Through a public records request, Yahoo Sports has extracted text messages from the cell phone of Washington State coach Mike Leach, sent to various Pac-12 executives, that underline Leach’s frustration with a controversial no-call from the Cougars’ Sept. 21 loss at USC.
Trojans linebacker Porter Gustin was not penalized for targeting after making clear helmet-to-helmet contact with WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew at a critical juncture of the week four game in Los Angeles.
Leach had urged reporters to contact Pac-12 General Counsel Woodie Dixon, who handles football matters, about the play during a press conference the following week. The Cougars coach apparently took matter into his own hands and got through to Dixon himself, Pete Thamel wrote.
Per Yahoo records, Leach sent this text to Dixon: “Don’t ever waste my time, making me sit through some sanctimonious speech or demonstration on player safety or targeting if you are going to continue to alibi what happened last Friday.”.
Leach also contacted Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott directly, sending the following message: “The Pac-12 cannot say with any credibility, that they are actually trying to protect student athletes.”
The conference’s vice president of officiating, David Coleman, also heard from Leach via text, Yahoo reported.
“Woodie is a total coward and is afraid of USC. I look forward to telling him in person,” the coach apparently texted Coleman on Sept. 25.
Additionally, Leach directed his ire toward Dixon in a different text conversation that week, according to the Yahoo report, in which he accused Dixon of phoning Cougars staff members in the press box during a 2015 home game against Stanford and ordering them to turn the band noise down because “they were playing too loud.”
“Why can’t I help wondering, if you’re trying to manipulate wins and losses?” Leach texted Dixon.
Dixon, also the conference’s senior vice president of business affairs, replied “Mike don’t ever again accuse [me of] of manipulating wins and losses. Please show this text to your AD and have him give me a call.”
That prompted a response from the WSU coach: “I didn’t accuse you of anything. I suggest that you get on sorting out those rules that I pointed out. After all, that is your job.”
Pac-12 head of communications Andrew Walker issued a statement to Yahoo Sports on Friday.
“While we do not comment on private communications with coaches, if there is ever a serious allegation of any kind from a coach we follow up and discuss the matter with the relevant university athletic department and provide them with an opportunity to request an inquiry into the matter. No such request has been received from Washington State University.”
The Pac-12 also came under fire last week when Yahoo Sports, in a different story, reported the conference erred in its decision-making process earlier in the same Sept. 21 game between the Cougars and Trojans at the Coliseum. Officials were prepared to eject WSU defensive lineman Logan Tago for targeting in the first half, but a “third party,” which later was learned to be Dixon, telephoned in to overrule replay officials that were on-site and in the Pac-12’s review command center.
At the conference’s basketball media day last week, Scott said the Pac-12 would be amending its play review process and Dixon and Coleman would be prohibited from discussion about calls being made at the review command center.
Leach and WSU athletic director Pat Chun declined comment to Yahoo Sports Friday.
Leach, in his seventh year with the Cougars, encouraged reporters during a weekly news conference following the USC game to “call Woodie Dixon at the Pac-12 offices” regarding the highly-scrutinized hit from Gustin.
“I’d be happy to comment on it if I were allowed to, but I’m not allowed to,” Leach said. “… But since I’m not allowed to, I’d suggest you call Woodie Dixon at the conference office and I’m sure he’s got a telephone number, I’m sure he’s got an E-mail.”
The same week, The Spokesman-Review sent an E-mail to Dixon requesting comment, but only heard back from Pac-12 Vice President of Communications Dave Hirsch.
In a Sept. 25 Associated Press article, Scott was quoted saying “As you know, in any given game there are a lot of close calls, and this was a very, very close one. No doubt about it.”
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