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Mele to stay on as WSU special teams coordinator

Washington State coach Mike Leach announced on Tuesday that Eric Mele has been named special teams coordinator at WSU.

Mele took over as the interim coordinator after Eric Russell was fired in the middle of last season. I wrote a profile of Mele soon after the transition. Prior to his promotion last year Mele spent two years serving as an offensive quality control assistant at WSU.

The Cougars allowed six kick or punt returns for touchdowns last season, more than any other FBS team. But only two of those returns came in the final six games in which Mele served as an assistant coach.

Only two FBS teams allowed more than WSU's 17.3 yards per opponent punt return over the course of the season but the Cougars had just two punts returned over their final three games for just two total yards.

“Eric did a nice job coming in midway through last season,” said Leach in a release. “He is organized, hard-working, energetic and has a great rapport with the players.”

Leach also announced that Brian Odom has been hired as a defensive quality control assistant. Odom spent the last three seasons at the University of Houston as a co-director of sports performance and after spending seven year at Arizona in a similar role.

“Brian brings a great work ethic and an experienced football mind to our staff,” said Leach. ”He has been a part of football staffs that have seen a great deal of success and he will be an asset for our program.”

WSU’s Dave Emerick named a Director of Operations of the Year

Washington State's director of football operations Dave Emerick got some recognition from CBS.

From linebackers coach Ken Wilson:

What does a director of football operations do, exactly? Here's a Spokesman-Review profile of Mike Leach's chief of staff from 2012

Texas defensive back commits to WSU

Spring, Texas cornerback Willie Sykes committed to play football at Washington State on Monday evening.

Britton Ransford of Rivals.com first reported the news, and says that Sykes chose the Cougars over scholarship offers from Purdue, Nebraska, Oregon State, Utah and others. Both Rivals and Scout.com rate Sykes as a two-star prospect but his scholarship offers seem to indicate he's a good prospect.

Sykes is 6-foot, 180-pounds and is supposed to be very fast.

He is the third defensive back Mike Leach's staff has recruited out of Texas, joining Charleston White and Darius Lemora.

Here is some video of WSU's newest recruit:

California offensive lineman gives verbal commitment to WSU

 Offensive lineman Joseph Price of California's Redlands East Valley High will play at Washington State next season, according to his coach.

REVHS coach Kurt Bruich tweeted the news along with a picture of Price at his home with WSU coach Mike Leach. Offensive line coach Clay McGuire and linebackers coach Ken Wilson were also on the visit.

Scout.com lists Price as a 6-foot-6, 267-pound offensive tackle and gives him a three-star grade. He reportedly also holds scholarship offers from California and Fresno State.

Price is the fifth known offensive lineman in the 2015 recruiting class to accept a WSU scholarship offer.

WSU makes manning hire official

Washington State announced on Sunday that Roy Manning will join the Cougars and coach the outside linebackers.

Here is the release from the school: 

WSU Names Roy Manning Outside Linebackers Coach
PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State Head Football Coach Mike Leach announced Sunday that Roy Manning has been named the Cougars’ outside linebackers coach. Manning arrives in Pullman after serving the past two seasons at his alma mater, the University of Michigan.
“Roy is an outstanding technical coach, a passionate recruiter and a great person who loves football,” said Leach. “He will be great for our players and our program.”
In 2014 Manning served as the cornerbacks coach at Michigan after coaching the outside linebackers in 2013. Under his direction, Michigan’s SAM linebackers Cam Gordon and Jake Ryan combined for 70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and five sacks in 2013 while defensive back Raymond Taylor earned 2014 All-Big Ten honors in 2014.
Prior to arriving back in Ann Arbor, Manning served as the running backs coach at the University of Cincinnati in 2012. That season Manning's group led the Big East in rushing in 2012, averaging 201.5 yards per game. Running back George Winn totaled the second-best rushing season in school history with 1,334 rushing yards (102.6 per game) and 13 touchdowns, both conference bests.
Prior to joining the Cincinnati staff, Manning served as offensive graduate assistant at Michigan, where he worked with the offensive line and was part of a coaching staff that led the Wolverines to an 11-2 record and a victory in the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl. Manning's first coaching experience came at Cincinnati in 2010, when he worked as a defensive assistant.
Prior to his appointment in Cincinnati, Manning spent three seasons in the NFL with five different teams. He signed as a free agent with the Green Bay Packers in 2005. He played in 15 games and started two contests as a rookie, tallying 41 tackles and one pass breakup. Manning tied for third on the team with 21 tackles on special teams. He also had stints with the Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals.
Manning played in 37 career games and made 10 starts at linebacker as a fifth-year senior with Michigan. He was named the Roger Zatkoff Award winner as the team's top linebacker in 2004 after posting 39 tackles, six tackles-for-loss and one sack. Manning finished his career with 72 stops, nine TFLs and three sacks.
Manning earned his bachelor's degree in general studies from Michigan in 2004.

