Is new coach to be unveiled today?

IT'S NOT OFTEN that an athletic director releases a statement firing his coach three hours ahead of the news conference he scheduled to, presumably, fire his coach. So that leads inquiring minds to a plausible conclusion: Bill Moos' media gathering at 2 p.m. today is to announce his new football coach. And if so, all indications suggest it's going to be Mike Leach.

Well-placed WSU boosters tell CF.C that Moos and WSU President Elson Floyd, through back channels, have had an ongoing dialogue with the Leach camp about the possibilities in Pullman if the season didn't conclude on an upswing.


With consecutive losses to Utah and Washington to close the campaign, those discussions turned more serious, and with Wulff's apparently persuasive case to stay put ultimately falling on deaf ears, the deal could be close to done.

The timing of Moos' statement this morning and his news conference this afternoon strongly suggests he's going to do more than salute Wulff for taking the thankless job he inherited four years ago.

If Leach is indeed the new man, it will no doubt send a tremor through the Pac-12. Love him or hate him, two facts are indisputable: the guy is a rock star on the national scene, and his Air Raid passing attack was something to behold at Texas Tech.

Leach also has a track record of finding hidden gems and coaching them up -- a trait Mike Price deployed to get WSU to two Rose Bowls in the span of six seasons.

Indeed, Leach brought the previously desultory Texas Tech program into a decade of limelight with players that the big boys didn't want. His first season at the helm, the Tech offense exploded onto the national scene. His first QB, Kliff Kingsbury, passed for more career yards than all but three quarterbacks in the history of major college football. And he did it in three years.

Once Kingsbury graduated, a fifth-year senior came off the bench to take his place and predictions of a natural downturn followed. But B.J. Symons threw 52 touchdown passes and set the single-season college record for passing yards at 5,833 hashes. Nex yeart, another fifth-year senior, Sonny Cumbie, lined up behind center and threw for the sixth-most yards in NCAA history (4,742).

None of these guys had offers from Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, etc. Some had no other offers at all. Cumbie was a walk-on.

LEACH'S PATH TO offensive mastermind is downright fascinating.

He never played college ball, and didn't even suit up as a high school senior in Cody, Wyoming. Leach received his undergraduate degree from BYU, a law degree from Pepperdine, where he graduated in the top third of his class, and then a master's from the U.S. Sports Academy. He didn't want to be a lawyer, he found out along the way. He wanted to be a football coach.

There were early stints at College of the Desert in Palm Springs, Cal Poly, Iowa Wesleyan, Valdosta State and a team in that well-known football metropolis, Pori (yes, that's Finland). His first D-IA coaching job was as offensive coordinator at Kentucky under passing guru Hal Mumme in 1997. Kentucky became an offensive force that season. In his one season as OC at Oklahoma, he took the Sooners from 101st in scoring to 8th in the country. The next year, 2000, he became the head man at Texas Tech.

Leach's departure from Tech, as has been exhaustively chronicled, was and remains messy. But clearly, Moos is confident that situation is an aberration. WSU boosters close to the situation tell CF.C that the due diligence and research on Leach has been considerable.

Leach has spent the last two years idling in Key West, Florida, where he wrote a book and moonlighted as a broadcast analyst. He also spoke at coaching clinics around the country. Ironically, Paul Wulff brought him to Spokane last spring for a clinic Wulff put on for area high school coaches.

Kansas and UCLA are reportedly hot on the Leach trail as well, so all bets could be off in this dynamic world of college football. Based purely on the timing of events today, and Moos' seamless leadership as AD, all signs from this vantage point say all that's left is for the Leach and Moos to sign on the dotted line.

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