Interview with Mike Leach
March 14, 2013
Football Coach Mike Leach sat down with Cougars Quarterly on National Signing Day, Feb. 6, to talk Cougar Football, facilities, Pullman, his love of history and movies, and his upcoming book about Geronimo.
CQ: As you reflected on the past year what surprised you?
Leach: I think the surprise would be the emergences of some of our freshmen, but from the beginning I knew that we were a work in progress. I'm proud of the fact that we are steadily improving.
CQ: Did you learn anything new or is this a profession that you're always learning?
Leach: You're always learning. No question.
CQ: What was the emphasis with this recruiting class?
Leach: Offensive and defensive linemen. We needed size and depth.
CQ: What is the focus entering spring ball and into next season?
Leach: The first focus is improvement but the other focus is seeing what players are emerging and developing their skills so as they continue to work they can get on the field.
CQ: A non-football question. You are a student of history. What is it about history that you love?
Leach: First of all, you don't need to go to the television set to find drama. We are in the middle of it. There are incredible stories and levels of achievement in the past. There are a lot of lessons to be learned.
CQ: You are working on a book about Geronimo?
Leach: The opportunity to work with a historian like (WSU professor) Buddy Levy on a book about Geronimo, who was certainly incredibly courageous and a visionary, is a rare opportunity and one I couldn't pass up.
CQ: Do you take what Geronimo represents and apply it to your coaching?
Leach: I think so. We'll illustrate some of those points in the book. Not specifically in the context of coaching, but working with groups of people and what a group of people together can achieve and accomplish; some of the forces and influences that bind them, hold them together, motivate them and drive them.
CQ: Speaking of history, have you seen any of the Oscar-nominated movies, such as Zero Dark Thirty and Argo?
Leach: Yes, Zero Dark Thirty I liked. It felt like a documentary but I liked it and enjoyed it. I saw Argo. I was in high school when those events took place and I remember them. It was impressive to see the inside story about that on the screen.
CQ: Did you see Lincoln?
Leach: I saw Lincoln. I think Daniel Day-Lewis will be Best Actor because as you sit through the movie I found myself sub-vocalizing some of the phrases and trying to morph into Lincoln because of the effective job he did.
CQ: Any other favorites?
Leach: Django Unchained is my personal favorite. More my type of movie. The most impressive is how quickly he (director Quentin Tarantino) can develop and illustrate characters and even though they're over the top, they still stay within a semi-realistic fashion and I thought it was really impressive.
CQ: Is Pullman a town that you've developed a fondness for?
Leach: I'm really excited about Pullman because despite what others may say, this is the truest of college towns. My family loves Pullman. It's a beautiful place that has all the seasons. It's a place where a football player can focus on academics and football, and be as successful as his talents will allow him.
CQ: How important are these new facilities (premium seating and football operations building) to your program?
Leach: The new facilities are gigantic. Washington State's been behind for a while on facilities. The most important thing about facilities is the efficiency that it allows players and coaches to do their jobs. I think it is a great showpiece on campus and ultimately will create more space for the other sports. They will be the finest football facilities in the Pac-12.
CQ: What stands out to you about the Cougar fan base since you started here?
Leach: The most intense, excited, supportive fans ever. Anywhere you go if there's a sign of a fellow Coug you know it's an exclusive club that we're all proud to be a member of.
CQ: Finally, what does it mean to you to be a Coug?
Leach: All the stuff I've already said. I've always been excited about the opportunity to work with young men in one of the most memorable periods in their life and, from a team standpoint, to be a part of a community and a football tradition that you have the opportunity to share with fans nationwide. What makes football great is the opportunity to share it with your school and your fans. Me, my coaches and team are proud to be a part of Washington State University.
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