UCLA must own some jinx on Washington State. Our week with them in Pullman never seems to go as planned and this is the second time in two years that on Bruin week, a star player has been suspended. Of course Klay Thompson was arrested on drug related charges before being suspended for the UCLA game 2 short seasons ago. While this is a different ordeal altogether, the fact holds that the Bruins are probably counting their blessings and just may be chuckling a little inside about the turmoil surrounding our team when they’re coming to town.
The Cougars have the unique opportunity this week to totally pack it in for the season, after the brutal lack of effort at Utah (which officially ended the opportunity of a bowl season) and their quote, end quote Star Player having reportedly left the team in the aftermath. But if I know Mike Leach that won’t happen, instead the Cougars will band together and ‘give em hell’ as the old saying goes. According to his press conference he doesn’t care about the swirling negativity and realistically he’s above all of that anyway. As a coach he’s above reproach and more importantly he is still demanding his team to “do it the way we do it”:
We have distracted focus and a certain amount of satisfaction… On our team there’s a certain amount of ‘the team that wins is the one that has the most fun’ and as long as there’s a treat at the end and everybody has a good time and gets to wear the same t-shirt, well we’re all happy. Well that’s really not the case and it’s not the way I view college football. There’s a difference in philosophy and in some cases it’ll have to be changed.
The thing is we’re not changing. This isn’t a democracy. We don’t say ‘hey, uh you 125 guys, so how do you want practice to be and what sort of direction do you want this or that to go?’ We don’t do that here, our standards are what our standards are and we’re gonna hold them to those standards. That’s how we’ve all done it for years. You don’t have any progress by wallowing and getting all wishy-washy on what you’re standards are and the fact that somehow the standards don’t appeal to one player or another is pretty irrelevant. They’re either on board or they’re off and I can live with it either way.”
It seems there’s not much to it on his part, right? But to Leach’s earlier points, the team didn’t give any effort at Utah (duh) and that in particular been a serious issue all year long. So what’s his nightmare? The fact that he can’t seem to get his team’s attention without doing something like suspending the star player, and it’s not his fault but it doesn’t matter. His new vision and direction hasn’t matched up with some of his players’ and that’s frustrating as a coach, especially when the results don’t match up with the resume. Wilson’s suspension was Wilson’s decision, really and all the team can do is move on without him.