PULLMAN — Increased television money helped Washington State reel in new football coach Mike Leach with the biggest contract in school history, and increased football income helped the Cougars pay off former football coach Paul Wulff.
The Cougars paid Wulff $809,533, including his base salary of $600,000 plus deferred compensation, after firing him with one year remaining on his five-year contract.
WSU has already received more than $1.8 million in deposits and/or commitments for the premium seats that are under construction at Martin Stadium for the upcoming football season.
All 21 suites and 42 loges have been claimed, including the four largest suites (which hold 24) for $50,000 each. Approximately 700 of the 1,100 club seats, the least expensive premium seats, remain available at $1,700 or $2,000 each.
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Football season ticket sales increased substantially after Leach’s hiring.
The Cougars received a verbal commitment from Venice (Calif.) High School wide receiver Gabriel Marks, WSU’s only four-star recruit on Scout.com’s five-star rating scale.
In addition, Dawgman.com (the Washington Huskies’ site on Scout.com) reports that four-star cornerback Cedric Dozier of Lakes High is considering WSU and Washington. Dozier gave a verbal commitment to California in the fall.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Marks is the type of smaller, shifty receiver who has traditionally thrived in Leach’s pass-happy offensive schemes without great speed. Scout.com ranks Marks the 39th-best wide receiver prospect among high school seniors.
According to Cougfan.com, the WSU site on Scout.com, Marks would be the sixth four- or five-star recruit to sign with the Cougars since 2002. None of the previous five (Aaron Dunn, Gino Simone, Andy Mattingly, Carl Bonnell and Cody Boyd) developed into dominant players. Bonnell transferred to Washington after redshirting one season at WSU.
Stewart Mandel of SI.com ranks Leach as the best head coaching hire of the offseason. Leach’s hiring was the only one to earn an A-plus grade from Mandel. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer came in second with an A.
Longtime WSU football radio broadcaster Bob Robertson will receive the Keith Jackson Award for broadcasting at the 77th annual Seattle Sports Star banquet on Wednesday in Seattle.
Robertson, 82, also broadcast WSU basketball for years. The University Place resident still broadcasts Pacific Lutheran basketball and does part-time work on Tacoma Rainiers and Spokane Indians minor league baseball broadcasts.
ON THE MOVE
Cougfan.com reports that nine of the 19 verbal commits Leach inherited (including Federal Way linebacker Jordan Pulu) are now headed elsewhere for one reason for another, mostly to lower-level conferences. All nine players have been replaced with new commits.
Also, Leach dismissed defensive tackle T.J. Poloai for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Poloai redshirted as a freshman last season.
The Cougars are expected to sign up to 25 players. High school seniors may sign national letters of intent Feb. 1.
Scout.com ranks WSU’s recruiting class 66th (tied with fellow Pacific-12 Conference member Arizona) among the 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, WSU and Arizona are tied for last in the Pac-12.
National champion Alabama is ranked No. 1. UCLA is first in the Pac-12 at No. 10, followed by conference champion Oregon at No. 11. Washington is 39th.
Jason Belford, a former Lincoln High and Eastern Washington University standout, has been named defensive line coach at Weber State.
Belford was a graduate assistant coach at Washington State the past two seasons. Weber’s new head coach is former WSU assistant John L. Smith. Ex-WSU player and assistant coach Jody Sears is expected to be named Weber’s defensive coordinator.