Washington State is 2-9 heading into Friday's Apple Cup, guaranteed to finish at least one win shy of last season's total. That dropoff has left Jim Moore searching for reasons and wondering whether the Cougars are playing hard for coach Mike Leach, whose first season in Pullman has been tumultuous.
That background leads us to Leach's conversation with "The Kevin Calabro Show" on Wednesday.
Leach became a little irritated when asked by Moore whether the players are "unified in their effort and their support" of Leach and whether they would "go through a wall" for their head coach.
"And in that stack of articles you've got sitting there I'm sure you could probably find a dozen other teams that are playing with 15 other freshmen, and then I'd also like to know how those guys are doing. Now, those guys are running through the wall. And the fact that you happen to be dissatisfied really doesn't mean a great deal to me or this team here."
Moore then contended he doesn't have an agenda and is merely wondering why the team is 2-9.
"If your opinion really mattered to me, you'd probably be invited to some of the staff meetings around here," Leach responded, "and unless that invitation's gotten lost in the mail, I don't guess you were."
It then got a little lighter. But further context is required when detailing what happened next.
Leach's contract includes a $25,000 bonus for winning the Apple Cup. Moore, as he explained once the interview ended, recently asked Leach if he would use some of that money to buy drinks at a Pullman bar for Washington State fans if the Cougars beat Washington. Leach had apparently agreed.
More context: during another recent conversation, Leach had described to Moore a giant owl that resides in Leach's back yard.
Leach referenced that owl when Moore asked jokingly whether their contentious conversation meant Moore and his dog wouldn't be seeing Leach at the bar Friday night.
"Well as it stands right now, I'm going to sick that owl on your dog at the rate you're going," Leach said.
As for the the Cougars' effort – something Leach has been critical of at times this season – he said that wasn't an issue in last week's 46-7 loss to Arizona State. He described it as the opposite.
"I think there was a frantic quality," he said. "I think we went out there and we played really hard and then I think we tried to make too much happen. And then it's like one of those things where you over-run and miss tackles, you over-step and miss blocks. It was one of those frantic deals."