Washington State Football has lost Mike Leach as head coach, as he’s jumped to the Mississippi State Bulldogs, meaning Wazzu is now searching for the next Washington State head coach. So who are the top candidates to replace Mike Leach as Washington State head coach? We’ve got the top Washington State targets and some realistic options.
Two of the top candidates are former assistants under Leach: Oklahoma DC Alex Grinch and USC OC Graham Harrell. Grinch might be the #1 target given his ties and defensive coaching ability. Harrell just signed an extension as USC OC, but he runs the same style of offense and USC has lost OCs to head coaching jobs before. Watch out for Oregon DC Andy Avalos as well.
Leach was a 2nd chance coach for the Cougs, and there are few other coaches who fit a similar mold. Jim McElwain has been linked to the job, played at Eastern Washington and did a fantastic job with Central Michigan this year. Steve Sarkisian knows the Apple Cup well, but is ready to return out West as a head coach?
There are smaller school head coaches to watch out for in the Washington State football head coaching search. Sonny Dykes struggled at Cal, but has done a great job at SMU. Jay Hill isn’t a big name, but the Weber State head coach keeps winning. And Nick Rolovich has gotten Hawaii back to winning, so could he take a better job and produce the same results?
If Washington State wants to get wild and risky (like it did several years ago with Leach), there are two BIG names: Hugh Freeze and Steve Spurrier. Freeze had off-field issues like Leach did (although they are very different), so maybe Wazzu could try again. Spurrier finally got back into coaching with the now-dead AAF, so maybe he’d take over in Pullman for a few years before giving the reins to his son, Steve Spurrier Jr., the current WRs coach for the Cougars.
Leach was an inspired hire by Washington State Football. The Cougars never won the Apple Cup with Leach, but they won 11 games for the first time ever in 2018 and made it to 5 straight bowl games for the first time in program history. He will be missed by Washington State, but the program is better because of him.
Here’s the full Top 10 Washington State Football Head Coach Candidates List:
#10 Steve Spurrier (Former CFB HC)
#9 Hugh Freeze (HC, Liberty)
#8 Jay Hill (HC, Weber St.)
#7 Steve Sarkisian (OC, Alabama)
#6 Nick Rolovich (HC, Hawaii)
#5 Sonny Dykes (HC, Smu)
#4 Andy Avalos (DC, Oregon)
#3 Jim McElwain (HC, Central Michigan)
#2 Graham Harrell (OC, USC)
#1 Alex Grinch (DC, Oklahoma)
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