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Washington State’s Mike Leach named AFCA Coach of the Year after leading Cougars to historic season

PULLMAN – Mike Leach, who led Washington State to the first 11-win season in school history and guided the Cougars to their fourth consecutive postseason appearance, was named the Football Bowl Subdivision American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) National Coach of the Year, the organization announced Tuesday from San Antonio.

“This is a great team award and I am honored to accept this on behalf of our team,” Leach said.

The Cougars finished with an 11-2 record under the seventh-year coach, capping the winningest season in school history with a 28-26 win over Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl. That catapulted WSU to No. 10 in the final edition of both the Associated Press and Coaches polls.

No other coach in school history has taken the Cougars to four consecutive bowl games. WSU beat Miami in the 2015 Sun Bowl, lost to Minnesota in the 2016 Holiday Bowl, lost to Michigan State in the 2017 Holiday Bowl and beat the Cyclones in the Dec. 28 Alamo Bowl.

Leach is the first AFCA National Coach of the Year in WSU history. With his Air Raid offense, the Cougars led the nation in passing and paced the Pac-12 in scoring offense with 37.5 points per game.

WSU’s defense, meanwhile, led the conference in sacks per game and tied for second in turnovers forced. The Cougars’ scoring defense also improved from 25.8 points per game to 23.3 points per game.

Leach was named the AFCA Regional Coach of the Year after his 2008 season at Texas Tech and is the first WSU coach to receive the regional honor since Mike Price earned it in 2002.

In seven seasons with the Cougars, Leach has a record of 49-40.

Leach was named one of five regional winners, along with Syracuse’s Dino Babers, Alabama’s Nick Saban, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell. The winners were honored Tuesday evening during the AFCA Awards at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio.