Quotes: Leach says Wilson has recanted

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We have the transcription of Mike Leach's season-ending press conference in its entirety, but first wanted to pull out a few of the more significant notes.

— Leach was again adamant that the Marquess Wilson review has been a “total waste of time,” and said that Wilson has since “basically recanted everything he’s said.”

“Just wait and you’ll read the review. Stay tuned and when you all get bored talking about football, you can talk about that again.”

— There's no update on Jeff Tuel's request for a fifth year of eligibility. Leach said Tuel is lifting weights with the team. Offseason workouts started on Monday, with players lifting four days per week. Next week, they'll run and lift four days per week, then do the same thing the week after, Leach said.

— Leach said Travis Long's knee injury will keep him out of pre-draft workouts, but he still expects Long to get a shot with an NFL team.

— Leach expects all of his assistants to return next season, “as far as I know.”

— On his name coming up in other coaching searches, Leach said: “I’m not looking for another position and I’m happy here. It’s about as simple as that. There’s always dialogue that takes place but I’m happy here. I’m staying here. When I got here I planned to from the beginning, I planned to get to a place where you build it up and you turn it around. Not looking for just stop and start stuff.”

Here's the transcription:


(On waiting for Tuel's redshirt decision) “From my experience with the bureaucracies that tend to those sort of things, there’s no telling.”

(Recruiting priorities) “D-line and O-line, especially. Just commitment wise that’s where we’re the lightest, also. That’s what we need the most. I think numerically we’re chasing more people for those slots.”

(Reception post-Apple Cup with recruits) “Our reception from the beginning’s been pretty good. It really has from the start. I haven’t seen, maybe a little enthusiasm but it’s been steady, honestly. I kind of wondered those things myself. It’s been steady.”

(Has it been harder or easier to recruit to WSU than you thought it would?) “From the beginning, the state of Washington’s key. I knew we’d have to be aggressive in the state of Washington and I also felt like just  looking at things, that would be a bit of a battle because there’s some awfully good players leaving the state of Washington, which is unfortunate. We need to try to keep them in here. I also sort of felt like as we continue tio push and develop and build and aggressively recruit washington, that would happen. We spot-recruit northern California. It’s a wide spread area. Yeah there’s some players, but they’re not necessarily in one cluster and football’s a little better there in southern California. Felt like southern California was the most under-utilized spot in the Pac-12 footprint from the past, in other words just difference in philosophy, felt like southern Calfironia was under utilized and we could get a lot out of there, and we have five coaches down there. Our reception in southern California’s been tremendous, really from the beginning. Ahead of what I would have thought. I thought it would be good, it was better. We spot-recruit Texas. We have a couple guys in texas and some of it utilizes contacts and connections from before and then some of it we are in Dallas and Houston.”

(On recruiting Texas now versus at Texas Tech) “It’s just different. In Texas, when I was at Texas Tech we were chasing guys that wanted to stay in state, that specifically wanted to stay in state and go to a texas school. Now we’re looking for the guy that wants to go out of state, see the world a little bit. Some of them are attracted to what we do scheme wise and basically our name in the state of Texas and the success we had there. But now we’re looking for the guy that wants to leave the state, do something different and maye he moves back to texas, lives there, lives very happy, has a picket fence and half a dozen kids. I don’t know. But the thing is, for the college years wants to see something different and leave the state. I was a little like that. The guys that either don’t want to leave home, be in state, stay there the whole time or else college is a chance to see something, go somewhere. So I was kind of going to leave Wyoming one way or the other. I liked Wyoming a lot but I just felt like opportunity to see something else. Really even with all my degrees I specifically made sure I went somewhere else just to cover a little ground. We’re looking for the guy that wants to leave now.”

(Is Halliday the starting QB going into spring?) “It’s always open. He’d be the most experienced, though. There’s always competition.”

(Can Apodaca compete for the job?) “We’ll have to see. After spring I can give you a better idea. He’s gotten better and better.”

(Is it hard to evaluate him when he's running the scout team?) “No question. No question about it. You can have the ability to evaluate three with some consistency during the season and even that’s a little dicey. You can semi-evaluate three and then spring you have them tee it up and go head to head and have a couple pass skels and watch the fim on both, get some more reps in. give them the skills to develop between then and camp, get them working really hard and when you get to camp you have them battle it out for the first two weeks of camp and see who takes the job away from who.”

(Did you experience anything particularly unexpected this year?) “I can’t say anything unexpected. There’s a certain amount of expect the unexpected and you’re going to get it because that’s how every season is. There’s elements of that. I think the biggest challenge was the youth of our team. I’ve never had a team this young before and so that presents some challenges because you’ll look at their ability and some of what they did in practice but you’ve got to fill in that experience base as fast as you can. But I was proud of how well they grew.”

