As Mike Leach continues to assemble his staff, one name keeps popping up. Not from the Leach side of the equation, mind you, but from Washington State fans and alums. Jason Gesser is a name that continues to linger in the air, despite every indication that he's unlikely to join the staff at Washington State anytime soon.
The rationale for Gesser is simple: he was a great Coug; he's rising in the coaching rankings; and someday he should return to Pullman. It's been the mantra for years now, and I don't necessarily disagree with any of the previous statements. But it's not as simple as Gesser being a great quarterback and, perhaps, a solid assistant coach.
Assembling a coaching staff is a two-way street. Sure, there has to be interest from potential candidates, but ultimately it's up to the head coach, in this case Leach, to decide how best to piece together his right-hand men. And Leach follows a very clear pattern when picking and choosing his assistants.
By now, we've seen multiple names reported as having agreed to join Leach at Washington State. Each of these names fits the mold of a Leach assistant on the offensive side of the ball. Leach has a broad coaching tree, and his offensive assistants are almost invariably part of that family.
When you read about how Leach handles his meetings and runs his offense, it becomes quite clear why he prefers to assemble a staff of those he trusts and has a strong relationship with. Every coach is expected to give his input, and meetings are like large roundtables where ideas are shared. There's a trust and an openness that creates a family, and the relationships involved are long-standing.
So far, we've seen Leach reportedly hire Jim Mastro, a man he's known for 25 years, Dave Emerick, a chief of staff he has a long relationship with, Clay McGuire, one of his trusted assistants from Texas Tech, Eric Morris, a former Texas Tech wide receiver, and Dennis Simmons, a long-time Texas Tech assistant who was one of his right-hand men. Notice the pattern. Each has a strong prior relationship with Leach and is someone he trusts.
In his book, Leach writes about wanting all of his assistants, from the top guy to the strength coach, to be on the same page, bought in to the core philosophy of the program. Trust, as we've said many times before, is huge to him. It's apparent when one looks at how he's piecing together his staff.
So how does Jason Gesser fit into this? Bluntly, he doesn't. While a great Coug and a solid coach, he's from outside the family, and without the strong relationships that bond each of the reported assistant coaching hires to Leach.
Gesser was an excellent quarterback at Washington State and has done some great work with quarterbacks at the high school level and elsewhere. But the quarterback in Leach's offense is an extension of Leach himself. It's a position he works incredibly closely with, essentially coaching the position by himself. Leach builds trust with his stable of quarterbacks, has open lines of communication with them at all times, then gives them the freedom to make informed decisions on the field.
Which is why Gesser, good as a coach and person as he may be, doesn't fit into this equation. The quarterbacks are Leach's babies and the offensive assistants are his family. While I understand the love for Gesser and the desire to see him back on the sideline at Washington State, now is not the time.