Up close w/ Leach's behind scenes powerlifter

HE LOOKS AND sounds like he could be a character on the old television series The West Wing. He has a title, chief of staff, that would blend right in with the folks in the nation's capital. He's smart, energetic and level headed. But David Emerick is a football man, not a policy wonk.

He was the first guy Mike Leach hired to join him at Washington State.

And in some respects, this 32-year-old Wisconsin native serves as a prime example of how Mike Leach conducts business a little differently than others.

Emerick holds what has to be one of the most unusual titles in in his field. He's a coach who doesn't coach -- at least not in the traditional, whistle-around-his-neck sense.

Yet he was, and now will be again, Leach's go-to guy.

In true chief of staff form, he's basically a powerbroker who makes things happen in a behind-the-scenes way.

"I think my title is pretty unique in college football, I'm not sure there are many others with it," Emerick told Cougfan.com by phone in between one of his two round-trips this week between Pullman and Tucson.


"Coach Leach likes to give me the title of chief of staff and assistant athletics director," said Emerick. "I oversee recruiting, that's the No. 1 priority, but I'm also in charge of handling just about everything off the field. We'll bring in some operations guys, but I'll also be the liaison between compliance, media relations, marketing, things like that."

In other words, he handles many of the critical, off-field chores that can drain a head coach's time.

Notably, with no day-to-day, on-field coaching duties, Emerick can focus without distraction on the lifeblood of every program: recruiting.

He has worked his way into his present role over the last 15 years, first starting as an operations intern while a student at Kentucky when Leach was the offensive coordinator there, and eventually rising to be director of player personnel at Texas Tech and then chief of staff.

"He trusted me with more and more responsibilities over time -- it's a situation where he trusts me to get things done ... my first priority is recruiting, talking with our coaches and making sure they're staying on top of evaluation, doing their film and making sure they have everything they need. I think we can get some great players in here, so that will take a great deal of my time ... Coach Leach gives me some authority to get things done," said Emerick.

In wearing so many hats, it's hard to nail down a "typical" week for Emerick, but one thing is constant in his position – meetings.

"There will be a lot of meetings to make sure we're all on the same page, all of the time. There are so many moving parts to all of this, so we have to stay in close contact. Academics is very important to Coach Leach, that will always be a huge chunk of time because you're dealing with so many people and then as things arise we have to deal with them," said Emerick.

There's no question, however, that Emerick is looking forward to reuniting with Leach after spending the last two seasons at Arizona.

"He's just such a great guy to work for -- he cares about me and my family, he gives you the authority to do your job well and as long as you're doing your job, he's not going to micromanage every single thing. Coach Leach, the way he runs his program, he's so much fun to be around, and what you see from coach leach is what you get," said Emerick.

Here are his thoughts on two pressing topics …

The bread and butter of WSU recruiting has always been the Northwest and California and Emerick said that won't change. There will be some subtle shifts in ancillary areas and elsewhere, however. "Recruiting The Islands will be a priority and then we'll also go to the places where it makes sense … we'll go some into Texas and the places where our coaches have ties. There will be some national guys who have interest in Coach Leach though we won't go after someone and spend a lot of time and resources and chase guys that don't make sense. But we're not going to close the door on anyone."

"We're going to win a lot of games at Wazzu…no one here is ever going to believe we can't win a game, no matter how far we might be down or who the opponent is. And that comes from Coach Leach --he has an infectious belief that rubs off on everyone else."

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