(Were you surprised by how long it took the team to come around?) “Yeah, some of that was just a natural lack of confidence that I thought existed on our team. I said early on we’re better than we think we are, but I think we’re a team that at times would go out there and have it fixed in their head that, ‘well, we haven’t had a lot of success around here so we’re not going to have a lot of success around here now,’ and go out and play two series and 'well, see, here we go again.' It was just this passiveness, a sense of just taking it. As coaches … what we felt like is, ‘hey, battle through it, you never know. Plus what are we here for anyway?’ The better we got at that, the more that set in. There were some near misses in the process too. You consider the quality of team. We outplayed Stanford, but a team more experienced at winning finds a way to win. You outplay them by that margin, you find a way to win that one. We fought hard, we battled hard, we didn’t find a way to win. Oregon State, really good team, that was probably one of our best defensive games and then offensively we just left it laying there. Colorado, we had a good offensive game, defensively just imploded, just for a brief period, not the whole game. UCLA, created more adversity than I’ve ever seen in a game and fought in there and almost won the thing. Oregon, hung in there as long as we could. Then eventually they keep putting pressure on you and they’re fast and they got loose on us. Other than Stanford you can pretty well argue we played them better than anybody this year. The two most disappointing games was Utah, which I thought our effort was horrible, which I said, which everybody starts screaming bloody murder, they want to ask you a question and then you answer it, and then if the answer doesn’t please everyone, of course they’re disappointed with the answer but that was what it was. ‘Well how’d you play?’ ‘Bad.’ ‘Oh, well that’s going to upset some people.’ ‘Well that’s what happened.’ That was just a lay down. That was no effort. As I’ve said before, all those comments, the first thing I said, it starts with us as coaches. Well that’s not what  anybody wants to hear. They want to isolate it to something they can have some fun with. And then, Arizona State was different from the Utah one. It wasn’t a good result. We went out there, wanted to win badly, frantic, tried hard, one of those things where you run hard, overrun, overextended, out of position, then it devolves into street ball and it blew up on us and that was too bad. And then of course played extremely hard, very shorthanded and played extremely hard against Washington and won, and part of it was the whole thing that we’d been working toward, teaching all year, which is play all four quarters, just worry about your job, trust the guy next to you and your best effort’s going to take you to the best destination you can get to, so keep battling for that and see where you are when the dust clears. That’s what we did and we won.”

(Was there anything in particular that guys bought into more than everything else?) “I think it was all kind of gradual. I think everything was gradual. Part of it because there were so many that hadn’t played beside each other last year, like O-line. None of those guys played beside each other last year. Almost none of them played at all last year, or just little bits and spurts. One of the most marathon things I’ve ever seen, I’ve never even heard of this, really, we had six offensive linemen take every snap that we did this year (note: it was actually seven). Every one. Usually you do it with eight which means everybody’s effort’s cut by about a third, no matter how the game goes, and then if you get the thing in hand, which we didn’t get any of them in hand, then you play the seconds or thirds, which you might do that for the fourth quarter and off you go. We had six guys play virtually every snap so that was fairly challenging. That and they were an inexperienced group and for a couple weeks probably had to introduce themselves to each other as they lined up.”

(On the offseason) “This offseason will be a little different. We’re starting earlier. Keep in mind we didn’t really get in stride with our offseason last time until February. The other thing is that I think the people forget, people leave programs every year. They don’t leave them sometimes. They don’t leave just this program. People leave programs every year, and then in particular they leave new programs. Read an article when they were turning around Wisconsin, 52 guys. Fifty-two. How about that? Everybody’s proud of where Wisconsin ended up. There was probably some growing pains getting there. So that first year said that coach Alvarez and Wisconsin went through 52 of them, didn’t want to commit, didn’t want to have the higher level of commitment, the more demanding effort required. That’s just part of it. So then it’s some guys just, 'well, I’m going to just move on and go to school.' There’s nothing wrong with that. If a guy’s heart’s not in football, he needs to go do something else. Do I think between now and fall somebody’s going to leave? Absolutely. And the truth of the matter is, the best teams I’ve ever had, somebody didn’t (not leave) between January and fall, ever. And the truth of the matter is, I think if you look at here, or anywhere, somebody leaves. So somebody leaves and their priorities aren’t commitment and giving best effort and playing as hard as you can and football isn't the priortity it needs to be in order to be successful at it, they need to. They need to go do what’s best for them and we’ll find guys that it means a lot to to be a football player.”

(On the freshmen progressing) “I think pretty good. Almost every time, with rare exception, if you play a freshman it’s because you’re forced to. It’s not because you want to, you’re forced to. But every time I have, the next year, if they play significantly, they grow fast. About the time they hit sophomore and head into their junior year, the guy will be really good and you say ‘I can’t believe we’re going to have this guy two more years.’ But yeah, there’s growing pains on the front end. Wes Welker played as a freshman and I pulled my hair out a number of times. He was fierce, aggressive, determined. I remember one time he put a punt on the ground in some game. He left the leading punt returner in the history of college football. But as a freshman he put one on the ground which was fairly devastating one time.”

