Talking coaches, recruiting with Mike Leach

MIKE LEACH IS on the verge of completing his coaching staff at WSU, with some kind of formal announcement expected next week. But how is Leach going about assembling his group, what are the key considerations and just what does he look for in an assistant coach? We put that question and more to the Wazzu head man..

Ideally, you want to find an assistant who is hell on wheels at both coaching and recruiting. But just how hard is that to accomplish?

"Hard," said Leach. "There's not a ton of them. there's a ton of people who want to coach..but it's tricky. You want to either know them or have a sense of their work and it's really a moving target. But that familiarity provides you with their the strengths and weakness.

"When it comes to a coaching staff, it's like a team, it's not nine individuals, it's about putting together whatever is the best team that complements the efforts of everyone. And that's difficult to identify, that's hard to do. There's a narrow minded quality to selecting a coaching staff."

Has Leach been constructing a staff where a few guys who are the star recruiters, or does he see more of a jack of both trades approach?

"Kinda both, we're doing both. I want them all to have energy be excited in what they're doing. I want guys that are great recruiters, but obviously some guys need to be great at the Xs and Os. It's about who is the best at handling the voice in the room. A great recruiter can be invaluable, but the biggest thing is to allow people to focus on what they do best," said Leach.

And as for how Leach feels about his role in recruiting?

"As a head coach, you think about a lot of things but you think about recruiting all the time. You try to focus on your (in-home) visit because you're going to only have one of those. And that can apply in how you approach your visits as an assistant, too -- every one counts. With a head coach, it's about fact finding and to add to what the recruit is looking for. As a head coach, recruiting is more precise and focused," said Leach.

LEACH HASN'T HAD much down time since arriving in Pullman, saying it's been "a whirlwind." Not even to start looking for a house?

"Heck no, I'm aware there are houses out here. I've seen them. But I haven't stepped foot into any of 'em," he quipped.

It's a much different December than a year ago. In 2010, Leach's phone wasn't exactly ringing off the hook -- this year his name was hotter than blazes. What changed?

"I don't think anything changed," said Leach. "I think more people became aware of some of the false accusations that were out there. They started to see that my position was completely accurate...and my body of work for 10 years, I'll put that up against anybody's."

Why Wazzu rather than Kansas, UCLA, or some of the other places for where Leach's name was floated?

"One thing I wanted was a place that had a lot of upside, and identity that they're proud of and growth potential. I wanted to work at a school where everyone was pulling in the same direction...and that's highlighted by Bill Moos. We had a conversation, talked about what was important and in three days the whole thing was done," said Leach.

WSU HAS HAD a number of colorful coaches over their history. Leach is certainly a guy who goes down his own path, but he's well aware of those who came before him in the crimson and gray.

"I met Sweeney, he had the greatest stories about the game, I want to learn more of them. He's a great coach, a fascinating guy, I would really like to learn more of him. Price and Erickson are friends of mind, they're people that I've admired. Price didn't care if you were the janitor or President of the United States, he'd treat you the same -- great. Erickson, we've drawn some thoughts and ideas from him over the years offensively. And Paul Wulff, I admire what he's done here. We all should appreciate his efforts and work too," said Leach.

Has Leach talked to Wulff since he's been in Pullman?

"I haven't, I've been in and out of town so fast. But I do have a lot of admiration for him. An awful lot," said Leach.

There's 5 seconds left in the Apple Cup, you're down by 4 and have the ball on the Husky 10-yard line. Who would you want at quarterback -- Jack Thompson, Mark Rypien, Timm Rosenbach, Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Leaf, Jason Gesser or Alex Brink? "Wow. Well, I will say this," said Leach. "There's a lot of great universities around, and you'd be hard pressed to think about another university that could say that and match that kind of list...come this spring, we'll hopefully see the next great one."

Cougfan Top Stories