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Originally published Monday, October 8, 2012 at 8:02 PM

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Washington State coach Mike Leach calls for performance ahead of pats on the back

Washington State coach Mike Leach said Monday that his players need to be more concerned about their performance than propping each other up and making sure everyone is happy.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Saturday

California @ WSU,

7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks

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Connor Halliday is retaining his starting job as the Washington State quarterback for the game Saturday night in Pullman against California, coach Mike Leach confirmed Monday.

Some of Leach's other comments on his 2-4 football team, especially regarding senior leadership and the internal culture, raised eyebrows at his weekly teleconference.

Asked about senior leadership, Leach called it mixed.

"Some of it's stellar," he said. "(But) some of them have had this zombielike, go-through-the-motions, that's-how-it's-always-been, that's-how-it-will-always-be, empty-corpse quality.

"That's not pleasant to say or think about, but it's a fact. That's why it's been necessary to have the youth movement we have."

Leach also decried what he called "way too much salesmanship" within the team — psyches being propped up in lieu of winning performance.

"That's a bunch of crap," he said. "At some point, a guy's gotta get out there and say, 'I work hard at this, it means something to me,' rather than all these little boosts and dust-offs and pats on the back. We're crazy on that thing.

"We're more concerned about relationships and people being happy than performing, and until we put performance in front of that, it's going to take awhile. We can make the decision and it happens today, right now, or we can drag our feet, and the players and coaches that it's meaningful to, we need to get those other guys on board — either that, or get 'em out of here."

Leach later clarified that he was talking about internal forces, rather than players being enabled from the outside. In 2009, he had a celebrated news conference after his heavily favored Texas Tech team lost by 22 points to Texas A&M when he said of his players, "We failed to make our coaching points more compelling than their fat, little girlfriends."

WSU has twice failed to score a touchdown in its six games, and its chance is waning for the six-win season necessary for a bowl game.

Leach called the offensive performance against Oregon State "a disaster," and more generally, said, "We don't embrace adversity, and understanding that there's no real satisfaction unless you do something that's difficult."

Leach said he's sticking with Halliday despite a three-interception day at OSU when he was replaced twice by senior Jeff Tuel.

"He's been playing the best until he threw three interceptions," Leach said. "We're at the point where we have to invest the reps in somebody."

Leach added that Tuel "is one of the greatest team guys I've ever been around. If he was our quarterback, I'd feel real comfortable."

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com


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