Cougars hire second defensive coach

Washington State hired its second and possibly final coach this offseason on Saturday, tabbing Roy Manning to coach the outside linebackers.

Manning comes to WSU from the University of Michigan where he spent last year as the cornerbacks after coaching the outside linebackers in 2013. Manning was a four-year letterman for the Wolverines from 2001-04 and then spent three seasons playing in the NFL before returning to UM as a graduate assistant.

He has also coached running backs at the University of Cincinnati in 2012.

The UM school website conducted an interview with Manning shortly after he was hired in 2013.

"In coaching, you have to know it all, and that's the one thing I've learned," Manning said in the video. "As a player, you focus on your position and what you have to do …  but in coaching, you've got to understand all of it, and sometimes your career will take you different places and you'll be in different roles."

He continued, "I think the important thing is to just embrace it, because it'll only make you better at the end of the day."

The hiring of Manning comes just three days after WSU announced the hiring of defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. During an interview on Friday Grinch indicated that he would coach the secondary if the Cougars did not hire a defensive backs coach.

The two vacancies on the staff were due to the dismissals of defensive coordinator Mike Breske and outside linebackers coach Paul Volero shortly after WSU's season-ending Apple Cup loss.

The Cougars finished with a 3-9 record despite the country's seventh-ranked offense and ranked No. 123 out of 125 teams in turnover margin.

WSU coach Mike Leach also dismissed special teams coach Eric Russell midseason. While his replacement, Eric Mele, was dubbed the "interim special teams coordinator" indications appear to be that he will remain in the position.

Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated first reported the news late Saturday evening.

Q&A: WSU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch

New WSU defensive coordinator publicly spoke to the media for the first time on Friday. Here is a transcription of what he said:

Question: What defense do you plan to run at WSU?

Alex Grinch: We'll base out of a 3-4, which, hard to say exactly whether similar or not so much to what’s been done in the past but at least similar up to that point in a 3-4 structure. Three down lineman with four linebackers and four on the back end.

So that will give us the ability to be multiple from a coverage standpoint and from a pressure standpoint so that would be a good initial base rundown of what it is.

Q: Could you describe your relationship with coach David Yost?
AG: I know coach Yost going back to the early 2000s so I've known him a long time, certainly our communication back and forth over the years contributed to that relationship and our most recent communication included the position that was available here at Washington State. That, without question, kind of started the ball rolling.

Q: How long did the hiring process take?
AG: Fairly quickly, and I would tell this to everybody, I was very comfortable in my role at Missouri. I was in a position to coach very similar to the Pac-12, to coach in the SEC, and we were able to win a couple championships the last couple years as well as January bowl games, which lends itself to a comfort level there.


I wasn't necessarily looking for a job but the opportunity to come to a place like a Washington State though, in the Pac-12, in the coordinator position, was something that I was extremely interested in and so really over the last week that kind of took shape and here we are.

