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Andre Dillard interrupts the Cougar sports malaise

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He’s got some thoughts!

NCAA Football: Oregon at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. We were all prepared to break out our emergency Washington State Cougars #content, seeing as how there will be next to nothing in that area for the next several days weeks months? Well, it looks like we will get to save that for another day. Because while today’s WSU-related content may not exactly qualify as news, it is still rather interesting. Ok, I thought it was interesting anyway. Your mileage may vary.

Former Cougar All-American and current Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Andre Dillard, a Woodinville native, conducted an interview with a hometown news outlet recently, and hoo boy did he have some thoughts on Mike Leach.

“I had no idea that he would leave,” Dillard said. “He struck me as a guy who hated change. You could tell by the offense he ran. But I was really happy to hear that news because the boys back there needed a change.”

Shots Fired.

“Mike Leach isn’t exactly a coach that you’d like to play for,” Dillard said. “He’s just one of those guys who get results. But the way he gets results is frowned upon by the players. He never gave off any vibe that he cared about his players on a personal level. Playing for him felt a little bit like a dictatorship.”

Andre ain’t done.

“It personally bothered me,” Dillard said. “What kind of coach throws his entire team under the bus when things go wrong? But he never put any blame on himself. Calling players out. Calling them fat and slow and saying he needs new players. He did that several times when I was there. it just wasn’t good leadership.”

When asked for a specific example, Dillard cited a 2016 loss against Boise State.

“He compared us to a junior college women’s softball team,” Dillard said. “I was like `Dude, you need to chill out.’ The guys were offended by that.

“Anyway, I’m just happy that he has moved on,” Dillard said. “But I do appreciate him giving me the opportunity to play there [at WSU].”

Current Cougar Jahad Woods hasn’t been shy about the coaching change, and seems to agree with Dillard’s sentiments.

Like most - or probably all - of you, I never played college football, meaning I was never inside a college football locker room. I can make inferences as to how the dynamics worked, based upon the fact that I’ve been a part of teams that were small (an aircrew) and teams that were large (a squadron), so I know there are competing agendas and opinions abound.

I’m also willing to bet that you will find many former Leach players who will heap praise on him and are incredibly grateful for having been a part of his organization. Such is life when there are over 100 youngsters sharing a relatively small space.

I can sympathize with Andre when he talks about his displeasure with Leach’s leadership style. I’ve taken issue with many of Leach’s public comments over the years, especially his constant act of spending five seconds blaming the coaching staff and then several minutes crapping on the players. The best leaders I’ve served with heap praise in public and save criticism for private. Leach, for better or worse, was not a fan of that practice.

On the other hand, I think Andre would have found Leach’s “dictator” style a relatively common practice no matter where he’d have played. The coach most widely known as a dictator is also the most successful college football coach in history, so that kind of leadership style has proven successful. Additionally, these are 18-22 year-olds who are just figuring things out, and many of them need to learn how to function in a structured and disciplined environment.

Along those lines, Dillard’s specific example - the 2016 loss to the Boise State Broncos - can cut both ways as well. Leach’s comments could be (and were by many people) construed as offensive and unnecessary. However, WSU went on to win eight straight games, so it’s hard to infer that Leach’s comments had a negative effect on the team’s attitude and production. And while Dillard’s thoughts probably mirror several current and former players, one can’t really argue with Leach’s results.

Looking a bit deeper, this little dust-up makes me wonder if/how the issue affected recruiting. It is inarguable that Leach and his staff were able to develop recruiting classes that consistently ranked near the bottom of the conference. However, the quality of those incoming recruits never seemed to improve much despite the on-field success. This is purely speculation on my part, but I wonder if some of that is due to the sentiments of players in Leach’s system. When prospects come on official visits, they spend the vast majority of time with current team members. Those team members talk, obviously, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were honest with the prospects about their views of the head coach. Again, I have no idea if things like that happened, but I would be curious to find out.

In the end, I greatly appreciate Leach’s efforts in Pullman. He took WSU from rock-bottom to near the top of the conference during his tenure, and gave us fans scores of great on-field memories. But like Andre Dillard (and apparently several other current/former WSU players), I’m happy that he has moved on.

Football

Andre Dillard Sounds off on Mike Leach; Reflects on Rookie NFL Season | Woodinville Sports
The big man is back home in Woodinville, resting after his rookie season.

This Week in Parenting

Truncated time with the kids again this week, which will be the last week like this for the foreseeable future. When they got home from school, and after the celebration about school cancelation died down, we were playing football in the yard. When I remarked that it was about 5pm, the eight year-old quickly replied, “Oh, that means it’s happy hour.” I have no idea why he knows that and I will maintain this stance into my grave.

Mrs. Kendall had a well-deserved evening out with some friends on Saturday, which meant that it was the kiddos and me at home. After begging me to let them play Nintendo, I relented and we hooked it up. It was then that I realized how I can use deprivation to my advantage. The old school Nintendo is the only game system we have in the house, so they party like it’s 1989 whenever they get to play Super Mario because they will cling to any video game morsel they possibly can.

The 11 year-old scored a late touchdown to win 14-7, which meant he got to play dad in the championship round. He slinked up the stairs to bed after ending up on the wrong side of a 31-7 butt-kicking. Who needs XBox??!!

Tales From the Road

You don’t care about any of this, but writing about provides some catharsis for me, so here goes. Also, I’m guessing many of you had similar roller coaster-like adventures this week, so feel free to share them.

