What They're Saying: Leach Lands Edition

THE ARRIVAL OF MIKE LEACH in Pullman officially marked a new era for Washington State football – and drew an electric response from fans, players and pundits. Here's what they're saying about his formal introduction Tuesday on campus and in Seattle ...

John Blanchette, The Spokesman-Review: The Cougs' maiden voyage on Leach's brigantine was everything they could have imagined. If he retreated into mostly name-rank-and-serial-number when the media closed in later, on the dais he was in turn wry, bold and just-plain-folks. To everyone's delight, he did a few minutes on his pirate fascination. He triggered major applause by suggesting that "Why Washington State?" is "a stupid question." He uttered variations on the word "excited" every other breath, even suggesting at one point that "the excitement around the community" was part of the appeal of the job.

Dave Boling, The News Tribune: When the crowd at the ballroom hit 1,000, Washington State officials had to close the doors on some 300 Cougars fans still trying to squeeze in. It was the first turn-away crowd associated with WSU football in a long time … and this was merely the introduction of new football coach Mike Leach.

Bud Withers, The Seattle Times: The Cougars greeted Mike Leach on Tuesday with the joy and relief Tom Hanks must have felt after the ocean freighter happened along in "Castaway." Coug-logo banners flapped downtown, support people wore "Welcome Coach Leach" T-shirts. Cheerleaders pranced, the marching band played, and a couple of frat brothers got there early, wearing pirate hats and eye patches.

Howie Stalwick, The Kitsap Sun: Leach, described as a "Levis-and-T-shirt guy" by former WSU coach Mike Price, is widely recognized as an offensive savant. His Texas Tech teams piled up plenty of yards and points against virtually everyone despite the fact that Tech mirrors WSU in that it is located in a remote city (Lubbock) and rarely landed blue-chip recruits.

Vince Grippi, The Spokesman-Review: "I'm excited about the pieces here," Leach said of a Cougar team that was 4-8 last season and 9-40 in immediate predecessor Paul Wulff's four-year stint. "A lot of times energy is what connects people and there's a lot of energy here." That energy was evident in the CUB ballroom, not more than a couple long passes away from the early stages of the $80 million Martin Stadium construction project, whose main focus is to channel that energy into increased revenue for the athletic department.

Scott M. Johnson, The Herald: It remains to be seen what Leach and his future staff will do for WSU in the long run. It's a chance Cougar Nation appears prepared to take. "It's what they do at Alabama, at USC, what they do to build buildings at Ohio State -- you take a chance on a guy to jump-start something special. And that's something we've got to do," said (former Cougar great Mark) Rypien, who was a big supporter of recently ousted WSU coach Paul Wulff.

Dave Boling, The News Tribune: Asked about his set of expectations, given that some coaches construct five-year plans when they take over a new job, Leach dramatically compressed the timetable. "I came to have a one-day plan," Leach said. "Win one game a week." The response drew applause. And fans have responded to Leach's hiring a week ago in more tangible ways. Aside from the kind of national exposure that a WSU hiring never generates, boosters are tripping over themselves to be a part.

Vince Grippi, The Spokesman-Review: It's funny. I've read a lot of stuff about Mike Leach and some by him in the past couple weeks and I'm not sure if any of them prepared me for what he was like in person. He wasn't nearly as off-the-wall as one might think by some of the portrayals I've read. He was funny at times, sure. He's intelligent and well educated, that's true. But he didn't come off as some odd, story-telling, pirate-loving maverick as he seems to have been portrayed.

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