Mike Leach sure knows how to entertain a room, and he did not disappoint. After a minute of awkward silence following the WSU hype video, Leach strolled out on stage at a leisurely pace, coffee in tow. He sat down, leaned into the microphone for his opening remark, and said, "Regardless of what I say in opening remarks, you guys ask whatever you want anyway."
Joining Leach at media day was tackle Joe Dahl and linebacker Jeremiah Allison. They gave short interviews to the media, then headed out to the Pac-12 Network stage to be interviewed for television. Here are some bullet points of what they said:
-QBs: Luke Falk is a "quality player" and was ahead at the end of spring, but they will give Peyton Bender an opportunity
-OL: "When we first got here we had six on scholarship and maybe three deserved it."
-Adapting to WSU: "We were in a pretty deep hole … Overhauling the offensive line was the biggest deal we had."
-Position battles: "Any position on our team is pretty much up for grabs."
-Last season: "Overall I think we underachieved."
-OL: "We have incredible chemistry between us."
-On potential: "This year I think you'll see a more balanced attack. ... You never know until the season gets here, but I think this year we will be a little more run-based. ... Everybody this year has bought in."
-Falk: "Luke just has something about him that makes other players just draw to him. ... Everybody had confidence in him right away."
-On Gabe Marks: "You learn to love Gabe. Once you get to know him you fall in love with him." ... "He wants to pick the biggest and baddest person and go against them. He's a true competitor."
-Marks played Marcus Mariota on scout team last year
-Hiring new DC Alex Grinch: Philosophy was, we liked a little more simple schemes with some pressure and clarity with what we do.
-"Ultimate goal is the national championship."
-New scheme is "a lot more simple."
-On Grinch: "More energetic and more involved" and "brought simplicity to the table" adding that "he has set the bar high, demands perfection of us."
-"Physically, we are using our hands more."
-"We're going to get after the QB's and make sure they feel our presence."
-Feels like if the defense can do its part, this could be the year.
-Secondary: "students of the game," adding that struggles last year might have been because they were "star struck" in big stadiums
-Poor defense was never a talent thing, it was a confidence thing.
-Defensive goals: "Get turnovers and run to the ball."
-Daniel Ekuale is his pick as a "breakout star" in part because he's a "savage in the weight room."
-Playing in the Pac-12: "Week in and week out you're competing against the highest competition."
-Games he's excited for: Apple Cup and playing at the Rose Bowl against UCLA. (He's from southern California.)
On Mike Leach:
-"He's pretty much the same guy behind closed doors."
-"Coach is straight-forward: he tells you what you need to hear not what you want to hear."
-"He's a guy with a huge imagination."
-"There's a method behind his madness" and he is a "very intelligent guy."
Pullman, Facilities & Recruiting
-"The biggest difficulty is ‘I heard it’s nice, I just haven’t been there.' "
-"We have the best facilities in the Pac-12."
-"We’ve got seats in the team meeting room that make Joe Dahl look like a normal person."
-Favorite part of new facility is the "big ol' cold tub"
-What draws SoCal recruits: Facilities, the family feel, it's a place you can grow into a man, and of course tradition.
-Favorite part of new facility is the dining hall ("Being a linebacker I like to eat...it also has a great view of the
-"Bill Moos did a great job" ... "one of the top facilities in the nation."
-Team bonding more now than over the last few years
-Take a girl sturgeon fishing on your first date
-Don't let her bring a friend for the date
-"What I used to do (on dates) was have the 2-for-1 (coupon)"
-Was put into the "Huffle-something" tribe while at the Harry Potter exhibit in Burbank
-Learned libraries existed in first or second grade
-"We played cowboys and Indians. I always wanted to be the Indian."
-Raised underwater treadmill to make it look like he's walking on water
-Favorite non-WSU Pac-12 jersey: Oregon ("the all black ones").
-Leach is a "unique individual" and not sure if he'd go to him for dating advice.
-But players want to go to bat for him.
-Mom and Elson Floyd "installed good qualities in me."