(On coaching rumors) “I’m not looking for another position and I’m happy here. It’s about as simple as that. There’s always dialogue that takes place but I’m happy here. I’m staying here. When I got here I planned to from the beginning, I planned to get to a place where you build it up and you turn it around. Not looking for just stop and start stuff.”

(On the offensive line) “I thought they improved. I thought they got better. You play the best ones you can. If this guy’s better than that guy you play the guy that’s best. No matter what, you work to improve. It’s kind of as simple as that.”

(On Elliott Bosch) “I’ll tell you what was really impressive about him – he’d never played, never started, was a walk-on, now he’s on scholarship, but he was a walk-on, really godo from the neck up. He got everybody lined up which was challenging because our lineup changed all the time as a result of injuries and things like that and just as you guys speculated in your stuff, yeah, we had a lot of injuries this year. I thought really did a good job as far as holding it together. Was a guy that was elected captain a number of times by his teammates. Just a gritty, determined athlete.”

(Can the Marquess Wilson investigation help you by clearing the air?) “Maybe. The whole thing’s an obvious distraction. He’s basically recanted everything he’s said. Beyond that, the entire thing’s just been a total waste of time other than for some of the media that’s over-embraced it because they’d rather cover that than actual football.”

(He's recanted?) “Yeah. I haven’t talked to him. Just wait and you’ll read the review. Stay tuned and when you all get bored talking about football, you can talk about that again.”

(On motivational tactics now versus 20 years ago, and whether there's something different about players today) “I think guys that really want to play, I think guys that really want to play and are determined to play aren’t going to do anything like that. They’re harder on themselves than their coaches can ever be. My best players were always harder on themselves than a coach ever could be, because they were determined to be good. It was so important to them to be good. One time I actually had a player call out a coach for not getting on him. He made the same mistake several times in the course of a game, and he comes in and he says, 'well did you see that? Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you get on me? That’s embarrassing. That’s on film. That’s me on film making the same mistake over and over again. If you’d told me, I would have changed it.' … Those are the kind of guys that ultimately are the ones that are most successful. I think the social media, I think there’s always been coaches, players, everybody. I think there’s always been a certain amount of whining but I think social media allows the whining to go further and to be louder. That doesn’t change the fact that it needs to be ignored. The players came in and complained about how they were motivated. Well, I don’t know exactly what happened and I don’t know which places you’re referring to but I know this – if a player doesn’t like the way something’s going, he can quit. Why doesn’t he quit? If he doesn’t like football, then maybe he ought to quit, or go find him a team where they don’t coach very hard. Or go find him a team where lackadaisical effort is allowed. Nothing says they have to continue playing. Quit. Instead they want to whine and act like they’re mistreated. These guys, anybody that’s ever accomplished anything has had to do or strive beyond what was comfortable or what was easy and anybody that wants it to be easy and then somebody asks them to do something hard and then they whine about it and all of a sudden the whining’s all justified, that’s crazy. That’s contrary to anything that exists with regard to striving toward a goal, pushing yourself, being successful at any level of achievement or accomplishment that exists. And people don’t join football for the most part, don’t coach football, and don’t watch football to watch people go out there and do things easy and lazy and if they wanted it to be comfortable, they wouldn’t call it football in the first place.”

(What would they call it?) “It wouldn’t be football. Social? Cuddling? They’d call it cuddling. That’s what they’d call it. Cuddling.”

(Have you changed anything at all?) “No, we’re doing things the same way.”

(On the focus this offseason) “The biggest thing is we’ve got to get bigger and stronger. We’ve got to get bigger and stronger, we’ve got a young group which there’s always more room to go. I think nutrition’s going to be a big part of it. We’ve got to take a look at that. Obviously the lifting and the running, we do as much of that as we can until there’s a point where if you over-tax the body, the returns are diminished. There’s no sense going past that but it needs to be a motivated, energetic effort. I think the other thing is we’ve got to be a more competitive team. Right now we’re a team that’s comfortable with participating instead of being truly competitive and we need to accelerate the level of how competitive we are. It needs to mean a great deal to us whether we win or lose. And so we’re going to look at some competitive activities for them to work where we keep track, who’s on top, who’s not, type of thing, and then put them in situations where they compete.”

“Building’s always pretty rewarding because there’s a lot of change and it’s always dynamic and the improvement. We’ve just got to improve and get better and get guys that love to work and hate to lose and football’s important to them. Right now we’re in a transition period on that. That’s good too. We’re more than happy to see new guys come in that are incredibly excited and want to achieve.”

(What can fans expect next season?) “Coaches and players to continue to do the very best they can to focus and achieve at the highest level possible.”

(Is there bigger improvement from year 1 to year 2 than any other year?) “I think the first three are the years that there’s the most improvement and then after that you get kind of a steadiness, in other words you get seniors telling freshmen, ‘ok, this is like this. On this play you want to do it like that. All right, in this situation sometimes this guy will flow out here so you need to adjust your path so you can block him here. Or run this route, look at this route underneath.’ You’ve got the older guys teaching the young guys so it kind of duplicates your effort a little bit.”

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