SEATTLE (WA)– This last week has been by far the most attention that Washington State University and Pullman has received in over a decade. The reason–Mike Leach. Leach agreed to terms on a five year contract that will pay him $2.25 million annually with performance based incentives that could raise it higher.
Tuesday, Leach along with athletic director Bill Moos and several hundred boosters and fans took part in two press conferences, one in Seattle and one in Pullman. By the time Leach got to Seattle around 5:15 P.M and to the press conference at 6:30 he already knew he’d entertain the crowd.
“Quite honestly I’m not just loaded with new material with the world win tour I’ve been on today so most of you that are overzealous and couldn’t wait to watch the other press conference you’ll have to pardon my redundancy.”
From the moment Leach was hired it was clear that Pullman was definitely in for a major change. Under Paul Wulff there wasn’t a sense of humor, excitement and attention that has come over the program since the hiring was announced on December 1st.
When Leach talked about why Washington State? He said jokingly said why not.
“It’s well documented how polite I am and how I keep my thoughts to myself (laughs), I don’t say what a stupid question but in the back of my mind I’m thinking what are you talking about.”
When it comes to football Leach said he knows Pullman is a place that has won, can win and will win soon. With quarterbacks Connor Halliday (sophomore) and Jeff Tuel (senior) Leach is expected to make an immediate impact and expedite the rebuilding process started by Wulff.
While he hasn’t had time to look at game film of Halliday or Tuel he did point out the success of Cougar quarterbacks in the NFL, most notably Drew Bledsoe.
With the influx of spread offense coaches now in the Pac-12: Rich Rodriguez at Arizona, Chip Kelley already at Oregon and Mike Leach at Washington State he made it clear his is unlike most.
“Well both run more than mines does, and some with the quarterback. Mines more grammatical and more pass heavy, drop back and throwing. I like to attack the field as well. Both Kelly and Rich run the hurry up, I don’t. Oregon has two or three plays they run perfectly and use motion and overlap to confuse you defensively.”
Leach was tight lipped about who he’s targeting as his defensive coordinator. “Virtually the last thing in the world I would do is share that with you (laughs). If you look at all the coaches in the country and all the coaching openings I certainly don’t want to limit my field and lose a competitive advantage I may have to get the best one.”
He did say that he’d like to recruit more in Southern California with most of the current players coming from Northern Cal. On the subject of Jake Heaps, who announced his decision to transfer from BYU, Leach didn’t have much to add. “It’s too early (to talk about). I wish I had more but I just found out today so I can’t really say.”
With the reception Leach has gotten from fans, boosters and former coaches it’s only fitting that former quarterback Drew Bledsoe share his thoughts. Bledsoe told Leach personally he was “super fired up” about having him take over the program. The one key Bledsoe said “you’ll have fun”.
There’s no way to describe just how much of an impact Leach has, can and will have on the football program and the university but it will be fun. Washington State has already sold over 450 season tickets for next season since the hiring and is expecting hundreds more.
Another factor that Leach brings is faith in donors who have donated several thousand into the athletic department in addition to purchasing season tickets.
With the excitement already resonating in Pullman Leach just has to do one thing, win. Win win win. The Cougars went 9-40 under Paul Wulff and haven’t been to a bowl game since the Holiday bowl in 2003.
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Here’s a link to the Leach press conference in Seattle (full)