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Looking back at Mike Leach’s original WSU staff

Portland State v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Last Monday we remembered Paul Wulff’s first coaching staff at WSU — much to the chagrin of some of you. This week, we’ll look back on some fonder memories with Mike Leach’s first WSU staff.

A lot of assistants have come and gone during Leach’s time at WSU, but there is no doubt that initial staff had quite the impact even though none remain on staff now.

Eric Russell (Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator)

Russell spent three seasons at WSU before he was fired following some special teams issues. Russell landed at TCU as the director of player personnel. After three seasons at TCU, Russell left the Horned Frogs to join Jimbo Fisher’s staff at Texas A&M last season as a special teams analyst.

Clay McGuire (Offensive Line)

McGuire has a long tenure at WSU before joining Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech last season. McGuire served as the running backs coach and co-offensive coordinator. McGuire’s time back at Tech didn’t last long after Kingsbury was fired. McGuire is now the offensive line coach at Texas State.

Jim Mastro (Running Backs)

Mastro just finished his first season at Oregon following a long stint at WSU as the running backs coach.

Eric Morris (Inside Receivers)

Morris was one of the first coaches to depart, leaving WSU after two seasons to go back to Texas Tech. Morris initially served as the wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator. He later became the sole offensive coordinator. He had plenty of success in the role, including coaching Patrick Mahomes to record-setting results.

Morris became the head coach at the University of the Incarnate Word prior to last season. He led the team to a 6-5 record in his first year and made the FCS playoffs.

Dennis Simmons (Outside Receivers)

Simmons departed WSU after three seasons and headed to Oklahoma. He continues to coach wide receivers for the Sooners, helping power one of the most prolific offenses in college football.

Mike Breske (Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs)

Breske hasn’t gone far after leaving WSU following four seasons. He landed at Idaho as the defensive coordinator in 2015 and remains in the role.

Joe Salave’a (Defensive Line)

Salave’a left WSU following the 2016 season, heading to Oregon as associate head coach and defensive line coach. Salave’a has added a few titles since that time, including co-defensive coordinator. His current title at Oregon is Associate Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator/Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line.

Jeff Choate (Linebackers)

Choate spent only one season at WSU before leaving to become the defensive coordinator at UTEP. That stint was extremely short lived as Choate left a few months later to join the staff at Florida. He later joined Chris Petersen’s staff at Washington.

Choate was named the head coach at Montana State prior to the 2016 season. After going 4-7 and 5-6 in his first two years, Choate led MSU to an 8-5 record last season and advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs.

Paul Volero (Outside Linebackers)

Volero was fired after three seasons at WSU. He landed at Florida International University, initially as a quality control coach in 2015. In 2016 he was promoted to defensive line coach. Volero was let go when Butch Davis took over following the 2016 season. Google searching did not turn up where Volero is coaching now.

So there you have it. Leach’s initial staff featured two future head coaches and several other very good coaches. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Salave’a get a shot at a head job eventually. With Oklahoma rolling, Simmons could be in line for a promotion to offensive coordinator or better somewhere soon as well.

Probably not Leach’s strongest overall staff at WSU, but some very good pieces.


Women’s basketball:

Cougars win Going Away, 74-48, Over Colorado - Washington State University Athletics
WSU used a big second half to put down the Buffaloes.

Cougs crush Buffs to end losing streak – The Daily Evergreen
A three-game losing streak for WSU women’s basketball came to an end Sunday when they defeated Colorado 74-48 in Pullman. The Cougars (7-9, 2-3) had just a seven-point lead at halftime, but outscored the Buffaloes (10-6, 0-5) 46-27 in the second half to pull away. Head Coach Kamie Ethridge said WSU spread the floor better...

Hristova’s double-double boosts Washington St. past Colorado | The State
Borislava Hristova posted her third double-double of the season with 23 points and 10 rebounds and Washington State overwhelmed Colorado 74-48.


Tennis sweeps pair of opponents Saturday – The Daily Evergreen
In the air-conditioned Hollingbery Fieldhouse, Cougar tennis had no trouble turning up the heat during a pair of matches Saturday as they swept both Idaho and Eastern Washington 7-0. Head Coach Lisa Hart was proud of her team’s performance and is looking forward to the remainder of the season. “Really excited about the way they...