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Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez is the summer's most quotable concert

Too bad their tour only made one stop, in Los Angeles for Pac-12 Media Days. Here are the Washington State coach's best moments, along with those of his worthy opener, Rich Rodriguez.

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - The definition of a live entertainment dollar well spent is a headliner that delivers, but it's always a bonus when you show up for an opening act that doesn't suck.

Except that media events aren't concerts, and no one pays to get in. But hey, Washington State's head coach delivers every time, man.

Whatever your metaphor for a satisfying concert -- going from "The River" to "Thunder Road" in the encore or a Bob Weir guest jam or live versions of half the tracks from "Reasonable Doubt" -- that's Leach at Pac-12 Media Days.

That Rich Rodriguez guy wasn't too bad, either. Arizona's third-year head coach opened Day 1 looking like a tanner, happier shell of the man who fought through three years of bad defenses and even worse politics at Michigan. Here's the proof:

  1. His opening statement as the first coach of the day: "I could be like every other coach in America and tell you how excited I am to be here, but that would be lying. Truth is, I'd rather still be on vacation."
  2. His fascination with an official Pac-12 water bottle: "Check out these big-time, shiny new water bottles. Very BCS."
  3. His honest refusal to name a starting quarterback for the Wildcats: "And the truth is, even if I knew who the starter was, I wouldn't tell you all. Why would I tell you and tell our opponents? Not that it's a big deal. But this is the truth: I really don't know who not just No. 1 is, but I don't know who No. 1, 2, or 3 is."
  4. His humble beginnings: "I never thought about [his role in nationalizing spread offenses], because [when he invented his own version] was at Glenville State in 1990, and there were 500 people in the stands, and I'm related to 490 of them."
  5. His excitement about the Pac-12's competitive balance: "Hell no, I don't like [parity in the Pac-12]. I wish everyone else was terrible."
  6. His evolution as a player's coach: [When told one of his players said Rodriguez had lightened up during his time at Arizona] "I need to go back to being a prick then. I'm getting soft."
  7. His excitement about Arizona's new facilities: "We've got a brand-new facility that's great, but everybody's got new stuff. Oregon changes it out like Porta-Potties. Like every four or five years. Like we need a new this, and they go do it."

Good opener, but hey, man: LEACH. WE WANT SOME CRUNCHY LEACH SOLOS on weird stuff.

Leach turned a conversation about the Pac 12's facility improvements into a diagnostic of Arkansas' War Memorial Stadium, the ancient Little Rock facility where the Razorbacks still play one home game a year:

Acoustics are a funny thing. You know, the loudest stadium I've ever played in was 45,000 people at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock,  Arkansas. The entire thing is concrete. It's like dropping a ball bearing in your neighbor's basement. Just the whole thing echoes. Anything  you say or do echoes five times. Well, five times 45,000 is almost 250,000. It's really loud.

When asked about the prevalence of big-dollar neutral-site games, he managed to stump for Seattle -- home of rival Washington and also where the Cougars open against Rutgers at the Seahawks' CenturyLink Field on Aug. 28 -- as "a Coug town."

I think as long as you play the same team somewhere every year that's good. We did that against Baylor in Dallas [at Texas Tech]. Other than Washington. They have to come to our place ... You see a lot of Coug flags around Seattle, flying high. You see some Washington flags but they're laying on the ground. Not as many.

Not surprisingly, Leach is a vocal opponent of pro-style coaches who claim hurry-up offenses somehow put players at a greater risk of injury. However, no one's quite as adept as developing a thesis statement for the defense:

Quite frankly, there's probably a higher incidence of injury if you have guys with white knuckles and high asses with all kinds of time to set up and tee off on somebody than it is with everybody hurrying and scurrying around. If somebody's tired, sub for 'em. I guarantee you the second team guy wants to play. We played one-deep on defense all last year because that's how deep we were.

On the debate of single vs. four-year renewed scholarships for athletes, Leach wants to keep the single-year format to exercise discipline over his players:

I think you should have to perform each year, and if you do, you renew your scholarship, but there have been few I haven't renewed. Right on the papers it says felony, kicked out of school. Obviously, you're getting a scholarship for what? Being in Folsom Prison, that would be a little difficult.

(By the way, Washington State returns an offense that led the Cougars to their first bowl in over a decade. Leach mentioned that a few times. Probably.)

Leach's encore, the show closer, requires a thorough explanation, although the benefit of audio recordings and a written transcript still don't do it justice. You just sorta had to be there, which is why Mike Leach Live! should be a nationwide arena tour.

Sailing Key West with Leach

Initially, the conversation started with Leach's comments about the weather at a coaching stop he had in Palm Desert, California, which led to comments about the cold weather in Pullman, Washington and his home state of Wyoming:

Everybody talks about everybody wants to win the weather battle. I'm proud to say I had a bet with a guy from Chicago who said Chicago is windier and colder than Wyoming. Wyoming dominated them.

This went on for a bit, which prompted me to ask if Leach had the best all-weather resume of any head coach, having stopped in windy Lubbock, Texas, rainy Washington, cold Wyoming and also humid South Georgia, where he was an offensive coordinator at Valdosta State under Hal Mumme.

"People don't realize, it can be a powerful heat down in Valdosta," I said to Leach.

"Where are you from?" Leach asked me back.


"Yeah. Yeah. You're in the Gnat Belt. That's a little tough. That's a developed skill," Leach said.

Hey, we finally joined Facebook!

Leach then started to mimic spitting gnats out of his mouth, which in fact is a common practice in Central Georgia, an area known as the Gnat Line, where the bugs thrive just above sea level to make life hell for weeks at a time.

"No, seriously," he told the crowd. "Where he's from, and it's a great place, it's a very beautiful place, and it's also funny with the weather. Atlanta might have snow and Macon might have good weather, and they're not really far apart. But there's a period of time in the year where the gnats get all over your face and they bite you. And the Macon crowd, it's funny, but they can sit there like nothing's happening and there can be gnats just biting the hell out of your face. And they'll just be, 'Da da da,' talking, and it doesn't even bother them. Even down in Valdosta, where the gnats rarely got down there, because it's too hot I guess. This one high school coach, I'm down there recruiting, and he nudges me and says - try this."

Leach starts pursing his lips, pushing air across his face in different directions.

"Well I've got these big, fat old lips, so it doesn't really work as well. But he'd fire up a little puff and just blow the gnats right off."

"You're right by the Okefenokee Swamp. There's alligators and water moccasins. Great fun is had by all. Now what was your question?" -Mike Leach

At this point a reporter tried to ask a question, but Leach rolled through.

"And then Skin So Soft, I don't know exactly what that is, but evidently gnats don't like that. So they'd rub that all over and there'd be these fresh-smelling people everywhere who still had some gnats on them and looked kind of oily, you know? And what I think is, the gnats don't really care about [the Skin So Soft], but it probably puts a little sheet of oil on you so it's harder for 'em to bite you. You don't feel the bites. That's just one guy's theory; I'm sure I'm wrong."

Again, the reporter, who jumped back in: "Can you talk about some of your marquee games as..."

"Well, that's a fascinating question," Leach said to him and turned away. "So, Valdosta. Valdosta's hotter, yeah, and you're right by the Okefenokee Swamp, and there's alligators and water moccasins, and great fun is had by all."

"Now what was your question?" Leach said to the reporter.