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How would you grade Mike Leach's era at WSU?

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Mike Leach recently completed his third year at WSU. We try and assess how he has done so far.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Coug fans, and welcome to the second-to-last shopping weekend before Christmas. If you're like me, you just give the Mrs. the credit card and let her take care of everything. In an ideal world, that would include taking care of the gifts she wants, but I guess I should get off my lazy butt and actually do some shopping of my own for the first time in 11 months. In my defense, it's hard enough to figure out a new hiding place for that (bleeping) Elf on the Shelf every morning, let alone get motivated to battle with other human beings over the last parking space at the outdoor mall. But enough about stuff that doesn't matter. Let's talk about what really matters in life.

Mike Leach recently completed his third season as head coach at WSU. Over those three season, he has compiled a record of 12-25. If you only want to count wins against FBS competition, he is 9-25. Jon Wilner recently gave a grade to each coach for the 2014 season, so I figured that three seasons is enough of a sample size to give Mike Leach a grade for his tenure at WSU so far. This is obviously somewhat subjective, and much of it is affected by the program Leach inherited.

The optimist's perspective: Leach inherited a team that was largely bereft of Pac-12, or even Mountain West talent. He and his staff have significantly upgraded the talent level, but many of those guys are young. The 2011 class, which should have been this year's bedrock, was a complete bust. 2013 was expected to be another rough year, but WSU unexpectedly made a bowl game, taking eventual SEC champ Auburn to the wire, winning at USC and winning four conference games. The offense put up eye-popping numbers this year despite a rebuilt offensive line.

The pessimist's perspective: Yes, the talent Leach inherited was bad, but he's had almost a full recruiting cycle to bring in his own guys, and we finished with the same record in his third season as we did in his first. This is despite the fact that the AD told us all that 2015 would be the year we really took off. As good as the offense has been, it's had a bad habit of taking a quarter or more to get going, often resulting in a two-score deficit. Then there's the defense, oh that defense. While Leach isn't responsible for how the defense is run, he hires the guy who runs that side of the ball, and his first hire was a Rob Deer-like whiff.

Before this season, Leach took every opportunity to tell us all that WSU should have won nine games in 2013. While that isn't necessarily false, that would have meant that WSU got every bounce along the way, and wouldn't have figured out a way to go from a 99% win probability in its bowl game to losing said bowl game in the final minute. I looked back at Leach's first three years and tried to figure out WSU's worst-case and best-case scenario records, given how Leach said last year could have yielded nine wins.

This is also very subjective, but maybe it will show how WSU did against the law of averages. In the best-case, I added wins for games that were competitive throughout, but that WSU just couldn't get that last score to tie or take the lead. For worst-case, I added losses for the games where, had a bounce or call gone against WSU, the result may have been different. Feel free to disagree with me in the Comments section.

  • 2012 Best-case: 5-7 (Add wins over Colorado and Stanford.)
  • 2012 Worst-case: 1-11 (Add losses to Eastern, as that EWU Hail Mary was very close to being caught, and UW.)
  • 2013 Best-case: 9-4 (Add wins over Auburn, UW, and Colorado State. Yes, I realize that, had we gone 8-4, the bowl game opponent would have almost certainly been different.)
  • 2013 Worst-case: 4-8 (Add losses to USC and Arizona, which means no bowl game.)
  • 2014 Best-case: 7-5 (Add wins over Rutgers, Oregon, Cal and ASU.)
  • 2014 Worst-case: 2-10 (Add loss to Utah.)

That adds up to 21-16 ideally, and 7-29 if everything went against us. If you average that out (keep in mind I'm a history major) Leach would be sitting around 13-24. Wouldn't you know it, as written earlier, he's 12-25. Given the arguments on both sides, I'll give Leach a C- for the first three seasons. One could argue that he gets an Incomplete, since he will likely be around for at least three more seasons. What grade would you give the coach after three years, and why?

Football

First and foremost, best wishes go out to former Coug Jake Rodgers and his family. During EWU's playoff game Saturday, Jake's dad collapsed in the stands, suffering an apparent heart attack. He was driven by ambulance to the hospital and there is no further word on his condition.

The news on the recruiting front was quite good Saturday, as WSU flipped a commit from Oregon State, and got another commit as well.

Washington State lands a defensive end recruit - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - Dec. 13, 2014
Reporters from both Rivals.com and Scout.com have confirmed that Mattox will head to Washington State next fall to play for Mike Leach and his new defensive coordinator.

Cougars get their second defensive recruit of the evening - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - Dec. 13, 2014
Shortly after Hunter Mattox decided to play football at Washington State, another Cali defender followed suit.

Basketball

The news was not nearly as good for the basketball team. They traveled to Santa Clara, turned the ball over 354 times (values approximate) and never got within five points in the second half. They have now been defeated by teams expected to finish no better than middle-of-the-pack in both the Big Sky and WCC. Unfortunately, this team is doesn't seem equipped to withstand a poor game by DaVonte Lacy. That's a pretty big burden for Lacy to carry.

Santa Clara beats Washington State, 76-67 - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - Dec. 13, 2014
"There are going to be turnovers," coach Ernie Kent told Bud Nameck on the postgame radio show. "These were unforced. Those are bonehead, unforced turnovers because they shouldn't happen in a game with a team the caliber of players we have."

Santa Clara beats Washington State - San Jose Mercury News
Santa Clara's high-scoring backcourt led the way as the Broncos earned their first victory against a Pac-12 Conference opponent since 2006 with a 76-67 win over Washington State on Saturday night.

Steve Gleason

Ex-Cougar Gleason’s fight honored by magazine | Sportspress Northwest
Steve Gleason, the former Washington State football and baseball player who has inspired millions in his battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, has been named co-recipient of the 2014 Sports Illustrated Inspiration of the Year award.

Beer

Here's Yet Another Good Beer With A Stupid Name
I'd really like to try that Chocolate Orange Smoked Porter. It sounds tremendous, though I'm always wary of smoked beers.

Non-Sports

Q&A: How to Disappear in the Internet Age | News | The Moscow Times
Ever wanted to just vanish, to abandon everything and start your life from scratch? Well, there is a man who can make that happen — though he charges eight times the average annual salary in Russia.