Doba done in by expectations he helped create

ONCE AGAIN THE crassness of college football has reared its head. Bill Doba has been fired. He was fired as Washington State's head coach less than 48 hours after leading the Cougars to their third Apple Cup victory over Washington in four years, an accomplishment unprecedented by a WSU coach in the 100-year history of the rivalry.

He was fired despite having a winning record of 30-29, a mark that at one time at WSU might have gotten him a raise. He was fired despite having a history of loyalty to WSU built up during his 19 years in Pullman.

But maybe more important, the firing of Doba meant WSU in particular and college football in general is bereft today of a type of person the school and the sport can ill afford to lose: a nice guy.

Bill Doba is a nice guy.

Nice to his fellow coaches and nice to his players. Nice to fellow WSU employees. There is no reason to think he isn't nice to the checkers at Dissmore's. Hell, he's even nice to sportswriters.

He's also bright, dedicated and professional.

Doesn't matter.

Bill Doba has been fired -- even though it's being called a mutual decision.

In addition to all his positive personal attributes, Doba leaves behind memories Cougar football fans should forever cherish.

In his first year as WSU's defensive coordinator in 1994, the Cougars were ranked No. 2 in the nation in total defense, an accomplishment that paid off in a bid to the Alamo Bowl, where Ron Childs and the rest of WSU defense kept Baylor out of the end zone in a 10-3 victory.

In the glorious Rose Bowl season of 1997, when the offense scored at will, Doba's defense, anchored by Leon Bender, set the tone with an unforgettable goal-line stand against UCLA in the opener.

And in 2003, Doba's first year as head coach, the Cougars ended a third straight 10-win season by upsetting Texas in the Holiday Bowl, 28-20.

Because of all those accomplishments, football expectations rose at WSU. Heck, Doba himself guaranteed, mistakenly, that 2004 would see a fourth-straight bowl invitation for the Cougars.

In the end, it was probably the higher expectations -- for which he was partly responsible -- that did him in.

Cougar fans tasted the big time from 2001-2003 and they made it clear they wanted more. Meanwhile, the facilities arms race of college athletics continued to escalate.

Athletic director Jim Sterk wants to continue refurbishing Martin Stadium. To do so he needs money. To get it, he needs the football team to live up to higher expectations by getting into bowl games on a regular basis.

In a press release and in remarks made at his farewell press conference Doba, if anything, enhanced his nice-guy persona. In the press release he mentioned his late wife, Judy, who died in April 2006, of ovarian cancer.

"It has been a great ride for 19 years," Doba said. "The university has been great to me and my family and the support Judy and I received from the community is something I will never forget. I would like to thank Jim Sterk and (former university president) Lane Rawlins for the opportunity to fulfill the dream of a lifetime. And I would like to thank President (Elson S.) Floyd for treating me and this situation with dignity and respect."

Later, at the press conference, Doba said:

"I loved my job. I had a great time. I didn't cheat or do anything to embarrass this university. I hope to be remembered as a players' coach."

Bill Doba.

Nice guy.

Husky killer.

Architect of the school's biggest bowl win since Pasadena in 1916.

Victim of college football's ever-growing expectations.

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