Wednesday, December 12, 2007



It is now official, Eastern's football coach is heading south to his Alma mater, WSU, to take over that football program.
Paul Wulff spent 15 years at Eastern, the last 8 as head coach. In this day and age of job hopping and money that we often see in collegiate sports, his dedication and service to Eastern was very much appreciated. We respectfully say congratulations on moving to the next step, which is only a few wheat fields and a rest stop away (OK, it's really 70 miles to Pullman).
What now? Read Steve Bergum's take from the Spokesman.

Mixed reactions follow Wulff's EWU departure
Eagles players respond to coach's exit
Steve Bergum
Staff writer
December 12, 2007

Reactions from Eastern Washington University football players ranged from frustration to unveiled anger on Tuesday as they struggled to deal with the loss of their head coach and several of his key assistants.

"I'm from Pullman. You always seem to get whispers of what going on down there, so I wasn't all that surprised," sophomore linebacker J.C. Sherritt said after learning Paul Wulff was ending his 15-year stay at EWU to take over the football program at his alma mater, Washington State.

"When you get involved in college football, you realize it's part of the business for coaches to keep moving and keep moving up. It's hard to see all these coaches go after the year we had – and with all we have coming back – but we all understand it."

Wulff, 40, was introduced as Washington State's coach during a Tuesday press conference in Pullman. Sources close the EWU program said he will take at least five of his current assistants with him to WSU.

While most of Eastern's returning players joined the school's administration in celebrating Wulff's new appointment, sophomore linebacker Makai Borden admitted to being angered by the move and its timing – coming, as it did, on the heels of the Eagles' wildly successful 9-4 season that included a third postseason playoff berth in four years.

"No mater how much we want to think it's not a business and it's not about money, it kind of is," he said. "I know he's got to be concerned with the well-being of his family, so that aspect makes sense. But in the same breath, to be honest with you, I'm upset.

"I feel like we didn't deserve this. I think this is bad timing. We go from 3-8 to 9-4 and then, poof, everything – and I mean everything – is gone, and that's frustrating."

Borden pointed to the abundance of young, talented players on the Eagles roster, including sophomore quarterback Matt Nichols, the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year, and sophomore receivers Brynsen Brown, Tony Davis and Aaron Boyce.

"We all have two more years to go and we had nothing but up, nothing but high expectations – and we still do," he explained. "But it's always hard with a new staff, because you never know what to expect. The chemistry may be different. Who knows?"

Several of Borden's teammates insisted, however, that the strong leadership and sense of togetherness that were staples of this year's team will carry them through this coaching change, as well.

"I'm a little disappointed because Coach Wulff is a good coach and he got us to where we needed to be this year," junior fullback Alexis Alexander said. "But at the same time, I don't feel like the program is going to fall apart, because I feel it rides on the shoulders of the players, and we're all still going to be here for each other.

"This year we realized we had a great team, and we have most all the team coming back, so we feel like we're going to have an even better year next year, no matter who's the coach."

Boyce admitted to also being disappointed in Wulff's decision to leave and take most of his staff with him.

"But you can't really hold any grudges or anything," he added. "You've just got to be happy for them. Obviously, those coaches were a big part of it, but the thing that is so unique about our team is that we're a really tight-knit group, and whoever ends up coaching us, the way we are with each is not going to change.

"This is going to be like a little hiccup."

First-year Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves was tending to family matters back in Texas when word of Wulff's impending departure first surfaced on Monday. He flew back to campus on Tuesday and was scheduled to join Wulff in addressing the team during a meeting late Tuesday evening.

In a statement released through EWU's sports information department, Chaves said he plans to move as quickly as possible to hire a new coach but added he wanted to spend a day "celebrating" Paul Wulff before starting the search process.

"He has done a fantastic job over the past 15 years at Eastern, and I know this decision was extremely difficult for him," Chaves said. "But today is a day for Paul and his family to celebrate, and for us to celebrate with him."

In his released statement, Chaves said no timetable or list of candidates will be released to the public during the search, and added he will not be available for additional comment until the new head coach is in place.

"We will methodically assess a number of candidates with the intention of hiring the best fit for Eastern football," he concluded.

Among the names being mentioned as possible successors to Wulff are those of former Eagles quarterback Jim McElwain, who is the offensive coordinator at Fresno State, and former EWU offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, who is the head coach at Central Washington University.

Neither could be reached for comment, although Baldwin told the Yakima Herald, "at this point I have no intention of leaving Central."

One person who did express an interest in EWU's coaching vacancy was Idaho assistant Luther Carr, another former Eagles player, who coached at Seattle's Garfield High School and spent several season's as an assistant at Montana, where he extensively recruited the state of Washington.

Carr, who also helped coach football camps at Eastern from 1993-2001, said he has not been contacted by anyone from his alma mater.

"But I want the job, no doubt about it," he said. "I have great relations with high school coaches all over the state, and feel I'm ready to take that next step and become a college head coach."

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