While most of the college football nation has been focused on coaching hires and fires, bowl games and championships, one "scandal" from the regular season had yet to be resolved (we use the word scandal very loosely).
In November, Washington State wide receiver Marquess Wilson quit the team and wrote a letter alleging abuse by coach Mike Leach and his staff.
But it turned out Wilson didn't mean the things he said in the letter and was acting out of self-preservation.
According to Washington State athletic director Bill Moos, Wilson sent him a text message apologizing for writing the letter and saying it was misinterpreted. The Spokesman-Review published the text message:
"Mr. Moos this is marquess … With that letter I wasn't trying to accuse the coaches of hitting players or anything. I was just trying to put it in different terms and now everything is getting misinterpreted and I didn't mean it like that at all … I simply was trying to get my story across and get my name cleared instead of having it say I'm suspended for breaking team violations … That could mean like I did drugs or something … I was never trying to harm the university or the program with it."
The letter, which was sent to Wilson's hometown newspaper and then republished by various outlets around the country, admonished Leach and his staff for their poor treatment of players. In the letter, Wilson wrote: "… the new regime of coaches has preferred to belittle, intimidate and humiliate us."
He added: "My teammates and I have endured this treatment all season long. It is not 'tough love.' It is abuse. This abuse cannot be allowed to continue. I feel it is my duty to stand up and shed light on this situation by sacrificing my dreams, my education and my pride."
Wilson was the team's leading receiver, but had clashed with Leach over various things from effort to playing time. Leach actually benched Wilson two weeks before he quit and a week later, the junior lost his starting spot. Several media reports said Wilson had been giving the coaches bad attitude and dogging practices, which led to the discipline.
While Wilson says in his text message that he wasn't trying to harm the university or the program, he had to know — given Leach's past — that any claims of abuse would raise national red flags. Claims of abuse from former Texas Tech receiver Adam James led to Leach's firing at Tech and kept Leach out of coaching until he took the Washington State job last year.
If Wilson was really trying to clear his name and not drag Leach and his staff down, he sure chose a poor way to execute it, and could have opened himself and his family to a libel lawsuit.
Moos said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that the university did a full investigation into the program and found no wrongdoing by Leach or any of his staff members.
"Once I received the findings from members of my staff, I found that the program is moving in the desired direction, that it is on-par with, or exceeds, other BCS-level programs in terms of expectations and commitment," Moos said in the statement. "Transition in coaching changes is rarely smooth, however, after reviewing the comments from the players that were interviewed, I am encouraged the program is moving in a positive direction."
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