Amid speculation that new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart was pursuing WSU assistant head coach/defensive line coach Joe Salave’a, a report from Cougfan.com has emerged that Salave’a has signed a new multi-year contract to remain in Pullman.
Jacob Thorpe of The Spokesman-Review is reporting the deal is through 2019. The contract Salave’a signed last December called for him to make $400,000 this coming year.
When asked about the possibility of Oregon after practice on Tuesday, Salave’a didn’t exactly issue the most resounding denial.
“Ah, shoot, that’s news to me,” Salave’a said. “I’m excited here and that’s all I’m worried about is this one game, and I have a job, that’s here at Wazzu.”
(Reporter: “So, nothing like USC a couple of years ago?)
(Salave’a lets out a hearty laugh)
“Well, unless you can foretell the future, I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you the truth. In our world we live vicariously through the day-to-day grind, and today was a good day of practice and we’re looking forward to getting down to San Diego.”
Salave’a is widely recognized as one of the key members of Mike Leach’s coaching staff, and this isn’t the first time another coach has tried to lure him away: Two years ago, Steve Sarkisian and Chris Petersen each reportedly tried to entice Salave’a to USC and UW, respectively.
It’s easy to see why. Salave’a has been credited for WSU’s surge in recruiting Polynesian players since Leach was hired — particularly in Salave’a’s home land of American Samoa — which has been a major factor in WSU being able to elevate its talent level in the last five years.
Additionally, Salave’a’s position group has consistently been one of the strongest on the team; he’s the only assistant on the team to have put multiple players onto active NFL rosters in the last five years (Xavier Cooper, Destiny Vaeao).
Salave’a has made no secret of the fact that his ultimate goal is to become a head coach, and that Leach’s track record of helping assistants get those kinds of jobs is part of the attraction to staying on this staff. Apparently, he felt sticking with Leach was the right move, and that’s a massive victory for WSU.