The Washington State Cougars found the transition to new head coach Mike Leach a little rockier than expected in 2012. Many thought that the pairing of Leach’s Air Raid offense and the talents of the WSU roster would mesh seamlessly into a team that would contend for a bowl bid. Things didn’t work out that way on the field, with the Cougs stumbling to a 3-9 record and just 1-8 in the Pac 12. While the on-field product was lacking, Leach made a positive impact in other areas, most notably the classroom.
One of the pillars of a Mike Leach team is their dedication to the “student” portion of student-athlete. Leach has always considered his players’ academic pursuits as equally important as anything they can do on the field, preaching discipline in their studies (which often translates to discipline on the field). That hasn’t changed since Leach arrived in Pullman. According to WSU athletic director Bill Moos, the Cougar football team posted the highest grade point average (2.66) for fall semester since 1980, when they started keeping records on team GPA.
Moos said he has been “quite pleased” with the progress in the classroom and feels that it will soon pay dividends on the field. It’s a process to build a program and Moos recognizes that you can’t build anything without solid student-athletes as the foundation. Part of the problem last season was the team was unprepared for the heightened expectations of Leach’s staff, both on and off the field. As the team acclimates to the standards set before them, they will raise their game and find success on the field.
In today’s game, it’s easy to forget the student half of the players’ college experience. While it didn’t always look pretty on the field in 2012, Mike Leach got results in the classroom last season which will only pay positive dividends for all parties down the line.