Doba goes out upbeat, will serve as adviser

BILL DOBA

UPBEAT AND AT EASE, Bill Doba conducted his final press conference as Cougar head coach Monday evening following what he and Jim Sterk termed "a mutual decision" for a change at the top of Cougar football. Bill Moos will help lead a national search for Doba's replacement and Doba will serve in an advisory capacity in that search.

Doba said the fire he's been under from the press and over the internet, coupled with his age (67) that some schools used to recruit against WSU, made it difficult to go out and recruit.

Applause broke out for more than 20 seconds as Doba prepared to take the mic, despite his efforts to quell it.

"Hey, don't make this any harder than it already is, alright," said an upbeat Doba, before thanking Sterk, Floyd, his assistants and staff and others.

"It's been a great ride, and I've had a great time...Basically, I felt with all the negative press, the internet, and all the rumors and stuff, it was difficult, and with my age, to go out and recruit. In recruiting, (parents and prospects) want to know if you're going to be there while he's there. And our opponents, not all of them, but many people use my age against -- 'Who's going to be your coach your senior year.' And that's a legitimate question."

Asked if there were any mandates given in the morning meetings and that's what led, Doba said he wasn't going to get into any of the details. Jim Sterk had an immediate, one word answer to that question later. "No," said Sterk.

Doba said he felt if he was going to be hurting the university and the football program, it was time to step aside.

He said he couldn't honestly look recruits in the eye and tell them he would be in Pullman for their entire college career. He said he feels bad he won't be around to see the current Cougar youngsters finish their careers, but has no "heavy heart" about leaving. A meeting with players earlier in the day to break the news was emotional but also went very well, he noted.

"No regrets. No animosity. Great ride," said Doba. "...I'll miss those players, guys. Practices are what was fun."

After Saturday's dramatic win over Washington -- WSU's third in the last four Apple Cups -- Doba told reporters he had no plans to resign. He declined to say, when asked, what changed to produce the mutual decision he and Sterk reached.

He termed it an honor to be asked by Sterk to serve with Moos and WSU faculty athletic representative Ken Casavant on the advisory committee for a new coach, with Sterk indicating Casavant would chair the "small" committee.

Doba has no plans to coach again, well, at least not for two years, he said, and will spend time golfing, fishing and enjoying his six grandchildren.

If Mike Price were to come back to Pullman as head coach, Doba said in answer to a question, he would not join him as defensive coordinator.

Doba was upbeat throughout the press conference and joked with frequent critics John Blanchette and Jim Moore of the Spokesman Review and Seattle P-I that he was glad he didn't have to take "your guff any more."

"Coach Doba, President Floyd and I met today and we agreed that it would be best for the future of Washington State football that we make a transition starting today with our head coaching position," said athletic director Jim Sterk. "I have the utmost respect and admiration for Coach Doba and his entire staff. They are great coaches and great people."

"We listened more than talked," added Sterk about two morning meetings, the first between he and Doba and the second with Doba, himself and Floyd.

Sterk didn't offer details on how WSU would absorb the $2.8 million that Doba and his staff are owed in guaranteed contracts but said it is the Athletics Department's responsibility. Sterk didn't offer a timetable for hiring the new coach.

"We greatly appreciate Coach Doba's contribution to Washington State University over the past 19 years," said Floyd. "He has played a pivotal role in Washington State's rise to national prominence over the past two decades, including two Rose Bowl appearances. His contributions will continue as a member of the search committee for this position and, for that, all Cougs are grateful." In his five seasons guiding the Cougars, Doba compiled a 30-29 record, winning three Apple Cups and having the third-best winning percentage (.508) among WSU football coaches serving five or more years. Additionally, the average attendance at Cougar home football games in Doba's five seasons was 35,353, an increase of almost 5,000 fans compared to the five-year period prior to Doba's hiring.

"It has been a great ride for 19 years," said Doba. "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."

Doba said his three fondest moments at WSU were the 1997 Apple Cup game that clinched a Rose Bowl berth for WSU; the 2003 Holiday Bowl over No. 5 Texas; and last weekend's Apple Cup victory in Seattle.

In regard to assistant coaches, Sterk said it would be up to the next head coach to decide if any would remain at WSU. In the meantime, he said, he would work closely with recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Greg Peterson and Operations Manager Shawn Deeds to keep the recruiting process underway.

"I'm going to meet with the staff and assess where we're at," said Sterk. "There may be one or more of them that are involved in that. Shawn Deeds...and Greg Peterson is someone I'll rely on as to what our status of our recruiting is, as a recruiting coordinator. Where we go from there, I don't know, but that's where we'll start."

Sterk said experience as a player and coach at the Pac-10 and BCS level, and someone with previous head coaching experience at some level, would give a candidate a leg up.

NOTABLE NOTE:
Sterk clarified the decision to up assistants' contracts to three years as a way to compete with other Pac-10 schools who were offering higher yearly salary to their assistants than WSU. "That allowed us to retain people and attract people and have the quality of staff that we've had," said Sterk.

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