Eric Russell explains why he left Tennessee for Washington State
Posted by: Pete Roussel on Wednesday March 07, 2012
Posted by: Pete Roussel on March 7, 2012
Eric Russell was the first of six assistant coaches that opted to leave Tennessee this off-season for another job.
Derek Dooley stated just after Russell's decision to join Mike Leach's staff at Washington State that it was a chance to return to the Pacific Northwest and work with his friend, Mike Leach, that led to the Russell's decision.
Russell, however, has told the Spokeman-Review something different.
Russell says, "I think at Tennessee, it was going to come down to how many games you won the next year, and unfortunately nobody's got a crystal ball."
"I tried to take the sentimental stuff out of it. A chance to be an assistant head coach and concentrate purely on special teams was a little bit of a unique situation."
A lot of people, especially in the state of Tennessee, are down on Derek Dooley. In two seasons as the Tennessee head coach, Dooley has finished 5-7 and 6-7.
Russell doubled as the tight ends coach at Tennessee in addition to coaching the special teams. At Wazzu, he's strictly responsible for the special teams. He previously served as the special teams coordinator for Mike Leach at Texas Tech in 2009.
Wazzu needs to have a major turnaround on special teams. A year ago, the Cougars led the nation by allowing 4 kick-off returns for over 90 yards.
Russell said, "If you've got a soft kickoff coverage team, you've probably got a soft football team. If you've got some hard-knockers on there, you've probably got a pretty tough football team. They kind of go hand in hand."
Here's the list of six coaches that left Dooley's staff: (Charlie Baggett also retired)
Eric Russell (Washington State)
Justin Wilcox (Washington)
Peter Sirmon (Washington)
Lance Thompson (Alabama)
Harry Hiestand (Notre Dame)
Terry Joseph (Nebraska)
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