Marbut's new contract is a statement

IN A RECENT radio interview, Bill Moos talked about putting an end to the notion of Washington State being a stepping stone for coaches rather than a destination. News that Donnie Marbut has signed 3-year contract extension -- with an automatic rollover each year -- suggests that Moos is tracking nicely toward the goal.

Make no mistake about it. Marbut is the real deal. He's a young, charismatic guy with a passion for his sport, a love of teaching, a thirst for motivating, a knack for recruiting, and deep respect for the past.

He's Tony Bennett in baseball spikes.

Only better, because he's stickin' with the one who brought him to the dance.

Granted, a contract, no matter the length, isn't worth a dime if the coach is open to offers from others.

But Moos' quick action to make sure Marbut knows he's wanted -- really, really wanted -- will go a long way toward ensuring the coach stays in Pullman not just for the duration of the contract but long past it.


Marbut's new deal pays him a base salary of $170,000 annually, with incentives that could boost the total to about $230,000. For a sport that doesn't contribute to the department's bottom line, that's a pretty nice deal. The numbers don't make him the highest-paid coach in the Pac-10 by any stretch but it puts him in good company. That, alone, is a statement.

More than anything, though, the new contract tells Marbut that WSU believes in him and his vision.

In other words, schools may come calling, but Marbut knows he will be rewarded for excellence at WSU and that the powers-that-be share his quest for sustained excellence.

The fact Marbut built this program from the ground up is another powerful incentive to stay put. That he is a Northwest native -- unlike Tony Bennett -- is no small benefit trending the crimson way, either.

"I think we're a program, we're not just a team," Marbut recently told Butch's Beat. "Last year, people thought we were a good team but I don't know if people thought, 'Hey that's a good program.' Well, I think we've solidified that we're turning this thing into a program and that we will be on the national scene for hopefully years to come."

Those are the words of a man who is committed. Those are the words of a guy who knows his athletic director has his back.

Literally, at the rate Marbut is going, there could be a bronze statue of him standing outside Bailey-Brayton Field one day.

That's not hyperbole. He has rekindled a nearly extinct flame on a program that once towered for the better part of five decades.

He has awakened the echoes of Bailey and Brayton, and he talks with conviction about making Omaha a regular stop for his team.

Think about that for a moment. Think about where this program was five years ago when Marbut took over.

And now he's not only being rewarded for his work, but publicly praised as well. Moos has said a number of times since he became AD in the spring that the way Marbut has build the program is the prototype for every coach in every sport at WSU to follow.

Marbut knows he's appreciated. The real carrot for him now is the chance to leave a mark that people will be talking about 30 years from now.

Marbut and his new contract tell us that Washington State is no stepping stone, but a destination.

Moos made sure of it.

Talk to any AD in the land and they'll tell you that hanging onto good coaches is the secret to sustained success because you never have to start over.

Many years ago, Kelvin Sampson, the Cougar basketball coach, had much the same outlook on his program that Marbut does now. Then Oklahoma came calling. They didn't offer Sampson the moon but they offered a nice bump and promised to show him the love. WSU didn't even make a counteroffer.

That's an extreme example of the part of the Cougar culture that Moos wants no part of. It was the same mindset that let Mike Price leave for Alabama.

The cost of both of those coaching changes -- financially, psychologically, and otherwise -- proved astronomical.

They are unfortunate lessons. But they are lessons nonetheless -- lessons that Moos is hellbent to ensure won't happen again at Ol' Wazzu. Donnie Marbut's contract is proof.

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