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Leach: Wazzu seniors ‘zombie-like,’ have ‘empty-corpse quality’

Mike Leach AP

From the man enthralled with pirates and who brought the phrase “fat little girlfriends” into the college football lexicon, would you expect anything less?

Mike Leach‘s hiring at Washington State earlier this year was widely hailed as a turning point for the moribund football program.  Six games into a tenure that injected some much-needed new life into the fan base, the Cougars have just two wins — one of those against an FCS school — with an offense that, statistically, lags behind last year’s four-win squad.

At a press conference earlier in the week, Leach took the opportunity to publicly lambaste some, but not all, of the seniors he inherited from the lost Paul Wulff regime.

“Some of them have been great and some of them have been very poor,” Leach said of the seniors. “Some of them have had kind of this zombie-like, go through the motions, everything is like how it’s always been, that’s how it’ll always be. Some of them quite honestly have an empty-corpse quality. That’s not pleasant to say or pleasant to think about, but that’s a fact. That’s why it’s been necessary for us to have the youth moment that we’ve had.”

In fairness to the players in question — true, fifth-year or otherwise — Wazzu won just nine games and lost 40 during the four years with Wulff in charge, never winning more than four games in a single season and winning a total of four (four!!!) PAC-12 games in that miserable four-year span.  Regardless of Wulff’s presence or not, the program as a whole has been in a nearly decades-long malaise; since concluding a three-year stretch of 10-win seasons in 2003, the Cougars have not finished a year with an above-.500 record.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Leach and fully understand the hand that’s been dealt and the desire to change the football culture in Pullman.  Just don’t know if publicly throwing a group of beaten-down seniors under the bus is the correct tack to take.

In an electrical closet, yes.  Under a bus, probably not.

(Tip O’ the Cap: EDSBS)

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10 Responses to “Leach: Wazzu seniors ‘zombie-like,’ have ‘empty-corpse quality’”
  1. southernpatriots says: Oct 10, 2012 11:10 PM

    JT:

    “In an electrical closet, yes. Under a bus, probably not.” I get your inference as well, throwing them “under a bus” is public, “in an electric closet” is much more private, and of course the jolt…ha. But I feel for Leach. He did not take a program ready to excel. He took a very tough job, which would take rebuilding it from years of ….well we know.

    We aren’t in Coach Mike’s shoes and do not see what he sees, but hopefully good comes from his very public statement, and the veterans come through to lead by example the younger guys. Mike Leach is one of the refreshing and humorous motivators in college coaching.

    I hope he sees greater effort this week and he has coaches with him that can help motivate the young men.

  2. pdcooper08 says: Oct 11, 2012 1:06 AM

    Sometimes when their’s change, you don’t always get everyone to buy in. Sounds like some of those seniors have cashed it in and are more interested in other things.

    I don’t get it. I would think at some point there pride and self respect for the game and the University would kick in.

    At some point you cut your loses. So maybe public humiliation is the answer. Who knows maybe it will motivate a few of them to work harder. Will see. In the mean time, theirs a bunch of happy youngsters getting all the reps.

  3. lanza2 says: Oct 11, 2012 2:44 AM

    As a student at WSU, Leach is exactly right. These guys go through the motions and have not taken grasp of whats in front of them. They are more worried about the after party before the game even starts.
    Leach will inject this program with youth that wants to play 4 quarters and not just suck down a beer bong.
    Go Cougs

  4. Bretterson says: Oct 11, 2012 4:28 AM

    Paul Wulff did nothing but tell this group of players, and the world, that they were fantastic for not losing by quite as many points towards the end of his tenure than they had at the beginning.

    Leach is absolutely right to call them out, because they’re numb to the feeling of losing – and in fact thrive on moral victories thanks to Wulff’s ineptitude and attitude.

  5. addict2sport says: Oct 11, 2012 8:32 AM

    Hey Leach, how about you coach them up? No need throw anyone under the bus because you aren’t where you thought you might me. Time to coach!

  6. florida727 says: Oct 11, 2012 9:50 AM

    I like Leach’s move here. He has nothing to lose. He’s rid of the deadweight after this year anyway, so if his rip energizes them to perform better, he gets a short-term boost yet this year. It also sends an expectation message to the remaining players and any incoming potential recruits, which could pay dividends down the road. I think Leach measures his words more carefully than people think, and sends the exact message he wants to send, exactly when he wants to send it. He’s probably just the guy that can turn that program around. Good luck, Coach.

  7. normtide says: Oct 11, 2012 10:30 AM

    I doubt Leach just called then out like that, without having prior one on one conversions with them first. What is he supposed to do? Allow that culture to pass on to his younger guys? After years off losing, it is easy to drop your focus. He is trying to light a fire under some of these kids, which is better then just cutting them from the team before their attitude spreads.

  8. inconsonance says: Oct 11, 2012 4:37 PM

    normtide, I don’t think you’re all that familiar with The Mike Leach Way™. He seriously does not give two shits what he says or to whom it’s said. That’s probably the thing I like about him the most. The part of his brain responsible for filtering out the things that most of us would never verbalize is on a permanent vacation. There’s no engaging in coach speak, no telling people what they want to hear, and that’s a welcome change of pace.

    If he did say anything to the players before making these comments publicly, it was probably the same speech, only longer and a little more profane. Some people might take his words and methods the wrong way, but you can never say that his players don’t know where they stand with him.

  9. Deb says: Oct 11, 2012 5:08 PM

    After a professor/editor at Mizzou had shredded my work for the umpteenth time, I asked if he did that with every student. He said, “No … only the ones that can take it.” Maybe that’s why I love Mike Leach. He uses the same kind of colorful criticisms my editor used. I still remember the most embarrassing word for word … just like his players will probably remember being called empty corpses. My editor made me a better, harder-working writer. If they can take it, Leach will make those guys better players.

  10. dmcgrann says: Oct 11, 2012 11:28 PM

    Okay. Mike Leach has no social filters. That’s not always a good thing. Sometimes that just means you’re a sociopath. I don’t follow him and haven’t followed his career that much. From what I can tell, he’s probably considered to be unemployable by most schools in the FBS.

    Deb, I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes the harshest critics among your teachers make you lots better. It’s an absolute truth that it CAN happen, but it’s not an absolute truth that such actions guarantee results.

    And, if “The Mike Leach Way” truly is based on “not giving two shits about what he says or to whom it is said”, well, that’s a popular feeling among some folks I know, especially to the west of here.

    And also “Honey Boo Boo Chile” and her “fambly”.

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