It’s been more than two weeks since Washington State went out and hired Mike Leach to take over as its head football coach. The former Texas Tech coach, who was out of coaching the past two seasons after his controversial dismissal, says now that the initial news has worn off and his phone stopped ringing, he’s settled into the role and is having fun.
Some obvious first projects for Leach are going out and recruiting his first class, and also figuring out what he’s going to do at the quarterback position. Gone are the days where the Cougars posted double-digit victories in the early 2000s. They’ve won just nine games in the past four seasons.
Mike Leach joined KJR in Seattle with Ian Furness and Jason Puckett to discuss if he’s realized that he’s back yet, if anything has surprised him at this point, his quarterback options, what he likes to see in a quarterback, his defensive philosophy and what he’s planning on doing on the recruiting trail.
Have you had that moment where you’ve just said, ‘I’m back?’:
“It’s more steady than that. Really, just prior to the press conference, it’s fast and furious and a series of looking at logistics. The phone rings off the hook and it really doesn’t stop. There’s really not a moment for pause but what it does is just one steady activity after the next. There’s way more than you can ever get to. … It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of variety, but you’re constantly doing something.”
Has there been anything up to this point that’s really surprised you?:
“Not really. I guess one thing that’s very positive is kind of the teamwork effort, how smart and sharp everybody here is and the direction set by our athletic director.”
Give us a scouting report on the quarterbacks so far:
“They’re tall, physical guys. They’re tough; I like that. They’ve both won games. They’re both passers; they’re good at throwing the ball and I think really a good starting point as far as guys to work with.”
What’s the one thing, for you, that you must see with a quarterback?:
“They have to be accurate and make good decisions. They have to be able to select the right guy to throw it to and then you have to be accurate when you throw it to them. Then, after that, you want them to be pretty good leaders. You want the other people to kind of draw from them. … You want a guy that can get the best out of the players around him and some of that is sort of presence, charisma and personality and both these guys exhibit that.”
What is the defense out there that you want to execute?:
“I think you win on all sides of the ball. You win games on defense, you win them on offense, you win them on special teams. … The other thing is, defensively, don’t be afraid to make a mistake and try to make something happen out there. I expect our defense to be aggressive and that type of thing. Our defenses there in Lubbock, we won 29 games in the last three years and we had some great defensive efforts to do that. Our last year, our defense was maybe the better side of our team.”
Do you go after anyone and everyone in the state or try to find guys and develop them?:
“We go after anybody, especially guys that have an interest and sometimes what they do compliment what we do scheme-wise. … I think you try to hit on all of it. I think anybody’s fair game. I think our staff, this school, this administration, everybody, has a lot to offer.”