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r. Maybe Id be an artist. It w

  • 1940
    PULLMAN, Wash. Under Armour Outlet . -- Mike Leach shunned convention a long time ago.Never mind his affinity for pirates or his politically incorrect mindset or his pass-happy Air Raid offense.If you want a dose of Mike Leach unplugged, try sitting in on one of his film sessions with his quarterbacks.Holding a remote control and munching on apple slices, Leach breaks down Washington States performance in the red zone from the previous days practice with surgical precision and sees things nobody else saw, from a glitch in a route by a receiver to a tendency of some sort that may help the Cougars on down the line.Then, without warning, almost in the same breath, really, hes on to mountain lions or how women are inherently better spellers than men, or the king of Sweden. There are also references to alkaline water and quarterback Luke Falk trying to turn his coach on to its benefits, not to mention blueberries and even Sgt. Slaughter. Yes, the former professional wrestler.You learn a lot just being around him, non-football things and football things, said Falk, yet another quarterback who has flourished in Leachs system, with 3,935 passing yards and 36 touchdowns this season. If you say any little thing in a meeting, it could spark something in his mind, any random fact that he knows. Youve got to be careful if you want to get out of the meeting early.But we do find some time to squeeze in a little football.Leach, his quirkiness surpassed only by his brilliant football mind, has found a way to squeeze out the kind of Pac-12 success at Washington State theyre not used to having on the Palouse. The No. 23 Cougars are 13-3 over their past 16 Pac-12 games dating back to last season, which is the best record in the league during that span, and they can earn their first trip to the Pac-12 championship game by defeating No. 5 Washington on Friday in one of the most anticipated Apple Cups ever. Only heightening the drama is the fact that Washington is still in the running for a College Football Playoff berth.Its not often that the eyes of the college football world descend upon the state of Washington for this late-November affair, but it also hasnt been often that Washington State plays in meaningful games this time of year. Leach has made the Cougars relevant, and he has done it his way.Moreover, he has done it, once again, at a place thats off the beaten path. Lubbock, Texas, was a sprawling metropolis compared to Pullman, Washington, which is the epitome of a small college town and tucked away on the Idaho border.Its always fun to build, and you want the challenges that go with that. Ive been at incredibly exciting places to be, said Leach, who was at Texas Tech for 10 seasons before being fired after the 2009 season.One of the things that was exciting about coming to Washington State is that we wanted to have an opportunity for our coaches and players to distinguish themselves and wanted a place that you could elevate and do something that hadnt been done for a while or, hopefully, ever.Even those closest to Leach will tell you that he can be an acquired taste. Hes gruff at times, always brutally honest, and he doesnt mind stepping on toes. Remember his rant about his team looking like a JC softball team after the Cougars dropped their first two games, including a loss to FCS foe Eastern Washington in the opener?Earlier this season, he also accused Arizona State of stealing signals and suggested local police were unfairly targeting Washington State players after three incidents involving alleged assaults by players.Thats one of the reasons we love playing for Coach Leach and respect him so much, said Gabe Marks, Washington States record-breaking senior receiver. You know exactly where you stand with him, and if you do your job, hes going to have your back.You better be able to take the truth if youre going to play for Coach Leach. Its the reason this team is so tough. How many teams would have been able to come back the way we have after those first two losses? A lot of teams would have folded. Not us. Im not worried about playing anybody. Were down to play anybody who wants to play.Its no coincidence that Leach is close with Steve Spurrier. Neither has much of a filter, and while Leach doesnt play golf, they both have been known to keep odd hours for coaches. For example, Leach might not get to the office some days until noon. Hes a renowned night owl and doesnt leave the office sometimes until 1 a.m. or later.And to the surprise of nobody, Leach has a life-sized statue of a singing pirate in his office. Leachs often repeated approach to life is to Swing Your Sword, which is also the title of his book. He said Bob and Pat Knight gave him the pirate (along with a leg lamp made famous in the movie A Christmas Story), and Leach returned the favor by giving Knight a Ulysses S. Grant sword.He was really ticked at his team, too, when I gave it to him, so the last time I saw that sword, my fingerprints were on it, and hopefully he wiped them off because I dont know what he did with that sword, joked Leach, who coached football at Texas Tech while Knight was the Red Raiders mens basketball coach.And, yes, Leach still walks to and from work on most days, no matter the hour, no matter the weather and no matter how hes feeling. Its a little more than 3 miles each way, and Leach says people do slow down occasionally late at night in their cars to make sure its him.Theyll roll down their windows and say, Coach Leach, is that you? Do you need a ride? Leach recounted with a chuckle. I tell them, No, I need the exercise.Its also his time to make