Something's been off for the last two days and I couldn't figure out what it was. Almost immediately after the Apple Cup, a report surfaced indicating Paul Wulff was likely gone and Mike Leach would be at the top of the Cougars' wish list when searching for the next head coach. It was all too prepared, almost scripted, considering the circumstances.
Ahead of the Apple Cup, none of us had much of a clue what was going to happen next with Wulff. In fact, it seemed like the lean was towards Wulff staying on as head coach. So it was a bit shocking to see an immediate report of Wulff's demise coming right on the heels of the Apple Cup.
In fact, it flew in the face of everything I know about Bill Moos and the athletic department. Moos, as an athletic director, almost always waits and evaluates all options, gathering information to make the decision he feels is best. Leaks are also not of the norm -- even last year, Moos quietly said "he's staying" the day after the Apple Cup. Nothing was said or leaked early.
All of this is to provide context to the following excerpt from Vince Grippi's morning post.
I think everyone is clear on what is happening in Bohler Gym right now. The president of the university, Elson Floyd, has long felt Paul Wulff isn't right as football coach. The athletic director, Bill Moos, believes Paul Wulff is the long-term answer, and has said as much many times. In the next 24 to 48 hours we may well discover whether the athletic director is setting the direction for the athletic department or the president is. I could be getting this wrong, but that's how I see it though no one in either office is talking. (I cleaned up some language that I felt was unclear in the post earlier)
He later added that the statement could have been too strong or he may have misread things, but that's what he's gathered from his experience.
What's followed since the original report has been somewhat of a scripted process. Leach's name was floated initially, then followed by a lengthy column explaining why he's a good fit for the Cougars. It made me wonder why and left me with a weird feeling. Why was there all of a sudden an open campaign to land Leach, when it's not the athletic director's M.O. to do such a thing? Was this a pressure campaign, an effort to feel out the fanbases sentiments or something else?
The only conclusion I can come up with is this: the leak didn't come from the athletic department. It doesn't fit the bill and doesn't make sense. Why would the athletic department leak news about Wulff when it would sure seem no decision has been made?
All along, I've expected Vince to know whether Wulff was coming back or not first. He's easily the most well-connected reporter covering WSU and knows the athletic department in and out. He has connections and sources, and knows the lay of the land. So it didn't make sense to me that the information flowed out a different direction. Unless the information came from somewhere else -- within the university, but perhaps not the athletic department.
I believe Withers and know he's well-connected. I also believe Vince and know he's extremely well-connected and plugged in. So I'm perplexed about what we seem to be watching unfold. Dumbfounded and somewhat stunned, in fact.
I don't know if it's a power struggle, but if the above holds true, perhaps you could call it one. On one side, there's an athletic director who played a significant role in hiring Wulff, by way of his spot on the search committee. On the other is a president who also understands the need to energize the fund-raising base -- not just on the athletics side, but for the university as a whole.
And we all thought this would be as simple as fire or retain.
A note: Please don't turn this into an "I hate Elson Floyd" or some kind of divisive comments section. I have a great respect for both Floyd and Moos, and know the former well from my time in Pullman. Please be respectful.