PULLMAN, Wash. -- New Washington State coach Paul Wulff returned to his alma mater Tuesday and immediately took aim at the Cougars' biggest rival.
"It's 22 years later and I really don't like purple," Wulff said, referring to the Washington Huskies' color. "My goal is to turn this program into the state of Washington's team. That is a battle we will win."
The 40-year-old Wulff, who has been coach at nearby Eastern Washington the past eight years, played center at Washington State from 1985-89.
He replaces Bill Doba, who was forced out after going 30-29 in five seasons. The Cougars did not qualify for a bowl game in Doba's final four seasons, going 5-7 this season.
Wulff will sign a five-year contract that will begin paying him about what Doba was paid, around $500,000 a year, athletic director Jim Sterk said.
Wulff is the 31st head football coach at WSU, and the first alumnus to hold the job since Phil Sarboe in 1945-49.
"Paul Wulff has had great success at Eastern Washington University and his Cougar roots run deep," university president Elson S. Floyd said.
Wulff was 53-40 at Eastern Washington, located 70 miles to the north in Cheney. His team qualified for the Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) playoffs in three of the past four seasons.
This year the Eagles went 9-4, losing to Appalachian State in the quarterfinals.
Wulff was Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year in 2001, 2004 and 2005. His teams are noted for potent offenses. Eastern Washington ranked eighth in the nation in total offense this season at 462 yards per game. Wulff plans to install the no-huddle offense at Washington State.
Wulff played under WSU coaches Jim Walden, Dennis Erickson and Mike Price.
Sterk said he was impressed by Wulff's charisma, and felt it was less of a risk to gamble on a head coach than on an assistant at a bigger program who'd never been a head coach.
"He is a great leader of men," Sterk said.