PULLMAN – Washington State interim athletic director John Johnson fully expects that Mike Leach will be on the sideline with the Cougars when they square off with Michigan State for the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 in San Diego (6 p.m., FS1).
It had been reported by multiple outlets that Leach met with then-Tennessee athletic director John Currie last Thursday to talk about the Volunteers’ coaching vacancy and some speculated that the parties were close to striking a deal that would make Leach the new coach in Knoxville.
Those rumors died quickly, Leach returned to Pullman that night and Currie was suspended by UT the following day.
“Mike’s our coach today and we expect him to be our coach for the bowl game,” Johnson said Sunday during a conference call. “I know he’s excited about playing in the Holiday Bowl, as is the team. He is our coach and will be coaching there.”
Johnson has only exchanged text messages with Leach since reports emerged Thursday about the possibility of WSU’s coach leaving. WSU hadn’t publicly addressed the rumors before Sunday, when Johnson spoke with reporters on the phone to discuss the Holiday Bowl.
“Of course he’s been busy recruiting and I’ve had other responsibilities as well,” Johnson said. “But we’ve communicated via text, yes.”
Leach will be taking the Cougars to their fourth bowl game in his six-year stint as the WSU coach – and the fourth in the last five years.
In a school press release, Leach said “We are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to play Michigan State in the Holiday Bowl. Go Cougs.”