Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Trouble on the Palouse

By Greg Suttich

At the end of another disappointing season in 2011, the Washington State Cougars fired Paul Wulff and hired highly sought-after Mike Leach. Leach while at Texas Tech led the Red Raiders to 10 straight bowl games in his first 10 years. Reason for optimism in the Palouse.

The season started out with a lackluster performance on the road in Provo against BYU. The Cougars followed with two close wins against Eastern Washington and UNLV. It looked like WSU was on their way to a third straight win until Colorado erased a big fourth quarter deficit to beat the Cougars 35-34. The following week WSU played Oregon tough for a half before getting blown out in the second half. Two bad losses followed to Oregon State and Cal before almost upsetting Stanford. At 2-6, the Cougars rolled into Utah again to play the Utes. A 49-6 drubbing seemed to be the cause for the Cougar coaching staff to finally let it all out on the players.

Marquess Wilson, the star wide receiver for Washington State, decided he was not going to be part of the team anymore. After being suspended following the Utah game, Wilson quit the team prior to the last game against UCLA. Wilson tweeted that the coaching staff abused players and used intimidation and belittlement to the team regularly. The star receiver also claimed that the suspension was a cover up from what was really going on.

This is not the first time Mike Leach has been in the center of abuse accusations. While at Texas Tech, Leach was accused by former NFL player and ESPN analyst Craig James of abusing some athletes on the team. Most namely, James' son that was on the team. The allegations were proven to be false but one has to wonder if there might be some truth behind it. Or did Marquess Wilson just not like the tough, hard-nosed style that Leach used.

An investigation will soon be forthcoming. Mike Leach has denied any abuse accusations and some players have gone public in support of their coach. Whatever the outcome, the fact remains that this has been a tough and challenging first year for Mike Leach. Leach has lost 17 players that had scholarships. Make that 18 now with Wilson's departure. Some were kicked off the team and some due to injury.

The gunslinging offense that has the quarterback in shotgun formation on every possession and throwing the ball on almost every down has never been able to get on track. A revolving door at quarterback has not helped. The high-powered offensive attack that Cougar fans were looking forward to this season is probably a year or two away. That is if Leach survives this season with an investigation pending. Give Leach the chance to bring his type of recruits that can handle his military-like style and maybe the Cougars can become a force once again in the Pac-12 conference.

Contents copyright © Sports Central 1998-2009