Just two days after his 11th season ended with an extra-inning win over Stanford, Donnie Marbut has been fired as baseball coach at WSU, the school announced. Marbut had one year remaining on his contract after receiving a roll over extension from Bill Moos last summer. The news was first reported by Cougfan.com.
"Though Donnie and his staff have worked hard over the past 11 years it is my feeling that a change in leadership at this time was necessary to get Cougar baseball back to a position of prominence," Moos said in a statement.
Marbut was hired before the 2005 season and tasked with getting the school's most prosperous program back on track after a dismal decade following Bobo Brayton's retirement. It took him a few years, but Marbut was able to get the team back to the postseason with two straight appearances in 2009 and 2010. The team didn't make it out of the regional either year, but the team seemed to be back on the right track.
But after two straight 30-plus win seasons, the Cougars barely scraped out a .500 season in 2011 with another mediocre season in 2012 before falling to 23-32 in 2013. Marbut managed to get the team back above .500 this year, finishing 29-27, but it wasn't good enough for a postseason appearance after finishing ninth in the Pac-12 at 11-19.
The team struggled mightily the last five seasons and while some of that can be attributed to Marbut's poor recruiting, he may not having been playing with a full deck. As Jacob Thorpe highlighted in his excellent piece from Sunday, WSU is a long way behind in baseball facilities not just in the Pac-12, but the Pacific Northwest. Washington just finished a big upgrade to their stadium and clubhouse, Oregon restarted their program with excellent facilities and Oregon State has good facilities and can build on equity from two straight national championships.
The most interesting part of Thorpe's story, at least as it relates to Marbut's firing, is that the coach insinuated he didn't get much athletic department support on the fundraising front, which couldn't have gone over well with Bill Moos.
As for who might be a good candidate to replace Marbut, Travis Jewett probably will be near the top of the list. The current Vanderbilt assistant coach held the same position at Washington State during the tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010. Jewett also held coaching positions at Gonzaga and Washington so he has spent a lot of time recruiting in the Pacific Northwest and is well known for his ability on that front.
"We will begin the process of naming the next head coach immediately," Moos said in the statement. "I will not be discussing details of the hiring process and expect to name the new coach as soon as possible."
Whether Jewett -- or anyone else of note -- is interested in the job is another matter, however, given the status of facilities Thorpe documented.