most of his phone calls, and he has longed loved the outdoors. He has seen coyotes and foxes while walking home over the years. Asked if he has ever seen any cougars, he quipped, No, but I know theyre out there.Leach does his weekly radio show each week at a place in Pullman called Zeppoz. Its part bar, part bowling alley and part casino. Leach arrives every Thursday with little fanfare and is typically sporting his customary hooded sweatshirt and cargo shorts. He chats with a handful of fans afterward, might have a beer and then hoofs it back home across the Pullman countryside.Even when its snowing.I just put on my snow gear and trudge through, he said.Leach isnt just demanding on the football field. Hes a stickler for his players excelling in the classroom as well, and the results speak for themselves. The Washington State football team recorded a four-year average APR score of 965 the most recent academic year, an improvement from previous years score of 951, which until this year had been Washington States highest four-year average. In fact, each of Washington States past four APR averages have been the highest for the program, all coming under Leach.One of the biggest misnomers about Leach is that because he runs an Air Raid system on offense and throws the ball so much, he runs a finesse program. Second-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch found out pretty quickly that nothing could be further from the truth.He wants a tough football team, Grinch said. When you see an offense like this, you assume finesse. I know I did. But you go back to Mike and his background. Youre talking about a guy from Wyoming, and hes not a football guy in terms of playing the game. Hes a quarterback guy and wants to throw it. Thats just his philosophy in terms of how to move the football. Thats not his philosophy in terms of what he wants.He wants tough, freaking guys, and hes hard on the guys that way.The only thing Leach abhors more than finger-pointing and excuses is political correctness. Hes a friend and supporter of Donald Trump and sent him a text the day after the election, congratulating him and telling the president-elect he was ready to be his Secretary of Offense.Leach, who doesnt hold back on his team, said the country would be better off if people could speak freely.Wed be a lot better. A lot more problems would be solved, Leach said. What weve done in this country is we value not offending anyone, even one individual, over solving big problems for masses of people. Weve diverted all of our attention from solving problems to searching for little offenses and not even discussing problems because somebody might be offended. Its the most counterproductive thing in the world. Its a historical disgrace and sad. I hope that changes some with Trump.No, Leach isnt campaigning for a position in Trumps cabinet. For one, he has unfinished business at Washington State.Not only would a win over Washington give Washington State a chance to win its first Pac-12 championship since 2002, it would give the Cougars 14 Pac-12 wins over the past two years. Theyve never won more than 13 during a two-year stretch in school history.Washington State has invested in the football program, too, something that hasnt gone unnoticed by Leach. Martin Stadium was remodeled, including the addition of premium seating, in time for the 2012 season, while a new football operations building was ready for the 2014 season. All told, Washington State spent $140 million on the upgrades.Were an evolving program and still are to some degree, said Leach, dismissing the notion that the Cougars werent on many peoples radar when he arrived in 2012 on the heels of eight straight seasons without a winning record.Weve just got to make sure were on our own radar. Its an exciting place to go to school, to begin with. Anything we do, people here will remember forever. This conference is full of great places, but theyre typically urban places. You might have the game of your life, and you go down the street at those places, and they dont even know you had a game.Here, everybody knows, and thats exciting.Leach has been a hit with the fans. Tom and Linda Nihoul own a business in Spokane and are longtime donors and fans. Theyve missed fewer than 10 home games over the past 40 years. They went on a fishing trip with Leach last summer to Elfin Cove, Alaska, along with some other donors and said he was the life of the party.I can still see him there on the boat, with a big chew, holding a Rainier beer in one hand and studying his Spanish lesson in the other hand, Linda said. He was learning Spanish at the time, and wed talk about everything, some football, but a lot more than just football. Thats what makes him so interesting. Were glad hes our coach and glad hes not just like all the other coaches.Leach, 55, isnt sure what hed be doing if he werent coaching.He has his law degree and said the easy answer would be practicing law somewhere.But as time has evolved, maybe Id write more, said Leach, who reads at least 12 books a year. Maybe Id be an artist. It would also be fun to be a filmmaker and make a film from start to finish.If the Cougars win the Apple Cup on Friday for the first time since the 2012 season, his first film might be a given. UA Speedform™ Apollo Twist . The FA rejected Wilsheres appeal that the length of his punishment was "clearly excessive" and said Thursday his suspension begins with immediate effect. He will miss league matches against Chelsea on Monday and West Ham on Dec. Stephen Curry 2 Blue And Yellow . 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      April 9, 2018 1:42 AM MDT
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