Q: Have you had a chance to meet with the players or watch film on them?
AG: I've seen a little bit of film and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to watch a lot more. I'll do the best job I can in terms of keeping an open mind in terms of my personnel evaluations and that moving forward, just as I would hope that they would have an open mind with the changes that are presented to them in the next few months leading up to spring football.

So, I think it's important that both sides afford each other those opportunities. Watching film and getting a baseline evaluation for both personnel and the overall scheme from a year ago, obviously there are going to be some changes, obviously there is, like anything, there's not a whole lot of magic to any defensive package so I'm sure there will be some similarities as well and some changes in terminology and those things.

But I'll continue to work an evaluation of last year's tape and get a feel or baseline for where everything's at but otherwise over the next few weeks, I'm in Pullman now with nine student-athletes this weekend for official visits. I'll be on the road Sunday with the rest of the staff and really this next month will include weeks on the road recruiting, shoring up this class, and then weekends in town for official visits so it will be an aggressive month of recruiting while still trying to work to finish our staff on the defensive side of the ball while working through some playbook stuff and those things so we hit the ground running when we visit with our guys.

Q: Do you know what you will do with the final defensive coaching position?
AG: What we want to do is we want to get the best candidate available, any way you slice it. You could possibly go with two around the defensive line, two with the possibly inside-outside linebackers, possibly two in the secondary so our aim right now is to get the best teacher, the best recruiter we possibly can to bring in here to help us on the defensive side of the ball.

Q: How long are you signed on at WSU?
AG: I'm signed on to coach this team through spring football and next fall.

Q: How can you create more turnovers?
AG: Well there's not a magic answer and we're all searching for one but I think there's a couple ingredients: one is bringing guys into understanding how important they are and it's not a "try to" type of thing – it's imperative that we get the ball out, it's imperative that we attack the football when it's in the air. Every time that ball's throw is an opportunity to change possession if you're doing the right thing coverage-wise, so I think that's where it starts is making sure that the guys understand to try to create turnovers and attacking the football is not a self-conscious thing, it's not a hope we get lucky approach.

It starts in practice and it starts with as many bodies as we possibly can get to the point of attack and that goes back to scheme and making sure we're doing the right things from a soundness defensively, making sure guys are playing aggressive and you'll hear me in every interview talk about guys playing "downhill."

When you do those things the more guys you get to the football, the more confidence they have in their pursuit to the football, lends itself to an aggressiveness that when you're at the point of attack you've got a chance to be more violent when you get there because you know exactly what to do, where you need to be, how you need to fit so some of the things it does come down to our teaching and that and some of that is defensive scheme.

Some of it's how you practice. Every team in America will do takeaway, takeaway circus where you're stripping, you're scooping, you're punching so without question those are trained habits so that will be included but every single play in practice there's an opportunity to get a turnover, whether it's on 7-on-7 or 1-on-1, when you go 11-on-11 against the offense, so every play in a game lends itself to being an opportunity to get the ball back for our offense.

Really, the brainwashing needs to begin in earnest so the guys understand that their responsibility is to get the ball back for the offense. And again, some of it's mindset, some of it's technique and some of it's the defensive scheme being taught as such so the guys can be aggressive.

Q: Are there any challenges or positives you see coaching a young defense?
AG: Well I think the positive is you always kind of want to, the idea of having a little bit more of a clean slate allows you to train them in ways that you don't have to break bad habits so you may kind of point to that.

But hopefully when you're talking about young football players, and even guys that have experience, what we need is a room full of guys that are sponges to what we're teaching and so in a our world I think that's important: that every single guy in that room has the ability to get better. It's got to be our expectation as a coaching staff they do just that and then their expectations of us are that we do a great job teaching them and developing them so that they can be successful.

Obviously, more successful than last year, sure. But what our aim's got to be is practice two of spring football they've got to be better than practice one. And so when you're talking about, again, I think young and old but I think no matter what end of the spectrum you're at we need a room full of guys trying to get better.

