So folks...what in the world is happening over at good old Wazzu?
It seems as if the wheels are falling off the old crimson apple cart before the Mike Leach regime has even truly begun. Accusations of physical, emotional, and verbal abuse are running rampant all over the Palouse. WSU President Elson Floyd has asked his compliance department and the Pac 12 conference to conduct separate investigations into the charges.
Infamous Coug-a-phobe Jim Moore and former head coach - broadcaster Jim Walden aren't exactly in the Leach camp either. Even before the Marquess Wilson accusations became public they were already performing their own hatchet job on Leach and his staff's creative motivation techniques.
Jim Walden isn't very impressed. He says that Leach is a complete joke as a coach and has crossed the line with the public criticism of his players. Walden says that the program has given up its (I'm not making this up) "decency" as Cougars. Since when has a Cougar of any kind ever been described as being decent?
Walden goes on to say that he has spoken with "umpteen" coaches from around the country and they all agree that what Leach and his staff are doing is an embarrassment to the profession. Once again those statements were all made well before Marquess Wilson went directly to the press with accusations of mistreatment.
Currently there are a number of different schools of thought about what is actually going on. The Cougar coaches are denying that they have been abusing the players and have pointed out that the media has been a witness to their behavior at every single practice.
"We don't have anything to hide around here. Quite frankly, you in particular know we don't have anything to hide, right? You were in an elevated view of the whole thing. As a matter of fact, you're going to be one of the first people I'm going to direct these people (investigators) toward ... the great thing is, I've got an eyewitness."
A large segment of the Cougar faithful are defending Leach and his supposed character building/culture changing behavior during his first season at Washington State. They nostalgically link it to the death march days of Bear Bryant, Jim Owens, and Bert Clark.
Clark was a former Owens (UW) assistant who took over at WSU in the early 60's and instituted his own Owens/Bryant style death of march to purge the weak from the roster. Dick Bard was a team captain for Clark back in those days and has many fond memories of being one of the survivors.
Walden had these comments about playing for Southern coaches during that time period:
"I know I didn't take 10 teams to bowl games, but I played football for many different coaches, and not a one ever tried to destroy my dignity. I grew up in the South. No one can mistreat you more than football coaches in the South. I was brought up in that environment, but none of ‘em ever tried to take away my dignity."
WSU AD Bill Moos has been protective of his (newly hired and very expensive coach) and feels that after an investigation is concluded that Leach and his staff will be fully vindicated. Moos wants to start and finish the in house part of the investigation between now and Friday if possible.
"Ideally, we'd like to have it wrapped up by the end of the week," said Moos. "If there is any evidence of wrongdoing, we want to address it immediately, but it also sits as a distraction, and distractions don't play in favor of being successful in the field of competition. We want to be thorough, but I think also timely."
Short term most insiders predict that Leach and his staff are going to survive this little fiasco (unless there is a hidden equipment shed out there that they don't know about). That doesn't mean that the rumors, allegations, and Leach's own big mouth haven't done significant damage to the WSU program going forward.
This can't be helping recruiting. Parents are going to be concerned and suspicious about how their sons are going to be treated at Washington State. Opposing coaches are going to use it when recruiting against Leach and his staff. Only five of the eighteen players he has recruited so far for the 2013 class hail from Washington.
Be sure of one thing. The Pirate does things his own way and he doesn't really care about how that way is being perceived.
He decided way before spring practice even began to break his best player (and biggest head case) as a way of making an example to the team. Wilson was going to conform to what Leach wanted or he was going to be crushed. I'm actually surprised that he lasted as long as he did.
Leach kicked three of his best defenders off the team for rules violations before the season even started. Leach wasn't as interested in the coming season as much as he was interested in rebuilding the entire foundation of Cougar football to his specifications going forward.
Everyone knows that Leach needed to run a bunch of players out of the program this year. He probably needs to keep doing that even into next season so he can make room for the improved talent he needs on the roster to compete in this conference.
All first year coaches who take over losing programs need to do that. Leach is just doing it in a more visibly vulgar manner. They say it is one thing to eat the sausage and it is a completely different thing to get a glimpse of how the sausage is being made over at Wazzu.
I think I will just stick with my trusty Sark Dog.
The Very Best of Mike Leach
"I think it's mixed. I think with some it's stellar... some of them have been great and some of them have been very poor. Some of them have had this zombie-like, go-through-the-motions, that's how it's always been and that's how it'll always be. Some of them, quite honestly, have an empty-corpse quality."
"Quite frankly, if after today you see anything on Twitter from our team and I don't care if it says, 'I love life,' I would like to see it because I will suspend them."
"How do you drop four balls? If your hands weren't in the way, they'd have hit you in the face. All of a sudden our fragile little receivers are going into the end zone and getting frightened, so then all of a sudden they can't catch the ball."
"I could care less. If we don't like it, stop it ... . if we're too stupid to line up to it, it's our own damn fault."
"The offensive line's effort "bordered on cowardice."
"Our five couldn't whip their two, which means if five of our guys went in an alley and got in a fight with two of theirs, we would have gotten massacred. That's just ridiculously inexcusable. It was one of the most heartless efforts up front I've seen; and our defensive line wasn't any better."
"Our effort today was pitiful. Utah's team deserves a lot of credit. They're not that good; we're not that bad. Despite what the score was, they could have beat us by 100 today."
"Typically if I am asked a question, I'll give an honest answer. Evidently there is some dissatisfaction with that."