The Washington State Cougars have been underwhelming this season to say the least. A new head coach in Mike Leach was supposed to inject new life into the program, but things haven’t turned around quite as fast as people expected with the Cougars sitting last in the Pac 12 North with a 2-5 (0-4 Pac 12) record. To help his team focus on playing better football, the Palouse Pirate has banned Cougar players from using Twitter.
“Twitter is a privilege, not a right,” Leach said in a radio interview explaining his decision. It’s a policy he had in place while in Lubbock with the Texas Tech Red Raiders, so it’s nothing new for Leach. He also noted that several other college and NFL teams have adopted similar rules, so it’s not that big of a deal.
However, the backlash to it has been swift. In an age of unprecedented access to athletes, people don’t take kindly to barriers to that access. For those who question the decision, Leach responded:
“Those that don’t agree with it, I don’t know what their professions are, and I can’t say that I wouldn’t offer advice on their profession if they asked me, but I certainly wouldn’t expect them to follow it if they didn’t think it was in their best interest because they know more about what they’re doing and their situation than I do.”
In short, Mike Leach doesn’t come down to where you work and knock the mop out of your hand. But even if he did, he’d respect you if you told him to buzz off. So, buzz off.
For what it’s worth, Leach is keeping his Twitter account active “for recruiting purposes,” and campus events.
Leach says that the decision to take away players’ Twitter access was a combination of things. It was becoming a distraction, according to the coach, and some of the players were “irresponsible with it,” so the WSU football program will be Twitter-less for the foreseeable future. Leach says that the decision isn’t final and he “can’t say there will never be Twitter here,” but for now, there won’t be any discussion about it.
This continues a stressful transition for Leach to Pullman that has certainly been more difficult than most people thought it would be. The head coach has had trouble getting his players to give a full effort for the entire game and was forced to deal with players “moping” during the season-opening loss to the BYU Cougars.
Since then, he’s called out his offensive line, which has struggled, his receiving corps, who he described as “fragile,” and his seniors, who he described as “zombie-like” as they just go through the motions. He even had harsh words for his quarterbacks, who have not taken to his Air Raid system as quickly or proficiently as he would like, saying that “It would be great if one of them would step up and take control of the position.”
Transitions can be tough, and the move to the Palouse is going through some rough waters early on. Fighting against the culture of accepting losses has frayed Leach around the edges and he’s going to do whatever it takes to whip this team into shape, even if it means they can’t tweet about it.