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Who should WSU hire to replace Mike Leach?

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Lots of good (and bad) options.

NCAA Football: Stanford at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. Anybody know what we should talk about? Lord knows our favorite basketball team isn’t riding as high as last week. So yeah, let’s go back to the football well. When we published our Good, Band and Ugly of Mike Leach’s departure on Saturday, it coincided with another article regarding who WSU shouldn’t hire as its next head football coach.

That prompted longtime commenter and fellow Av Geek X-Capitan to inquire as to who we authors would like to see hired as the next football coach. My initial reaction was, “This is the internet. Nobody is allowed to like anything.” But then I figured I’d take a stab at who I’d like to see Pat Chun hire, and what better way to talk about a football coach than by citing a baseball analogy?

The only names you will see below are those of people who I think would realistically accept the job, so there won’t be any “OMG PAT CHUN TEXTED URBAN MEYER ONE TIME SO YOU NEVER KNOW” takes. Full disclosure: I drew the names from Theo Lawson’s candidates and Chris Vannini’s list on The Athletic. Here goes.

Grand Slam

Bryan Harsin: One of the few people to blossom from the Chris Petersen coaching plant, Harsin has kept the Boise State Broncos at or near the top of the country’s G6 programs for six seasons. He’s a proven winner who knows the area and would almost certainly flourish at WSU despite the inherent constraints.

Home Run

Graham Harrell: Definitely an up-and-comer in the business, as he quickly rose from GA at WSU to Offensive Coordinator at USC. WSU wouldn’t need to change its offense as much under Harrell as it would with Harsin, since Harrell has many more Air Raid tendencies. Harrell also showed his acumen this year by taking a true freshman in Kedon Slovis and molding him into one of the Pac-12’s better quarterbacks.

Nick Rolovich: Think it’s tough to build a winner at WSU? Try doing it at Hawaii, where the budget is paltry and the travel is daunting. Despite all that, Rolovich guided the Rainbows to 10 wins in 2019, running a pass-heavy offense that looks a lot like the one we’re used to seeing. Rolovich only makes $600,000 in salary, so WSU could quadruple his salary and he’d still be making over $1M less than Leach did. And you might not be aware of this, but it’s a tad cheaper to live in Pullman than Honolulu.

Triple

This is where I see the gap.

Double

Seth Littrell: Littrell inherited a 1-11 team in Denton, and had the North Texas Mean Green in the Conference USA title game within two seasons. He’s another Air Raid disciple, and flourished with Graham Harrell as the OC. North Texas backslid quite a bit in 2019 - including a bad loss to the Rice Owls - despite stud quarterback Mason Fine’s return. I originally had Littrell as a triple, but a something tells me that Harrell was the primary reason for UNT’s offensive success.

Alex Grinch: Grinch seems to pop up in every article/podcast conversation regarding the WSU coaching search. I think that’s largely due to laziness, but I’m obviously on the outside compared to some folks, so maybe he actually is a candidate. I think Grinch could be successful at WSU, provided he can assemble a solid offensive staff. But if you thought Leach was often looking elsewhere, I’d bet that Grinch would bolt for the first school that flirted with him.

Steve Sarkisian: First off, I am skeptical as to whether Sarkisian would take the job. Second, there just seems to be a sliminess about the guy (and I am not talking about the personal issues that he is working to overcome). That said, the guy can run a pretty good offense, and I think he would elevate recruiting. WSU could do worse, and much better.

Single

Craig Bohl: Bohl had incredible success at North Dakota State, but hasn’t done anything special with the Wyoming Cowboys. Understanding that he inherited a mess in 2014, he’s never done better than 8-5 in Laramie, and a transition to Bohl’s brand of football would come with some monumental growing pains.

Jim McElwain: In all honesty, I think McElwain could keep WSU at its current level of success. He inherited a 1-11 Central Michigan Chippewas team and had them in the MAC title game the next season. His time at Florida may seem like a failure, but he did compile a 16-6 SEC record and had the Gators in the SEC title game in each of his first two seasons. But much like Sarkisian, there just seems to be something about him (like lying about death threats) to make me think WSU should look elsewhere.

Sacrifice Bunt

Beau Baldwin: There’s a reason Baldwin leapt at his new FCS gig, and it isn’t because his Cal offenses were lighting scoreboards on fire. He built some great teams at Eastern Washington, and part of me thinks that Justin Wilcox’s defense-minded approach hampered Baldwin somewhat in Berkeley. Still, there are many more guys who would probably do better in Pullman.

