Mike Leach isn’t a coach that you’d like to play for

Mike Leach isn’t a coach that you’d like to play for

Mike Leach has a long history of saying stuff that turns heads.

The former WSU coach has dished out dating advice, planted fake game scripts, and ranked the Pac-12 mascots he wants to fight. He even called Autzen Stadium “Middle Earth,” the fictional land in the Lord of the Rings franchise.

But not all of his memorable moments sat well with his former players.

Andre Dillard, who played with Leach at WSU from 2014-18, before being selected 22nd overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, said Leach isn’t a coach that you’d like to play for.

“He's just one of those guys who get results,” Dillard told Derek Johnson of Woodinville Sports. “But the way he gets results is frowned upon by the players. He never gave off any vibe that he cared about his players on a personal level. Playing for him felt a little bit like a dictatorship.”

Leach has been known to say some belittling things to his players. He called his team “soft” and his players “fat, dumb and happy and entitled.”

Dillard said the way Leach spoke to his players was something that personally bothered him.

“What kind of coach throws his entire team under the bus when things go wrong?,” Dillard said. “But he never put any blame on himself. Calling players out. Calling them fat and slow and saying he needs new players. He did that several times when I was there. it just wasn't good leadership.”

Dillard elaborated about some of Leach’s behaviors that bothered him, offering out this example from the Cougs 2016 loss to Boise State.

“He compared us to a junior college women's softball team,” Dillard said. “I was like `Dude, you need to chill out.’ The guys were offended by that.”

Leach, like Dillard, no longer resides in the wheat fields of the Palouse. In January, he agreed to become head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs football program.

“I’m just happy that he has moved on,” Dillard said. “But I do appreciate him giving me the opportunity to play there [at WSU].”

Dillard, heading into his second season with the Eagles, has been focused on altering his composition and getting stronger. He weighs 320 pounds, compared to his 240 pounds in Pullman.

The 24-year-old started four games at left tackle for the Eagles in 2019, while Jason Peters underwent a knee scope and Lane Johnson had a concussion.

Here’s how Klay Thompson told his parents he was going to WSU

Here’s how Klay Thompson told his parents he was going to WSU

Long before he was knocking down threes with the Golden State Warriors, Klay Thompson called the fields of the Palouse “home,” and he’s one of Washington State’s greatest legends.

In each of his three seasons at Wazzu, Thompson earned All-Pac-10 honors and shattered WSU single-season records, including points (733), and 3-point field goals.

But it wasn’t always clear Thompson would end up in Pullman. In fact, the five-time NBA All-Star thought he might end up at Notre Dame. 

"Klay wanted to play in the Pac-12 so bad," his father Mychal Thompson explained on the podcast "Raising Fame" with Dell and Sonya Curry. "I remember we left Notre Dame (on a recruiting visit), he said, 'Dad, I'm going to Notre Dame.' He was really impressed with the coaches and the whole school and everything.”

After a visit to Pullman, the tides soon shifted. Thompson knew WSU was his eventual home. So he did the most Klay Thompson thing ever and called his parents while in the house to let them know. 

"He made the choice himself. I think he called me from upstairs, 'Hey mom -- I committed to Washington State.' In the house, to tell us," Klay's mom, Julie, said. "He called to tell and I think we were in the house.

"It's fine. That's just Klay."

In just three seasons at WSU, Thompson became the Cougars third all-time leading scorer, averaging 17.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game, while draining a school-record 242 3-pointers. 

He was the 11th overall pick by the Warriors in the 2011 NBA Draft, becoming just the second Cougar to be chosen in the first round. In January, Thompson's No. 1 jersey was retired in a ceremony at Beasley Coliseum. 

“No matter what uni I put on, hopefully a Warrior for the rest of my career, but I will always be a Coug. I will always be a Coug," Thompson said during the halftime ceremony.

Washington State senior DB Bryce Beekman passes away

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USATI

Washington State senior DB Bryce Beekman passes away

Washington State senior defensive back Bryce Beekman has passed away. He was 22. 

