Mike Price has, indeed, gone on to his dream job of coaching the Washington State University football team, and his eight-year assistant, Dave Arslanian, is the top choice of Weber State College President Dr. Stephen D. Nadauld to replace Price as coach of the Wildcat football program. A successor to Price as athletic director won't be named for some time, probably months.
Tuesday morning, Price was announced in Pullman, Wash., as WSU's new coach, succeeding Dennis Erickson, who resigned March 5 to take the University of Miami position that was vacated by Jimmy Johnson, who took Tom Landry's place as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.Weber will hold its own news conference Wednesday at 9 a.m. to announce its coach, probably Arslanian.
In Pullman Tuesday, Price said, "I am excited, honored and privileged to be chosen. I am here to mend the Cougar wounds and carry on where last year's great Cougar team left off." The Cougars were 9-3 and won a bowl game. Price said he was once a Cougar, still is at heart and will be 10 years from now.
WSU athletic director Jim Livengood said,
`I think Price is the perfect football coach for Washington State right now." He said he selected Price for his "integrity, class and squeaky-clean image."
Price was to spend Tuesday making press-conference stops in Pullman, Spokane, Pasco, Vancouver and Seattle. He was expected to return to Utah Wednesday.
Nadauld said some things are still to be worked out, "Obviously, Dave is the prime choice, and we'd like to go in that direction if we can work the details out.
"He's a guy that it would be silly for us not to go out and hire," said Nadauld. "I think he's been a great assistant coach, and he has wonderful rapport with the young men and the support of all the team members and the athletic board."
Arslanian was Price's offensive coordinator for all eight seasons and last year assumed the additional title of "assistant head coach."
Details, Nadauld said, include securing new assistants because Price is taking four from Weber to WSU - defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, recruiter Larry Lewis, offensive line coach John McDonnell and linebacker coach Jim Zeches.
That Arslanian, 39, is not going to WSU with Price is a good indicator of his plans. "You could assume that this would be a good place for him to stay," Nadauld said.
As for Price, 42, who compiled a 46-44 record but had Weber's first-ever 10-win season and first-ever playoff appearance in 1987, Nadauld said, "We're really excited for Mike. It's a wonderful professional opportunity for him. We put our arms around him and told him we appreciated his work."
Nadauld said Price has always been up-front with him in reporting any job contacts and that Price told him immediately of his interest in the Washington State job. Price informed Nadauld Saturday night that the job had been offered and that he would accept.
Price held meetings Monday with his athletic department staff and with his Weber football team. He told players in a tearful meeting the Washington State position was one he'd always wanted.
Price is an Everett, Wash., native and shared quarterbacking duties at Everett Junior College with Livengood. Price went on to play quarterback and defensive back at Washington State, graduated from Puget Sound and was a graduate assistant at WSU and an assistant coach at Puget Sound before moving to an assistant's position at Missouri. From Missouri, he took over as head coach at Weber State in 1981. Weber had suffered eight straight losing seasons but went 7-4 in Price's first year. The Wildcats were 5-6 last season but suffered 12 major injuries to starters and more to backups.
Price was named Weber athletic director a year ago.
Price was a top candidate two years ago for the WSU job when Erickson got it, and this time he apparently beat out a field of 80 applicants, four of whom were carefully considered and interviewed. One, Ray Dorr, as assistant at Southern Cal and former coach at Southern Illinois with Livengood, had been projected by Seattle papers as late as Monday as the new coach.