Q: What will your recruiting area be?
AG: That hasn't been decided. Once we finish the staff that will obviously be a bit of a shakeup that way but at this point it hasn't been defined.

Q: How important is it for you to sell recruits that they should choose WSU for the same reasons you did?
AG: Well I think you bring up a good point. They're in a situation, almost to the man, where they obviously have other options. Whether they're in the conference or out of the conference.

Obviously in a completely different stage of life when you're talking career-wise, but I had options and my main option was to stay put exactly where I was. And so there was enough here in Pullman, enough at Washington State and specific to Mike Leach's program where he's been successful everywhere he's ever been, to make me want to I guess, quite honestly, leave a comfort zone to come out here and be a part of this program.

Any time you're making the transition from high school to college, unless you're from Pullman, you're going to leave your comfort zone in one respect or another. So without question you bring up a good point, it's probably more similar despite the different stages of life than you might assume.

Q: Do you approach junior college recruits in a special manner?
AG: One I think, part of the evaluation changes because when you're talking about a junior college player your time to develop them is obviously a lot shorter. Everyone can still develop whether they're coming from high school or junior college but again, you won't have as much time with them.

What you're hoping to get is someone that possesses a little higher skillset than a high school kid. So that's part of it. You want a guy that can make an instant impact on your program in some capacity or another.

Beyond that almost every single one of those guys is not confused as to the short duration that they're going to have an opportunity to spend playing in the Pac-12. So you've got to develop a plan very quickly, you've got to earmark a place where they can help you, to see the field right away, and then you've got to do a good sales job in terms of them understanding what you're going to do to develop them, to have a plan in place for a very short period of time.

So it is a unique recruiting process with junior college players.

Q: Did coach Yost contact you about the job?
AG: Quite honestly it was more of a call for a casual conversation about anything other than Missouri football or WSU football and then as the conversation progressed, I kind of mentioned my desire to look at coordinator opportunities if they presented themselves in the right opportunity, in the right situation and then obviously with the opening still here at Washington State that changed the tone of the conversation a little bit and it kind of went from there and it progressed.

Q: Did Yost go to Mike Leach at that point?
AG: That would be the long and short of it, yeah. Pretty quick back and forth I guess from there and then I had an opportunity to come out here this past weekend and get a chance to visit and talk.

Q: When did you have your original conversation with coach Yost?
AG: About a week or so ago.

Q: When did Leach get ahold of you?
A: Shortly thereafter.

Q: When did you arrive in Pullman.
A: Sunday.

Q: How do you react to people that would question if you're ready to be a coordinator?
AG: First, I haven't met anyone that was born into a coordinator role so based on my experience everyone has progressed through the ranks, if you will, to get an opportunity to run their own defense or offense over time.

Beyond that, all opinions will take place after a week we start playing games in the fall. I'm worried about the results that we produce at that time as opposed to everyone's feelings about me.

Q: Have you heard any good jokes about your last name?
A: I don't know what you're talking about. As a family, we've developed a lot of mental toughness.

Q: Has Leach decided for sure if Eric Mele will stay as the special teams coach?
A: That's a question for coach Leach.

Q: Has it been determined that you will coach the defensive backs?
A: Well we're still looking for one more hire here on the defensive side of the ball and trying to find the best candidate available regardless of position. I have a real comfort level on the back end and so if we got that direction I'd feel very confident in having all four (defensive backs).

Over the course of my career, other than really the last couple years at Missouri, have had the entire back end and there's some positives to that in terms of cross-training and those things so I would be comfortable if that was the direction we took.

Q: Have you talked to any other schools about other jobs?
AG: I have, I have. None progressed and none I felt were the right opportunity for my family and that would not just be this offseason but every offseason so this is the one that got the antennas up.

Q: Were any of them coordinator jobs?
AG: The majority of jobs I've talked about over the last few years have been coordinator jobs.

Q: How about this winter?
AG: This winter possibly.

Q: Did any of them progress to the point of an offer?
AG: I haven't found the right opportunity.

