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Ask CougCenter Anything: Should we be worried about Mike Leach leaving?

Also, what about Alex Grinch? That and more in this week’s mailbag.

USC v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

The mailbag is back! Got questions you want answered next week? Shoot us a line at

Now that the Washington State Cougars are 5-0 with a win over a top five team, people are already starting to talk about Mike Leach leaving. Should we be scared?

Grace D. Funk

Preston: He has a five-year rolling contract that pays him nearly $3 million annually, an athletic director committed to doing whatever he needs to do to keep him here, and a fan base that, by and large, adores him. Oh, and it’s the lowest pressure job in the Pac-12 and he can still make it back to Key West for a couple months every spring and he’s 56-years old.

Nah, he’s staying.

Nuss: Besides all that, people might remember that this is a guy who chose to spend 10 years in Lubbock, Texas. Granted, he started looking around a bit toward the end, but that was because he felt underappreciated by the university leadership. He certainly feels properly appreciated here, and Bill Moos has shown it with regular raises.

Dudley: No.

Cassino: When UF-Key West joins the ACC, I will be seriously concerned about Leach leaving. Until then, barring something very strange, I’m not losing sleep over it.

Nuss: I do think it’s funny how national pundits love to assume that Pullman is such a s—hole that there’s not a person on the planet who can’t wait to get out of there. There are definitely easier places to recruit to, but I think Leach has proven to himself and everyone else that he can recruit to Pullman just fine. I’ve never seen him as a person who would sprint to the first Blue Blood Program that came along, but who knows. Nothing Leach does surprises me — I mean, this is a guy who recruits African-Americans and decided it would be a good idea to go open a rally for a presidential candidate who built his entire campaign on being racist — but it sure seems like he’s content here. We’re winning, the administration stays out of his way, and he’s compensated handsomely for it. Seems like he has what he wants.

Sherwood: Scared is a weird word. I’m scared the team is going to lose this weekend. I’m scared of that Manah-Manah guy from the Muppet Show. I’m not scared Mike Leach is going to leave Pullman. I don’t think there’s any reason for him to leave, but even if he pulled a 180 and decided to try out a bigger program, he leaves things better than he found them and we now have the resources to remain competitive. Just enjoy this season and we’ll worry about next year’s coaching staff when there’s nothing else to talk about.

How long do you think we can realistically keep Alex Grinch. I feel the exact same way about Grinch as I did Tony Bennett and Coach Joe. I know it's only a matter of time. I could see LSU throwing a ton of money at him to take the DC job or a mid major school offering him a head coaching job. Thanks.

Erik R.

Preston: It’s probably worth being worried about in the near-term, especially if the defense keeps this up. He’ll definitely be a hot commodity in the offseason and I’d certainly be hard pressed to resist the temptation of a bigger and better job somewhere else.

He is under a two-year contract, so we’d have a buyout coming our way, which is nice. I’d suspect he’ll be, at the very least, using some job offers as potential leverage to get more money which, after this season, he’d deserve.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Washington State
Alex Grinch is going to be a hot commodity.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Dudley: He's young so if the right opportunity comes along, he'll take it, and who can blame him? But worry? Nah. That's college football. You win, you get more attention and your coaches are hot commodities. Every team loses coaches each season, even the big boys. It's the price of success for WSU.

Cassino: Enjoy him while you can; I think he’s gone sooner rather than later. However, that is all determined by how ambitious he is—some guys are just coordinator lifers, which is perfectly fine—and the right job for him, whether it’s NCAA or NFL, coming open.

Nuss: And, like I wrote on Monday: Grinch has proven that it’s not a foregone conclusion that defense is an afterthought on a Leach-coached team. His hiring ended up being a masterstroke by Leach, but I doubt any of us are naïve enough to think Grinch was the first choice. Maybe he really was, but when Grinch moves on, WSU should attract a stronger pool of candidates this time around. Maybe Leach still goes outside the box, but he should have more choices.

