Mike Leach on recruiting: It's a 2-way street

THE RECRUITING PROCESS goes year-round, everyone knows this. But it doesn't always go smoothly. During the U.S. Bank Cougar Coaches Show this week, WSU head man Mike Leach spoke at length about Cougar recruiting, including the pair of times he had to send a visiting recruit home early plus this simple truth: recruits aren’t just interviewing the coaches, the coaches are also interviewing them.

Mike Leach doesn’t play games when it comes to recruiting. And he’ll do what’s needed to make sure an ill-mannered recruit know it’s about WSU, and not about them.

During his weekly coaches show, hosted by KXLY’s Bud Nameck, Leach said there have been two occasions where he’s sent recruits packing during their official visits. Leach, of course, didn’t mention names, but said one of the occasions happened at Texas Tech, while the other occurred at Washington State. Leach arrived to the Palouse in 2012.

“One time (at WSU) we had a guy come on a visit and he didn’t do anything criminal or anything, but he didn’t get along with anyone,” Leach said. “He was a complete jerk and thought he was too good to be here. We told him it looked like he wasn’t interested, so we weren’t interested.

“He was here for a total of 12 hours I think. We flew him back home and said good luck to you.”

It wasn’t the lone incident Leach had experienced.

“We had another one at (Texas) Tech like that too,” he said. “We had these girls that would take them on tours and he was unpleasant to a girl on campus. We flew him home right away. You’ve got to remember that recruits aren’t just interviewing you, you’re interviewing them. It’s a two-way street.”

Leach added that he and his staff typically only pull scholarship offers when something “criminal” is involved.

AS THE RECRUITING PRACTICE, Leach said each member of his staff is in charge of a particular area. (It's also a group effort under Leach: Jim Mastro, for example, will still be directly involved on a running back offeree who falls outside Jim Mastro's geographic region.)

“With recruiting, each guy is in charge of his own area,” Leach said. “If someone reaches out from a far reaching area, we have to make sure he has a connection to WSU or a genuine interest. Say some guy from Maine calls up and he’s from the best school in Maine, we’re not going to recruit there unless he’s really interested.

“If we’re one of his favorite 20 schools or something, we’re not going to go all the way out there. Those areas are spot recruited. We look at the Northwest and Montana, depending on what they have, and Idaho. Utah we spot recruit. Arizona we spot recruit. We also take a look at Hawaii and Samoa.”

Leach added that the areas he and his staff are most “aggressive” in are Washington and California.

“Recruiting has been good this year,” he said. “We’re plucking away and each class has been better than the last.”

WSU has 13 known verbal commitments. Leach was not asked about special teams coach Eric Russell, recruiting or otherwise. Russell was dismissed following the 60-59 loss vs. Cal. (Russell's recruiting areas were Western Washington, Portland, Vancouver (CAN), East Bay (I-80 South to I-580).

Leach added that there are times where they can’t afford to wait on a recruit who is taking too long to make his decision.

“There’s a timeline there,” Leach said. “Say we offer a guy and he says, 'I haven’t decided and I’m still thinking.' Well, in the meantime we’re recruiting other guys. If we’re taking three linebackers and two have committed to us already and we have offers out to three other guys, it’s basically first come first serve.

“Once you’re full, you’re done. You offered the other ones, but once we fill up, they’re told and it’s understood. We call them and say, ‘Good luck to you.’”

NOTABLE NOTE:
Leach was asked if he thought senior signal caller Connor Halliday is receiving the national attention he deserves. "No, he's not, but he doesn't need to focus on that," Leach said. "He needs to focus on doing his job. The recognition is artificial. The bigger media base you're in, the more you'll get. He needs to keep doing what he's doing and let his play speak for itself."


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