Q: What reason did you give coach Leach as to why he should hire you?
AG: Not to put words in coach Leach's mouth but along those lines my only aim in looking at this opportunity was to have an opportunity to help WSU win football games. Therein lies the motivation. This is an opportunity for me to do just that.

I think philosophically, my approach, what I've been in the past, where I've been in the past, and what we've been able to accomplish has developed that philosophy. Coach wants to find a way to be more aggressive on the defensive side of the ball. I think the package lends itself to that. He wants to produce more takeaways. I think our teaching and practice structure will lend itself to that. It's important to get off the field on third downs. There's going to be a huge emphasis on that. And then obviously it's important to play good defense in the red zone and make teams count in threes instead of sevens, that can have a huge impact on winning and losing as well.

So I think all those ingredients, I think play into it and all those things I think is stuff that you can sell to the players. It's something guys can kind of wrap their heads around and hang on to in terms of what we are as a defense and I think the final thing on all those things is making sure that not one team we face out-efforts us and making sure that the produce ton the field shows a group of guys that are absolutely flying to the football and dying to produce. So again, whether that answers your question or hits home with coach Leach, that's kind of where we're at.

Q: What confidence did your successful teams at Mount Union have and how does that translate into your coaching?
A: Well one, I appreciate you bringing up my playing career. Two, both there and really every stop along the way, like you said we've won the bulk of our games there and I think it developed an approach that we were going to find a way and it wasn't always going to be easy and we were going to have to grind it out. You don't win that many games by blowing everybody out.

But a "find a way" approach, if you've got to win a game 10-7 you're going to find a way to get that done regardless of what's going on on the other side of the ball. But I've been fortunate. A four-year run at New Hampshire where at that level of football you finish in the Top-10 rankings, play in the playoffs, and two bowl games in my three years at Wyoming, a couple SEC championships in my time at Missouri.

I think at every place I've been the common ingredients have included tremendous effort, it's included a great teaching system starting with the coaches and the product on the field has been a result, if nothing else, of at least those two things.

