We all have our favorite Mike Leach stories, and the players who play for him certainly have their own. A common one they all seem to tell -- how little time Leach spends actually talking about football.
The Athleticrounded up a bunch of Leach's former Washington State quarterbacks, and they all confirmed that the guy you see in front of the curtain is the exact same guy you get behind it.
But that wasn't what I found most interesting. No, I the part I found most interesting is how much Leach empowers his quarterbacks to run his offense.
In a sport where some coaches demand their players check with them as long and as often as possible until the rules of the game demand they snap the ball, Leach turns it over to his players to call the shot.
Said former Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday: "By the end of my junior year and all through my senior year, I was probably calling 70 percent of the plays. He would give me a formation and then I would call the play. His coaching philosophy is, you’re out there on the field, you can see the way the defense is lined up better than I can. So it’s my job to get you to the best point of believing in yourself and believing in your ability to call the plays. That’s the way he coaches. He does it in a roundabout way sometimes, but it’s his philosophy to get the quarterback to run the entire show."
Here's fellow former Cougar Jeff Tuel: "I remember at BYU our first game, we’re watching the film the next day and he says, “How many plays did you change?” I said, “Probably two or three.” He’s like, “What do you mean two or three?” I said, “I called the play, and I ran the play. That’s kind of how it’s worked for me here.” He’s like, “Well, when Graham (Harrell) was playing, those guys were checking seven out of 10 plays. I was like, “Well, you never fucking told me that!” He’s like, “Well, you’re the one who sees it. I’m just giving you a suggestion.” I’m like, “Fucking A, good to know.” There are some things you just have to figure out going through it with him."
As for the actual mechanics of playing football, Leach's coaching -- again, according to a number of his former quarterbacks -- essentially amounts to, "Throw it to the open guy," and "Point your dick at him."
It'll make sense when you read it.
There's definitely a method to Leach's madness, or at least a madness to his method. Either way, it works. Leach equips his players with a scheme that puts them in a chance to succeed and one that's easy to understand, allowing them to go play and have fun doing it. And isn't that the entire point of coaching?
I swear we had more fun this season than any team in America," said Casey Brink, a backup on the 2018 Wazzu team that went 11-2 and finished the year No. 10 in the country. "And part of that is the simplicity. You know exactly what you’re doing so you can just go out and play football. And who doesn’t love that?"