According to reports, Pullman police responded to a call Tuesday afternoon to assist a person suffering from what the police log called "breathing problems."

When they arrived at the apartment belonging to Beekman, they found the Cougars football star unresponsive. 

He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Per the Pullman police, the cause of death is unknown, but there were no signs of foul play. 

The university released a statement Wednesday morning. 

“We are in shock with the news of Bryce’s passing,” WSU athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement. “Bryce was a tremendous young man, great teammate and will be missed by all. We send our deepest condolences and prayers to the Beekman family and his many friends.”

Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich, as well as former WSU head coach Mike Leach, took to social media to share their condolences. 

As the news spread around The Palouse, teammates, fans, and those who knew Beekman also took to social media.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Beekman's family, his teammates, and Washington State University. 

NFL Combine profile: Washington State QB Anthony Gordon

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USA Today Images

NFL Combine profile: Washington State QB Anthony Gordon

Anthony Gordon

Position: Quarterback
Year: Redshirt Senior
Hometown: Pacifica, California

Measurables: 

Height: 6’2 3/8" 

Weight: 205 pounds

Hand: 9 6/8"

Arm: 31

Wingspan: 73

Overview

Anthony Gordon will follow in the footsteps of Luke Falk and Gardner Minshew and become the third-straight Washington State quarterback to receive an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine.

In 2019, Gordon threw for 5,579 yards (best in the country) and 48 touchdowns with a 71.6 completion percentage. He was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week on three occasions, All-Pac-12 Second-team and a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award, a prestigious honor given to the nation’s best quarterback.

At the Senior Bowl in January, Gordon made his case for best player on the field. The 6-foot-3 quarterback had two touchdown passes and was 8-of-12 for 69 yards in the North’s 34-17 victory over the South.

Draft projections

Most projections have Gordon listed as the fifth or sixth quarterback off the board come draft day. This could put him anywhere in rounds 2-5.

Strengths

- Arm talent
- Good pocket awareness
- Quick release

Weaknesses
- Could face learning curve in different systems
- Needs to improve deep ball accuracy
- Progressions

Social media workouts

Gordon hired agent Steve Caric of Caric Sports Management ahead of the NFL Draft. He retweeted a video of himself working out alongside Oregon State tight end Noah Togiai.

Washington State’s Anthony Gordon to wear No. 3 jersey in honor of Tyler Hilinski at Senior Bowl

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USA Today Images

Washington State’s Anthony Gordon to wear No. 3 jersey in honor of Tyler Hilinski at Senior Bowl

When Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon steps onto the field at Ladd Peebles Stadium for the Reese’s Senior Bowl Saturday, he’ll be donning a special jersey.

Gordon will wear the No. 3 jersey in tribute to honor late teammate, Tyler Hilinski, who passed away in 2018. The news was first reported by Buccaneers beat reporter Trevor Sikkema of Pewter Report.

Former WSU quarterback Luke Falk was the first Coug to wear Hiliski’s number on his jersey in memory of Hilinski. He came up with the idea in 2018 and wore the No. 3 during Senior Bowl practices, just weeks after Hilinski took his life in an off-campus apartment in Pullman.

Gordon will join quarterbacks like Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Colorado’s Steven Montez in the Senior Bowl game. He led the country with 429.2 passing yards and added 48 touchdowns, second to LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.

There will never be another No. 1: Warriors’ guard Klay Thompson has Washington State jersey retired

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USA Today Images

There will never be another No. 1: Warriors’ guard Klay Thompson has Washington State jersey retired

Long before Klay Thompson led the Golden State Warriors to three championships, the prolific shooter was making memories on the court as a Washington State Cougar. 

In his three years with WSU, Thompson earned Pac-10 All-Freshman honors in his first year, was named All-Pac 10 First-Team during his sophomore season, became the first Cougar to be named Pac-10 Player of the Week on three occasions and set a tournament record with 43 points and eight-three pointers in the 2011 Pac-10 tournament.

