Live chat with WSU football coach Mike Leach
Highlights of Tuesday's live chat with new Cougars coach Mike Leach.
Mike Leach, the new football coach at Washington State, talked about his impressions of Pullman, his pirate persona and hiring a defensive coordinator in a live chat Tuesday.
Q: Do you have a defensive scheme that you prefer or will you let the new defensive coordinator decide that?
Leach: Both. I like multiple fronts. I think you have to do something to keep the offense off balance. There are a lot of ways to do that, and some of that is based on the philosophy of the coordinator.
Q: When will your defensive coordinator be named?
Leach: I have several names in mind, which I'm not going to reveal. We expected to get that completed by the end of the AFCA Convention. That's Jan. 8-12.
Q: Are you planning on running a two-quarterback offense? Or will we have a clear starter between Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday?
Leach: I don't expect a two-quarterback offense. I've never done it that way. Occasionally circumstances can require that, but I don't anticipate that. It limits your quarterbacks' reps. But it's good to have them both good enough.
Q: Do you ever get sick of the whole pirates thing?
Leach: It's not something I selected. It all started when Michael Lewis wrote an article on me, and he interviewed players who heard a speech I gave when I used a replica of a pirates sword. ... I've gotten (pirate) flags, pins, swords, books, hats, Mickey Mouse ears with pirates stuff on them. A sterling silver skull and crossbones. Posters and paintings. I got a six-foot skeleton. It's all in storage in Lubbock. I'm still getting it.
Q: What has surprised you the most about WSU?
Leach: The commitment and the family nature of the athletic department and the staff. And the fans and their enthusiasm around things. They're really excited about all things Cougar, and that has been really impressive. The spirit of our fans.
Q: What are some of the things you tell recruits about Pullman?
Leach: I tell 'em what should excite them about the place is what excites me. It's a beautiful place. And the association with the fellow students. We're in a town of about 30,000, yet there's 26,000 students here. Eight miles away there's Moscow and the University of Idaho. You consider the variety of things around here. The geography — flatlands, rolling hills, mountains, lakes, streams. You've got skiing, yet you're close to metropolitan areas. It's a true college setting. When you have that, the students and college experiences are a lot tighter.
Q: Have you done any cow-tipping yet?
Leach: Maybe there are some folks in Pullman who can get me back in practice. I grew up in Wyoming, so this cow-tipping stuff is nothing new for me.
Q: Do you plan on bringing in any junior-college offensive linemen?
Leach: Yeah, we may. We're looking at some now. We'll see what happens.
Q: Do you hate the color purple yet?
Leach: Honestly, I'm indifferent. Washington's an exciting rivalry. Can't wait to play them and I think it's going to be an exciting game.
Q: What are the top one or two life lessons you hope to teach these young men?
Leach: We always talk about three goals: Be a team, be the best at doing your job and be the most excited to play. We also talk about respecting everyone, fearing no one. Anytime you face a challenge, don't be afraid of it.
Q: You have a great returning class of receivers, including Marquess Wilson. How would you compare him to Michael Crabtree?
Leach: I think they're similar. They both have a lot of versatility. Wilson's faster, but Crabtree's thicker. When both get the ball in their hands, good things happen. They're both good in the air, too.
Q: Who wins in a fight: a great white or a grizzly bear? In waist-deep water?
Leach: If it's fresh water, I think a grizzly bear. If it's saltwater, I'm going to go with a great white. Grizzly could tap that joker on the head pretty good. But those great whites get 10 yards long.
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