Updated Dec 6, 2011 - 10:43 am
Leach arrives in Pullman - Press conference at 12pm
Photo credit: WSU Athletics
Today at 12:00pm, the Cougs will officially introduce Mike Leach as the 33rd head coach of Washington State University. You can watch it all at www.wsucougars.com .
It is quite clear by the response in the past few days that during this press conference, or perhaps shortly after, the head of every Cougar fan across this great nation will simultaneously explode. This is the level of excitement we're dealing with here. It is certainly the biggest off-field event in Cougar history, and probably ranks up there with some of the biggest on-field happenings as well.
Yes, Mike Leach is a big name in college football, and easily the biggest hire ever at WSU, but I think there's something more to it.
Mike Leach is not just a big name, he's the perfect fit.
Let's say that somehow Bill Moos went out and hired Kevin Sumlin, for example. He's perhaps the hottest coaching commodity in the nation right now. His offenses are out of this world and his record is spotless. But would there be this sort of excitement if he was being announced today? Nope.
What about the other guy on Moos's radar, Mike Bellotti? He's another big name, highly sought-after, fantastic record, and a coach of an exciting brand of football. Would he rile up the Cougs like Leach? No sir.
Cougar fans have lost their minds because Mike Leach and WSU are perfect for each other. Like I said last week , prior to Leach's hiring: We are kindred spirits.
He's weird. We're weird. Go Cougs.
In the past few days, I've seen Cougs coming out of the woodwork, excited for the first time in a long time and absolutely reveling in the fact that they have a coach who loves pirates, hates stretching, does the local weather, has a nickname from fans of T.S.O. (The Strange One) and is too confident to care what people think about him. I see fans chomping at the bit to hear Leach speak - to deliver one of his famously unedited monologues - and hoping beyond hope that when the time is right, one of them will be directed toward UW.
I've seen fans coming together from all over the nation and joining Facebook groups like "Pirates of the Palouse" - a group that went from one to over 3000 members in a weekend - and having spirited discussions about why they can't wait to see what Mike Leach will do in Pullman. If you haven't all ready, you should check this group out, it's a pretty entertaining bunch. It's not just Cougs, it's Texas Tech fans, Mike Leach fans, and football fans alike.
And what about Leach? WSU is perfect for him as well. No other major school in the nation offers what WSU can - relative autonomy. Remember, the guy is a mad scientist. Mad scientists retreat to underground lairs to cook up their craziness. They want to be left alone to do their work. They can't operate under the microscope of a big program and a big city. In Pullman, Bill Moos will let Leach be Leach. And what about the media? There are two guys who cover the Cougs - one lives 100 miles away and the other lives 300 miles away and the rest of the "media" are dudes like me. And the scrutiny from the fans? Not to bring up a sore subject, but the Cougs just had a massive debate about firing a guy who won nine games in four years. So yeah, Leach will have time to work out his system.
So this is it, barely at the official day 1 of the Leach era and people are bouncing off the walls. The man hasn't hired a staff, spoken to a player, called a recruit or likely even seen his office yet. Are we a little premature in our excitement?
No, we are not.
This fan base is a rowdy, excitable bunch that has been lulled to sleep by nearly a decade of awful football. Now, there's a promise of something that we've spent many years only dreaming about - a return to top 10 finishes, games with meaning, and getting up on Saturday excited about more than seeing a flag on Gameday, but actually being a story of relevance on it. We have been dying for personality, and dying for an identity.
At noon, the perfect coach for WSU will be introduced and soon after, he'll begin the process of living up to the expectations. I'm not too worried, and you shouldn't be either. The rest of the conference certainly should, though.
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