Doba will not return as coach at Washington State

Updated: November 26, 2007, 9:14 PM ET
Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Bill Doba said Monday he will not return as football coach at Washington State after a 5-7 season in which the Pacific 10 Conference team missed going to a bowl game for a fourth consecutive year.

In what was billed as a mutual decision, Doba and WSU athletics director Jim Sterk said Doba decided during a Monday morning meeting that he would step down.

Doba, 67, blamed widespread speculation that he would be fired for damaging his ability to recruit, and said he wanted to take a break after four decades of coaching. He was 30-29 in five seasons at Washington State.

"I felt with all the negative press and Internet, and all the rumors, it was difficult, and with my age, to go out and recruit," Doba said during an emotional news teleconference from Pullman. "I have no regrets and no animosity."

When a reporter said he doubted that Doba -- who had vowed after Saturday's victory at Washington that he would not resign -- had agreed to step down, the coach said: "That's your problem."

Sterk insisted Doba's departure was on the coach's terms.

"He felt it was best for the program to step down at this time," Sterk said.

Sterk said Doba was not interested in another position at the university.

"He's ready to go fishing," Sterk said. "His Saturdays have been busy in the fall for a long time."

Washington State will launch a nationwide search for a replacement, Sterk said. Former WSU coach Mike Price, now coach at UTEP, would be considered for the job if he were interested, Sterk said. The school will also seek minority candidates, Sterk said.

Doba is leaving after an emotional 42-35 weekend win over archrival Washington that gave him a 3-2 record against the cross-state rivals from Seattle.

Doba's 30-29 mark made him one of only a handful of coaches to have a winning career record at WSU. That list is led by O.E. Hollingbery (93-53 from 1926-1942) and Price (83-78 from 1989-2002).

Doba had been on the hot seat all season, after the Cougars lost their final three games in 2006 to finish 6-6 and miss out on going to a bowl game.

The Cougars lost four games -- against Southern Cal, Arizona, Oregon and Oregon State -- by at least four touchdowns this season.

Doba's staff includes longtime assistants Mike Levenseller, plus Leon Burtnett, Timm Rosenbach, Steve Broussard and George Yarno. It would cost WSU about $2.8 million to honor the contracts of Doba and his assistants. Doba's salary of about $500,000 is among the lowest in the Pac-10.

Doba's replacement will decide which, if any, assistant coaches would be retained, Sterk said.

Sterk said he did not have a timetable for finding a replacement. He expected the candidate to have major conference playing or coaching experience.

Doba came to WSU in 1989 as linebacker coach when Price succeeded Dennis Erickson as head coach. Doba was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1994.

He did not become a head coach until the age of 62, when he replaced Price.

Doba's best season was his first, when the Cougars were 10-3 in 2003 and beat Texas in the Holiday Bowl.

The following years the Cougars were 5-6, 4-7, 6-6 and 5-7. Doba was 17-25 in Pacific-10 games.

Doba said he was blessed to coach at a Pac-10 program for 19 years. But he felt he could no longer sit in the homes of recruits and promise them he would be coach all their years at WSU.

"The name of the game is recruiting," Doba said. "I felt if I would hurt this program and university in any way, I would get out of here."

Doba took a jab at some of the reporters present who asked if he had been fired.

"If you want to get controversial, you and I should go outside," he joked.

Doba said he wanted to spend time with his children and grandchildren, and do something besides coach football in the fall.

"I want to take a couple of years off and do nothing," Doba said. "I want to play golf in the fall."

His fondest memories at WSU were winning the 1997 Apple Cup game with Washington that sent the Cougars to the Rose Bowl, beating Texas in the Holiday Bowl, and last Saturday's thrilling Apple Cup win in Seattle.

Critics had grumbled that Doba's age and uncertain future hurt recruiting and fundraising for some $40 million in stadium improvements at Washington State.

Doba's wife, Judy, died in April 2006 after a four-year bout with ovarian cancer.

Doba is an Indiana native who was a longtime high school coach, then was an assistant at Indiana under Lee Corso, Purdue under Burtnett, and The Citadel under Charlie Taaffe before coming to WSU.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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