For Washington State, I suppose you could argue that year two started the moment the kick went through the uprights to beat the Huskies. According to Mike Leach, you’re probably right, but the new season isn’t really recognized universally as beginning until Spring ball, which is what starts this week.
It was a fairly traumatic beginning to the Leach era at WSU, as he faced taking over a team with some talent, but full of weakness and attitude issues. Slowly he changed the culture throughout the season, but it certainly wasn’t without its bumps and bruises. We probably shouldn’t even mention it anymore, but of course there was the Marquess Wilson situation, which was pre-engaged by fans becoming unruly over Leach’s abrasive attitude about his team at the weekly post-game podium.
There were varying opinions of what that meant, and of course we have our own here. Let’s visit those thoughts as we get ready for Mike Leach and the Washington State Cougars, pt 2. (First I must mention that the question of our thoughts on Leach that actually sparked this conversation came from Diane, who is a Husky fan [BOOOOO], but a fellow writer at 12th Man Rising, our Seahawks FanSided Blog, so thanks for this question Diane).
The more I study what Mike Leach is all about, the more I love him. To be honest I was REALLY skeptical of him when I heard he was a serious candidate for the job. I looked into lots of feedback about him and really studied the situation at Texas Tech. What I found won me back and after seeing that he is still well respected amongst all of his piers I quickly removed all doubt from my mind that he would indeed be the guy to lead this program to the promised land. Of course, I didn’t think it would happen as he was “too good” in my mind for our school, but then just a matter of hours later, it did! I couldn’t have been more thrilled.
For those of you worried about the Wilson issue, please remember all the stories you hear were rumors started from 1 person and nobody corroborated them. Let me repeat, not a single player even so much as hinted that what Wilson said was the truth. To a man they jumped to their coach’s (and coaches) side(s) and said that a personal decision was made because of a difference of philosophy, but they were on board. On top of that, it’s always a red flag when the person that put them in play won’t stick with 1 story and keeps flipping on what he said after the incident began, so there’s no water to that at this point. Also, as everyone knows, two separate investigations were done and came up all clean with no asterisks.
Other people will point to the fact that Wilson wasn’t the only one to leave the program, but I would rebut that all of them were players who weren’t going to make any contribution to the football team in the long run. I’m guessing that’s what was told to them (pretty bluntly) and that that was the main reason for their dismissal/leave.
So let’s talk about Leach.
Leach in and of himself is a tremendous competitor. The reason he’s talked about hesitantly sometimes is because we have people around the program who aren’t used to the competitive spirit of a guy that doesn’t know anything but winning. Leach will not allow you to pull him into your pity party and won’t allow you to let yourself be any less than what he expects, which is to be a great competitor and a consistent performer, regardless of what else you bring to the table in that regard.
Around here people just haven’t seen that, ever. If Sark came here or Kiffin or Rodriguez it would be the same thing; “They’re too hard on poor Johnny”. What they don’t know is that Johnny said he wanted to win but didn’t know what it would take to do it. Leach has pushed beyond the limited minds here and we’ll finally see a team that starts to reflect that this upcoming season.
I think what people don’t see (so far) about Leach is all the POSITIVE energy and attitude that he brings to the program. People are so worried that he called someone out that they forget he was OVERLY honest and positive about Billy who played a fine game and tried hard the whole time while his team moped around. Mark this down, he will begin to praise his players as they become more able to compete mentally for 40 minutes.
Not sure if you heard, but he never… NEVER yells at his kids on the field. This is one reason for his call-outs after games. While he is harsh in his statements, he is always fair in that he gives his most honest opinion. If you don’t like it, that’s ok, because he’s getting paid to win football games, not you.
On the other hand he really doesn’t care about results as much as it seems, as long as effort, attitude and concentration are stressed on an individual and team basis by the players themselves. He just figures with those 3 elements in play, every play, the results will take care of themselves. I love the guy and I think the overall perception will change as he becomes more positive with the efforts of his guys.