Aug 30, 2012; Provo, UT, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach during warm-ups before a game against the Brigham Young Cougars at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
What should Cougar Nation expect from Mike Leach and the Cougars in 2013? 4 wins, 6 wins, a bowl game? Managing preseason expectations may be the hardest thing for any fan base and adding a shiny, new, big name coach like Mike Leach didn’t curb that enthusiasm in 2012.
Will 2013 be different?
Looking back on the 2012 season, expectations for Leach’s first year were high. Every day it seemed a new article was written not just locally but nationally. With all the positive national press it was easy to buy the hype and envision a bowl game for the Cougars in 2012.
With a little luck against BYU in the first test of the season, there was an easy path to winning the first four games (BYU, Eastern WA, UNLV and Colorado) which could have set up an early Pac-12 undefeated showdown with Oregon. Even the most fervent Kool-Aid drinker would concede the Oregon game. This would give WSU a 4-1 record with seven games to play and only two wins away from bowl eligibility.
After that it was a grab bag for wins, pick up one against Oregon State -whom we always play close. Another against UCLA – they never play well in November in Pullman. Finally, we should be able to get one more from Cal, ASU or the Huskies. Done! Seven wins and the first bowl game for the Cougars since 2003 -a virtual cake walk.
As we all know; that didn’t happen. The Cougars didn’t show up for their opener with BYU and for only the 3rd time in Mike Leach’s coaching career his offense failed to score a TD. The path to four wins became three and the seven win season now became six. After close wins against Eastern and UNLV, the 6 game scenario and those preseason expectations were shattered with a late 4th quarter loss to Colorado.
Looking back, those preseason expectations for 2012 should have been tempered, greatly. Leach was taking over a team who had only won nine games in four seasons under Paul Wulff. That is really all we needed to know going into 2012.
With a year under his belt, the vaunted Air-Raid offense fine-tuned and with players that Coach Leach and staff handpicked, can we expect more than 3 wins from Leach and the Cougars in 2013? Maybe, but if history has taught us one thing, it is to reign in those expectations and just wait for the season to unfold.