Washington State head coach Mike Leach has never been especially shy about giving his opinion, and he’s developed a reputation in journalistic circles as one of college football’s better quotes. So his session with reporters at a Pac-12 media day on Thursday was a big-ticket event, to the extent these things can be big-ticket events.
SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey was on the scene in Hollywood, where Leach and the rest of the conference’s head coaches are holding court on Thursday and Friday. Godfrey and members of a Pac-12 reporting throng got Leach’s opinion on a host of issues, sports-related and not. These are some of Leach’s greatest hits from the day:
Leach to Godfrey, with his view on Brexit. (Leach supports Donald Trump, who has avowedly supported the British retreat from the European Union). He’s not worried about the world abandoning English businesses:
"I kind of think the English ought to do what’s best for the English, whatever that may be. I can’t say I know enough about it to say, you know? Occasionally you hear people talking about their money market accounts, afraid of what some concern or panic might cause. But if it causes any, it’ll probably ripple out. Where’s England gonna go? I mean, it’s been around for centuries. England’s not gonna disappear. It'll still be England. And all this: ‘Well, now, nobody’ll do business with them.’ Baloney. If you’re buying something from England, you’re not gonna do it now."
Because England hasn’t adopted Europe’s single currency, Leach thinks Brexit isn’t as dramatic a switch as it otherwise might be:
"Whether it’s right or wrong, they were always kind of one foot in, one foot out, because they never took on euros. They always kept the pound. But I think England should do what’s best for England. I mean, that’s the concern of their people, their country. That’s who they represent."
Someone asked Leach in his press conference which area outside North America has the best American football. His winding response, which includes plaudits for Samoa, Austria and much of Europe:
Outside of North America, best football? Is Samoa North America?* Probably Samoa. I'd say Samoa. Germany’s certainly up there. You know, I’ll tell who's really embraced football is Austria. Austria’s really embraced football. And then of course, as far as me personally, well, I've done clinics in Japan. We had a bunch of coaches from Japan come up over spring, and we've got some from France and Italy coming, so I've done them in France, I've done them in Scotland, I've done them all over England, in Italy. Head coaches from Belgium come one time. I've never done a camp over there in Belgium. I don't know. I mean, it is kind of exciting, and I would like to see it grow as much as possible in all those places.
*Samoa is not in North America, so Leach is in the clear.
Leach, in response to a question about the Pac-12’s designs on an international presence, said he wants football to be a more global game:
I would like to see football become a worldwide sport, and so over there -- I guess to generalize it, you could say football over there is like soccer is here to a degree. But, yeah, I would like to see football become fully international instead of just kind of hobbyists overseas. I'd like them fully integrated, no doubt.
Leach wants a 16-team College Football Playoff. At least:
I think we need a more expanded playoff system. I think we need one that has 16 teams or more, and I think that would mitigate that. Then rather than speculation and selective and projecting and rankings and all this, it would be settled on the field. So I think we need a playoff system that involves 16 teams or more.
Leach has some worries about the Heisman Trophy, including why WSU quarterback Luke Falk didn’t win it last season:
Well, I've kind of lost track of what the Heisman is. There was a time when the Heisman went to the guy who had the biggest impact and effect on their team, and if that was the case, he probably would have won it last year or should have. And then so the emphasis has kind of shifted from that, and a lot of guys with Heisman trophies wouldn't have him in this day and age because now they try to finesse it to whoever is the MVP on the team that wins the national championship team gets it.
However, the inconvenient fact is the Heisman is issued before the national championship, so there's a bunch of speculation on that. So really I think they either need to have two awards or they need to define it. Either you're giving it to the guy that's got the biggest impact on their particular team, or it's for the MVP for the team that wins the national championship, and if that's the case, they need to hand it out at the end of the national championship along with the other hardware.
Leach is no great fan of Pokemon Go, which he seems to lump together with other millennial activities such as texting:
I've seen them doing that for the last 10 years, but nobody talks to people anymore. I mean, there's people [who] won't even talk face to face. They'll go across the room and text each other. I think it's actually kind of disturbing. I think the days before cell phones, when it was dirt clod wars at construction sites, was a lot more wholesome and productive, to be perfectly honest.
Good luck, other coaches, topping this presser in terms unmitigated quotability – unless you’re Bret Bielema, in which case you’ve probably already done it.
You can see video of a lot of this (and some other stuff, including his summer reading list) here: