Skip to main content

Washington State fires special-teams coach after loss


There are good college football weekends and there are bad college football weekends.

Then there's what happened to Washington State.

The Cougars set a number of FBS and Pac-12 records behind quarterback Connor Halliday on Saturday but lost a heartbreaker to California 60-59 thanks to a missed field goal as time expired from point-blank range.

For that last reason and more, Mike Leach decided to make a change and let special-teams coach Eric Russell go on Monday. Russell's duties will be divided up among the rest of the staff.

"We made a change at special teams and, well, I think a great deal of coach Russell, but we wanted to split the special teams up among the assistants and the way he's most effective is with him running the whole thing," Leach said according to the The Spokesman-Review. "He's a great coach. Yeah, I decided to make a change at special teams."

In addition to the 19-yard attempt that went wide right to cost the team the game, Washington State gave up back-to-back kick returns for touchdowns in the third quarter to Cal's Trevor Davis. Those are certainly fireable offenses after a tough loss, but the issues on special teams started well before Saturday's game.

The Cougars currently rank 102nd in the country in kick-return defense, which is a bit of an issue given how often the team scores on offense. They're also 92nd in punt-return defense and among the bottom half of teams when it comes to returns themselves.

Offensive quality control assistant Eric Mele will take over some of Russell's duties and was elevated to one of the program's nine full-time coaches.

"Really a lot of the same administrative stuff he was doing before and he'll head up the special teams but deal it out among the assistants and just kind of keep it organized," Leach added.

Russell had given Wazzu's special teams a boost when he was initially hired at the school, but unfortunately got the quick hook in 2014 after some serious issues cost the team at least one win in the record book.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content