Washington State Cougars football

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Washington State Cougars football
2018 Washington State Cougars football team
Washington State Cougars wordmark.svg
First season1893; 125 years ago (1893)
Athletic directorPatrick Chun
Head coachMike Leach
7th season, 48–40 (.545)
StadiumMartin Stadium
(Capacity: 33,522)
Year built1972
Field surfaceFieldTurf
LocationPullman, Washington
NCAA divisionDivision I FBS
ConferencePac-12 (since 1962)
DivisionNorth (since 2011)
Past conferencesIndependent (1894–1916)
PCC (1917–1958)
Independent (1959–1961)
All-time record549–553–45 (.498)
Bowl record7–7 (.500)
Conference titles4 (1917, 1930, 1997, 2002)
Division titles1 (2018)
RivalriesWashington (rivalry)
Idaho (rivalry)
Consensus All-Americans7
Current uniform
ColorsCrimson and Gray[1]
Fight songWashington State University Fight Song
MascotButch T. Cougar
Marching bandCougar Marching Band

The Washington State Cougars football program is the intercollegiate American football team for Washington State University, located in the U.S. state of Washington. The team competes at the NCAA Division I level in the FBS and is a member of the North Division of the Pac-12 Conference (Pac-12). Known as the Cougars, the first football team was fielded in 1894.

The Cougars play home games on campus at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Washington, which opened in 1972; the site dates back to 1892 when it was called Soldier Field. Its present seating capacity is 33,522.[2] Their main rivals are the Washington Huskies. The Cougars and Huskies historically end each regular season with the Apple Cup rivalry game in late November. They are currently coached by Mike Leach.


Early history (1894–1977)[edit]

Washington State University football team in 1900. At that time it was known as Washington Agricultural College

Washington State's first head football coach was William Goodyear.[3] That team played only two games in its inaugural season in 1894, posting a 1–1 record.[3] The team's first win was over Idaho.[3] The first paid head football coach was William L. Allen, who served as head coach in 1900 and 1902,[3] posting an overall record of 6–3–1.[3]

Washington Agricultural College and School of Science squares off against the University of Washington November 29, 1900 for the State Championship

John R. Bender served as head football coach from 1906–1907 and 1912–1914, compiling a record of 21–12.[4] William Henry Dietz was the Cougars' head football coach from 1915–1917, posting a stellar 17–2–1 record.[5] Dietz's 1915 team defeated Brown in the Rose Bowl, and finished with a 7–0 record. Dietz was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2012.[6] Albert Exendine served as Washington State's head football coach from 1923–1925, posting a 6–13–4 overall record.[7]

Babe Hollingbery was the Cougars' head football coach for 17 seasons, posting a 93–53–14 record.[8] His 93 wins are the most by any head football coach in Washington State football history.[9] Hollingbery's 1930 team played in the 1931 Rose Bowl, a game they lost to Alabama.[8] The Cougars didn't lose a single home game from 1926–1935.[9] Among the Cougar greats Hollingbery coached were Mel Hein, Turk Edwards and Mel Dressel.[9] The Hollingbery Fieldhouse that serves many of Washington State's athletics teams, was named in his honor in 1963.[9] He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1979.[9] The Cougars did not field a football team from 1943 to 1944 because of World War II.[10] After the war ended, Phil Sarboe was hired away from Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington, to return to his alma mater as the head football coach.[10] Sarboe's Cougars posted a 17–26–3 record in his five seasons.[11]

Forest Evashevski took over the Cougars football program as the head coach in late 1949.[12] His 1951 team finished the season ranked #14 in the Coaches' Poll and #18 in the AP Poll.[13] He posted an 11–6–2 record in his two seasons[13] before leaving to take the Iowa head football coach position.[12] Evashevski was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2000.[12] Al Kircher, an assistant on Evashevski's staff, was promoted to head coach following Evashevski's departure.[14] Kircher didn't enjoy as much success as his predecessor, going 13–25–2 in his four seasons as head coach.[15] He was not retained after his contract expired.[14] Jim Sutherland was Washington State's 21st head football coach. He held the Cougars head coach position for eight seasons.[16] His overall record with the Cougars was 37–39–4.[16]