Oh, and take Kevin’s advice — losing coaches is a compliment and means your program is doing things right. Lose talented assistants to bigger jobs and you attract talented assistants. It’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

Sherwood: Oh, Grinch is gone. Gone, gone, gone. I’d bet Nusser’s shoe being eaten on it. Just thank whoever hires him for the buyout cash and wish Grinch good luck with the promotion. And you get to come back this spring for all the BANNER CONTENT in #DC4WSU18

That throw Luke Falk made to Jamire Calvin in the back of the end zone was so awesome. That would have been his signature moment, right? Which got me thinking: Does Falk have a signature moment that we associate with him? Maybe UCLA 2015?

Carol Turnkey

Preston: His pass to Williams at the end of regulation against Oregon in 2015, for me anyway. Everything went against them that drive too, including the awful forward progress whistle.

Cassino: What a fantastic question. The UCLA game-winner does stand out for sure. I think the better play from that Oregon game was the sneak where he got demolished as he approached the goal line, then spun off to score. Kind of emblematic of his career. Beaten all to hell at times, but at the end of the day, he’s gonna be on top of every passing statistical category of any significance.

NCAA Football: Washington State at UCLA
Luke Falk’s signature moment?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dudley: I think of three moments: Rutgers 2015, Oregon 2015 and UCLA 2015. If I had to choose, I'd choose the UCLA game. He had to literally pick himself off the turf after Mora's guys attempted murder. He had to be cleared by doctors just to play in the second half and then led the comeback after it looked like Rosen won it for UCLA. Amazing.

Cassino: It feels really weird to me that all of the moments happened in 2015 and not 2016. Like there should have been at least one contender from last year, right?

Dudley: Very weird. Just shows how incredible that 2015 season was, and how close we were to being 4-8.

Nuss: 2016 was strange in that way — just not a lot of memorable moments, unless you count the duds at the end of the season for the wrong reasons.

Sherwood: So no votes for that dumb safety in the Oregon State game?

With a huge win vs USC and our upcoming game @Oregon, a startling trend of opponent injuries is stringing together. We have had some scrapes and bangs, but otherwise Pelleur's foot/ankle seems to be one of the biggest injuries. Are injuries related to a team's coaching, play style, or practice conditions at all? (Oregon's Herbert would probably still have a season if he wasn't diving for a TD like many of their past RBs and QBs have done, which sparked this question)

Tracy M.

Cassino: Our starting QB at the high school went the entire summer, every preseason practice, two scrimmages, and a full game without even being touched. No sacks, no hits, no turnovers where he had to make a tackle, nothing whatsoever. Second drive of the second game, the Mike on the other team times the snap count, shoots the A gap and rolls the QB up and breaks his ankle. First time somebody in the wrong color jersey touched him. Injuries are random.

Nuss: Doesn’t it seem like we’ve had fewer injuries than our opponents the last few years, though? I have no idea if that’s true, or if my perception is skewed by the MASH unit under Paul Wulff, but it just seems like other teams are consistently more injured than we are.

Dudley: I think conditioning has something to do with it. I'm no expert but that and technique probably go together. As Jesse said: injuries are random. We've been super fortunate Falk hasn't been out for any long-term injury. I mean, it could be worse. We could be holding tryouts for scout team QBs.

Cassino: For the record, I’ve been furiously throwing salt over my shoulder and lighting incense while reading/answering this question. The Football Gods are fickle masters.

Dudley: I've been skipping over cracks in the sidewalk.

Nuss: I don’t believe in the Football Gods. Don’t @ me.

Preston: You should be doing that anyway, Dudley. You wouldn’t want to break your mother’s back.

Sherwood: It’s clearly about GRIT. AND WE HAVE IT.

Not a question, but more of a comment: I hope ESPN Magazine has to run a correction after this weekend saying they should have done a cover story on Luke Falk instead of Sam Darnold.

