clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

HCA: The Best and Worst of the Mike Leach Era, Part Three

New, comments

It’s our last installment.

NCAA Football: Sun Bowl-Miami vs Washington State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Tere hommikust Eestist. (use Google Translate) Well, it’s time for our third and final installment of the Best and Worst of the Mike Leach era at WSU. We started with the Pac-12 North, followed it up with the Pac-12 South, and for the six of you still left, we’ll go over non-conference games and bowls. This will obviously be the shortest of the three installments, which is a just reward for those of you who slogged through the first two.

As with those first two, there isn’t any methodology to this one either. But you will notice one - ok make that two - glaring omissions. I’m not going to include FCS losses. I know, I know, those are among the most embarrassing defeats in the history of the program, if not the most embarrassing. But we’re well aware of how terrible they were, and I don’t really care to rehash them anymore.

Let’s start with the non-conference high and low. Leach has a 14-7 non-conference record at WSU.

Best - Rutgers, 2015: I actually typed “Boise State, 2017” first, but changed it, and would not fault anyone for calling me an idiot. This is Leach’s best, in my opinion, because it came on the other side of the country, a week after the one of the most humiliating losses in program history. The Cougs needed this one really bad. Not only that, but the manner in which they won makes this the top for me.

After getting out to a 14-point lead against what would prove to be a pretty bad Rutgers team, WSU’s special teams decided to let Janarion Grant launch an early Heisman candidacy, as he returned a kick 100 yards after WSU took a 23-20 lead. Then, with under two minutes to go, Grant took a punt 55 yards to the end zone to give Rutgers a 34-30 advantage, and it looked to all like it was same old, same old for Cougar Football. With 91 seconds on the clock, Luke Falk had 90 yards to go, as #SpecialForces failed again. 90 yards? The Cougs didn’t even need all 91 seconds!

After two plays, WSU was already at the Rutgers 43. After a do-or-die 4th down conversion to Robert Lewis, many a Coug fan thought they’d taken the lead on a Keith Harrington catch-and-run touchdown, but replays showed that Harrington had barely, and I mean barely, stepped out of bounds at the 21. No matter. Two plays later, Falk found River Cracraft in the back of the end zone for the game-winning score, and Cougar fans everywhere backed off their respective ledges.

Worst - Nevada, 2014: This loss was as bad as it gets, on many levels. First, WSU was coming off an opening-game face plant against Rutgers, when they literally gave the game away. Second, Nevada may have ended the season 7-6, but they’d gone 4-8 in 2013 and WSU’s offense was miles more talented than anything Nevada could field on defense.

So what happened? Well, WSU was so mad about that opening game loss that they came out and...promptly fell behind 14-0. They managed to claw back to 14-10 but halftime, and were poised to break out in the second half, right? Uh, no. Erik Powell couldn’t hit water if he were kicking from the beach, and WSU managed all of three points in the second half, losing 24-13. Only one of Nevada’s 12 other opponents would score fewer than 13 points against them that season, and that was 3-9 San Jose State. This was definitely one of those games where it was fair to question if Leach would ever succeed at WSU, as 2014 was over before it had barely begun.

Bowl Games (2-3)

Best - Sun Bowl, 2015: Only two from which to choose, and nobody could be faulted for thinking a win over the ranked Iowa State Cyclones is better than beating a Miami Hurricanes team that had fired its coach, but I beg to differ. Why? Well, mostly because WSU hadn’t won a bowl game in 12 years, and even though they weren’t exactly playing the 2001 version of the Hurricanes, they still beat MIAMI. Oh, and there’s this, which almost certainly will never be topped if we’re talking about airport bowl arrivals:

View this post on Instagram

Coach. Leach. #GoCougs

A post shared by Washington State Football (@wsucougarfootball) on

The Cougars looked like the better team for the entire first half, taking a 20-7 lead into the locker room. Then the snow showed up, and WSU’s offense ground to a halt. Sound familiar? Anyway, the Cougs pulled it out despite going scoreless in the second half because they forced a Mark Walton fumble four yards from the Cougar end zone, and because Miami - for reasons no human will ever comprehend - decided to try a trick play that went horribly awry and resulted in a Shalom Luani interception. WSU still needed to kill the clock, and clinched the win via a...Luke Falk option keeper? Miracles do happen.

Worst - New Mexico Bowl, 2013: You mean there was something that happened that was worse than WSU playing in a bowl game in El Paso the day after Christmas? Why yes, yes there was! I don’t care to delve into the painful details of this one, other than to say that WSU never should ever have been in a position to lose, but Mike Leach’s abhorrent clock management at the end of the game led directly to the gut-wrenching outcome.

WSU should be 4-1 in bowl games under Leach. Instead, they’re 2-3. Oh well, one-game winning streak!

One more time, tell me why I’m an idiot. (just be nice about it, okay?)

Football

On this first link, just make sure you fast forward to the 39:00 mark to avoid whatever they were talking about before Leach called in. The best part was where he actually admitted that he had a cough.

Audioboom / 5/25 Kurre and Klapow Hour 2: Coach Mike Leach, Pregnancy for Dummies, KCast Radio
Washington State head football coach Mike Leach joins to discuss expectations 98 days ahead of the season.

The tale of Mike Leach and the cleaning lady - FootballScoop
Coming off a 5-6 season, Oklahoma hired a 38-year-old with zero head coaching experience to turn around a blue blood program mucking through the worst decade in program history.

Is Mike Leach Over Ranked? - CBSSports.com
Barton Simmons and Trey Scott discuss Mike Leach's ranking in the top 25 Power Five coaches.

Regarding this last link, I can only assume that my Twitter account was #101.

100 Twitter Accounts Every College Football Fan Should Follow
Social media has forever changed the landscape of sports. But no platform has had the impact of Twitter with college football fans.

This Week in Parenting

Yeah, I don’t have much this week, so I’ll just show some pics of the boys from around Tallinn, Estonia. (If you haven’t figured it out by now, I write this section for my loved ones since they hardly get to see my kids). We try and get out and about the region as much as we can, so they can experience what Europe has to offer. My only hope is that they gain an appreciation for everything they got to see and do as they get older. BTW Tallinn is a really neat city, but man, if you want to visit just make sure you time the weather correctly.

I had a Saku. Ain’t no legends drinking that stuff.

I told them to give their most serious/miserable faces. Soviet hats and whatnot.

The sea was angry that day my friends! Ahh, late May on the Baltic Sea. Such a lovely time of year. (but seriously it was freezing cold and the wind was out of the north at about 25 knots)

24th floor of the Hotel Viru, the only hotel at which visitors were allowed to stay when the Soviets occupied Estonia. There’s a KGB spy museum tour there now, which isn’t very good. It did have some interesting nuggets, such as how the KGB hid microphones in the bread plates that were used in the hotel restaurant.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: The first stop in Tallinn was Põhjala Brewing, because of course. Not only did they have some outstanding beer, they had incredible barbecue as well. This week’s top choice was actually a guest tap from a different Estonian brewery. Despite the fact that Põhjala turns out some excellent brews, the Pühaste Tumeaine Double Stout was the best one of the bunch.

2019: The Summer Light Beer Got Good | Food & Wine
Craft breweries are taking on big beer with great-tasting, less-caloric beers.

Non-Sports

Howard Stern Says He’s Changed. How Much? - The New York Times
“I am the poster boy for doing everything offensive. I’ve done insane things. But everything I did, I make no apologies for, because I was trying to entertain people.”