Moore: WSU, do better than Mike Leach, at least when it comes to class

Jan 10, 2020, 11:16 AM

Former WSU coach Mike Leach...

WSU head coach Mike Leach has left the school to coach at Mississippi State. (Getty)


I was happy when I heard the news Thursday morning that Mike Leach was leaving WSU to become the head coach at Mississippi State.

Instant Reaction: 710 ESPN Seattle on Mike Leach leaving WSU

I know I shouldn’t have been happy about one of the most successful coaches in Cougar history leaving Pullman. A lot of Cougar fans are unhappy about Leach’s departure, including one of my kids, Mikey, who said he was very sad all day at school, and texted me saying: “It’s over for us.”

There’s this feeling that Washington State will go back to the Paul Wulff days when Leach’s predecessor won nine games in four years. It’s one of those “be careful what you wish for” scenarios, as if we’re going to miss Leach when the new coach struggles to sustain the Pirate’s success.

Coug fans who feel that way could be right. I don’t think they are, but they could be. I’ll say this about that – even if they are, even if we go 1-11 next year and 3-9 the year after that, even if we don’t play in a bowl game in the 2020’s, I won’t wish that Leach had never left. I was ready for him to go, beyond ready, and was actually disappointed when the deal for him to go to Tennessee two years ago fell through.

He’s a great football coach. No one denies that. And I know that how he deals with reporters and how he appears in public settings doesn’t matter if he’s winning games, and Leach won so many games that you could overlook what made him so unappealing to me.

To those who are sad that Leach is gone, has it crossed anyone’s mind that things could be better with the new coach, not worse? There’s a chance for that, maybe with Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, who used to be the defensive coordinator under Leach, maybe with Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich, maybe with someone else.

Out-of-the-box candidates include Rick Neuheisel and Kellen Moore. Whatever your thoughts are on Neuheisel, he’s one of the winningest coaches in Husky history. He also inspired his Washington team to win what he called the Northwest Championship by setting a late-season goal of beating Oregon, Oregon State and WSU.

Think he might add some excitement to the Apple Cup, going against his former team, going against a school that he sued, earning a settlement after he was fired? Yeah, you might think it’s crazy, but sign me up for Slick Rick in the Palouse.

With Moore, how great would that be if the former Prosser High and Boise State quarterback and current Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator took the job at Washington State?

Especially after turning down the offensive-coordinator job at Washington to stay in Dallas. Maybe the opportunity to be a head coach for the first time would be enticing enough for him to leave the Cowboys.

Jim Mora’s name has been floated out there too, and I could get on board with the former Husky and ex-Seahawks coach.

I hope WSU moves on as fast as Leach did. Did you see him yesterday, getting off the plane in Starkville, ringing a cowbell as he walked through the line of Mississippi State cheerleaders? And changing his Twitter profile within an hour after getting his new job?

I don’t care what anyone says, I feel like it’s a lateral move going from Washington State to Mississippi State. And it’s interesting to note that Leach used to praise the Pac-12 as being stronger top to bottom than the top-heavy SEC, and now he wants to take a shot with one of the lesser teams in the conference.

Before he even gets started with the new job, let me tell you how it’s going to end at Mississippi State:

Poorly. All of the Bulldog fans who were so fired up to greet him will wonder where it went wrong. He won’t seem as funny and quirky anymore. He’ll ask why people are so surprised that Ole Miss won the Egg Bowl because Ole Miss has a recruiting advantage, and haven’t you seen those receivers, DK Metcalf and A.J. Brown, that they sent to the NFL? And when

Nick Saban blows him out, he’ll blame the players or talk about his favorite Southern foods.

I just got tired of his whole act. It wasn’t the bad interview I had with him in his first year, though apparently some Cougs think I never forgot that, causing me to turn on Leach. I started to turn after the New Mexico Bowl when he refused to take any blame for a loss to Colorado State when he was clearly to blame for terrible clock management at the end of the game.

He was great when the Cougs were winning, always entertaining the national audience. But when WSU lost, look out. The machine gun of blame rat-a-tat-tatted all over the place. Good luck if you were the reporter who asked a tough but fair question. Leach had a way of making you feel two feet tall, wondering how you could ask such a stupid question when it wasn’t a stupid question at all.

Leach was always the smartest guy in the room. I knew, you knew, we all knew he was the smartest guy in the room. But ya know what I hate? When the smartest guy in the room acts like he’s the smartest guy in the room, like he’s somehow way above you.

I know it doesn’t matter what I think in the scheme of things. WSU athletic director Pat Chun isn’t going to ask me for my advice on his coaching search. But since I’m writing this post, I’ll tell you the No. 1 thing I want from the new coach:

Class. Just show that you have some. It doesn’t have to be off-the-charts class, just a smidgeon will do because it will be more than Leach ever had.

And again, it might be rich for me to say that because it’s not like I have an abundance of class, but I was not a fan of Leach representing my alma mater the way he did. If you want to take exception to that, that’s fine, we can agree to disagree. And if you think I’m way off-base, I’m good with that too.

Just give me a coach who checks his arrogance and condescension at the door when he arrives in Pullman. Give me one who WSU alums can be proud of. And the way I feel about it, the guy who best fits the profile is almost anyone but Leach.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jim Moore on Twitter.


Jim Moore

Seahawks Russell Wilson...

Jim Moore

Moore’s 10 Seahawks Takeaways: We’re seeing the downsides to ‘Let Russ Cook’

Jim Moore shares what stands out to him at the midway point for the Seahawks, including five reasons he's still not fully on board with letting Russell Wilson cook.

3 years ago

WSU Jayden de Laura...

Jim Moore

Moore: WSU’s future looks bright after QB Jayden de Laura’s stellar debut

After watching true freshman Jayden de Laura lead WSU to a 38-28 win over Oregon State, Jim Moore writes that he was dazzled, seeing a combination of Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray.

3 years ago

Seahawks Russell Wilson...

Jim Moore

Moore Predicts: Most factors favor Seahawks, but Bills will win in Buffalo

The Bills' biggest weakness is something Jim Moore doesn't see the Seahawks taking advantage of, predicting Seattle's second loss of the season on Sunday.

3 years ago

WSU Nick Rolovich...

Jim Moore

Moore: As WSU’s Rolovich era begins, it’s nice to be all-in on Cougs again

As WSU prepares for its Pac-12 opener Saturday, Jim Moore is plenty excited about the first new Cougs football coach since Mike Leach in 2012. That's because of how Leach conducted himself during his time in Pullman.

3 years ago

Seahawks Ryan Neal Bobby Wagner...

Jim Moore

Moore’s 10 Seahawks Takeaways: How do they keep finding diamonds in the rough for the secondary?

On Sunday, D.J. Reed joined Ryan Neal as a reserve defensive back to make an unexpected impact for the Seahawks this year. Jim Moore on that and more in his weekly takeaways post.

3 years ago

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson...

Jim Moore

Moore Predicts: Seahawks to win battle of hurt teams behind big game from Wilson

The Seahawks and 49ers enter Week 8 banged up, but Jim Moore thinks Seattle has the advantage and Russell Wilson will beat the 49ers' depleted secondary.

3 years ago

Moore: WSU, do better than Mike Leach, at least when it comes to class