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HCA: Looking back at Mike Leach’s path to Pullman

It’s a story that involves Key West, flip flops and cargo shorts.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Oregon State Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Today is national signing day... But Washington State filled most of their class back in December during early signing day. For a quick look at some of the recruits that are expected to sign today (minus Gage Gubrud, apparantly) check out our recruiting tracker.

But right now, we’re going to look back at what might have been the most significant signing for Washington State football is quite some time. Back in 2011, Cougar football was in a very low spot. Paul Wulff was floundering after four terrible years at the helm and former AD Bill Moos had decided it was time to move on. And his answer for the next head coach was Mike Leach. But the path to hiring the former Texas Tech head coach was an odd one.

On Tuesday, Jon Wilner of the Murcury News looked back at the recruitment of Leach during his semi-retirement in the Florida Keys. Wilner talked with Moos to uncover the full story of Leach’s hiring. You’ve probably heard parts of it before, but the full thing is well worth revisiting.

Before the end of the 2011 season, Moos arranged a trip to the Keys to visit with Leach. The two has set up a meeting in a hotel suite and told Leach the two would both be wearing casual dress. Moos showed up wearing a dress shirt, slacks and no tie. Leach? A little more casual.

“I go to open the door,” Moos told Wilner, “and there he is in a white V-neck T shirt, cargo shorts, flip-flops, three-day growth and a Styrofoam coffee cup.”

Moos tried to talk football, but Leach turned the talk to everything but including Geronimo to Winston Churchill. The two parted ways after a four hour meeting in which they at least talked a little bit of football.

From there, Moos decided that he found his man. After an Apple Cup loss, Moos decided to make the move. He called Leach, who of course answered during a trip to Disney World. Leach agreed to sign his contract before giving out a free ad for Splash Mountain.

“Hey, have you ever been on it?” Leach asked Moos over the phone. “I just did it three times. It’s my second favorite ride, behind Pirates of the Caribbean.”

You can read the full story in Wilner’s article here. He also ranks the best coaching hires in Pac-10 and Pac-12 history. Leach places tied for 4th on the list, while Mike Price checks in at 5th. (although, technically speaking, because there were two coaches tied for 4th, Price should actually be 6th with everyone else sliding back one spot. But I’ll let it go. This time.)

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