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College football is just around the corner

The Pac-12 is holding its annual gathering of coaches, players and reporters tomorrow and Thursday. Media Day (or Media Days, in this case) is a nice chance of us reporters to speak with coaches and players from different schools and send back a few stories and notebooks for you all to peruse.

More importantly, however, it signals the end of the offseason. You will start to see a lot more Washington State football news around here, and not all of it recruiting. We'll get back in the swing of things with our morning links, and keep an eye out for some live chats.

While the offseason was slow, there were some NCAA and WSU developments that will have an impact on the upcoming months. In case you have been hibernating since the end of last football season and are just now leaving your man, woman or bear-cave, follow the jump to see what you missed.

Coaches top state salary list

OLYMPIA – The official report of state employee salaries for 2013 is out and as usual the highest paid people on the list are athletic coaches at the major universities.

Former University of Washington football head coach Steve Sarkisian topped the list for the fourth straight year, pulling down 2.6 million in 2013 before leaving in December to return to the University of Southern California.

Second on the list is Washington State University football head coach Mike Leach at $2.3 million, followed by UW head basketball coach Lorenzo Romar at $1.9 million, WSU head basket coach Ken Bone at $870,143 and UW assistant football coach Justin Wilcox at $799,259.

Athletic salaries are paid from ticket sales and other income, not from the state's general fund.  But the state reports salaries for all state employees, regardless of the source of money.

David Woodward, UW associate vice president, is at $692,323 and WSU Elson Floyd is at $662,560.

The two universities dominate the first 100 or so names with other administrators and professors who do research and get much of their total pay through grants and other stipends. The only non-university employee in the first 50 names is Gary Bruebaker, the chief investment officer for the State Investment Board, at $452,085.

To check out a searchable database of employee salaries and agency payrolls designed by The Spokesman-Review, click here. 

According to the salary data released Monday, the state had about 6,750 employees last year who earn $100,000 or more. The highest-paid elected officials are the nine members of the state Supreme Court, who each receive $165,316 and are tied for 1,280th on the list. As for the state's chief executive officer, Jay Inslee, he has 2,370 names ahead of him and his salary of $157,646. 

The salary data includes annual pay to more than 329,500 people who have worked full- or part-time for some state agency or public college or university since 2010. A searchable database on The Spokesman-Review’s website lists the salary totals for agencies or colleges and allows readers to search for salaries for individual employees by name.

 

Highlights from Mike Leach’s Reddit appearance

Mike Leach recently wrapped up a chat with fans, commonly known as an “Ask Me Anything” or “AMA” on Reddit.com. Here is the transcript if you'd like to read through it. Missed it or didn't get your question asked? Don't worry, it looks like you'll have another chance soon.

We've got a few highlights from the session, after the jump.

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Ask Mike Leach anything

Have you ever had a question you wanted to ask Washington State football coach Mike Leach but haven't had the chance? Maybe you live too far from Pullman, maybe you were too nervous. Maybe you just had so many questions that sports information director Bobby Alworth chased you away from the coach/author/hunter — he can't spend too much time away from the recruiting trail, you know.

Well at 3 p.m. today you'll have a chance to ask Leach anything, literally anything. With his new book on Geronimo publishing recently, the WSU coach is hosting his second AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit.com. Here is a link to the page and here is a link to his previous AMA. We should also note that some of the language on the site may not be suitable for minors, work places, or readers with delicate eyeballs.

 

Mike Leach is an author, again

Geronimo: Leadership Strategies of an American Warrior by Mike Leach is now available for purchase both online and in stores. It is the Washington State football coach's second book, having published Swing Your Sword, an autobiography, in 2012.

His newest book is a biography of Geronimo, the Apache chieftain who fought against the Mexican and Texan governments for decades during the Apache Wars. I asked Leach about his writing process — something I take particular interest in as someone who writes for a living myself — and he said that book writing was a great way to explore a topic he has always had an interest in.

“You get to learn a lot more about it, even more about it, which is exciting, the research part is exciting, the first couple drafts are exciting. The last couple drafts where you view each word to essentially be written on a tombstone, so to speak, because once it's out it's out forever, then you're kind of picking and choosing this word, that word, this comma and the other comma,” Leach said. “The last readings aren't quite as fun because you aren't reading a story you're obsessing over the little stuff and you're not going to get it perfect but you want to give the best effort you can.”

