Seen & Heard on Planet Coug

IT TURNS OUT Mike Leach takes his Nordic heritage more seriously than we thought. He sleeps with a Viking battle axe next to the bed, he told long-time Oregon sports columnist John Canzano Monday in a radio interview as part of an answer to a question about gun violence.

Canzano, in his written summary of the conversation (which includes a link to the full audio here) focused on Leach’s claim that WSU’s football complex is better than Oregon’s.

Meanwhile, Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times, in her report on the interview took aim at the battle axe and Leach’s thoughts on national gun laws.

Here are two Leach excerpts:

  • ”I think there’s an incredible number of people who don’t know how guns work to begin with. We need a way to enforce the gun laws that exist now. Whether it’s a car or boat or motorcycle, it’s a dangerous item, so you have to show a level of competence and get a license before you’re allowed to operate something that’s dangerous. Guns are dangerous but you don’t have to get a license to operate guns. I think in order to operate a gun, you should have a license that means ‘I know the difference between a pistol and a revolver, a shotgun and rifle, I can load and unload one and shoot it with some level of competency at what I’m aiming at.’ And until you can do that, you’re not allowed to operate a gun …”

  • ”Statistically, you’re more likely to shoot yourself, a loved one or a relative. There’s this (absurd) notion of ‘if you come in my house I’ll shoot ya.’ I do have a Viking axe by the bed if I need to whack someone. … My wife bought me a Viking axe …

    SPEAKING OF STEFANIE LOH, SHE'S kicking butt and taking names later this week. She fired up an interesting story in Tuesday’s Times about what the new cost-of-attendance stipends mean to WSU’s scholarship athletes and the athletic department’s bottom line.

    For an athlete on a full scholarship, the stipend totals $3,542 per year. The Power 5 conferences voted at the start of the year to allow this additional stipend to cover the cost of travel to and from school and other expenses beyond tuition, room and board. Every Pac-12 school is on board.

    For WSU, the annual outlay totals $820,000. It’s a very interesting read that can be found here.

    This additional expense for WSU exacerbates a sobering reality: Cougar fans are the only ones in the Pac-12 who don’t donate to athletics at a level that covers WSU’s full cost of scholarships.

    That gap between donations to the Cougar Athletic Fund (CAF) and scholarship costs was about $3.5 million in the last fiscal year (i.e. before the stipend program began).

    WSU just concluded a two-week push to increase membership in the CAF. Program director Uri Farkas said Monday that the effort resulted in 600 new members, pushing the overall total to 6,642. The goal was to hit 7,000, but Farkas said, “We’re not done yet.” The minimum to join is $50.

    IN HIS WEEKLY COLUMN FOR COUGFAN.COM, former standout WSU quarterback Alex Brink offered high praise and insight to the Cougs’ defensive effort at California but was disappointed with the offense. Indeed, a look at national statistics shows that the calling card of the Cougar program – the offense – is far from hitting its stride right now.

    The Cougars are eighth in the Pac-12 and No. 67 in the nation in’s rating of offensive efficiency (i.e. the offense’s contribution to the team's scoring margin, on a per-play basis, and adjusted for strength of schedule). The scale runs from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best. Baylor, USC and Texas Tech are at the top of the list, each with a rating over 90.

    The Cougars are at 48.6, which basically means they’re a very average unit right now. Seven teams in the Pac-12 are in the national top 30 for offensive efficiency, and four teams are lower than the 67th-rated Cougs: ASU (68), UW (89), Colorado (95) and OSU (97).

    WHILE ON THE TOPIC OF STATISTICS, a tip of the hat to WSU rush ends Kache Palacio and Ivan McLennan. The alternating seniors are at the head of the pack when it comes to sacks. Palacio leads the Pac-12 with four and McLennan is tied for third with three.

    In addition, first-year WSU safety Shalom Luani is tied for first in the conference in forced fumbles with two.

    On offense, Cougar junior receiver Gabe Marks lead the conference in receptions, with 35, and is second in receiving yards per game, with an average of 103.5 per game. In addition, Dom Williams and River Cracraft rank in the top 10 in both receptions and yards.

    THE BETTING LINE FOR THE Cougars’ 3 p.m. game at Oregon on Saturday (Pac-12 Networks) has settled in at 17. It had opened at 20 on Sunday and quickly started coming down but hasn’t changed since Monday.

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