Wulff eyes a 'special' coach possibility

IT'S A BOLD, if not necessarily novel, idea. Paul Wulff tells CF.C he is considering not bringing in a running backs coach per se to replace Steve Broussard. So what kind of a coach would he bring in?

A special teams coach.

"There are two options I'm considering -- go hard after a running backs coach and then split up the special teams (responsibilities). The other option is to go hard after a successful special teams guy who has some running backs experience, and then complement that with a graduate assistant who would work with the running backs as well," said Wulff.

Wulff said he could even have the assistant in place in the next week or so. So which way is he leaning?

"I'm leaning towards the special teams emphasis, there's a pool of guys I'm considering for both options," said Wulff.

Washington State's special teams performance of last year is in need of a major boost regardless of which way Wulff decides to go on the new assistant. Other Pac-10 schools offer some evidence why going with a designated special teams coordinator, as opposed to a position coach who also tries to take on those responsibilities, could be a boon for WSU.

IN THE PAC-10 last season, Oregon State brought on Bruce Read as a graduate assistant in charge of special teams. The Beavers subsequently ranked fourth in the nation in kickoff return yardage defense.

At USC, they also had a full time special teams coach last season, Brian Schneider. While they were not a great team in defending the kickoff, Southern Cal was third in the nation in punt return yardage defense. Oregon State was second in the Pac-10 and in the top 30 nationally in that category.

It's harder to judge the impact on a school's return teams -- the best return units are often highly dependent on the individual skill of the return man. For what it's worth, Arizona also had a special teams guy last season, Jeff Hammerschmidt, and the Wildcats ranked No. 11 in the nation in kickoff returns.

Whichever type of coach Wulff ends up choosing, it would seem likely he would need to have solid recruiting ties to the Los Angeles area, the region Broussard covered for the Cougs. And if WSU's special teams take a big step forward in 2010, that gets Wulff and WSU that much closer to where they need to be this season.

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