WSU formally announces the new hire

Here is the press release Washington State Athletics just sent out regarding the hiring of Alex Grinch as defensive coordinator:
Cougars Name Alex Grinch Defensive Coordinator
PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University Head Football Coach Mike Leach announced Wednesday that Alex Grinch has been named WSU’s defensive coordinator and will coach the secondary.
“We are excited to have Alex part of our football family,” said Leach. “He is a passionate, tireless worker who brings tremendous excitement and aggression to our team. He has a track record of developing young talent which will be of great benefit to our defense.
“He is highly regarded in the coaching field and has a very bright future,” Leach continued. “We are very fortunate to have Alex at Washington State University.”
Grinch spent the last three seasons at Missouri where he coached safeties, helping Missouri to a 23-5 record over the past two years, two SEC East Division titles, a Citrus Bowl victory over Minnesota earlier this month and a Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma State in 2014.
“I’m excited to join the Washington State football program and thank Coach Leach for the opportunity,” said Grinch. “It’s time to get to work to produce a defense that Cougar fans can be proud of!”
Grinch’s safeties played a key role in Missouri’s defensive improvement in 2014, as they combined to grab six of the Tigers’ 12 interceptions on the year - led by senior SS Braylon Webb’s team-high four picks. Webb earned Second-Team All-SEC honors for his 2014 season which included 69 tackles.
The 2013 season saw improved play from the Tiger safeties, which helped Missouri’s defense be one of the most disruptive units in the country and earn the first of two-straight SEC East Division titles. Grinch’s safeties combined for five interceptions, including three from Webb, who ranked second on the team with 89 tackles and seven pass break ups. 
Grinch’s first year at Missouri saw him get solid play from his starting safeties Kenronte Walker and Webb. Walker finished the 2012 season with 71 tackles (fifth on the team) and won the first-ever SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors for a Tiger player.
“He’s the real deal!” said Chip Kelly, who was the offensive coordinator on the same New Hampshire staff as Grinch in 2005-06. “He’s intelligent, articulate and has an unbelievable work ethic. He is one of the best teachers I’ve been around.”
Prior to Missouri, Grinch spent three seasons coaching the Wyoming secondary. Three of his Cowboy defensive backs earned postseason honors in 2011, as Wyoming reached a bowl game for the second time in his three years in Laramie. Wyoming concluded the 2011 regular season ranked No. 34 in the nation in pass defense, allowing only 202.2 yards passing per game, and ranked No. 1 in the Mountain West and tied for No. 5 in the NCAA in most turnovers gained (31 total).
During his time in Laramie, Grinch coached two Freshman All-Americans, six All-Mountain West Conference recipients and five MWC All-Academic honorees. Two of his players, Chris Prosinski and Tashaun Gipson, remain in the NFL with Prosinski being a fourth round-round selection by Jacksonville in 2011 and Gipson spending the past three seasons with Cleveland, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2014.
Grinch coached at New Hampshire for four seasons from 2005-08. In his first two seasons he coached the cornerbacks before being promoted to secondary coach and recruiting coordinator for the 2007-08 seasons. At UNH the Wildcats posted a combined 37-13 record and reached the FCS playoffs four times, including three quarterfinal appearances and a No. 7 ranking in the final FCS Coaches’ Poll of 2008. He coached four players to a total of six all-conference honors, including cornerback Corey Graham, who was a fifth-round selection of the Chicago Bears in the 2007 NFL Draft and was a 2012 NFL Pro Bowl selection.
Prior to New Hampshire, Grinch was the defensive graduate assistant coach at Missouri for the 2003 and 2004 campaigns, and was an administrative graduate assistant at Missouri for the 2002 season. 
Grinch enjoyed an outstanding college playing career at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio. He was a member of three NCAA Division III National Championship teams at Mount Union in 1998, 2000 and 2001. Over his four-year career, Grinch’s Mount Union teams posted a 54-1 record and won four-consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference Championships. His senior season of 2001, he was named a Third Team All-America safety by D3football.com and a First Team Academic All-Conference selection.
Grinch and his wife, Rebecca, have two children, a son, Tyler, and a daughter, Corbi.




WSU hires Missouri assistant Alex Grinch as defensive coordinator

Alex Grinch will take over as the new defensive coordinator at Washington State and will try to make the Cougars defense as potent as their offense.

Mike Leach dismissed defensive coordinator Mike Breske and outside linebackers coach Paul Volero six weeks ago, following WSU’s season-ending loss to Washington in the Apple Cup.

Grinch comes to WSU from Missouri, where he spent three years as the Tigers safeties coach. Prior to that he spent three seasons as the secondary coach at Wyoming.

While at MU Grinch drew praise from coach Gary Pinkel for his recruiting abilities, particularly in the Southeast. 

Now he will be tasked with improving a WSU defense that ranked No. 97 nationally in total yards allowed. The Cougars struggles on defense were the primary reason WSU backslid to a 3-9 record one year after playing in a bowl game, despite having the country’s No. 7 total offense.

It is not yet known what defensive scheme Grinch will bring to Pullman, although it is believed that one of the criteria used during the search was the use of an attacking defense that utilized blitzes and stunts to create pressure on the quarterback.

WSU rolls over Mike Leach’s contract, as expected

We reported awhile ago that Bill Moos planned to allow Mike Leach's contract to roll over, in effect extending it until 2019.

Because we've been getting some email about the subject recently I thought I'd put up this post to remind people that it happened. Leach's contract has a provision that states that it automatically renews the length at five years on Jan. 1 of each year unless either Moos or Leach provide written notice stopping the automatic extension.

The extension also resets the clock on both the buyout Leach would have to pay to pursuit another job ($2.25 million if he leaves in year one of the contract) and the buyout the school would have to pay to terminate his contract without cause (60 percent of the base salary due for the remainder of the agreement).