Thompson finished his junior campaign by setting a single-season scoring record with 733 points to become WSU’s third all-time scorer. He chose to forgo his senior year, declaring for the draft in 2011. He was selected 11th overall by the Warriors, where he has been named NBA All-Star on five occasions, a two-time All-NBA Third Team selection, All-Defensive Second Team and was integral in leading the Warriors to their first NBA championship in 40 years in 2014. 

Now, Thompson is joining Steve Puidokas as the second Washington State player to have his jersey number retired.

Thompson returned to Pullman on Saturday to watch his No. 1 basketball jersey go into the rafters of Beasley Coliseum during halftime of the Washington State-Oregon State game. Moments after Washington State's Isaac Bonton hit a buzzer beater from deep to end the first half, Thompson took the court. 

"Everytime I walk in here, I get chills," Thompson said to an electric Beasley Coliseum. "I will always be a Coug. I'll always be a Coug. I'm so grateful for where basketball has taken me. It's taken me to China, Brazil, New Zealand, Spain, around the world. But there's nowhere like Pullman. There's nowhere like the Palouse."

He was joined by a star-studded cast, including fellow Splash Brother Stephen Curry, former teammate Zaza Pachulia and Warriors assistant GM Mike Dunleavy.

Three things we learned from Nick Rolovich's introductory press conference as Cougars head coach

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Washington State Cougars Football / Twitter

Three things we learned from Nick Rolovich's introductory press conference as Cougars head coach

Thursday afternoon, Washington State introduced its newest head football coach Nick Rolovich.

His arrival comes on the heels of Mike Leach departing Pullman for the Mississippi State job last week. After a few days of searching, Washington State announced the hiring of Rolovich.

Here's what we learned from his press conference.

1. They'll implement the Run N' Shoot offense and be aggressive on defense

Rolovich plans on bringing over his Run N' Shoot offense that worked well at his previous coaching stop in Hawaii.  The offense emphasizes receiver motion to tell the quarterback whether the defense is using man-to-man or zone coverage, and routes change on the fly depending on that coverage. Leach's weapons from the air raid offense should find the transition easier than most changes and Rolovich says he will run the ball a lot more than Leach did, which running back Max Borghi was happy to hear. 

As for the defense, Rolovich won't specify a scheme until they hire a defensive coordinator, but he wants an aggressive attack that will have the opposing players sore on Sundays knowing they played the Cougars the day prior.

2. Recruiting will start in Washington and expand from there

As for recruiting, Rolovich stated that the Cougars will start their pursuits in the home state of Washington, but will recruit in many other places, as well. This strategy makes sense because Washington typically has good high school talent, and when you're recruiting to Pullman, it's easier to convince local kids to spend four years in-state than to kids from Southern California. The Cougars also typically recruit near the bottom of the conference, so it's not like they will be recruiting players who may not be high-flyers by targeting under-recruited local prospects. Washington State will not win games from recruiting, but rather, will develop those players and out scheming opposing teams. 

3. This is not a rebuild

The Cougars have made it to five consecutive bowl games and have plenty of talent on their roster. Rolovich made it clear that he expects to compete right away at the conference.

This is not a rebuild, this is an addition, and all the permits are in place.

This will not be like when Leach took over and needed to completely turn around the program, the Cougars should expect to play in a bowl game, at minimum, next season. 

You can watch the full press conference here. 

Mike Leach expresses gratitude towards WSU Cougars, fans

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IMAGN

Mike Leach expresses gratitude towards WSU Cougars, fans

The Washington State Cougars world was turned upside down when news broke that Mike Leach had accepted the head coaching positon at Mississippi State. 

Hours later, the Pirate was ringing a cow bell above his head and being introduced as the Bulldogs head coach. 

It all seemingly happened so quickly. 

Leach had just completed his eigth season in Pullman and had signed a contract extension in December. Despite all of that, Leach now calls Starkville home. 

As he departs, Leach took time to acknowledge the Cougars fanbase. 


