among the rest of the assistants, Leach said.

It's not the first time Leach has dismissed an assistant coach during the season. Leach fired defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich after Texas Tech lost 49-45 in Week Four at Oklahoma State in 2007.

Russell, who was also WSU's associate head coach, had been on occasion under fire from WSU fans his first two seasons but the 2014 campaign saw things really heat up. WSU's special team units this season have made at least one significant, and in some cases game-changing, special teams gaffe in all six games, culminating with mind-numbing breakdowns Saturday against Cal.

Russell's kickoff return unit on Saturday gave up two returns for touchdowns (100-, 98-yards) and the Cougs missed a 19-yard field goal at the end that would have put WSU up 62-60 over Cal with just seconds remaining.

Leach said he thinks a great deal of Russell as a coach, but he decided it was time to make a change.

Mele is now considered one of the nine assistant coaches allowed to college football teams. Leach said he will see how it goes in terms of hiring a new special teams coach at the end of the year.

Here's an ESPN article on Mele: CLICK HERE

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