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WSU - A stepping stone on the road to better things

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Cougar fans should be excited about the hiring of Portland State head coach Ken Bone. All Bone has done is win every place he has been and that includes SPU, UW, and Portland State.

The fifty year old coach has paid his dues and now he moves on to the type of paycheck that can set him up for life over the next few years. Bone was only making around $125,000 at Portland State. WSU is expected to pay him over $650,000 per year to move to Pullman. Tony Bennett who he is replacing was making over a million a year when he left.

Bone has a great shot at being successful at WSU. Tony Bennett left the program in good shape so maintaining rather than rebuilding will be the first order of the day. Bone was quick to point out that becoming the head coach at WSU exceeded his wildest dreams but dreams and goals can change once you spend a few years living in Pullman.

Washington State traditionally is a place you stop at on the way to something bigger. Just ask Marv Harshman, George Raveling, Tony Bennett, Dennis Erickson, Jackie Sherrill, and Mike Price.

When Bennett left for Virginia last week the Cougar Nation viscously turned on the man who with his father helped rebuild a program that was left for dead when they arrived six years ago.

Cougar fans fail to realize that Washington State is never going to be the final destination for any successful coach. It will always be a three to four year stop on the road to financial freedom for any coach that is ever successful there and a career graveyard if they fail. If Bone keeps winning the offers will come and the coaching search will invariably begin again.

I believe Bone when he says this job exceeds his wildest dreams but those dreams may just get a little wilder once schools that can pay over $2 million per year and offer a less isolated and more cosmopolitan area to live in come sniffing around.

For Tony Bennett it took six years of hard work and some broken promises regarding charter airplane service to move on to a bigger paycheck. With the foundation he and his father expertly laid for Bone to build on don't expect the same longevity out of the new coach.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe Ken Bone is the exception rather than the rule. Maybe he and his family will thrive in Pullman. Maybe he will end up retiring there. 

On the plus side he is a Washington native and leaving your home region is always difficult when you have family and roots in place. On the negative side it is Pullman and you can put all the lip stick you want on a pig but it is still a pig.

WSU is a great school that was put in the wrong place back in 1890 because Yakima wanted to host the state fair, Walla Walla wanted the prison, and Spokane simply wasn't interested.

Geographic and cultural isolation are the two things that will never change in Pullman. Because of that isolation and the lack of cosmopolitan culture WSU will always be a stepping stone to better things for those who are talented.