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Grip on Sports: WSU’s Mike Leach seems to have another former SMU runningback mad at him

Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach chats on the sidelines before the start of a college football game against Wyoming on Saturday, September 1, 2018, at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, Wyo. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach chats on the sidelines before the start of a college football game against Wyoming on Saturday, September 1, 2018, at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, Wyo. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Having a party soon? Check the invite list. Make sure Mike Leach and Eric Dickerson’s names don’t overlap. It could get ugly. Read on.


This is going to be short. I’m on an airplane somewhere between Houston and Denver, winging over the football country both Dickerson and Leach made their football bones, one first in high school then SMU, the other at Texas Tech.

But right now the two Texas legends aren’t seeing eye to eye, and James “Boobie” Williams is the reason.

Williams left Washington State a year early to chase his dream as an NFL running back. That’s a pretty powerful temptation to try to resist. Add in the Williams’ family’s financial situation – James is engaged there is a baby on the way – and the decision was understandable.

Leach didn’t like Williams leaving early, and that is understandable as well. Not just because the Cougars are losing their best running back. That happens for a variety of reasons often. Nope, Leach is adamant about his belief in the value of education as well.

Much of the discipline he does as a college coach revolves around school work. That’s been clear everywhere he’s been, even as an assistant. Sure, the cynic may say it’s all part of keeping the best players eligible and able to play, which benefits Leach, but it doesn’t take long talking with Leach outside of a football context to believe in his commitment to life-long learning.

When Williams announced he was leaving, Leach, never shy, shared his feeling about the decision. He wasn’t happy.

That’s where it sat, until this week. That’s when Dickerson, the former All-Pro running back and now Williams’ agent, entered the fray.

When Williams’ wasn’t drafted, Dickerson posted a couple missives on social media, blaming the coach and his comments for the NFL passing over his client.

There was even some pretty strong intimation Leach had been talking Williams down to NFL teams in the predraft process.

That just seems dumb.

Whenever there is a disagreement about issues, it pays to examine motives. What would Leach’s motive be to make Williams’ look bad? He’s not coming back. He can’t affect the present. The future? If Leach is bad-mouthing him and other recruits hear about it, some doors will close. And all football coaches love open recruiting doors.

Dickerson, on the other hand, needs the best deal possible for his client to attract other clients. Williams not being drafted doesn’t speak highly of Dickerson’s ability to sell his wares. Unless, of course, it is someone else’s fault.

Whatever the truth, it’s now in the public arena. Sides have already been chosen. And neither looks all that shiny.


WSU: Theo has an in-depth story on Dickerson’s comments, including some background he knows as well as anyone. … Theo also has another story on three other Cougars who will get NFL opportunities.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs were rude hosts this weekend, sweeping San Francisco in a three-game WCC baseball series.

Whitworth: The Pirates were this close to making the NCAA Division III baseball tournament until Whitman rallied for a win.

Mariners: The last two games with the Rangers have been putrid. … Mitch Haniger missed this one. … Gene Warnick has the usual Out of Right Field summary.

Sounders: Despite playing a man short much of the match, Seattle salvaged a point with a 1-1 draw against LAFC.


• I’m sure many of you know this, but it is tough to type in a cramped airplane seat. Especially when the person next to me, who is related to me by marriage, has her elbows in my space. While sleeping. That’s why the links today are limited to the S-R stories and a few others. Until later …


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