Bert Clark served as Washington State's head football coach for four seasons,[17] posting a record of 15–24–1.[17] His best season was 1965, when the Cougars went 7–3[17] and defeated three Big Ten teams on the road.[18] That season was Clark's only winning season, as he failed to win more than three games in his other seasons.[17] Clark was not retained after the end of his fourth season.[18] Jim Sweeney served as the Cougars head football coach for eight seasons.[19] His final record was 26–59–1.[19] Sweeney's best season was 1972, when the Cougars finished 7–4.[19] That was his only winning season.[19] Sweeney was let go after the 1975 season.[20] Jackie Sherrill was Washington State's head coach for one season.[21] His team posted a 3–8 record.[21] Sherrill departed after that one season to accept the head football coach position at Pittsburgh.[22] Warren Powers served as head coach for one season[23] before accepting the head football coach position at Missouri.[24]

Jim Walden era (1978–1986)[edit]

Jim Walden was promoted to head coach following the departure of Powers.[25] Walden led the Cougars to one bowl appearance, the 1981 Holiday Bowl, a game they lost to BYU.[25][26] That bowl appearance was Washington State's first in 51 years.[25] Walden won Pacific-10 Coach of the Year honors in 1981 and 1983.[25][26] Walden's final record at Washington State was 44–52–4.[25][26] Players coached by Walden at Washington State include Jack Thompson, Kerry Porter, Rueben Mayes, Ricy Turner, Ricky Reynolds, Paul Sorensen, Brian Forde, Lee Blakeney, Mark Rypien, Dan Lynch, Pat Beach, Keith Millard, Erik Howard, and Cedrick Brown.[25] Walden left after the 1986 season to accept the head football coach position at Iowa State.[25][27]

Dennis Erickson era (1987–1988)[edit]

Coach Erickson

When he was named Washington State's head football coach on January 7, 1987, Dennis Erickson said it was his lifelong dream to become the head football coach of the Cougars.[28] His contract he signed in 1987 was a five-year deal at an annual base salary of $70,000, with up to $30,000 from radio, television, and speaking obligations.[29]

Erickson's Cougars posted a 3–7–1 record in his first season but improved to a 9–3 record in 1988,[30] capped with a victory in the Aloha Bowl, the Cougars' first bowl victory since 1916.[30] Although stating publicly a week earlier that he would not leave Washington State,[31] Erickson accepted the head football coach position at Miami in March 1989,[32] leaving the Cougars after two seasons and a 12–10–1 overall record.[30]

Mike Price era (1989–2002)[edit]

Mike Price came to Washington State from Weber State.[33] Price led the Cougars to unprecedented success, taking his 1997 and 2002 teams to the Rose Bowl, both times losing.[33] The 1997 team was led by star quarterback Ryan Leaf, who would be the second overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers.[34] Those teams finished ranked #9 and #10 in the Coaches' and AP Polls, respectively.[33][35] Price also led the Cougars to victories in the Copper Bowl, the Alamo Bowl and the Sun Bowl.[33][35] Price's record at Washington State is 83–78.[33][35] It was during the 2002 season that Washington State received its highest ranking ever in the modern era within the AP Polls at #3.[33] Price resigned following the 2002 season to accept the head football coach position at Alabama,[33] but was fired before ever coaching a game for the Crimson Tide due to an off-the-field incident.[36]

Bill Doba era (2003–2007)[edit]

Bill Doba was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach following Price's departure.[37] Things started out well for Doba's Cougars, as they went 10–3 in Doba's first year to finish ranked #9 in both the AP and Coaches' Polls.[38] But, things went downhill. The Cougars slipped to 5–6 in 2004, and posted a 4–7 record in 2005.[38] A 6–6 2006 season followed,[38] and after finishing the 2007 season 5–7,[38] Doba was fired. He finished with a 30–28 record.[39]

Paul Wulff era (2008–2011)[edit]

Paul Wulff was hired away from Eastern Washington to replace the fired Bill Doba.[40] Wulff struggled mightily as the Cougars head football coach, failing to win more than four games in a single season.[41] His final record at Washington State is 9–40,[41] the lowest winning percentage (.184) of any head coach in Washington State football history.[42] Wulff was fired after the 2011 season.[43]

