Paul Wulff enters his third season on the Cougar sideline after being named Washington's State's 31st head coach, Dec. 10, 2007. With his appointment Wulff became the first WSU football letterwinner and graduate to lead the Cougars since Phil Sarboe served as head coach from 1945-49.
A 1990 graduate of WSU and a four-year letterwinner, Wulff's first season leading the Cougars proved difficult as the transition to a new head coach combined, with numerous injuries, resulted in a 2-11 record. WSU's lone conference win came in dramatic fashion as the Cougars needed a last-second field goal in regulation, and again in double overtime, to defeat Washington 16-13 in the Apple Cup.
Wulff's second season was once again marred by injuries, yet progress was being made as 13 freshmen and 23 players overall made their first-collegiate starts. The bright spot of the year came in week three as WSU fought back from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat SMU in overtime, 30-27.
Prior to Washington State, Wulff spent the previous 15 seasons at Eastern Washington University, the final eight as head coach. There he amassed a record of 53-40. During his eight-year head coaching tenure Wulff was named Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year three times (2001, 2004, 2005) and led the Eagles into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs three times in the last four years. He enters the 2010 campaign with a 56-62 career head coaching record in 10 seasons.
In 2007 he guided the Eagles to a 9-4 mark, including a quarterfinal appearance at the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs, falling to two-time defending champion Appalachian State. It marked the seventh time in his eight years at Eastern that his teams posted winning records.
"Obviously this has been a dream of mine since I joined the coaching profession," said Wulff upon his hiring. "It is my alma mater, a university with great tradition and a program I feel very strongly about. WSU is an important place in my development as a human being with respect to the university culture. Being named head coach is the biggest honor I have ever received and I am excited about the opportunity.
"Twenty-two years ago, in February of 1985, I signed a letter of intent to Washington State University. I was obligated to that, and I committed to it, and I chose this university over five other Pac-10 schools at that time. I am back 22 years later, and I am committed for another five years. I will make the most of it and do everything in my power to create an environment that everyone who is a Cougar can be proud of. "It's going to take some work," Wulff continued. "There is some building we need to do and some culture changes we need to make. We need to put ourselves in a position where everybody can be proud of the student-athletes in this program both on and off the field on a consistent basis."
Wulff began his coaching career at EWU in 1993 as a volunteer assistant working with the offensive line. He was named offensive line/strength coach the following season and spent four years in the position before being promoted to offensive coordinator/offensive line/strength coach in 1998.
Following two seasons as the team's offensive coordinator, Wulff was named head coach at Eastern prior to the 2000 season. He guided the Eagles to six-straight winning seasons and seven overall during his eight-year tenure.
Wulff's 2005 team was loaded with experience, talent and leadership, featuring a group of seniors that included the Big Sky's Offensive and Defensive MVP's (Erik Meyer and Joey Cwik), and featured a trio of All-Americans (Meyer, Eric Kimble and Matt Alfred). Meyer would go on to win the Walter Payton Award as the best football player in the Football Championship Subdivision. Together, Meyer and Kimble rewrote Eastern's record book as they combined for 27 school records and four Big Sky marks. Meyer set a FCS record for passing efficiency rating (166.47 with 10,261 yards, 84 touchdowns, just 17 interceptions and a .657 completion rate), while Kimble's 46 touchdown grabs ranked second in FCS history behind the 50 of legendary Jerry Rice. The Eagles finished 7-5 and won the Big Sky title with a 5-2 record before losing to eventual national runner-up Northern Iowa in the first round of the playoffs.
The 2004 season was also special, even after the Eagles opened the season 0-2. Eastern won eight of its next nine games - most by substantial margins - as the Eagles closed the year with a 51-44 overtime victory at Montana State to secure a place in the playoffs. Quarterback Erik Meyer was named the league's Offensive Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award. Senior offensive tackle Michael Roos joined Meyer, wide receiver Eric Kimble and guard Rocky Hanni as All-Americans, with Roos eventually being taken in the second round of the NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans.
In 2004, Wulff's squad finished 9-4 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs. The crowning glory came when the Eagles knocked off No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Southern Illinois in the first round.
Statistically, the 2004 and 2005 teams were nearly identical with each finishing the year ranked fourth in FCS in total offense. In 2005 the Eagles averaged 477.8 yards per game, and were 14th in scoring (35.0). A year earlier the Eagles averaged 475.5 yards and 37.5 points per game to rank sixth.
Wulff coached 21 players to 54 Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) All-America honors in his first seven years at the helm of the EWU program, and two more of his players were named to the Sports Network's 2007 FCS All-America team at the conclusion of last year. Of the 21 players to earn All-America recognition, 15 have been offensive lineman.
Additionally, Wulff has mentored 15 players who have earned 18 total CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII honors and a total of 131 All-Big Sky Conference Academic team members.
As a student-athlete and four-year starter at center for the Cougars from 1986-89, Wulff was an All-America honoree himself as a senior, earning honorable mention accolades from The Sporting News. Wulff started at center under three different coaches after redshirting in 1985. He played for Jim Walden in 1986, Dennis Erickson from 1987-88 and Mike Price in 1989. He was also the starting center on WSU's 1988 Aloha Bowl championship team.
After a successful collegiate career Wulff had a brief pro career as a center after graduating from WSU in 1990. He signed a free agent contract with the New York Jets, but was released after injuring an ankle and a rib in the preseason. He played in spring 1991 with Raleigh-Durham of the World League, then played in spring 1992 with New York-New Jersey.
A 1985 graduate of Davis High School in Davis, Calif., Wulff played for three different coaches while he was at WSU. He redshirted in 1985 and started four games at guard in 1986 under Jim Walden.
Dennis Erickson directed the program in 1987 and 1988 with Wulff as his starting center both years. In 1988, the Cougars were victorious in the Aloha Bowl as Wulff earned honorable mention All-Pacific-10 Conference honors.
Under Mike Price in 1989, Wulff earned second-team all-conference honors and was an honorable mention selection on The Sporting News All-America squad. He was also WSU's long snapper during his stay there.
Wulff was born Feb. 25, 1967, in Woodland, Calif. He and his wife Sherry have a 14-year-old daughter, Katie, and two sons, six-year-old Max and three-year-old Sam.