WSU coach Jim Mastro has accepted a job at Oregon after six seasons in Pullman.
PULLMAN — For the third year in a row, Washington State has lost an assistant coach to Pac-12 North rival Oregon.
WSU running backs coach Jim Mastro has been weighing a job offer from Oregon for the last week, and as of Thursday, had cleaned out his office in Pullman and accepted the Oregon job, sources close to the situation told The Seattle Times.Mastro was part of the original staff Mike Leach hired when he first became head coach at WSU in 2012.
Mastro’s departure caps off a tough week for WSU, which lost quarterback Tyler Hilinski on Tuesday after he was found dead in his apartment from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. WSU honored Hilinski Friday evening with a candlelight vigil outside the Cougar Pride statue at Martin Stadium.
Per a source, Mastro made his decision earlier in the week but wanted to wait until next week to announce it out of respect for Hilinski.
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A source said the decision to stay or leave was an extremely tough one for Mastro, but that ultimately it was difficult for him to walk away from Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal’s offer of a three-year contract at $375,000 per year, and the title of run game coordinator, with the chance to direct what is expected to be a balanced Oregon offense.
Mastro made $251,000 at WSU last year, and was on a one-year contract that was subject to annual renewal at Leach’s discretion. That’s pretty standard for WSU’s assistant coaches. Of last year’s assistant coaching staff, only former defensive coordinator Alex Grinch had a multi-year contract.
In six years at WSU, Mastro was the mastermind behind WSU’s resurgent run game. The Cougars’ backs are coming off their second straight season with 1,000 receiving and 1,000 rushing yards collectively – marking the first time a group of running backs under Leach has accomplished that feat.
But aside from his skill as a position coach, Mastro has also helped to recruit some of the Cougars’ biggest stars, including receivers River Cracraft and Kyle Sweet, offensive linemen Riley Sorenson and Noah Osur-Myers, and running back James Williams.
However, his biggest recruiting coup came in December, when he beat Stanford for the signature of Pomona (Colo.) running back Max Borghi. Mastro said at the time that it was the first time in his career that he’d beaten Stanford for a recruit.
Borghi is a highly-coveted back in the versatile mold of Christian McCaffrey, and he was firmly committed to WSU until Stanford swooped in to offer him a scholarship late in the process. However, acknowledging that Stanford had always been his “dream school,” Borghi ultimately signed with WSU, citing his close relationship with Mastro as one of the biggest factors that swayed him to come to Pullman.
Borghi enrolled at WSU at the beginning of spring semester, and he, Williams and Keith Harrington will form WSU’s running back nucleus for 2018.
However, the man who recruited him to WSU will no longer be around to coach him.
Mastro reportedly met with his running backs personally to break the news of his departure.
“Everyone knows the admiration and respect I have for Coach Mastro,” Williams tweeted Saturday morning. “After having him look all of us RB’s straight in the eye and giving us all the details, I would be disappointed if he didn’t take this opportunity.”
Mastro follows in the footsteps of former WSU defensive line coach Joe Salave’a, and receivers coach David Yost before him in leaving WSU for Oregon.
Mastro is the third position coach to leave the Cougars this offseason. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch left for Ohio State, while outside linebackers coach Roy Manning joined Chip Kelly’s UCLA staff.