SEATTLE (AP) -Beaming after winning his third Apple Cup in five tries, Bill Doba put the decision about his future squarely on the Washington State administration.
``I'm not going to resign,'' Doba said when asked whether he would be around for next year's Apple Cup. ``I sure as hell hope I'm back, yes.''
Doba closed out his fifth season as Washington State coach with a sterling 42-35 win over rival Washington on Saturday night. The Cougars rallied for two late touchdowns, with the winning score coming on a 35-yard pass from Alex Brink to Brandon Gibson with 31 seconds left.
Questions about Doba's future on the Palouse have swirled for weeks, and seemed to reach their pinnacle after last week's lackluster 52-17 loss at home to Oregon State. The 67-year-old coach took over for Mike Price in 2003 and is 30-29 in his five seasons leading the Cougars.
Washington State athletic director Jim Sterk said after Saturday's game that the victory would go a long way in determining whether Doba will return for a sixth season.
``It feels real good right now. I think it does obviously,'' Sterk said. ``Three of the last four Apple Cups are wins, so that's a pretty positive statement.''
Sterk said an announcement could come Monday on the process for evaluating Doba, with a final decision coming as early as later in the week. Sterk realizes the importance of having some resolution soon.
``Yes, the coaches, they head out next week on recruiting and December is a big recruiting month so the sooner the better on a decision like this,'' he said.
Financially, it would be a benefit for Washington State to keep Doba. Already trying to renovate aging Martin Stadium, the school would reportedly have to pay $2.8 million in buyouts if Doba were fired.
His contract expires after the 2008 season.
``This is a great way to finish and we will take that into consideration next week: how people feel, how players feel, how coaches feel. That's all important,'' Sterk said.
Doba's first year at Washington State was his best, with the Cougars going 10-3, capping their season with a 28-20 win over Texas in the Holiday Bowl. Washington State has not gone to a bowl game since, going 20-26 in the last three years.
After Saturday's win, Doba talked as though he would return. He pulled Washington quarterback Jake Locker aside to commend Locker's effort and jokingly suggest that Locker consider leaving school early so Doba doesn't have to see him next year in Pullman.
``I wish he was a senior,'' Doba said.
Doba also has the support of at least one important player, although senior quarterback Brink won't be back next season.
``This means so much for coach. He's been through a lot. He's been through things he shouldn't have to deal with,'' Brink said. ``Our relationship is something I will always cherish.''
AP Sports Writer Gregg Bell contributed to this report.

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