Washington State at UCLA - October 28, 2006 (photos courtesy of Associated Press)
In Bill Doba's first season as Washington State University's head football coach, he won more games than any first-year coach in program history, guided the Cougars to a win over No. 5 Texas in the Holiday Bowl, and helped WSU reach the 10-win plateau for the third-straight season, the first time that has been accomplished by any Pac-10 school since 1931-33. Doba shared conference Coach of the Year honors with the USC's Pete Carroll.
Doba, in his 16th year on the Palouse overall, admits that his debut may prove to be a tough act to follow.
"The pressure is definitely on now, but we have great kids in program," Doba said. "The seniors who have gone through this program have set a standard of excellence that they want to maintain or improve on. I like what I see looking at workouts and the way that guys are flying around."
Doba's reign began with a fitting result for a defensive guru, a shutout win over Idaho at Seattle's Seahawk Stadium. After an overtime loss in his hometown of South Bend, Ind., to Notre Dame, Doba rallied the Cougars for statement wins over Colorado and Oregon on the road. That set the table for a 10-3 campaign, a second place finish in the Pac-10, and Washington State's biggest bowl victory in program history. WSU's defeat of Texas in the Holiday Bowl was its first over a top five team since 1988.
The 2003 Cougars featured a defense that led the nation in takeaways (48) and fumble recoveries (24), and finished second nationally in interceptions (24). WSU was also in the top 10 in pass efficiency defense and rushing defense. Seven defenders on that unit earned All-Conference consideration, including first team selections free safety Erik Coleman, cornerback Jason David, and linebacker Will Derting.
But it wasn't just the defense that made Doba's first season special. Washington State's renowned aerial attack was still in full view in 2003, with senior signal caller Matt Kegel throwing for 2,947 yards and 21 touchdowns. Versatile running back Jonathan Smith, a second team All-Pac-10 selection, combined for 1,419 all-purpose yards.
Doba's guidance resulted in a No. 9 national finish in both the Associated Press and the ESPN/USA Today polls.
Doba became Washington State's 30th head football coach December 18, 2002, after serving as a Cougar assistant for 14 years. During that time WSU won two Pacific-10 Conference championships and made five bowl appearances, including two trips to the Rose Bowl.
Doba's appointment was the culmination of 40 years in the coaching profession at the high school and collegiate level.
While serving as WSU's defensive leader from 1994-2002, Doba mentored eight players named first team all-conference, six All-Americans, and 2002 Outland Trophy Winner Rien Long. In addition, 12 of Doba's former players have been selected in the NFL Draft and another 18 have signed professional contracts.
"It is very rewarding when you see a young man that wouldn't have had an opportunity to go to college complete his degree. A young man like Eboni Wilson (Cougar defensive end turned strength coach turned author), who came in from Los Angeles and now has his doctorate," Doba said. "It's also very exciting to see former players on Sundays in the NFL. Giving young men the chance to play at the next level and the chance to complete their degree is rewarding."
In 1994, Doba's first season as defensive coordinator, the Cougs finished second in the nation in total defense, yielding a mere 229 yards per game, and third in rushing and scoring defense. The "Palouse Posse," spearheaded by all-conference performers in linebacker Mark Fields, defensive end DeWayne Patterson, and defensive tackles Chad Eaton and Don Sasa, capped a 9-3 season by holding Baylor to just 151 yards total offense and three points in an Alamo Bowl victory.
"That group had great talent. Nine of those kids went on to play either in Canada (CFL) or the NFL. A couple of them are still playing," Doba said. "They set the standard for summer workouts for our program. They stayed in Pullman and made sure everyone was here and worked hard. They had pride and a great will to win. They were not to be denied. They also had excellent leadership from (linebacker) Ron Childs. His preseason goal was to be number one in the nation in every category, and they nearly did it."
Doba's defensive units have always been highlighted by a penchant for speed and an attacking style. In 2001, the Cougars racked up 40 sacks and grabbed 26 interceptions, second only to national champion Miami. During the Cougars' run to the roses in 2002, WSU broke the school record for sacks with 55, and led the conference in rushing defense, surrendering just 152 yards on the ground over the final five contests.
A 1962 graduate of Ball State with a bachelor's degree in physical education and a minor in math, Doba earned his master's degree in the same area from Western Michigan in 1969. While in Muncie, Doba played halfback and defensive back for the Cardinal football team as a freshman and sophomore before a hip injury ended his playing career.
He started his coaching career as an assistant at Goshen High School in Indiana in 1962 under head coach Bob Rumsey. Three years later, in 1965, he became head coach at Angola High in Angola, Ind. After a two-year stay at Angola, he returned to Goshen High as head coach for three years, followed by a six-year stint at Mishawaka High, also in the Hoosier State. At Mishawaka, he compiled a 46-15-1 record, leading the Cavemen to the conference title in 1972, their first in 20 years, and the state final in 1974.
Doba then entered the college ranks, joining current ESPN College Gameday host Lee Corso's staff at Indiana University in 1977. He coached outside linebackers for five seasons and spent one season tutoring the quarterbacks and receivers. In 1979, the Hoosiers went 8-4 and knocked off Brigham Young in the Holiday Bowl.
"It was a difficult transition after being a head coach for 12 years at the high school level to a college assistant. As a head coach in high school you did just the basics of offense, defense, and the kicking game," Doba said. "When I got to college, you had to be a lot more precise and more knowledgeable. I had a lot to learn. It was entirely different from anything that I had done, it was almost like starting all over again."
Doba's five-year association with Corso made a lasting impact on the popular ESPN personality.
"In my 15 years as a collegiate head coach, Bill Doba is one of the most dedicated, loyal, and hardest-working assistants I have been involved with. There is no one better than Bill and Judy Doba," Corso said of Doba and his bride of 41 years.
The next move for Doba placed him at Big Ten foe Purdue, where he was a member of Leon Burtnett's staff for four seasons, 1983-86. He initially served as outside linebacker coach, then spent the 1986 season as the tight ends and tackles coach. The 1984 Purdue squad faced Virginia in the Peach Bowl. In an interesting twist, Doba added Burtnett to his staff for his inaugural run as Cougar head coach 20 years after his stint with the Boilermakers.
For two seasons prior to joining WSU, Doba was defensive coordinator at The Citadel, where he coordinated the academic program, including tutors, study table and eligibility. In 1988, The Citadel finished 8-3 and reached the NCAA I-AA national playoffs. Defensive lineman Scott Thompson earned Associated Press third team All-America honors.
Doba's family includes wife Judy, also a Ball State alumnus, and children Scott, Kristine, and Beth. Doba also has six grandchildren.
HONORS: - Inducted into the Mishawaka Hall of Fame in 1986...inducted into the Indiana football Hall of Fame July, 2001.
WSU APPOINTMENT: - April 4, 1989
WSU RESPONSIBILITIES: - 1989: linebackers; 1991 - Assistant Head Coach; 1994: Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers; 2003 - Head Coach
WIFE: - Judy
CHILDREN: - Scott (5/9/63), Beth (2/7/66), Kristen(3/26/67)
Official Website of Washington State University Athletics | Bohler Athletic Complex | PO Box 641602 Pullman, WA 99164-1602 | 1.800.GO.COUGS