Report: Daquawn Brown dismissed by Mike Leach (UPDATED)

(Update: 4:13 p.m.) University of Washington freshman cornerback Naijiel Hale posted on Twitter that the report regarding Brown's dismissal was incorrect, and that the talented cornerback has actually been suspended.

(Update: 4:50 p.m.) I can confirm that Daquawn Brown has been dismissed and there does not appear to be an avenue for his reinstatement.

Washington State football coach Mike Leach has dismissed cornerback Daquawn Brown, his team's leading tackler and most experienced defensive back, according to an internet report.

The team does not publicly address player dismissals and Leach could not immediately be reached for comment.

 We'll update this post if we learn more.

Follow the jump for more on Brown's reported dismissal.

Kevin Griffin leaves Washington State football program

I can confirm that freshman cornerback Kevin Griffin has left the Washington State football program, as indicated on his Twitter account.

Griffin played in three games this past season and made his first and only start in WSU's win at Oregon State. He finishes his career at WSU with two tackles.

Follow the jump for more.

WSU denies Houston report that Leach interested in UH job

Houston reporter David Nuño set the Washington State Twittersphere ablaze with the above tweet, saying that Cougars coach Mike Leach could be interested in the vacant position at the University of Houston.

WSU officials doused the flames with a tweet of their own.

For what it's worth, the report didn't make much sense on first glance. Nuño did say "if buyout and contract issues could be worked out" but it's hard to see how they could be. Leach currently makes $2.7 million, which is more than twice as much as UH has been willing to pay its football coaches. Furthermore, he has an expensive buyout that is currently $2.25 million and will continue to be that high, as athletic director Bill Moos plans to roll over Leach's contract.

Key numbers from the WSU season

WSU finished the regular season with the nation's No. 1 passing offense margin, throwing for 477.7 yards per game.

How good was Washington State at moving the ball through the air? Well, Western Kentucky was No. 2 in that category with 365 passing yards, or 112.7 yards per game than the Cougars.

All those yards didn't always produce points, however, and the Cougars were merely 45th in scoring offense. In sports the numbers never tell the whole story, but they can serve as a pretty compelling guide.

We take a look at some of the numbers that define WSU's 2014 season after the jump.

WSU defensive coordinator Mike Breske dismissed

The day after Washington State's season ended with a 31-13 Apple Cup loss, Mike Leach dismissed defensive coordinator Mike Breske and outside linebackers coach Paul Volero.

"We decided to make a change and wish them the best," Leach said.

More on WSU's coaching change after the jump.

(Update 7:12 p.m. — I have been told that defensive line coach Joe Salave'a has been promoted to assistant head coach.)

WSU practice: one last underclassmen scrimmage

WSU held its final Thursday Night Football scrimmage of the season before heading off for Thanksgiving celebrations.

We have our report on the young guys who stood out after the jump.

WSU practice: last full one of the season

If the Cougars stick to their normal weekly routine then today's practice was the last full one of the season.

Washington State will have a morning practice tomorrow and then head to the bowling alley for Thanksgiving food and activities.

Our report from today's practice is after the jump.

WSU practice: no sign of Vince Mayle

Washington State's most dominant receiver wasn't at practice on Tuesday but still got some bad news afterward.

Vince Mayle already holds WSU single season records with 101 receptions for 1,404 yards. He's had two games with more than 250 receiving yards this season. But he wasn't one of the three Biletnikoff Award semifinalists announced by the Quarterback Club of Tallahassee today.

Who was? Alabama's Amari Cooper for one. OK, good decision, he's widely considered college football's best receiver and the only pass-catcher who's a serious Heisman candidate. Also Colorado State's Rashard Higgins was named a finalist. Makes sense, his team is 10-1 and the sophomore receiver leads the nation with 1,447 receiving yards and with 15 touchdown receptions, despite missing one game with a shoulder injury.

