“Nerdball” is headed north to Pullman, WA. Washington State University hired former USF head coach Kyle Smith as their next head coach. Kyle Smith replaces the recently fired Ernie Kent, who spent the last 5 seasons as the Cougars head coach. It has been a decade since Tony Bennett left the Palouse for the University of Virginia. In those 10 years, there were only 3 winning seasons. Looking for the same magic that Bennett was able to bring Pullman, Washington State went looking for an “outside of the box” hire. Washington State is a TOUGH job. It takes a unique approach to win. Bennett had a unique system that allowed less heralded recruits succeed and the basketball team compete with the traditional powers of the Pac 12 conference. Enter Smith. Smith is what most people would describe as a surprise hire as his name does not pop up in relation to most major conference open jobs. However, he does bring a unique approach, which is what the Cougars were looking for and are hoping will bring back the same magic that Bennett brought. Smith’s analytical approach, which has been coined “Nerdball,” dives deep into statistical analysis that helps Smith find every little edge possible for success in recruiting, scouting, etc. Smith states: “It’s an attempt to quantify everything. … Giving value to everything that happens in our program and everything that happens on the court. Basically, our own internal efficiency rating based on what we think will help us win.” This system has been refined over 20+ years at a variety of stops- University of San Diego, Air Force, Saint Mary’s, Columbia, University of San Francisco, and now WSU. It’s a tough job and there is a big mountain to climb, but WSU may have just found that “unique” hire to help get them back to the top.