Wulff's status remains muddled

PAUL WULFF

PULLMAN -- Paul Wulff lived to see another day -- and perhaps many more days, months and years -- as football coach at Washington State. After meeting with Wulff on Sunday afternoon, WSU athletic director Bill Moos released a statement indicating that no decision has been made on Wulff's job status.

"Paul and I met for an hour and a half this afternoon so I could hear his assessment of the season and where he would like to take the program from here," Moos said. "Our discussions will be ongoing."

Since returning to Washington State last year, Moos (a former Cougars football star and assistant athletic director) has said he would wait until the end of each season before deciding whether to retain Wulff.

Anonymous sources with WSU ties have told various media they expect Moos to fire Wulff with one year remaining on his five-year contract. Wulff is paid $600,000 a year, by far the smallest salary in the Pacific-12 Conference.

Wulff's record stands at 9-40 after four years. His .184 winning percentage is well below the second-worst mark in school history, the .340 showing (26-59-1) of Jim Sweeney from 1968-75.

When Wulff was hired to replace Bill Doba in December of 2007, the Cougars had only three verbal commitments from recruits. According to CF.C, WSU currently has 18 verbal commitments for next year.

Moos has praised Wulff and his staff for improving WSU's recruiting efforts. Moos also has praised Wulff for adding respected, longtime assistant coaches such as Steve Morton, Chris Tormey and Todd Howard the past two seasons.

The Cougars started 2-0 and 3-1 this year, but finished 4-8.

Saturday's 38-21 loss to Washington marked WSU's third straight loss to the arch-rival Huskies. The Cougars' mistake-filled opening possession ended in a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown.

WULFF AND HIS supporters frequently note that the Cougars have made considerable progress on and off the field since Wulff inherited a program that had been faltering under Doba. WSU has not posted a winning record or gone to a bowl game since 2003, Doba's first season as coach.

The Cougars were forced to start three quarterbacks due to injuries this year, but they rank ninth among the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams with 322.3 passing yards per game. However, WSU ranks 112th in rushing (100.2) and is tied for 117th in quarterback sacks allowed (3.3).

The Cougars started seven seniors Saturday, including quarterback Marshall Lobbestael and middle linebacker Mike Ledgerwood.

Junior Jeff Tuel was projected to start at quarterback this season, but he saw little action due to injuries. Sophomore C.J. Mizell started at middle linebacker the first nine games. Senior wide receiver-kickoff returner Isiah Barton started most of the season before suffering a knee injury in the next-to-last game.

Next season, the Cougars return Tuel (an honorable mention All-Pac-10 pick in 2010), leading receiver Marquess Wilson, leading rusher Rickey Galvin and the seven-leading tacklers behind senior linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis.

"Our program has come a long ways," Wulff said after Saturday's game. "I'm very proud of where we're at. We're right on the cusp of being really, really good."

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