When you write something it's very personal — every word is your own. I often find that it's hard to go back to a long piece and reread it myself. So I asked Leach if he ever sits down and reads his own books.

“I probably will several years later. You move on from it,” Leach said. “And then if you work on it something that long and that hard, going back to it's not appealing the first year or two. And then you get to go back to it every time you do a book signing or that type of thing.”

The publisher's book description is after the jump.

Three answers from WSU spring football

The Cougars came into the offseason with a number of question marks after their New Mexico Bowl loss. Who would take over for departing All-American Deone Bucannon? How will the Cougars compensate for the loss of three starters on the offensive line?

Fifteen spring practices later and many of those questions have been answered. Follow the jump to find out what we learned this spring:

Spring Practice Report: Day 15

From Pullman — The Cougars held their 15th and final spring football practice of the year on Tuesday. That means no more football until fall camp in August. So that's not going to be fun. Our last practice report for far too long is after the jump.

WSU lands four-star quarterback

From Pullman — As we noted in our practice report, prep quarterback Tyler Hilinski attended Washington State's football practice on Thursday and evidently he liked what he saw, making a verbal commitment to play for WSU according to a Rivals.com report($). Hilinski is rated the nation's 14th best quarterback by Rivals and is a four-star prospect, the second four star QB landed by Mike Leach at WSU, along with Tyler Bruggman in 2013.

Hilinski is WSU's third recruit in the class of 2015, along with defensive tackle Thomas Toki, who is also currently on campus, and cornerback Austin Joyner. 

The 6-foot-3, 187 pound quarterback plays for Upland High School in Upland, Calif., and also held a scholarship offer from Utah State. He will likely be the only quarterback recruit in the class. The Cougars have taken one scholarship quarterback in each class under Mike Leach, starting with Austin Apodaca in 2012, who has since transferred, and then Bruggman in 2013 and Peyton Bender in last year's class.

Spring Practice Report: Day 13

From Pullman — The clouds broke for the final Washington State football practice before the spring game. The coaches have split up the roster into two teams and are hoping for as competitive a game as possible. I will have those rosters for you sometime tomorrow morning. It wasn't a very newsy practice today with the teams split up and the Cougars in just helmets (and jerseys, pants, etc. But my point is that they were not in pads).

The practice report is after the jump.

Spring Practice Report: Day 12

From Pullman — Rain, rain, go away. Today's torrent drove reporters and athletic support staff into the upper bleachers to seek refuge beneath the overhang. Refuge was not to be found. I could go on about the weather but then we'd both be in a stormy mood.

Practice report is after the jump.

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The Cougars donned all of their pads yesterday and the result was a physical practice, complete with live tackling. Here is our story and practice report. Yesterday we also posted a video tour of the new Football Operations Building, guided by linebacker Darryl Monroe. Don't forget to change your calendars to reflect the new Nevada game date … WSU's Jason Monda has been drafted twice and decided that he won't go for a third.

Washington dismissed a defensive back, likely because of an altercation with a teammate … Oregon's best receiver is now a spring casualty … Oregon State's new offensive coordinator is becoming more comfortable in Corvallis.

Don't forget to join us at 11 a.m. for a live chat.

Spring Practice Report: Day 7

From Pullman — Washington State finally put on full pads on Thursday. The coaches put on headsets and officials were in uniform. The reason for the extra accoutrements? The Cougars had their first live-tackling session of spring. More on that after the jump.

Spring Practice Report: Day 6

From Pullman — Washington State's youth in the secondary has been apparent throughout spring. But on Tuesday the offense worked on deep throws and the inexperience of WSU's defensive backs was particularly apparent.

“We went downfield the whole time,” coach Mike Leach said after practice. “I can’t say it was their best day, I don’t think they necessarily regressed. They keep improving but we put a lot of pressure on them today and I thought the offense was pretty sharp.”

But hey, the wide receivers had a good day.