Mike Leach era (2012–present)[edit]

In November 2011, it was announced that Mike Leach would replace Wulff as head coach.[44] Leach had previously spent 10 seasons as head coach at Texas Tech Red Raiders football.[45] In 2012, Mike Leach's first season, the new coaching staff installed an Air raid offense; an exciting, up-tempo, pass-oriented offensive attack which led the Pac-12 Conference in passing offense.[46] In his second season, Leach led Washington State to the 2013 Gildan New Mexico Bowl, the first bowl game for the Cougars in a decade.[46] Leach received a 2-year contract extension on November 18, 2013 after leading the Washington State Cougars to their best record since 2006.[47]

In 2015, Mike Leach guided the Washington State Cougars to their first bowl victory since the 2003 season.[48] In that same year, the team also posted a 9–4 winning season and was ranked in the AP Poll, Coach's Poll, and College Football Playoff ranking. Mike Leach was named the Pac-12's co-Coach of the Year[49] as well as the Associated Press Pac-12 Coach of the Year.[50] After the season, Washington State again extended coach Mike Leach's contract, this time through the 2020 season.[51]

In 2016, sandwiched between a two game losing streak to begin and three game losing streak to end the season, the Cougars rode an eight game winning streak to a place in the Holiday Bowl where they lost to Minnesota by a score of 17-12.[52] They finished with a 7-2 Pac-12 record and overall record of 8-5 for 2016.[53] Huge wins over Oregon and #15 Stanford contributed to the Cougars best finish in Pac-12 conference play since the 2003 team went 6-2.

On January 16th, 2018, following his junior season at quarterback, Tyler Hilinski was found dead in his appartment with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.[54] According to police, a rifle was recovered next to him along with a suicide note.[55] The death was officially ruled a suicide.[56] A memorial service was held for Hilinski on January 27, at Damien High School in La Verne, California; approximately 800 people attended.[57] Hilinski was found to have Stage 1 chronic traumatic encephalopathy.[58][59]

Conference affiliations[edit]

Washington State has been a member of the following conferences.[60]:74–78

  • Independent (1894–1916)
  • Pacific Coast Conference (1917)
  • Independent (1918)
  • Pacific Coast Conference (1919–1958)
  • Independent (1959–1961)
  • Pac-12 Conference (1962–present)
    • Athletic Association of Western Universities (1962–1967)
    • Pacific-8 Conference (1968–1977)
    • Pacific-10 Conference (1978–2010)
    • Pac-12 Conference (2011–present)


Conference Championships[edit]

Dating back to their days in the Pacific Coast Conference, Washington State won four conference titles through the 2017 season.[61]

Season Conference Coach Conference Record Overall Record
1917 Pacific Coast Conference William Henry Dietz 3–0 6–0–1
1930 Pacific Coast Conference O.E. Hollingbery 6–1 9–1
1997 Pacific-10 Conference Mike Price 7–1 10–2
2002 Pacific-10 Conference Mike Price 7–1 10–3

† Co-championship

Division Championships[edit]

Season Division Coach Opponent CG result
2018 Pac-12 North Mike Leach N/A lost tiebreaker to Washington

† Co-championship

Bowl games[edit]

Washington State has made 14 bowl appearances, and has a bowl record of 7–7.[62]:88-94 The Cougars have played in the Rose Bowl four times (1 win, 3 losses), the Holiday Bowl three times (1 win, 2 losses), the Sun Bowl twice (2 wins), one Aloha Bowl (1 win), one Copper Bowl (1 win), one Alamo Bowl (1 win), and one New Mexico Bowl (1 loss).[63] Prior to the 1975 season, the Pac-8 allowed only bowl team, to the Rose Bowl. Between 2015 and 2018, current head coach Mike Leach brought the Cougars to 4 consecutive bowl appearances. This marks the most consecutive bowl appearances by any Washington State Cougars football coach in program history.

