USA Today Sports/Wayrynen

Washington State coach says he and Cougar players need to tell grandchildren about dramatic win over Oregon

WHAT WILL IT take to draw a smile from Mike Leach? Cougar fans have asked the question since Andrew Furney sent the Dawgs packing in 2012. The answer remained elusive Saturday.

When Dom Williams scored with one second left in regulation against Oregon and again when Shalom Luani picked off Jeff Lockie in double overtime, the Cougar head coach kept his poker face.

In the post-game TV interview following the dramatic 45-38 Cougar win he remained matter-of-fact about it all, saying how proud he was of his guys but not cracking so much as a grin in the process.

In his post-game radio interview with Jason Gesser, however, Leach uttered what amounted to -- for him -- a veritable hallelujah-let's-put-on-our-dancing-shoes. In the Book of Leach, that counts as a smile. A big smile.

Oh, it took a minute for him to get there, as he first talked about how his guys, in all phases of the of the game, focused on finishing and playing tough. And asked what he was telling them as they huddled for overtime following Erik Powell's key PAT, he said he had "no real special message," that he just wanted everyone focused and on the same page, thinking clearly and not bouncing around.

Then came the money question from Gesser: how good does it feel?

"We need to enjoy it for about 20 hours and then forget it -- tell our grandchildren about it --and focus on Oregon State."

Tell our grandchildren about it. 

For Mike Leach, a statement like that is the equivalent of a grin stretching from ear to ear.

Yes, Mike Leach was a happy man in Eugene on Saturday.

Washington State hadn't defeated the Ducks since Alex Brink, Jed Collins and Dwight Tardy went wild on them in 2006.

Washington State lost to Oregon by a touchdown last season, victimized by a shocking non-call on pass interference late in the game.

Washington State outplayed Cal last week but lost at the end.

Mike Leach wanted this win. He and his players needed this win. As offensive guard Gunnar Eklund said earlier in the week, "close doesn't cut it anymore."

Today, the Cougars didn't just play for 60 minutes -- something Leach had implored all week as part of his "finish" theme. They played more than 60 minutes. They weren't perfect by any means, but they didn't let that stand in their way. That's what Leach has been striving for since the first day he walked into Martin Stadium.

The Cougars rallied from 10 points down late the game, then answered Oregon's two-play TD drive in the first OT and, ultimately, sent a thunderbolt through Cougar Nation with both the offensive and defensive heroics in the second OT.

The program, it seems, has finally arrived. And Mike Leach's equivalent of a smile proves it.

Someday you can even tell the grandchildren.


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