PULLMAN – The Washington State Cougars did themselves no favors when they put together their 2010 football schedule.
Not only are the Cougars the lone Pac-10 team playing 11 straight weeks without a bye, and not only are the Cougars coming off a stretch of three straight games (and four of five) against Top 25 teams, but the Cougars now play a homecoming game on the road for the second straight week.
WSU visits Arizona State on Saturday (4 p.m., no TV). The Sun Devils and former Washington State coach Dennis Erickson figure to be in a foul mood after getting hammered, 50-17, last week at California. Like WSU, the Sun Devils suffer from inexperience and inconsistency.
Erickson seems to be getting as much heat from ASU fans as Cougars coach Paul Wulff is receiving in Pullman. The Sun Devils (3-4, 1-3 Pac-10) have lost four of five since opening the season with two wins over Football Championship Subdivision teams.
Erickson is 14-22 at Arizona State since an 8-0 start to his first year in 2007.
Bill Moos, the first-year athletic director at Washington State, adamantly denied that former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti has visited WSU this fall. Moos was AD at Oregon during most of Bellotti’s coaching run from 1995-2008.
A WSU student said he and another person spotted Bellotti on campus three times this fall. Bellotti, an analyst for ESPN, told the Eugene Register-Guard he might coach again.
Bellotti and former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach have been popular with fans suggesting potential candidates if Wulff is replaced. Aaron Levine, sports director for KCPQ television in Seattle, said on the air Sunday – without offering any hard evidence to support his personal commentary – that Moos “wants” Bellotti and might be able to lure him to Pullman after the season.
Moos said he remains friends with Bellotti. The two have not spoken in months, Moos said, except for a brief conversation recently about revenue sharing and divisions in the new Pac-12.
“Mike Bellotti can coach football,” Moos said. “A lot of what you’re seeing at (top-ranked) Oregon right now is the result of what he put together and what we worked on as a team for 12 years.”
Moos reiterated he does not plan to make an announcement on Wulff’s future until the season is over.
“I always do that with all my programs,” Moos said.
Moos said he continues to support Wulff, who has two years remaining on a contract that pays him $600,000 a year – the lowest salary of any head football coach in the Pac-10. Wulff has a 4-29 record in his third season.
The Cougars (1-7, 0-5) are riding a six-game losing streak, but have made strides with a youthful lineup that is playing the second-toughest schedule in the nation according to the Sagarin computer rankings.
Erickson said he expects quarterback Steven Threet (concussion) to start. Threet has thrown 11 interceptions and six touchdown passes in conference play.
Wulff said starting cornerbacks Nolan Washington (broken finger) and Daniel Simmons (concussion) are ready to go.
WSU strong safety Chima Nwachukwu, a four-year starter, appears likely to miss a third straight game with a pulled hamstring. Regardless of Nwachukwu’s status, Wulff said true freshman Deone Bucannon will remain the starter after making a whopping 31 tackles the past two games.