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
1915 William Henry Dietz Rose Brown W 14–0
1930 Babe Hollingbery Rose Alabama L 0–24
1980 Jim Walden Holiday BYU L 36–38
1988 Dennis Erickson Aloha Houston W 24–22
1992 Mike Price Copper Utah W 31–28
1994 Mike Price Alamo Baylor W 10–3
1997 Mike Price Rose Michigan L 16–21
2001 Mike Price Sun Purdue W 33–27
2002 Mike Price Rose Oklahoma L 14–34
2003 Bill Doba Holiday Texas W 28–20
2013 Mike Leach New Mexico Colorado State L 45–48
2015 Mike Leach Sun Miami W 20-14
2016 Mike Leach Holiday Minnesota L 12–17
2017 Mike Leach Holiday Michigan State L 17–42
2018 Mike Leach Alamo Iowa State 12/28/18

Head coaches[edit]

Martin Stadium, home of Cougars football. Anchored on the west end-zone is the Cougar Football Complex.


Tenure Coach Years Record Pct.
1894 William Goodyear 1 1–1 .500
1895 Fred Waite 1 2–0 1.000
1896 David A. Brodie 1 2–0–1 1.000
1897 Robert Gailey 1 2–0 1.000
1898–99 Frank Shively 2 1–1–1 .500
1900, 1902 William L. Allen 2 6–3–1 .650
1901 William Namack 1 4–1 .800
1903 James N. Ashmore 1 3–3–2 .500
1904–1905 Everett Sweeley 2 6–6 .500
1906–1907, 1912–1914 John R. Bender 5 21–12 .636
1908 Walter Rheinschild 1 4–0–2 .833
1909 Willis Kienholz 1 4–1 .800
1910–1911 Oscar Osthoff 2 5–6 .454
1915–1917 William Henry Dietz 3 17–2–1 .875
1918 Emory Alvord 1 1–1 .500
1919–1922 Gus Welch 4 16–10–1 .611
1923–1925 Albert Exendine 3 6–13–4 .348
1926–1942 Babe Hollingbery 15 93–53–14 .625
1943–1944 World War II – no teams
1945–1949 Phil Sarboe 5 17–26–3 .402
1950–1951 Forest Evashevski 2 11–6–2 .632
1952–1955 Al Kircher 4 13–25–2 .350
1956–1963 Jim Sutherland 8 37–39–4 .488
1964–1967 Bert Clark 4 15–24–1 .388
1968–1975 Jim Sweeney 8 26–59–1 .308
1976 Jackie Sherrill 1 3–8 .273
1977 Warren Powers 1 6–5 .545
1978–1986 Jim Walden 9 44–52–4 .460
1987–1988 Dennis Erickson 2 12–10–1 .543
1989–2002 Mike Price 14 83–78 .516
2003–2007 Bill Doba 5 30–29 .508
2008–2011 Paul Wulff 4 9–40 .184
2012–present Mike Leach 7 48-40 .545



Washington State has had a rivalry with Washington since first playing 118 years ago in 1900. The series is 72–32–6 in favor of Washington, with the Huskies winning the last five games as of 2017. The teams played for the "Governor's Trophy" from 1934 to 1961.[64] The game was renamed the Apple Cup in 1962 because of Washington's national reputation as a major producer of apples. Since 2011, the game is commonly played on the Friday after Thanksgiving.[65]


The two land-grant universities are less than eight miles (13 km) apart on the rural Palouse in the Inland Northwest; Idaho's campus in Moscow is nearly on the Idaho–Washington border, and Washington State's campus is directly west in Pullman, linked by Washington State Route 270 and the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail. The first game was played 124 years ago in November 1894 and resulted in a win for Washington State. The series was played intermittently since the 2007 season. However, with Idaho's move down to FCS in 2018, the future of the rivalry is uncertain.

Individual accomplishments[edit]

Heisman Trophy voting[edit]

Eight players have finished in the Top 10 of the Heisman Trophy voting.[66] Ryan Leaf had the highest finish in the Heisman balloting in program history.[67]

Year Name Position Points Place
1978 Jack Thompson Quarterback 72 9th
1984 Reuben Mayes Running back 32 10th
1988 Timm Rosenbach Quarterback 44 7th
1992 Drew Bledsoe Quarterback 48 8th
1997 Ryan Leaf Quarterback 861 3rd
2002 Jason Gesser Quarterback 74 7th
2005 Jerome Harrison Running back 20 9th
2018 Gardner Minshew Quarterback 122 5th