But the third finalist? West Virginia's Kevin White? He's had some pretty ridiculous catches on Sportscenter this season but the Mountaineers aren't having an exceptional year and Mayle has him beat in most meaningful receiving categories.

He'll have a chance to pad those statistics in the Apple Cup according to his coaches, despite his Tuesday absence.

When asked if the team would have Mayle available on Saturday coach Mike Leach replied, "Yes, we should. We're all healthy. Why wouldn't we?"

We've got a practice report after the jump.

Mike Leach Monday press conference

Here is a video of Mike Leach addressing the media during Washington State's Monday press conference, courtesy of WSU Athletics. A transcription of the highlights is available after the jump.

Morning links: Luke Falk has already overcome many obstacles

Today we have a feature story on Luke Falk and his winding path to becoming Washington State's starting quarterback.

We supplement that story with a sidebar about Falk's sisters, a pair of country music singers living in Nashville.

There are more WSU and Pac-12 links after the jump.

WSU underclassmen scrimmage indoors

Keith Harrington starred on Thursday Night Football again. That's not unusual. But he did it in an unusual setting today.

Because of a suggestion to coach Mike Leach made by injured quarterback Connor Halliday during a recent phone call, the Cougars have practiced indoors all week to prepare for the unseasonably warm temperature they'll play in this weekend.

We've got a report from WSU's weekly underclassmen scrimmage after the jump.

No practice report tonight

Conflicting duties mean we won't be able to bring you a practice report tonight. The Cougars  practiced for about two hours in their indoor practice bubble, as they have all week, to prepare for Saturday's game at Arizona State.

WSU embraces the heat

Washington State took to its indoor practice bubble, a clime much closer to what it will see this weekend in sunny Tempe.

We reporters are allowed to watch the first 15 minutes or so of practice (we typically stay a little longer) but the practice bubble is rather opaque so we didn't see as much as usual after that. What we did see I've summarized after the jump.

Monday WSU press conference

Kache Palacio's weekly improvement culminated in a dominant performance in WSU's 39-32 win over OSU.

All three of his tackles were for a loss, including a pair of sacks, pushing the Beavers back a total of 21 yards in WSU's 39-32 win.

Mike Leach said on Monday that it was probably Palacio's best game since he enrolled at WSU. But he also had some funny words to say about Palacio's position – a hybrid linebacker/defensive end. Leach doesn't seem to care how they define Palacio's position, as long as he keeps getting sacks.

"I don't even pay attention to what a Buck is. There's either edge guys or there's not, you know? All this fancy defensive terminology, I get tired of it," Leach said. "There's a guy on the edge that's going to rush the hell out of the passer or … that's it. I think we've done a good job and I think as we've gotten more speed on the field at the edge positions it's helped us."

We're not going to be able to post so many videos for a little while as we transition to a newer, cooler SportsLink. But here are links to today's videos of Leach, Cyrus Coen, Kache Palacio and Joe Dahl.

All of Leach's comments are transcribed after the jump.

Cougars spend Sunday night prepping for ASU

The Cougars practiced early yesterday watched the team they just beat (OSU) knock off the team they play next (ASU).

They took the field on Sunday night for a short, late practice to begin preparing to replicate OSU's success and send the Sun Devils on a losing streak.

Our practice report is after the jump.

WSU practices early and indoors

The Washington State went into the indoor practice bubble for a Saturday morning practice in order to turn up the heat and replicate the conditions they'll face next weekend in Tempe, Arizona. The practices are closed but the team let the media in for the Thursday Night Football so we have some notes on that after the jump. We've also got this highlight, courtesy of Gabe Marks' Instagram account.


Still got it.

A video posted by therealjosemarks (@thenewyorkmeths9) on

Cougars coaches return for a quick scrimmage

WSU's coaches have fanned out across the country to recruit during the bye week.

But all were back in Pullman on Thursday to lead a quick practice that consisted primarily of a Thursday Night Football scrimmage.

Our practice report is after the jump.