The Mike Leach era is here
How un-Washington State like is this hire?
Talk about bucking the norm. This wasn’t your normal run-of-the-mill type WSU hire. The Cougars front office had made it a trend of sorts to hire former players or hire coaches who at one point in time in their coaching history, were a WSU assistant.
For whatever reason, when it came to the head coaching position, the need to keep it in the Cougar fraternity was a must.
Mike Leach is neither.
He’s a hired gun – a big gun.
Designed to send shock waves through the entire conference. He’s the kind of guy who will not accept second best or even accept the notion that we should be good little cougars and play second fiddle to the University of Washington.
No, that’s not Leach’s style, he wants to seek and destroy, and if he gets his way, the Pac-12 North will have to come straight through Pullman.
As big as the Mike Leach hiring was, It was met with some criticism, with some pessimism thrown in for good nature.
Some of Cougar nation was skeptical about the overall nature of the hire – sighting Bill Moos’ talking with Mike Leach after the team’s loss to Utah.
Leading Paul Wulff into thinking his future was secure when in actuality Moos had his successor two weeks prior. Some felt it was bad business on the part of Moos – the “Cougs don’t eat other Cougs” mentality – for allowing Wulff to go out in the manner in which he did.
It’s understandable, but Moos had the wherewithal to understand that in order for the athletic department to flourish financially, the football program, and basketball program for that matter, must be winning.
In order to win, in Washington State’s case, you must have someone in control who has won on the national level before.
Mike Leach automatically delivers clout. Not just in terms of the national recruiting trail, although that is important, but it also puts WSU on the national map.
Which puts the national exposure on the the school – which is desperately what the University needs, considering they ARE in a BCS conference.
So what will Mike Leach bring to the WSU Cougar football Program? Good question. I have taken the liberty of breaking down both programs last two decades minus two seasons (2010-11) to give you an understanding of the magnitude Mike Leach brought to Texas Tech, and the magnitude he could bring WSU.
Here are a few facts about Texas Tech football over the last 20 seasons minus two seasons (2010-11).
- 1990-99 under head coach Spike Dykes
- 60-53 – (44-31), 4 bowl appearences, 1 win
- 2000-09 under head coach Mike Leach
- 84-43 – (47-33), 9 bowl appearances, 5 wins
In ten years under Mike Leach, the program was able to improve by 24 wins.
That’s 2 more wins per season on average. Which means you go from being a middle-of-the-road SWC/Big-12 team to being a perennial 8-4 team competing for division and conference titles.
Now here are some facts about WSU during the last two decades, give two seasons (2010-11).
- 1990-99 under head coach Mike Price
- 53-61 – (31-49) 3 bowl appearances, 2 wins
- 2000-09 under head coaches Mike Price, Bill Doba, and Paul Wulff
- 57-63, (33-51), 3 bowl appearances, 2 wins
During that same stretch, much like Texas Tech was, the Cougars were a 5-6 (3-5), middle-of-the-road Pac-10 team.
They managed to accomplish the same amount of post-season success as the Red Raiders, but as you can see, unlike Texas Tech, the program didn’t improve any the next decade.
They stayed the same 5-6 (3-5), middle-of-the-road Pac-10/12 team.
So Cougar fans must be excited to have Leach as their coach right? Unfortunately no. Not all Cougar fans are happy. There seems to be somewhat of a split in the fan base over this hire, and it’s not about Paul Wulff or the wins and losses, it’s the off the field skepticism that surrounds Mike Leach that has Cougar fans a little weary.
It’s understandable for the worry mainly because he’s not the same Mike Leach entering WSU as he did Texas Tech.
As we know, the fallout from Texas Tech has lead to a few misconceptions Cougars fans have which I will address with some of the Mike Leach misconceptions.
Because of Mike Leach’s slander lawsuit against ABC/ESPN, the Cougs will be banned from national television exposure.
Fact: Winning cures everything. The new Pac-12 television deal is revolving. Meaning every team in the conference will benefit from television exposure regardless of the team’s win/loss record.
Obviously, the more you win, the better off you are. His lawsuit legally will not effect the Cougars.
It’s easier to recruit at Texas Tech compared to Washington State.
Fact: This statement is completely false. The state of Texas is a national recruiting hot bed. Leach had to out-recruit Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, and Kansas State, along with a hand full of other big-time national programs for the same Texas recruits.
If anything it will be easier for Leach at WSU because he only has to deal with two national power programs (Oregon, and USC) instead of three, and once Stanford returns returns to earth, the Pac-12 will have just as many better-then-not, not quite great teams as the Big-12.
In other words, he’s been through this before.
Mike Leach will jump ship as soon as a better job comes available.
Fact: He has never had a history of jumping ship for a better program. He’s not Lane Kiffin. He’s had the opportunity to do so during his tenure at Texas Tech, but elected to stay.
Small towns and small programs fit his persona because of the challenges they present. There were better jobs available (ASU, UCLA or even Oregon State) that he could’ve taken, but WSU gives him what he is looking for – the opportunity to finish what he started at Texas Tech – winning a national championship.
I know this is a very touchy hire for some WSU Cougars fans, but understand that this is exactly where the program needed to go in order to turn that mediocre corner.
Going 110-124 over a 20 year period maybe good for some, but in the eyes of AD Bill Moos, it’s not even close to being good enough.
His goals for Washington State are to be nationally competitive and respected program because he feels like that is where we should already be.
I ask all Cougars to embrace not only Bill Moos’ vision, but embrace Mike Leach.
Because once he accepted the position, he embraced us as his fan base. On November 31st, 2011, “Win the day for the Crimson and Gray” became more then just a motto, it became reality.