Reached on Error

Sonny Dykes: For one thing, I think Dykes is perfectly happy at SMU, because he’s a Texan and just seems to be a better fit in that region. Secondly, he struggled mightily to field even a even below average defense at Cal. And while he can definitely put an offense together, we are all too familiar with watching a defense that couldn’t stop a broken clock.

Joe Salave’a: Has never been a head coach. Has never been a coordinator. I know that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable, but I’m not really in the mood for WSU to be the Coach Joe test case.

Big Sky Lottery: There are likely a couple capable coaches there, and I am definitely not one of those people who subscribe to the “NO WAY DON’T YOU REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME” hot take theory, but does anyone really think Jeff Choate is a good idea? I do not.

Foul Tip that bounces off the dirt and hits you in the fellas

Jim Mora: Pretty sure I don’t need to go into the reasons.

Football

Ten changes (likely) coming to Washington State with the departure of Mike Leach | The Spokesman-Review
Without being totally certain about what’s coming next, here are 10 things we’re fairly certain will change for WSU without Leach.

Mike Leach Hired By Mississippi State. LET’S DO THIS, SEC West
Mississippi State hired Mike Leach away from Washington State. Whether or not it works, it’s going to be fun.

Mike Leach: 8 of the Mississippi State coach's most unforgettable quotes
New Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach is a man of many, many opinions.

Basketball

In a word: Yikes

Defensive lapses allow Stanford to grab big lead, bury Washington State in 88-62 loss | The Spokesman-Review
The Cardinal built a 17-point lead fairly early in the first half – the largest deficit of the season for WSU – and eventually handed the Cougars their first 20-point defeat under Smith.

This Week in Parenting

On Monday night, Mrs. Kendall and I were watching TV after the kids went to bed when we heard what sounded like repeated impacts to the floor. It didn’t last long, so we just figured somebody had to jump out of bed for some reason. The next night, the sounds were more sustained, so I went up to investigate. Even though my knees make it sound like someone is vigorously grinding pepper when I go up or down the stairs, I was able to take them by surprise.

As I threw the door open, movement ceased in the 11 year-old’s bed, and the 8 year-old was seen leaping back into his. When I asked what was going on, the youngest fessed up immediately, saying “we’re working out.” The oldest decided to pretend he was the perfect kid and proclaimed innocence, blaming little bro for all of the activity (total lie). I had to pretend to be upset with them, but I was howling with laughter on the inside.

The next morning, I asked the youngest what “working out” meant, and was told that they were doing pushups, sit-ups and flutter kicks. Anything to avoid going to sleep, I guess.

This weekend was also the lid lifter for youth basketball. The oldest hasn’t played organized hoops since he was six, and the youngest was making his debut. They both played at the same time, so we parents had to split up. Mrs. Kendall went with the oldest, and it went...poorly. She sent me pictures of the other team, and you’d have thought our group of 11 year-olds had wandered into a high school game. The other team was gigantic, and the final score reflected it.

At our game, I had a talk with the youngest about what it means to be unselfish on the drive over. This clearly sunk in, as he took (and missed) the game’s first shot after dribbling for about 15 seconds. Things got better, though, and it’s clear that he’s taking to the game much more so than older brother.

He ended up being the only kid on either team to make two baskets, and I would bet good money that he was the only basketball player on the planet sporting Estonian flag socks.

Under the file, “What do you think you’re accomplishing?” I present to you a parent of my kiddo’s teammate. What you see in this photo is dad, having taken game video on his phone, breaking down that video for his son WHILE THE GAME IS STILL GOING ON.

You’ll be surprised to know that the kid paid attention for roughly 10 seconds of the multi-minute breakdown. Maybe wait to get home before you deconstruct game film from the eight year-old’s basketball game, pops.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: Dry January is simultaneously holding strong and the worst thing invented my mankind.

Fire-hit town's beer crisis averted by Australian navy - CNN
A looming beer crisis has been avoided in the fire-stricken Australian town of Mallacoota, Victoria thanks to some help from the Australian Navy.

Non-Sports

The Doctor, the Dentist, and the Killer – Texas Monthly
Inside the case of jealousy, spying, and murder that shook Uptown Dallas.