Leach Era and the Rise of the Cougars
The Washington State Cougars have had a drought to say the least in their football program as of late.
They have shown greatness in the past, posting three consecutive 10-win seasons from 2001 through the 2003 seasons. Since then, however, the Cougars have won a measly 29 games in 8 years.
Optimism has been flooding the Palouse since the signing of Mike Leach. He and Bill Moos both have been a dynamic duo, Moos adding the staff and stadium renovations, while Leach takes care of the on-field duties.
Will Mike Leach be the answer the Cougars are looking for?
Will he be able shake off the dust of the Cougars that once were, and put Washington State on the map as a competitive football program?
Yes, and here are five reasons why.
When you hear Mike Leach, you think air-raid.
You remember Michael Crabtree making that sideline grab and shedding two Texas defensive-backs while running to the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
You see Graham Harrell posting ungodly numbers, including the NCAA all-time record 134 career touchdown passes.
You hear these stats and you combine them with the personnel the Cougars have, and you can’t help but salivate at the possibilities.
While Washington State has commonly been a pass-happy team, pass-happy is a miniscule title that can’t be held in comparison to the offensive-attack Leach carries with him.
The system is there, the players are there, and the numbers will soon follow.
At Texas Tech, Leach was surrounded by major schools such as University of Texas, Baylor and Texas A&M. These schools would bully Texas Tech in the recruiting process, leaving Leach to fend for the scraps.
He made the best of the talent at hand, and even found some hidden gems (Crabtree is kind of good I guess).
This being said, the talent that comes out of Texas outmatches damn near every other state in the US combined. California can compete, but Texas is the football state. Let’s be honest.
Having this pipeline from Texas is going to be huge for the Cougars moving forward. Leach has already signed four recruits from the state in the short amount of time he has been in Pullman, and you know the numbers will only grow as the success begins.
Leach also maneuvered his way into a pipeline to the South Pacific Islands as well with the signing of defensive line coach Joe Salave’a from the University of Arizona.
Salave’a is an enormous presence – physically and figuratively – in the football circles of Hawaii and Samoa.
An area Mike Leach targeted early on.
10 bowl games in 10 years. What else must be said?
Leach’s past success is insanely impressive. The man wins. Consistently.
Texas Tech had not had a post-season win since 1995 before Leach was named head coach in 2000. He then proceeded to lead the Red Raiders to ten consecutive post-seasons, coming out victorious in six of the ten bowl-appearances.
Their most notable victory was during the 2008 regular season when they defeated #1 Texas at Jones AT&T Stadium (Crabtree for the win).
A bowl game is the expectation for the 2012 season, but who knows what the expectations will be in the near future under the guru himself.
Mike Leach is a well-known icon across the United States. Whether it is from his success as a head coach or his abnormal antics off the field, people know him.
Leach and ESPN analysts both agree that Pullman was the perfect landing spot for the Pirate.
A small town, secluded from civilization, Leach and his team of football players are left alone to focus on one thing: winning.
As previously stated, Washington State has had plenty of success in the past.
They have 10-bowl games on their resume, with 6 victories including a win in the 1916 Rose Bowl, shutting out Brown University 14-0.
The Cougars’ track record isn’t something to write home about, but it isn’t terrible by any means.
With Leach leading Marquess Wilson and the Cougars, they will be put on the map once again.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say Mike Leach is feared.
The “closet incident” only invigorated this persona.
Players have commented on the sternness of Leach’s coaching style in comparison to former Cougar coach Paul Wulff.
“He wants to win.” “His punishment is evenhanded.” “He doesn’t really care about anybody.”
Take these statements as you will, but they were spoken by former defensive tackle Anthony Laurenzi. Laurenzi was cut from the team weeks after he spoke about shoplifting headphones from Wal-Mart.
Were the Dre Beats worth it Anthony?
This goes to show that there is truth behind this image of a strict coach who doesn’t take crap from his players.
Add to the fact that Leach’s personality is somewhat of a wildcard, and you never really know what to expect. The fear only grows from there.
Hopefully the players buy into the discipline of Leach and respect his stern attitude, bringing the team closer together as a whole and leading to success in the future of Cougar football.