Staff hires likely first on Wulff's agenda

WITH THE FINAL draft of Paul Wulff's head coaching contract still at the printers, speculation is already at warp speed on just who the former EWU head man will surround himself with on the Washington State coaching staff. And at first glance, it is a list chockfull of candidates familiar to both Wulff and the Cougar nation.

You can bet that on Wulff's "to do" list securing a moving van will place a very distant third to contacting potential recruits and assembling a solid group of assistants. Indeed, it's likely his cell phone minutes will be in quadruple digits laying a staff foundation before his official announcement as Washington State's 31st head coach is even made.

In all likelihood, many candidates for Wulff's assistant coaching positions already sport the Crimson and Gray. So, for the sake of clarity, we'll refer to any of Bill Doba's staff members in this analysis as "current" assistants, seeing how they are still under contract with the university.

Current running backs coach Steve Broussard is a friend of Wulff's and his teammate from the Cougars' glorious 1988 campaign. Wulff belonged to a group of Wazzu hosses that help make Broussard one of the most prolific backs in school history.

Friendship aside, it would seem to make sense for the new WSU coach to retain Broussard. Although no foreigner to California dreaming, Wulff's recruiting resume in the Golden State while at Eastern was tame in comparison to their Palouse neighbors. As Broussard is Wazzu's Los Angeles area presence, that may be a recruiting pedigree Wulff can't afford to pass up.

Another former WSU teammate cut his first real college coaching teeth with Wulff on his staff at EWU. Quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach was the Eagles' offensive coordinator before joining Doba at WSU. The two have been close friends since their playing days so it could be Rosenbach will remain in Pullman. That wouldn't be greeted as the best of news to a very vocal portion of Cougar faithful who cite Rosey's play calling as—to put it gently—less than adequate.

Rosenbach's recruiting turf covers south Seattle to the Canadian border, although more of a group approach has been utilized this season by the current staff, with several coaches in contact with a recruit regardless of geographical location.

Current offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller is also no stranger to the new coach. The two have talked x's and o's often over the years and Wulff personally recruited Levy's son, J.T (who chose WSU), to play for the Eagles.

Levenseller is well known and respected among high school coaches from Tacoma to Vancouver. Just as impressive but perhaps not as widely known among fan bases, Levy is arguably one of the finest technical receiver coaches in the college game.

Although the Cougar playing careers of defensive line coach Mike Walker and Wulff just missed crossing paths by five seasons, they've become well acquainted in recent years. Marcus Walker, Mike's son, is the starting middle linebacker for Eastern.

Walker has pounded the pavement for potential Cougars throughout the state of California during his coaching career at WSU, which he began as a graduate assistant in 1995.

Wulff's staff at Eastern holds a pair of coaches with Crimson and Gray connections.

Jody Sears, a wide receiver at Wazzu from 1989-90 is presently the Eagles' defensive coordinator. Another Cougar teammate of Wulff's, Sears is most remembered by crimson fans as the holder for kicker Jason Hanson. He joined EWU's staff in 2003. His squads have had success, but have been overshadowed by the Eagles' high-powered offenses during his tenure at Cheney.

EWU's defensive line coach Malik Roberson spent time in the defensive trenches and as a linebacker for the Cougars in 1990-91 before leaving Pullman. He finished up his collegiate career at Central Washington and has been with Wulff for the past eight seasons.

If loyalty plays any part of an Eagle coaching exodus to Pullman, Roberson would be a likely candidate, as would Rich Rasmussen, the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, who has coached with Wulff for 12 years.

In addition, cornerbacks coach Chris Hansen and receivers coach Joe Wade have served with Wulff for nine and 8 years, respectively.

On the recruiting front at WSU Greg Peterson could be deemed invaluable at this late date. In his role as recruiting coordinator at Washington State the past two seasons, Peterson holds crucial insight to WSU's recruiting efforts this year -- from paperwork and film study down to arcane facts and figures gathered over the course of the season.

A big coaching question mark leaving many Cougar followers anxious is the status of WSU's offensive line coach George Yarno. Yarno, aside from his reputation as an innovative OL coach, has been a valuable recruiter for Wazzu in the coveted Orange County and San Diego talent-laden hotbeds.

Would his blocking philosophy mesh with Wulff's? Does he feel slighted for having not been given the courtesy of a cursory glance in Wazzu's head coaching search after serving two tour of duties with his alma mater?

And the current Eagle o-line coach could play a role in Yarno's Cougar future. Tom Ackerman, an eight year NFL veteran, just completed his first season in the college coaching ranks but earned rave reviews for his "rookie" season, although his accomplishments could be credited to a line that featured four seasoned seniors.

Another with just one season under Wulff's command, offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy, is well respected in coaching circles and the architect of the Eagles' high-flying, no-huddle '07 offense. Sturdy was the head coach for 12 years at NAIA's St. Ambrose University, where Rosenbach and Sears got their collegiate coaching starts.

It would seem bigger and better things await Sturdy, either as EWU's new head coach or with Wulff in Pullman as the new offensive coordinator. That, of course, would mean the end of Levenseller's 16-year coaching career at WSU.

In most coaching transitions—especially with it being mid-December and the recruiting window now measured in weeks, not months—the bulk of staff hires are likely to occur rapidly.


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