We'll preface this all by saying most of it was expected or hinted at ahead of time. However, because there is a bit of football news out there, we might as well take care of it all at once. Consider this a news dump, where we throw everything at you on a Friday and expect you to process it all at once.
Some of this was covered in Mark's post on Thursday, which can you find here. Let's do this, bullet point style.
- Wade Jacobsen has applied for a medical hardship. File this one under "not surprising" and assume it will be a rubber-stamp. Far as we know, he'll be fine and should be awarded an additional year with the quickness.
- Jeff Tuel also applied for a medical hardship. That he filed is not surprising. If he actually is awarded a hardship, it will be a bit surprising. Unlike Jacobsen, Tuel has a bit of a battle on his hands: He played in the second half of the season, thus rendering him technically ineligible to receive a hardship. Then again, it's the NCAA, so who knows!
- Louis Bland is done with football. We've expected this for quite some time and Leach made it official earlier this week. Bland was never able to get his knee back in working order, forcing him to hang up the cleats. It's not a surprise and expecting him to drop in out of nowhere and suddenly be a significant contributor this coming season was always unrealistic. This is the third scholarship player to leave thus far, and WSU is working its way down to the 85-scholarship limit, which will need to be met by the time all the incoming freshman enroll.
- Christian talked to Mike Breske. You should read it! More on this after the jump.
- To go along with the Breske chat, a few words about the rampant speculation. At present, nobody knows who will play where in concrete terms when it comes to defensive ends and linebackers. However, expecting every defensive end on the roster to stand up and become an outside linebacker is unrealistic, as well. Travis Long is actually quite familiar with the role of a 3-4 end -- while WSU ran a 4-3, it did so by utilizing 3-4 principles up front. In other words, Long had to hold blockers instead of rush more often than not.
There will be some movement, though. Logan Mayes, a rush end in passing situations, is a prime candidate to be an outside linebacker. Sekope Kaufusi is a strong candidate to move to one of the inside linebacker spots. But remember, being a linebacker is not all about rushing the quarterback -- the inside and outside 'backers have to be able to drop into coverage and be versatile. Breske expects his 'backers to be able to move around quite a bit, so keep that in mind while rampantly speculating.
- There will be a "quarterback competition" in spring camp. No idea how much of a competition this will be, but alas Leach wants to publicly maintain things will be open. I like Connor Halliday as much as the next guy, but he's in the midst of a lengthy recovery period after lacerating his liver. He has some work to do to catch up and I don't know that spring will be that competitive. If we're talking about the fall, after Halliday is fully recovered and both quarterbacks have time to go through summer 7-on-7s? Then maybe -- but just maybe.
- Practices will be open in the spring and for part of fall camp, but closed for then on. I was told about this weeks ago and wasn't surprised then. WSU has typically been very open about practice and media availability -- only Friday's walkthroughs were closed last season and even those were open the season before. But Leach has his reasons and they're sound: It's not about people stealing his ideas or plays, but instead about keeping his players focused. They can quickly look around and have wandering eyes with crowds of media on the ground with open practices, whereas they'd have to be looking up and around in closed practices.*
*Should be noted there were like four people that usually attended practices last year. Guessing that changes now.
- Twitter lit up with excited tweets from Washington high school athletes on Thursday. The reason? Mike Leach sent out handwritten notes inviting numerous in-state players to WSU's Junior Day. Here's a sample of what it looks like via Jerry Mercado (the letter was sent to Yakima quarterback Kolney Cassel)
*We know there's money in the photo. It did not come from Leach. It was lunch money sitting on the table (Also it's like $1.10. Calm down).
Now you're all caught up. Only a month or so til practice!