Consensus All-America selections[edit]

There have been seven Washington State players named consensus All-America through the 2017 season. Cody O'Connell was named twice. Jason Hanson (1989) and Cody O'Connell (2016) were unanimous selections.[68] Additionally, Washington State has had 39 First Team All-America selections through the 2017 season.[62]:120

Player Position Seasons Selections
Reuben Mayes Running back 1982–1985 1984
Mike Utley Guard 1985–1988 1988
Jason Hanson Placekicker 1988–1991 1989†
Rien Long Defensive tackle 2000–2002 2002
Jerome Harrison Running back 2004–2005 2005
Cody O'Connell Offensive tackle 2013–2017 2016†, 2017
Hercules Mata'afa Defensive end 2015–2017 2017

† Unanimous selection

College Football Hall of Fame[edit]

Four players and two coaches from the Washington State Cougars football program have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.[69][70][71]

Player Position Seasons Inducted Ref.
Mel Hein Center 1929–1931 1954 [69]
Turk Edwards Tackle 1929–1931 1975 [69]
O.E. Hollingbery Coach 1926–1942 1979 [69]
Reuben Mayes Running back 1982–1985 2008 [69]
William Dietz Coach 1915–1917 2012 [70]
Mike Utley Guard 1985–1988 2016 [71]

Pro Football Hall of Fame[edit]

Two former Washington State football players have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[72]

Player Position Seasons NFL Team(s) Years with NFL Team(s) Inducted
Mel Hein Center 1927–1931 New York Giants 1931–1945 1963
Turk Edwards Tackle 1929–1931 Washington Redskins 1932–1940 1969

Canadian Football Hall of Fame[edit]

Four former Washington State football players have been inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

Player Position Seasons CFL Team(s) Years with CFL Team(s) Inducted Ref.
Byron Bailey Running back 1949–1951 B.C. Lions 1954–1964 1975 [73]
George Reed Running back 1959–1962 Saskatchewan Roughriders 1963–1975 1979 [73]
Brian Kelly Wide receiver, coach 1975–1977 Edmonton Eskimos 1979–1987 1991 [73]
Hugh Campbell Wide receiver, coach, executive 1959–1962 Edmonton Eskimos, Saskatchewan Roughriders 1964–2006 2000 [74]

Retired numbers[edit]

The Cougars have retired two numbers.[75]

No. Player Position Career
7 Mel Hein Center 1927–1931
14 Jack Thompson Quarterback 1974–1978

Pac-12 Coach of the Year[edit]

Five Washington State football head coaches have received the annual award a total of eight times as the conference's Coach of the Year.[76]

Year Coach Record
1981 Jim Walden 8–3–1
1983 Jim Walden 7–4
1988 Dennis Erickson 9–3
1997 Mike Price 10–2
2001 Mike Price 10–2
2003 Bill Doba 10–3
2015 Mike Leach 9–4
2018 Mike Leach TBA

† Shared honor

Current coaching staff[edit]

Washington State football coach Mike Leach during a 2012 season game.
Mike Leach has served as Washington State's head coach since the 2012 season.
Name Position Season at
Washington State
Mike Leach Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator 6th
Tracy Claeys Defensive Coordinator 1st
Ken Wilson Linebackers 5th
Kendrick Shaver Safeties 1st
Steve Spurrier Jr. Outside Receivers 1st
Dave Nichol Inside Receivers 2nd
Mason Miller Offensive Line 1st
Jeff Phelps Defensive Line 2nd
Matt Brock Outside Linebackers 1st
Eric Mele Running backs 3rd
Dave Emerick Chief of Staff 6th
Antonio Huffman Director of Football Operations 6th
Tyson Brown Strength and Conditioning 1st
Price Ferguson Offensive Quality Control 3rd
Darcel McBath Defensive backs 2nd
Reference: wsucougars.com[77]

Notable players[edit]

Past uniforms[edit]

Future non-conference opponents[edit]

Announced schedules as of June 6, 2017.[78]

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
vs Northern Colorado at Utah State vs Utah State at Wisconsin vs Wisconsin
at Houston vs Houston vs Portland State vs Colorado State at Colorado State
vs New Mexico State vs Idaho vs BYU


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External links[edit]