I wanted to take a moment to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for the last eight years. It has been my honor to be your head football coach and to be able to work with such tremendous leaders as the late Elson Floyd, Kirk Schulz, Bill Moos, and Pat Chun.

When I was hired at Washington State, I said that it would take all of us together to bring WSU football back to prominence. You didn't let us down and we appreciate all of your support. It has been a fun ride with 55 wins and 6 bowl games in our time at WSU, with yo making Martin Stadium one of the best environments in the PAC-12. We truly hope that we left Washington State Football in a better place than where it was 8 years ago and wish nothing but future success for the Cougs.

Once a Coug, always a Coug."

As the search begins for Leach's replacement, they'll have a tall task of replacing the Pirate.

Mike Leach looks like a guy who immediately regrets taking the Mississippi State job

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MSU

Mike Leach looks like a guy who immediately regrets taking the Mississippi State job

Mike Leach to Mississippi seemed like it unfolded in just a matter of minutes. 

After Leach reportedly interviewed for the vacant coaching position at Mississippi State on Tuesday and by Thursday morning, MSU's AD was posting subliminal messages about hiring "The Pirate" away from Washington State. 

WSU fans were used to this type of speculation. They had a scare on social media a few days after the regular season that he accepted the Ole Miss job. That proved to be a fake. 

Leach’s name was also thrown around during Arkansas’ coaching search. Then there was Florida State and Missouri, but nothing ever came of it. 

Then, Thursday morning happened, and just like that, Mike Leach was the head coach of Mississippi State. 

One would think the new Bulldogs head coach would be elated... except, he doesn't really seem very happy. 

Leach looks like he's going to get real tired of that cow bell real quickly. 

And of all of the photos to use... 

Sure, Leach is probably excited about the new opportunity, but he looks more like a man who is asking himself, "What have I done...?"

First order of business: Find a crazy, long winded way of explaining away the need for the cow bells. 

Second: Eliminate the use of the term, "StarkVegas."

Happy trails, Pirate! 

 

Let's remember some of the craziest things Mike Leach said while at WSU

Let's remember some of the craziest things Mike Leach said while at WSU

In light of Mike Leach reportedly leaving Washington State to accept the head coaching position at Mississippi State, let's look back at "The Pirate's" best moments as a Cougar.

Leach has always been known for his theatrics and interesting opinions or tangents. His run at Washington State did not disappoint in that regard.

Let's dig in.

Mike Leach "hopes" Big Foot exists but isn't optimistic

He does however think Aliens exist... somewhere.

Mike Leach calls Autzen Stadium 'Middle-Earth'

Heading into a matchup this past season on the road against Oregon he spoke favorably about their stadium.

I’ve always like Autzen Stadium. It is one of my favorites in the country. Most people have it as the loudest, I would agree with that... [a] great looking stadium that looks like Middle Earth

Mike Leach demonstrates how to do a shovel pass...during his press conference

 

Leach claims his players are “fat, dumb, and happy and entitled”

Just this year, after Washington State gave up 50 points in the second half to UCLA, Leach gave a candid response about his players in the press conference:

We're a very soft team. We get a lot of good press. We like to read it a lot. We like to pat ourselves on the back, and if we get any resistance, we fold...They're fat, dumb and happy and entitled.

Leach ranks the Pac-12 mascots if they were going to fight

Again this season, Mike Leach was asked which Pac-12 mascot would win in a fight against all other Pac-12 mascots. His answer did not disappoint.

Leach bellyflops

Ahead of the Cougars’ season opener, the team went for a swim at a local pool. We got this fantastic video out of it. 

 

Once again, he roasts his players

If you’re a Cougar and your team plays poorly, be prepared for your coach to keep it real. 

Mike Leach sticks up for cats

He didn't think that cats got a fair shake,

When it comes to weddings "the women lose their minds"

Leach didn't care too much about how his wedding went. The women in his life did.

A compilation of his best quotes from 2019

Here's some more quotes from the man himself from his career in general

"The Pirate" will take his aerial assault, and his vibrant personality to the SEC. He will be missed, sort of.