Leach & Breske on recruiting, bowls, practice

PULLMAN—The Cougs held their first practice since the Apple Cup loss in the indoor practice facility -- the session was closed to the media. But defensive coordinator Mike Breske told CF.C the coaches worked about 30 minutes with the veterans, finished with some 7-on-7 and then the vets hit the weight room. Mike Leach and Breske also took a few minutes after practice to talk bowls and recruiting.

First, though, after the veterans headed off to the weight room, Leach and Breske held a team session and everyday drills with the younger guys, Breske said.

Every WSU assistant save for the Cougars' d-coordinator was absent at the indoor practice – they're still out on the road recruiting. Breske and Leach were the only two WSU coaches I saw on Thursday before and after the session.

At the conclusion of practice, Leach and Breske took a few minutes to discuss, among other things, how they go about pitching recruits.

Breske said that he only just got late last night after visiting recruits in the Yakima, Walla Walla and Tri-Cities area and he was happy with his short stint on the road.

"(The) reception has been real good especially for me in the Tri-Cities and Yakima areas." Breske said. "(Those) are strong Coug countries. Especially when you go into schools, there are a lot of Cougs. They've been real positive about Coach Leach and what's going on here."

Leach felt the same positive feedback as well.

"Well there's no question," Leach said of the enthusiasm from recruits. "Nobody thought we were going to go to a bowl and they haven't gone for 10 years and second year, here we are. So, we will build up from there."

So what does Leach pitch to the young men when he's discussing Washington State?

"The vision of the program," Leach said. "The location…that it's a college town and that you can't duplicate it if you're in bigger city where it is saturated by all the other stuff. You build a relationship with the players and then our commitment to overall football success on all sides of the ball and academics."

LEACH HAS ALWAYS made academics one of his top priorities. In 2009 at Texas Tech, his team's graduation rates ranked eighth in the nation and first in the Big-12 overall. He said WSU is in very good shape in that arena and will only get better.

"The GPA has gone up here progressively and last fall we had the highest one in the history of the school for football -- and we will improve from that," Leach said.

Breske said the Cougars' academics are part of his recruiting presentation, along with several other tenets inherent to Washington State.

"We talk about academics obviously," Breske said. "Where we are located…we are a collegiate community and a safe community. Everything revolves around Wazzu and that's a big selling point to parents and then our facilities. My goodness, with what's happening here with the football ops (building) and already the press box, that's a selling point. Our infrastructure has greatly improved in the last two years."

The bowl games will be officially unveiled on Sunday but Leach doesn't have any plans yet to gather the team to see where the Cougs may end up.

"Historically, we are at practice when that happens," Leach said. "There is no telling when they do that. They get together in little board rooms and eventually somebody calls."

Given his Texas connections, Leach was asked about possibly making a return to Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. But it appears that he doesn't have a preference.

"I've never been to a bad bowl," Leach said. "Every bowl has been great. I think I've been to 12…they're all good. Every one of them is good."

Leach said in the past, he has handled some of the duties of selling his program to the various bowl committees. No longer is that the case – he said it is Athletic Director Bill Moos show.

"Bill (Moos) has a lot of experience and a lot of contacts and Bill has been doing this for decades," Leach said. "If he is not the most experienced guy in the country at it, he's one of them. It's in great hands."

ALTHOUGH MANY Cougar assistants are still on the recruiting trail and Thursday was first practice in a week, the Cougs haven't been standing still, said Breske.

He said the players were tasked with two things this week -- lifting and focusing on school. Indeed, with a busy finals week ahead as well as graduation, Breske drove home the point to his players the importance of taking advantage of the down time to focus on their studies.

"We talked when we met with them on Saturday to take care of their academics," Breske said. "We are in dead week right now and then finals week next week. So, we practiced today and then we will have one Saturday and Sunday…very similar to this.

"(For) academics, this is the time. Do your extra credit if you can. Take care of business so we don't have any surprises once grades come out."

Breske was asked for his top piece of advice that he would give to a recent college graduate. "The best piece of advice: take six months and travel," Breske said. "Enjoy life and then worry about life."

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