Our practice report is after the jump.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

The Cougars didn't scrimmage on Saturday, but still had a spirited practice to close out the first third of spring. Here's our practice report and a story on Washington State's young defense. In case you missed it we had a noter 5 Questions video, this time with special teams coordinator Eric Russell. There was some blue news for the Cougars yesterday when Spokane prep quarterback Brett Rypien, nephew of Mark, decided to take his prodigious talents to Boise State. But the baseball team just keeps on winning.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott talked about the unionization movement in college football … Here's a look at what Oregon is up to this spring … Why, even the Huskies are practicing … Cal had a big day from a little guy … USC is waltzing through spring.

Spring Practice Report: Day 4

Practice four is in the books for WSU and we saw some good work out of the offense. The defense had some moments as well, but not enough to avoid up downs.

“I thought they battled back,” coach Mike Leach said after practice. “I thought defense, that’s the biggest thing is everybody’s out here trading blows and the result is everybody gets better, quicker.”

Our practice report is after the jump.

… 

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Just like that the Cougars are 20 percent of the way through spring football practice. They're also just a few hours away from officially introducing Ernie Kent as the new men's basketball coach. Keep an eye out for our coverage from that. Today we'll be having another live chat at noon to talk about both football and basketball. Brush up with yesterday's practice report and our story on WSU's visitor. We've also got our weekly college baseball notebook featuring coach Donnie Marbut's return.

Washington coach Chris Petersen isn't happy with his team yet … The Stanford women are headed to the Final Four … Cal's basketball coaching search is beginning just as WSU's ends.

Spring Practice Report: Day 3

From Pullman — The pads went on Tuesday’s and the Washington State football team had easily its most spirited practice of the spring. There was constant hollering from the sidelines, a few light scuffles broke out and the coaches didn’t seem to mind a bit.

Our practice report is after the jump.

Spring practice day 2: notes and quotes

From Pullman — The Cougars were up early Saturday morning for their second practice of spring football. Here is our practice report and a story on the offensive line. More notes and quotes from practice after the jump.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Hope you didn't sleep in on Saturday. If you did you missed a flurry of Cougars news, not to mention some pretty great cartoons. The day began with Washington State's second spring football practice. We've got a practice report and a story on WSU's young offensive line. Soon after, we learned that the Cougars were making a second run at Boise State's Leon Rice. By mid-afternoon, however, we learned the Rice was going to stay put.

The Pac-12's night ended when Arizona lost to Wisconsin, falling just short of the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately the game led to some silly unrest in Tucson.

Spring Practice Report: Day 1

From Pullman — The Washington State Cougars recently wrapped up their first practice of the spring. The defense shined early but the offense won the day.  Follow the jump for today’s practice report

Leach talks about spring practice

From Pullman — Today marks the final day before the Washington State football team puts the pads back on and takes the field for spring practice. Head coach Mike Leach met with the media this afternoon to preview the upcoming 15 practices and also gave his thoughts on Daquawn Brown's standing on the team and efforts by Northwestern University football players to form a union.

All that after the jump.

Cougar Calls highlights

From Pullman — Washington State athletic director Bill Moos joined Bud Nameck on KXLY 920 for Cougar Calls this morning and it was a pretty eventful show. Spring football starts on Thursday for WSU so the duo hosted both defensive coordinator Mike Breske and head football coach Mike Leach.

Highlights from those interviews, as well as some information from Moos regarding his search for a new basketball coach, are after the jump.

…while Cougs’ Leach is in Senate

Mike Leach addresses state Senate.

OLYMPIA — The Washington Senate elevated the 1915 Cougar football team to the status of National Champion today, honoring the team that went undefeated and won the 1916 Rose Bowl. 

With current WSU Coach Mike Leach at the rostrum, the Senate passed a resolution honoring the 1915 team as the first West Coast team to win a Rose Bowl, beating Brown University 14-0. That victory “helped restore the nation's faith in college football and put an end to the practice of celebrating the Pasadena Tournament of Roses with events such as ostrich races, polo matches and chariot races, beginning the annual tradition of the Rose Bowl Football Championship”, the resolution said.

Technically, Cornell University was the national champion in 1915 — at least according to CollegeFootballPoll.com, which lists champions recognized by the NCAA. That team went 9-0, but didn't play in a bowl.

Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, acknowledged that the practice of naming a national champion didn't take hold for decades after the 1916 game, but for much of the last half century, any team that went undefeated AND won the Rose Bowl would have been declared the national champion.

