EL PASO – A late-arriving flight prevented Washington State from participating in its scheduled Monday night practice, but the Cougars put in nearly three hours of work at a local high school facility on Tuesday.
Afterward, outside receivers coach Graham Harrell addressed the media for the first time since it was reported he has accepted the offensive coordinator position at North Texas.
Harrell gave some insight how coaching at WSU – first as an offensive analyst and then as receivers coach – has prepared him for such a quick rise up the coaching ranks.
“One thing that coach Leach I think has done better than anyone, ever probably, is just having a system he believes in and sticking with it,” Harrell said. “As a coach, I think that’s as important as anything. Believe in what you do and say, ‘We’re not going to try and trick people. We’re not going to put a ton of stuff in. We’re just going to execute what we do better than other people.’”
The philosophy appears to be serving Leach’s disciples well. Head coaches such as California’s Sonny Dykes, Baylor’s Art Briles and West Virginia’s Dana Holgerson were all assistants under Leach at one point in time.
North Texas appears to be going all-in on Leach’s philosophy – new head coach Seth Littrell is a former Leach assistant and current WSU quality control assistant Joel Filani is set to become the Mean Green’s new receivers coach.
“That’s the game plan,” Harrell said. “I think a lot of people that have left Leach have had success because of that. Because of the way he’s done things and the example he’s set.”
Miami defenders sent home
Perhaps WSU’s best game plan against the Miami defense is to simply wait.
The Hurricanes sent backup safety Jamal Carter home early Tuesday morning after he violated team rules. While Carter was a backup to starting safety Deon Bush, he was also No. 5 on the team in tackles.
Furthermore, the Hurricanes will be without sophomore defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins, who was sent home on Tuesday after it was discovered that he is academically ineligible to play in the Sun Bowl. Jenkins played in all 12 games for UM this season, starting seven.
Cougars and coaches collecting gifts in El Paso
Back in Mike Leach’s Texas Tech days, the coach picked up a pair of cowboy hats when he took the Red Raiders to the Cotton Bowl. Now he’s returned to the Lone Star state with the Washington State Cougars, but the headgear is a little different.
Leach was presented with a sombrero by the mariachi band that greeted the Cougars at El Paso International Airport on Monday night. The gift a hit on social media – where pictures of the coach wearing a red WSU sweatshirt, jeans and the sombrero gave the WSU fan base a few hours of entertainment – and with the Leach family. And so was the coach’s starring role in the singing of the traditional folk song “Cielito Lindo.”
“I think perhaps I made such an impact with (the sombrero) that everybody’s going to get one,” Leach said. “It was kind of a surprise, I was the guy who did aye-yah-yah-yah, which is a key part of the song. It wouldn’t be the same song without it. So, I was privileged to do that.”
On Tuesday the Cougars were given the opportunity to select their own presents as part of the bowl’s gift suite, in which players are given seven points and allowed to select items of various point values.
The most popular item, a leather reclining chair with a USB hookup, costs all seven points. Other players used the opportunity to get some holiday shopping out of the way.
“They’ve got rings and everything. Watches, purses, TVs,” linebacker Paris Taylor said. “The most popular is the reclining chair. A lot of people got the reclining chair.”
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