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Monday, February 11, 2008
Floyd's e-mail shows Cougars wanted Doba to stay

Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. -- In the months before Washington State football coach Bill Doba stepped down after a disappointing season, university president Elson S. Floyd's e-mail wasn't exactly brimming with threats or derision about the team, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

University of Washington president Mark Emmert had a much different experience last fall.

Emmert received at least 100 e-mails threatening to withdraw or withhold financial support unless Husky coach Tyrone Willingham or athletic director Todd Turner were fired. He even got an offer of $100,000 each for scholarships if he would sack the coach and athletic director.

The UW president told The Seattle Times he didn't recall seeing that e-mail and doesn't take seriously financial threats or offers based on personnel decisions.

Willingham remains the Huskies coach. Turner resigned Jan. 31.

In contrast, in the months between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2007, Floyd received fewer than 20 e-mails about Doba, and only one writer dropped football season tickets, the AP learned in a public records request.

Several e-mails urged the WSU president and athletic director Jim Sterk to retain Doba. Most were received, expressing sadness or dismay, after Doba was forced out.

Only three e-mails specifically urged Doba's firing during the season.

Floyd said Monday he wants to be sensitive to what his constituents have to say, "but my decisions are not driven by what they say. It's just another input."

"We made the decision to engage in what we refer to as a transition. There was this belief that coach Doba was fired, or run out. None of that happened," he said. "The coach made the decision that he no longer wanted to be involved in recruiting."

Sterk was traveling and unavailable for comment, his office said.

Doba, 67, announced Nov. 26 he was stepping down "by mutual agreement" after five seasons as head coach and posting a 30-29 career record. WSU finished 5-7 last season and missed going to a bowl game for a fourth consecutive year.

"I think the decision to fire Bill Doba stinks" one alumnus wrote, using 10 exclamation points for emphasis.

"A sad day for the university and a tough way for a truly great man to be treated by his employer," wrote another. "Bill is deserving of better!"

Reflecting the different worlds in which the UW and WSU athletic departments operate, Floyd received no mail from professional football players weighing in on Doba's job. Seattle Seahawks star running back Shaun Alexander and former Seahawks quarterback Jeff Kemp wrote Emmert in support of Willingham or Turner.

The closest Floyd got to football royalty was an e-mail from Steve Sebehar, who played center on the Cougars' 1981 Holiday Bowl team and was an 11th round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1983.

Sebahar wrote in an Oct. 16 e-mail urging Floyd to begin a search for Doba's replacement.

Sebahar wrote he had been a season ticket holder for the past five years, but did not renew his seats this year. "The primary reason is the state of Cougar football," he wrote.

The e-mail was sent three days after the Cougars suffered a 53-7 loss at No. 9 Oregon.

Most, however, urged Floyd to keep Doba, a longtime assistant before being elevated to head coach after Mike Price left for Alabama in 2002.

"Cougars have a level of politeness that is really unusual," Floyd said. "There was no animosity."

Emmert's e-mails showed a different reaction. Nearly three-quarters of the UW president's e-mails about Husky football were critical.

Using a public records request, The Seattle Times reported Jan. 10 that UW booster Ed Hansen offered $200,000 for law school scholarships if Willingham and Turner were fired.

The newspaper reported that Emmert received at least 100 e-mails threatening to withdraw or withhold financial support unless Willingham, Turner or both were fired.