For the seventh year in a row, and the seventh time in head coach Mike Leach’s eight-year tenure in Pullman, Washington State has fallen in the Apple Cup.
The Cougars lost 31-13 against rival Washington, once again by double digits and without Leach’s vaunted Air Raid attack breaking 20 points. Wazzu quarterback Anthony Gordon posted only 302 passing yards with two interceptions on 48-of-62 passing, and the team’s running backs managed only 64 yards rushing.
Even as the players change, the rivalry game is beginning to become repetitive in the worst way for the Cougars. But the true ugliness for Leach didn’t come until after the game, when one question from a reporter set the coach off on a testy rant about his team is covered.
Mike Leach loses his temper after Apple Cup
Sitting for his postgame news conference, Leach was asked about the frustration of the Cougars’ loss. A follow-up question from columnist John Blanchette of the The Spokesman-Review in Spokane caused Leach to personally criticize Blanchette’s coverage and life.
A full transcript of the exchange:
Reporter: Mike, this is the seventh year in a row that they’ve gotten you, and they haven’t been really close games ... How frustrating is it to keep coming up like this?
Leach: It’s frustrating. I do find this part of it interesting, though. As fast as you guys rank their recruiting class in the top 10, and then you’re always surprised when they win. I think that would have a little something to do with it.
Blanchette: So you’re not supposed to beat teams that have higher ranked recruiting classes?
Leach: Well, we certainly have before. We didn’t win this one and I don’t care to have a big discussion with you on it because I don’t really care what you think.
Another reporter: Mike, you’re playing with nine-
Leach: You know, you run your mouth in your little old column and stuff like some sanctimonious troll. You’ve never been fair and even-handed with us, so I really don’t care what you think. OK, go ahead, because you’re going to write something nasty stuff anyway like you always do. I don’t know which Coug way back when did something that offended you and I really don’t care about that either. But you can live your little meager life in your little hole and write nasty things and if that makes you feel even, you go right ahead. OK, next.
It’s impossible to know what might be going on behind the scenes with Leach and Blanchette, but, in a vacuum, the coach’s response sure looks like an overreaction to a valid question.
Not many coaches would insinuate that they shouldn’t be expected to beat a rival because the rival is recruiting better players. That’s an odd concession to make given that Leach is also in charge of his own recruiting and it’s worth following up on.
The complaints about bad press from a particular reporter are also rich coming from a coach who complained about good press making his own players “fat, dumb, happy and entitled” just three months ago after a loss to Utah.
Of course, this readiness to attack despite his own sensitivities is what Leach has come to be known for alongside his Air Raid system, pirate philosophy, pseudoscience and past feud with Craig James. He complains about fairness from Blanchette and other reporters, then mocks the state of California for having “trouble keeping their streets clean” after passing a landmark bill that he opposed (as if street cleaning has anything to do with paying NCAA athletes). He accuses the media and Pullman police of unfairly targeting his players, then gets accused of hurting his own player’s draft stock in talks with NFL personnel.
We can only wonder what he would do if a reporter tweeted a heavily doctored video that made it appear like he’s saying something inflammatory (just to promote discussion), then refused to apologize for not checking its authenticity beforehand.
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