Photo courtesy of The Spokesman Review. One of Coach Leach’s prouder moments.
After their latest Apple Cup loss to their cross-state rivals the Washington State Huskies, I went into my Cougar Cave, in shame. There was no way I was going to write another article about how awful we played against the Dawgs (not a good enough reason I know, but this was how I felt). I have been a Cougar since 1992, when I was accepted to the University after three years of deciding what to do. They were willing to take a chance on me so I took the bait, something I will never regret.
But I will admit it, I was embarrassed and ashamed. I didn’t like the direction the football program was going. I didn’t know what else to do. In December the football team traveled to Arizona to play in the Cheez-it Bowl. The football team had qualified for their fifth straight bowl game after a dismal 6-6 season. Their opponents, the Air Force Academy, weren’t going to be a pushover, but I thought my Alma mater had this. There was no way they would play as bad as they did in the Apple Cup. In my eyes, I was proven wrong. It didn’t seem like they had a clue out on the field. Our season ended in a loss and we finished with a 6-7 record, our first losing season in quite a while. In my eyes, Coach Mike Leach had given up.
The off-season came and so did the Coach Leach rumor of him interviewing with other college football teams. Would he accept this job, or this one? He surprised us all by getting his contract extended another couple of years. Mike Leach would be here for the next five years!! That was the best Christmas present ever to Cougar Nation. The Air-Raid offense won’t be leaving anytime soon.
On Thursday January 9th, 2020 the Pirate Mike Leach turned out the lights on his Pullman career as he shocked Cougar Nation by accepting a job to be the next head football coach at Mississippi State. Coach Mike Leach took over in November of 2011 as the head coach of the Washington State Cougars. He coached the Cougars from 2012 to 2019, leading them to a record of 55-47. Coach Leach took his team to a record five straight bowl games (total of six bowl games during his career in Pullman) finishing with a bowl game record of 2-4. Leach’s offense finished in the top 10 in passing yards per game all eight years he coached the Cougars, proving his “Air-Raid” offense was effective.
— Washington State Football (@WSUCougarFB) January 9, 2020
Mike Leach turned around the Washington State football program in a hurry and made the Cougars a legitimate football program and school. He put Cougar Nation on the map once again. High School kids wanted to come play for our winning football program in the Palouse. Thank you, Coach Mike Leach, for all you did for Washington State University. Thank you for making it fun for the players, for the alumni and for all the fans across the world. Finally, thank you for bringing Gardner Minshew to Cougar Nation at a time when we were devastated by our loss of Tyler Hilinski. 2018 was something special as Cougar Nation became a family once again, something I won’t ever forget. We owe you a lot Pirate Mike Leach, best of luck to you down in the SEC with your new program. At least you get to play in a better conference, a conference that isn’t run by someone named Larry Scott. I bet you are thrilled to move on.
Before I say goodbye to the Pirate, I need to say a couple final things. Coach Leach, the timing of your departure is terrible. The program is close to signing day for new recruits that you and your staff went out to get. What’s going to happen now? Will they de-commit? Maybe I’m overreacting, but I think this is two steps back for the football program.
Shouldn’t he have gone to Pullman first to talk to his players at WSU? But maybe this is how it works with coaching changes. https://t.co/VdbURAymvJ
— Jim Moore (@cougsgo) January 9, 2020
How about the current status of the team! These are your players Coach. Did you even say goodbye to them? They are still young kids Mr. Mike Leach. I don’t think that is right for you to do this to them. Coach Leach, your mind was made up during the season. We could tell by your reactions on and off the field ever since the UCLA flare-up. The way you addressed the team was unacceptable. I know you were frustrated but this doesn’t give you the right to act that way. Why didn’t you just accept a new job back in November or December when most normal coaches do. The University will react and move on because our Athletic Director Patrick Chun is amazing at his job. He will find the right person to take over for you and make us forget you sooner than later.
With that said, go ahead and set sail on your pirate ship Mike Leach. Enjoy your new challenges in the SEC. Washington State University and Cougar Nation is thankful for all you did over your 8 years in Pullman. Thanks for the millions of memories you left for us, memories that we will cherish forever.
Alex Grinch? One of Mike Leach’s many Air Raid disciples? Someone else?
— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) January 10, 2020
After writing this column I realize that this will be good for my beloved Alma Mater. To our beloved Cougar football players (including recruits), have faith. I understand the reasons why you may not stay or sign with the program but don’t give up hope. Patrick Chun is an outstanding Athletic Director and will get the right person for the head coaching job. I almost gave up hope, but I realized how this is a blessing in disguise. Goodbye Coach! See you in the funny papers.
Pat Chun on #WSU's signees and recruits: "I'll communicate directly with them in due time."
— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) January 9, 2020
Transcript: Everything #WSU AD Pat Chun said today about Mike Leach's departure & the program's plans going forward.
— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) January 10, 2020