DOBA: Is the Price right?

MIKE PRICE. The name evokes mixed feelings among the Cougar Faithful. He led two WSU teams to the Rose Bowl. He also won 5 games or fewer in 8-of-14 years in Pullman. And his decision to coach the Cougs in the '03 Rose Bowl despite assuming the 'Bama post still lingers. So recent speculation Price will replace or reunite with Bill Doba has had cyberspace buzzing. What's the story? Doba answers.

Have Doba and Price already spoken about Price coming back? Is the Price-as-head-coach, Doba-to-d-coordinator plan already in the works?

In a word, said Bill Doba on Saturday evening, no.

On the eve of Washington State's first practice of fall camp, Doba shot down the flurry of rumor, speculation and internet buzz centered on the idea of Mike Price eventually returning to Pullman and replacing Doba.

"I put up with Price for 14 years, so I'm not about to put up with him again," Doba quipped to CF.C about his good friend. "No, I've never talked about that. I'm sure it wouldn't be my decision or his. That's kind of silly."

The rumor mill had gone into overdrive in recent days, apparently in response to a column penned by venerable Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist (and diehard Cougar fan) Jim Moore, and subsequent speculation on KJR-AM radio.

"A talked-about scenario by some alums," Moore wrote this past week, "has WSU coach Bill Doba resuming his duties as defensive coordinator or retiring and Price taking over a team he led from 1989 to 2002."

Doba on Saturday cracked; "He (Price) called me the other day, but I missed him. Maybe that's what it was about."

Doba, a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at WSU during Price's 14-year stint as the Cougs' head man, replaced Price when the latter resigned to take a short-lived job as Alabama's head coach after the 2002 season. Price has since revived the football program at UTEP, and Doba has drawn fire after failing to post a winning record or go to a bowl game the past three seasons. In Doba's first year at WSU, he led the Cougs in 2003 to a 10-3 record and a No. 9 ranking in the final AP Poll.

Doba is 25-22 in four seasons at the Cougar helm, while Price has compiled a 21-15 mark in three season at UTEP, which plays in Conference-USA. The 21 victories in El-Paso is tied for second-most in a three-year span in school history. Price was 83-78 at WSU.

Howie Stalwick, who will provide daily coverage at the start of WSU's fall camp for, has won dozens of national, regional and state journalism awards covering sports for various Pacific Northwest newspapers for more than three decades. A former sports writer at the Coeur d'Alene Press, the Spokane Spokesman-Review and the Portland Oregonian, Stalwick now freelances for newspapers and magazines across the nation. He covers WSU football and basketball for daily newspapers in Bremerton (Kitsap Sun), the Tri-Cities (Tri-City Herald), Vancouver (Columbian) and Olympia (Olympian).

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