Mike Leach doesn’t yet know many details about the Pac-12’s plan to limit contact during football practices, but he isn’t too concerned about the effect it will have on Washington State.
Leach already limits the Cougars’ on-field practice time.
“I don’t expect these rules to impact us at all,” Leach said, “because we have shorter practices and less contact than most teams.”
Of course, further details of the Pac-12’s player safety initiative won’t likely be available until July 26, when conference representatives convene in Culver City, Calif., for football media day.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott provided only a vague outline of practice protocol changes during a conference call earlier this week, saying the league wants to place a bigger emphasis on handling concussions properly.
The changes will likely mean Pac-12 contact rules will be more restrictive than those of the NCAA. But Leach, who already bucks the popular trend of holding two-a-day practices during preseason camp, doesn’t think WSU will have to make any changes to comply.
As the coach noted, the Cougars don’t practice for much longer than an hour-and-a-half during the season, and very rarely dress in full pads after preseason camp is over. Players usually wear just helmets and shoulder pads, and full-contact practices are rare during game weeks.
The one deviation from that is on Thursdays, when scout-team players dress in full pads and scrimmage against each other during the final portion of practice.
But those are relatively short segments.
“I think everybody wants the same thing, which is the welfare of the student-athletes, and I think they’ve always wanted that,” Leach said, adding that contact, in some form, is still essential to be able to properly teach the game. “It won’t affect us at all.”
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