CF.C EXCLUSIVE: On the record w/ Sharon Leach

HER HUSBAND, the new football coach at Washington State, is always in the spotlight. But she's a huge college football fan and says she might be more consumed by the game than her famous husband. Though we rarely hear about her, Mike Leach's wife is everywhere - running the household, taking her teen-aged kids to school and practice when she's not preparing meals, paying bills and exercising.

If there's ever any time left in the day, she'll read a magazine to keep up on current events. Naturally for every Coug, the biggest news of the year was the hiring of her husband, and now we're less than a week away from the start of a new era for Washington State football.

Meet Sharon Leach, the girl who grew up in Southern California as the youngest of five daughters and the woman who caught the coach's eye when they were juniors at BYU more than 30 years ago. He caught hers too.
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  • "He was a lot of fun," Sharon said. "He was interested in and had an opinion on almost everything. He was very confident, athletic and good-looking.

    "We dated for eight months and spent nearly every single day together. It was time to break for summer, and we had discussed whether marriage was a possibility, were we ready, etc. We'd even looked at rings.

    "Ultimately, we decided to go home for a break and see how things went. We wrote and called each other during the first week or so that we'd been apart. Then Mike called late one night and said: ‘Let's get married.' I hand-wrote my invitations and we were married a month later."

    SO SHARON HAS been with him at every stop in Leach's coaching career, from Cal Poly to Texas Tech and all of the places in between.

    She probably thought she was marrying a future attorney after Leach got his law degree at Pepperdine. Leach has been quoted as saying that Sharon's dad was ready to strangle him for giving up law to take a $3,000 a year job to coach high school football.

    "Mike put it to me this way, and I distinctly remember the conversation: ‘Would you rather have me be an attorney, make more money and come home miserable every night? Or be a football coach and make significantly less money to start out, but come home every night knowing that I love my job and am consumed by it?' "

    "It was an easy decision. I wanted a husband who was happy, and if he thought he could make it work financially, I was willing to put my trust in him. I had absolutely no doubt that he would be successful as an attorney or football coach."

    OVER TIME, SHARON has become a big college football fan after attending only a few games while at BYU.

    "I'm very competitive, just like him, and after watching a few of his games in person, I was hooked," she said. "You might say I'm as consumed football as much as Mike is, maybe more.

    "I love college football and probably watch way too much of it. Just talking about it makes me excited for the great wins and great finishes yet to come at Washington State!"

    Everywhere they went, Mike was a successful coach, most notably at his last stop at Texas Tech, where the Red Raiders went to a bowl game in all 10 of his seasons there.

    THE UGLY ENDING involving Craig James' son tarnished the fabulous run and leaves some lingering scars.

    "The way things ended at Tech was extremely difficult and emotional for Mike, the kids and I," Sharon said. "For my two youngest (children), life as they knew it was now uncertain. It really was awful and is still hard to talk about.

    "The worst part about being out of football for me was the loss of a team. Mike has always had a team. He wasn't allowed any contact with the Texas Tech players and coaching staff once he was suspended and subsequently fired. He didn't even get to say goodbye."

    Faith helped the Leaches through those tough times.

    "It plays a very big part in both of our lives, and we have never wavered in our belief," Sharon said. "It is so important for children to have religious background to instill values, morality and purpose among other things. Mike attends church with the kids and I as often as possible."

    Mike and Sharon have four children – Janeen, 26; Kim, 22; Cody, 16; and Kiersten, 13. The two youngest joined them in Pullman, where the Leaches settled quickly into a new home that overlooks the campus.

    AS THE OPENER approaches, Sharon knows what to expect.

    "On the night before a game, Mike is focused," she said. "I know his mind is on football, but he'd rather not talk football. It's like he has all of his thoughts organized and categorized, and he doesn't want them disturbed. I used to ask a lot of questions about our team, the opponent, how we match up, but his answers were usually short and vague.

    "So we talk about other things, relax and watch TV. There is usually a long unwind period before he can fall asleep."

    To many Coug fans, Mike Leach is a rock star. To Sharon?

    "I've never thought of him as a celebrity," she said. "To me, he's a great husband, father and provider for our family.

    "However, because of the high-profile nature of his job and his unique personality, we have had the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people. It definitely makes life interesting!"


    More of the Go 2 Guy's writings can be seen on his website, jimmoorethego2guy.com, seattlepi.com, kitsapsun.com and 710Sports.com. You can reach him at jimmoorethego2guy@yahoo.com and to follow him on Twitter, point your browser to @cougsgo. Moore appears weekday afternoons from 3 to 6 on "The Kevin Calabro Show" on 710 ESPN Seattle or 710Sports.com.

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