Feldman knows Leach probably better than anyone in the media at this point, having worked so closely with him on the book. They've remained in touch since the hardcover originally hit shelves last summer, with Feldman even coming out to Pullman for a week to work on new material for the updated paperback version.
That gives him some unique outsider-yet-insider perspective on Leach and the team. We'll go ahead and just start with the now-standard crazy Leach anecdote, which Feldman uses to explain why people seem so taken with Leach and his personality, because of course Leach would explore a hypothetical involving college football coaches and the octagon:
I know when I was at Pac-12 media days, listening to Leach field questions, I mean, the one question ... where somebody asked him about who would be the best hunter of the Pac-12 coaches -- immediately I remember thinking back, I was with Leach at some bar, it was 2 or 3 in the morning, we were out on the patio, and we engage in this discussion of all the head coaches if they were in the octagon, who would be the last man standing? And this conversation went on for an hour -- about, what about this guy and that guy, and the backgrounds and the personalities.
I couldn't imagine having that conversation with Mack Brown or Mark Richt or just about anybody else. I could see them getting a kick out of it, somebody bringing it up, if it was off hours. But I couldn't see them engaging in it the way Leach will. And all that stuff, I think people are intrigued by that. ... He is really different, and he is really open about why he's different, and to see that, I think people have really connected with it.
But Feldman also is able to offer some insight into WSU's current team gleaned from conversations with Leach:
People around the country, I think if you're a real college football fan, you know who Marquess Wilson is. What I didn't realize, and what I don't think anybody else outside of die hard Washington State fans has any idea about, is how good some of the other receivers who are already in the program really are. You look around, and I know they're high on Lintz and Kristoff Williams and these other guys. And they were excited I think about how well the message played in recruiting. Gabe Marks was a big pickup, but there were a bunch of other kids, especially from Southern California, who jumped in the boat when they came around, and I think they were pleasantly surprised on that.
That was cool to hear -- I think we all have wanted to think the receivers are pretty good, but I've wondered a bit if we were just overvaluing them because they're ours. It seems that might not be the case.
Relatedly, one common theme we've talked about since Paul Wulff was fired is how, if this team really takes off under Leach, Wulff is going to deserve some plaudits for building a base that Leach can succeed with. It appears Leach feels the same way:
Leach has been, I think, pretty respectful of the job that Paul Wulff had done before he had gotten there, in kind of just building back the program. ... I know that when they were looking at quarterbacks -- and this is in the winter of last year -- one of the things Leach said is, "You know, I know there are other guys, who are like, 'There's a four-star kid,' somebody said, '(who) you could probably get at quarterback, as opposed to your guy.' " Because the only guy they had committed was a two-star guy. And Leach's attitude was, "Listen, from what I've seen, from what these guys have brought in the program -- especially not just Tuel, but Halliday, and those guys weren't huge name recruits -- I trust their evaluations more than I trust some of the people who are doing it online when it comes to quarterbacks and such because I've seen what these guys are.
There's more good stuff where that came from when you listen to the entire interview after the jump. We talk about what's in the new book, how fast we can expect the transition to be, how well Leach should fare in recruiting, and then finish it up with a classic Mike Leach anecdote you won't want to miss. Let's just say it involves a bar and a discussion of putting coaches in a steel cage. Yep.
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