Russ from OBNUG

Dudley: It's the Sports Illustrated curse. Darnold was on a regional cover for SI at the beginning of the season. Media companies are going to go for the sexy stories, and a start quarterback in L.A. is a better story overall compared to a quiet, shy, reserved quarterback in Pullman, Wash.

But I'd be open to a cover photo of Luvu sacking Rypien.

Nuss: Yes. And I think it should include ESPN begging for forgiveness. None will be given, of course.

Preston: /shrug emoji. Darnold is/was the Heisman Trophy darling in the big media market. Whatev. The Dusty Grain Elevators don’t exactly do wonders for advertising a Heisman campaign, gorgeous though the scenery and poster may be.

Sherwood: I again refer you to that safety in the Oregon State game. I’ll never get over that.

Do you believe that in 2017 with college football being so accessible and parity being at an all time high that it is best for a conference to have the teams in the highly populated areas to be the most successful?

Preceding your response I'd like to say that I believe that enrollment and placement in LA, Seattle vs. Corvallis, Pullman doesn't matter nearly as much as it used to. Boise State would be a perfect example with what they've managed to accomplish over the past 12 or so years.


NCAA Football: Alabama at Vanderbilt
Nope, no parity.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Cassino: Is parity at an all-time high? We’re staring Bama-Clemson III in the face.

Dudley: Jon Wilner is that you?

Nuss: Yeah, I disagree with the premise on its face — there’s no parity. There’s still the haves and have nots, and the have nots get to be good once in a while before slipping back down. I think sexy teams being good does matter a little in terms of getting teams into the CFP; if you’re not a sexy team and you want to get in there, I think it definitely helps to have the sexy teams be good. But if you’re WSU? The sexy teams being down is exactly what you want — after all, that’s how we went to a pair of Rose Bowls.

Dudley: The same good teams are good just about every year. Bama, Ohio State, Clemson, Michigan, Oklahoma, etc. When a WSU, a Boise State, an Oregon State, a Kansas State, an NC State, a Maryland, a Rutgers or similar are consistently ranked high in the Top 25, then we may have some parity. But only some.

Preston: If it’s really accessible as you imply (and it is), why does it need to be in population centers, especially with every game a major conference plays on national television anyway? I don’t think WSU being headquartered in Spokane, Tacoma, etc. would help it measurably, though I could be wrong. Besides, State College, Manhattan, Oxford, and Ames are all “middle of nowhere”, though to a much smaller degree than Pullman.

Sherwood: There’s a case to be made that the media likes it when the big city teams are good because they barely have to leave the major airports.

Nuss: ESPN College GameDay, is that you? Or maybe it’s that salty USC old guy from Friday?

Cassino: The town of Clemson, SC has 13,000-ish people, for the record. The prosecution rests.

Dudley: WSU being headquartered in Spokane would mean Gonzaga would be Division III. Oh, what could have been.

Preston: .... I take it back, someone invent a time machine and move the school.

Sherwood: Parity isn’t a thing. WSU is 5-0 and nobody, including the most diehard WSU fan, thinks they have any shot at the playoff. There’s probably some merit to the idea though. Everyone thinks the Big-12 is down right now because Texas sucks. But a team favored because of large populations means we’re living in a world dominated by Rutgers and I’m not ok with that.

Nuss: Not a question, but someone sent this.

Sherwood: We really drink a lot, don’t we? I need to call some hospitals.

Preston: Where’s Fireball Guy? (It’s glorious, my criticisms are stupid.)

Nuss: Fireball Guy is right behind Mullet Man. Kinda wondering if Cody O’Connell shouldn’t have replaced Chewy.

Dudley: Took me a while to find him too. This is a great piece.

Preston: I was excellent at “Where’s Waldo?”

Cassino: Give “someone” a shiny gold medal.

Sherwood: I bet they made the Fireball Run in less than twelve parsecs! (I’ll show myself out.)

Preston: Still my favorite Star Wars photo shop though if for no other reason than the Mike Leach As Yoda NIGHTMARE FUEL.

Sherwood: Do or do not. There is no throwing the ball to a running back that deep your own end zone.