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Sports >  WSU football

Washington State’s Mike Leach refutes report, claiming no interest in return to Texas Tech

UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 26, 2018

Washington State head coach Mike Leach watches from the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Washington, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in Pullman, Wash. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
Washington State head coach Mike Leach watches from the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Washington, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in Pullman, Wash. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

Mike Leach has no interest in leaving Washington State for his former school, Texas Tech, despite a Sunday report from the Lubbock Avalanche Journal that claimed such a move would be attractive for the seventh-year Cougars coach.

Leach, in the last 24 hours, has told multiple reporters he wouldn’t be remotely interested in leaving Pullman for Lubbock, citing his frustration that Tech still hasn’t paid him for the 2009 football season, while also suggesting he’s perfectly content at WSU on the heels of a 10-win regular season.

“They didn’t pay me last time. And I’m happy here,” he said, according to ESPN’s Joel Anderson. “They haven’t paid me for 2009 and we won 9 games that year. And they haven’t won 9 games since.”

The coach doubled down, later telling Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com, “Why would I leave (Pullman)?”

A Sunday report from the Lubbock Avalanche Journal had cited two sources that said Leach is “interested in returning to Tech” in the wake of Kliff Kingsbury’s firing. A former quarterback for Leach at Tech, Kingsbury was dismissed Sunday after finishing 5-7 with the Red Raiders and missing out on postseason eligibility for the fifth time in seven years.

The Avalanche Journal story also noted, regarding rumors of Leach’s return, “a large contingent of donors will lobby athletic director Kirby Hocutt to make it happen.”

The Cougars, ranked No. 12 in the Associated Press Top 25, are coming off a 10-2 regular season – Leach’s best record in Pullman and WSU’s highest win total in 15 years.

“The people who are supporting him, it’s not just one or two,” one of the sources, according to the Avalanche Journal. “It’s like a hoard of people and maybe eight or 10 that are like million-dollar-plus donors. It’s some serious folks.”

But Leach is still outraged at the school that fired him in 2009 and has gone as far to call Texas Tech administrators “felons” and “crooks” for not paying him the $2.5 million he believes he’s still owed for leading the Red Raiders to a 9-4 record his last year in charge of the program in Lubbock.

The other source told the newspaper a separate group of donors wouldn’t endorse a move to bring back the coach who stirred up national controversy when Texas Tech alleged he mishandled an incident with former Red Raiders player Adam James. The player’s father, former ESPN analyst Craig James, claimed Leach mistreated his son by ordering him to stand in a dark equipment room while dealing with a concussion.

Tech terminated Leach in December of 2009 and when the coach filed a lawsuit against the school after Tech refused to pay out the remainder of his contract, an estimated $2.5 million, the state of Texas cited a sovereign immunity law that shields state institutions from being sued for monetary damages.

But Leach, who went 84-33 in his 10 seasons at Tech and led the Red Raiders to 11-2 in 2008, has been persistent in pressuring the school to pay him the money he’s owed.

The WSU coach berated his former employer in a Monday press conference last season.

“Oh there were outright crooks at Texas Tech,” Leach said. “You’re talking about an institution that hasn’t paid me for 2009. We won nine games in 2009, they haven’t won nine since. Are there crooks there? Yeah. They ought to put them in jail.

The coach continued: “Think about in the case of Texas Tech. OK, you’ve got schools that have actually had murders, you’ve had schools that have had rapes and sexual assaults, you’ve got schools that have cheated and fixed grades, you’ve got schools who’ve bought players. There’s only one school in the nation that’s shameful enough to have not paid their head coach. Only one. And that’s Texas Tech.”

Leach has turned around the program at WSU, leading the Cougars to an unprecedented fourth consecutive bowl berth in 2018. No school in the Pac-12 has won more conference games over the past four years than Leach’s Cougars, who’ve gone 26-10.

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