Man it has been a month, and yours truly is worn the (bleep) out. Starting on Valentine’s Day and ending Friday the 13th, there were 11 flights (four of the long haul variety), several hotels and an ungodly amount of Untappd check-ins.

14 Feb: Frankfurt-Barcelona
17 Feb: Barcelona-Frankfurt

18 Feb: Frankfurt-Detroit-Las Vegas
25/26 Feb: Las Vegas-Atlanta-Frankfurt

02 March: Frankfurt-Newark (what an awful airport)-Washington, DC
07 March: Washington, DC-St. Louis
12/13 March: St. Louis-Chicago-Frankfurt

The last portion of that trip contains its own awesomeness.

11 March, noon: Conference honcho tells us that things are in flux with our leadership back in Europe regarding travel policy, and that we are cleared off after Thursday (instead of Friday). The group of guys I’m with decides to stay on track to depart Friday evening, as scheduled.

8pm: The President comes on television and says he’s suspending all flights from Europe, beginning Friday. This presents a problem, for several reasons. First, our flight from Dulles is scheduled to depart at 1030pm, roughly 90 minutes before the ban takes effect. What happens if our flight is delayed? Related, this new policy would almost certainly lead to curtailment of flights to and from Europe, putting our trip home at risk.

810pm: In a stunning development, what the President said and what is actually true are separated by a Grand Canyon-sized gulf. Turns out U.S. citizens can still travel freely, and the policy has several other caveats, but the possibility of slashed airline schedules remains.

830pm: Conference honcho calls for a meeting/discussion near the hotel. At a bar. Did I mention how cool he is? We go over options, and after a Sixpoint Meltdown IIPA I head back to the room to try and change our flights. It’s not an easy task when flying on the tax payer dime, as we have to go through our travel office, and can’t deal with the airline directly.

12 March, 1230am: After more than two hours on hold - all while watching the Cougs boatrace Colorado to clinch the national championship - I get through and change flights for my gang of four, departing Friday at 345pm.

7am: Back on the phone. For some reason, none of us can check in, and I realize it’s because the travel office hasn’t issued tickets. After close to another two hours on hold, the guy who is supposed to help me says, “If you haven’t been ticketed two hours prior, call back.” Now, I know I didn’t major in Math, but I raised an issue with him. “Um, if we aren’t ticketed at two hours prior, and I call back, the wait time on hold is at least 90 minutes. By the time I get through it will be too late.” I was basically told “tough shit.”

11am: Flights are ticketed. Hooray!

7pm: Depart O’Hare on a maybe half-full United 767. Hooray! I made a comment to my friend that I felt like we were Judd Hirsch in Independence Day. Traffic was backed up for miles trying to get out of Europe, and here we were headed in the opposite direction, all by ourselves.

13 March, 10am: Arrive in Frankfurt. I didn’t even have my beer-loaded bag in hand before I had a message from work telling me to be at a 4pm staff meeting. Super Duper.

1pm: Get a call from work telling me that my boss has directed the four of us to go into a 14-day self-quarantine. Welp.

105pm: I wonder, is it really a self-quarantine if I’m ordered to do it?

130pm: I get roughly 83 notifications that school is closed UFN, starting Monday.

132pm: Sketch out a plan to acquire all the vodka in the local area for Mrs. Kendall.

2pm: Baseball season is also canceled. The hits, they keep coming.

4pm: Another call from work. “The boss jumped the gun, so come to work Monday unless you have symptoms. Oh, and nobody can go anywhere, either for official travel or on leave, for at least 60 days.” Aaaaaand say “goodbye” to spring break on the beaches of Croatia. Can’t wait to try and get my money back from Lufthansa. That should go smoothly.

14 March, 9pm: The base has its first confirmed case. Fitness centers closed until further notice. Well at least I won’t have to deal with gym guy for a while.

Oh, and if you looked askew at that line about Cougs winning the national championship, someone much smarter than I believes it, too.

Hang the damn banner.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: That bar where our meeting happened was maybe 50 meters from the hotel, and they had many many beers on tap, including the last two editions of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout. They had a really good (and not cheap!) bottle selection as well. New Holland Brewing makes a baseline barrel-aged stout known as Dragon’s Milk. They also make several offshoots, and they’re almost all sensational. Among those offshoots is Dragon’s Milk Reserve Oatmeal Cookie. My god.

Beer industry watches and waits as coronavirus epidemic unfolds: Is boon or crisis ahead? - Chicago Tribune
Most breweries have little clue what to expect from the coronavirus pandemic. Will sales be up as people hunker down at home?

Non-Sports

I will spare my opinion of the “it’s not even as bad as the flu” crowd, and instead encourage you to back away from social media and read a couple pieces by people who actually know what they’re talking about. It’ll help, really. And I swear I planned to link this first one before Jeff cited it in another discussion thread.

This Coronavirus Is Unlike Anything in Our Lifetime, and We Have to Stop Comparing It to the Flu — ProPublica
Longtime health reporter Charles Ornstein says that comparing the novel coronavirus to the flu is dangerously inaccurate. Not one public health expert he trusts has called that comparison valid. Here’s why.

Covid-19 is different from flu and we must respond differently, former CDC director says - CNN
There are similarities and differences between Covid-19 and the flu, but we know much less about the novel coronavirus.