Jan. 10, 2012
Editors Note: The following is featured in the 2012 Winter edition of Cougars Quarterly. The publication is sent to Cougar Athletic Fund members and season ticket holders. To learn more about the Cougar Athletic Fund click HERE or call 1-877-IMA-COUG. For WSU Athletics ticket information click HERE
Cougars Quarterly talks with new Cougar Head Football Coach Mike Leach, Dec. 6, the day of his introductory press conference.
CG: What struck you about this team?
Coach Leach: It struck me as a team where everybody is pulling in the same direction and it's a place where you can win. Bill Moos pedigree as an athletic director is exciting to me. He has a lot of success in the past, he's a guy that's got a lot of vision and trusts people to do their job.
CG: What is the toughest thing about transitioning into a program?
Coach Leach: The transition coming into a program is funny and it's almost opposite with how you like it. When you first come in you're not real familiar with the players you already have, and the recruiting calendar is such that as soon as you get to a place you leave immediately. You go out to recruit players to hit the recruiting window. Then, after recruiting is when you really get to know your players. You try to do a little of both along the way. It's difficult. I guess the better situation would be to come in get to know your players for a month and then go recruiting but that's not how they make it happen.
CG: How did the pirate phenomenon happen?
Coach Leach: How that all happened is one time I gave my team at Texas Tech a speech and I had a sword, a pirate sword that I used as a prop. We talked about how are you going to swing your sword? Are you going to swing it frantic and out of control where you get stabbed because you have bad technique. Or are you going to swing it passive and tentative and get stabbed because you are hiding your head and not seeing what happens? Or are you going to do it with control and precision and what you practiced to execute? After the pirate speech, Michael Lewis, who wrote "Moneyball," did a piece for the New York Times Magazine, and he interviewed several of my players and he talked about that pirate speech. It went worldwide and pirate flags popped up everywhere. I got the best pirate memorabilia you can imagine. I got hats, I got books, I got skeletons, and I got flags. So I got a bunch of cool gear and it's stuck ever since. The fans have had a lot of fun with it.
CG: When you hear of the rich quarterback tradition of WSU, what comes to mind?
Coach Leach: Unbelievable, stunning how many. You go right through the list and there's six that have played in the NFL and it's unbelievable. Most of them came from Washington or nearby, Jason (Gesser) came from Hawaii, but very impressive.
CG: What is your message to Cougars?
Coach Leach: We're looking forward to great things but a football program is always a partnership. It's a huge partnership with the fans. We need your help to build this into something that we can be proud of. A football program is not just the football team out there playing, it's the partnership with everyone else involved, and we look forward to having the opportunity to closely associate with you for years to come.