Leach started his remarks by saying he watched “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” in preparation for his visit to the Senate chamber. “So I stay up here and talk until I collapse,” he said.

But he didn't. Leach thanked legislators for everything they do to support higher education and said he hoped “to put a team out that everybody can be proud of” in the fall.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — With all due respect to Mrrs. Bielema, Calhoun and Saban, there does not seem to be groundswell up support arising for their proposal to guarantee college football defenses time to substitute.Yesterday morning we put up a blog post that quotes WSU head coach Mike Leach who uses no uncertain terms to profess his disdain for the idea, and the Seattle Times' always excellent Jerry Brewer calls the idea “inane” and “laughable.” 

Not so long ago Mr. Brewer said the same thing about my skills as a bus boy, so you can be sure he knows what he's talking about.

The WSU women beat Utah, giving June Daughtery her first 7th Pac-12 win as the WSU coach. The Cougars are within shouting distance of March Madness, but still have a ways to go. Charlie Creme projects just three Pac-12 teams will make it to the women's NCAA tournament in his latest Bracketology, and Stanford and Arizona State seem like sure bets. The Cougars also have to overcome their 13-12 overall record, despite some impressive out of conference performances.

The WSU men will take on Stanford today … Arizona State beat rival No. 2 Arizona in double overtime in one of the best games of the year thus far .. The baseball team lost its season opener against top-ranked Cal State Fullerton.

*We regret not being able to bring you Ted Miller's Pac-12 Mailbag. It's Vince's thing, and he jealously guards it like a mama bear whose only cub is the rightful heir to the entire Grizzly Kingdom.

Mike Leach discusses proposed rule changes

From Pullman — 

Earlier this week WSU coach Mike Leach spoke to ESPN’s Ted Miller about a proposed NCAA rule change that would prevent offense from snapping the ball during the play clock’s first 11 seconds to allow defenses an opportunity to substitute player.

On Thursday he joined Matt and Scott on WJOX 94.5 FM in Birmingham, Ala. to further explain why he would be, “prepared to debate anybody on the subject because it’s so ridiculous on its face.”

More after the jump.

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — For a day with no game, Thursday was surprising eventful in Cougar country. The Washington State football team is in the middle of Midnight Maneuvers and the athletic department released a video with some highlights from the late night workouts … Former WSU safety Deone Bucannon's agents also put out a video about their client's road to the NFL draft … There are some new pictures of the Football Operations Building, which athletic director Bill Moos says is nearing completion … The day capped off with the news that running back Jeremiah Laufasa will transfer … The Crimson Flag is Flying at the Winter Olympics.

In men's basketball news UCLA heated up from outside in a win over Colorado while Utah's late-season surge continued at USC.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Salt Lake City — Last night we reported that backup quarterback Austin Apodaca has decided to transfer from Washington State and has left the football program … Today the basketball team will take on Utah and should be prepared for a hostile environment … The WSU women came very close to earning their first-ever win over Stanford … Here's a nice profile on WSU football (and basketball?) signee Jalen Canty … Cal suffered a tragedy yesterday when a player collapsed during conditioning … Ted Miller answers questions in his Pac-12 Mailbag … The Ducks need a win tomorrow at Arizona State to keep even the faintest postseason hope flickering … USC and UCLA are set to rumble for the second time this season.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The 2014 WSU football class is almost if not entirely signed and it's drawn good reviews from its architect … We've got a list of the signees, along with coach Mike Leach's evaluations of each, right here … The men's basketball team fell just short on the road despite a career night from DaVonte Lacy … Stanford avenged its earlier loss to Cal … Washington finished with a respectable class on a tight deadline … But a pair of Huskies might be in trouble … USC finished with a bang on signing day, showing that the new staff will be able to at least recruit well … And recruits are still impressed by all that is Oregon … Stanford also brought in a good class.

UPDATED: WSU football signees

You can view the video of coach Mike Leach's signing day press conference here.

From Pullman — Members of the Washington State football program's 2014 class will be faxing in their letters of intent throughout the day. As the signings become official we'll update them in this blog post with some information about the recruits. Follow the jump to see who the next crop of Cougars will be.

Last letter received: Sulaiman Hameed, Cornerback, California

WSU recruiting live chat

 

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