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Mike Leach And Washington State Enter A Promising And Unusual Union

Well, the internet's certainly happy about it, but Mike Leach is a coach made for instant digital sainthood.

He likes passing the ball a lot in his offense, has a well-documented obsession with pirates, and then earned the internet's love and respect forever by becoming embroiled in a tussle with ESPN, Craig James, and his employers at Texas Tech. The pirate's coach spent two years out of the game burnishing that reputation, going into a working exile in Key West, touring the media circuit, and doing a daily radio show from his sunny deck for Sirius/XM. 

Washington State decided they liked him better without any prefixes. The newly hired coach at Washington State will now take the helm of a team currently buried in the deep end of the Pac-12, replacing the recently fired Paul Wulff. 9-40 was Wulff's record at the school. These numbers would make for a decent run of at-bats for a skilled baseball catcher, and are terrible for those of a football coach. The situation Leach will enter is a challenging one from the start, and could get even more difficult with the addition of Rich Rodriguez and whomever Arizona State selects for their coaching job. 

The neighborhood is a tough one, the location remote, and the numbers daunting, but Leach has tangible reasons for optimism. Personnel is one: Wazzu already ran a pass-friendly offense, and return potential star freshman Connor Halliday at quarterback along with the sixth most productive wide receiver in the nation, sophomore Marquess Wilson. (Yes, Wazzu had the sixth most productive receiver in the nation. Watch more late night Versus, and you'd already know that.) Leach has support from the administration in the form of large contract, a five-year commitment, and can brag on some ambitious facilities upgrades when recruiting time comes around for the Cougars.

There are positives, but let's now muddy those with other facts less conducive to optimism. Leach never had a losing record in Lubbock, but he never won a Big 12 South Title, either. He is still embroiled in a legal battle with the single largest broadcaster of college football anywhere, and did leave his last employer on sour terms. Leach is familiar with recruiting to remote locales, but it bears repeating that in the Pac-12 Pullman is still regarded as that: remote, and far away from the eyes of top-ranked recruits and their families. His defenses fluctuated dramatically in their performance at Tech, and the chief issue with the Cougars has been their atrocious defense. His honesty can be shocking to those accustomed to coachspeak, and the knock on Leach being unusual is entirely accurate. He is unusual, and that is something those in Pullman will have to get used to quickly.

Unusual is not necessarily a bad thing here. Pullman, Washington is a bit unusual, and harbored the boisterous Mike Price for many successful years until he flamed out before ever coaching a game at Alabama. Maybe Pullman needs unusual, and the unusual needs Pullman. The unusual in this case is getting a second chance to coach just far enough away from the public eye for comfort's sake, while still existing safely inside the boundaries of Division One Football. Unusual is one word, but another adjective applies here, too: promising