Mike Leach's Image Takes Another Hit After Texas High School Bans Wazzu Coach

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Mike Leach's Image Takes Another Hit After Texas High School Bans Wazzu Coach
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State head coach Mike Leach has taken some lumps over the past few years.

There was that mess at Texas Tech in 2009, where he was dismissed for insubordination because he reportedly refused to apologize to Adam James—the son of then-ESPN college football analyst Craig James—after abuse allegations surfaced. 

Then there was Leach's wrongful termination lawsuit against Texas Tech and a separate libel and slander lawsuit against ESPN, which still haven't been completely resolved in totality.

Leach has also been portrayed as an eccentric who has an affinity for pirate-themed office decor.

Leach is a little out of the box for sure, but after a two-year sabbatical from coaching due to his perceived toxicity, Leach was hired by Washington State and things appeared to be back to normal. 

But last November, receiver Marquess Wilson wrote a long, rambling letter in which he claimed "physical, emotional and verbal abuse [were] being allowed in the locker room and on the field." In mid-December, Wilson recanted those allegations, according to a Yahoo!Sports report.

It's 2013 and Leach's name has been cleared in the Wilson incident, but now Leach's reputation is being questioned again, only this time it's by a high school coach.

According to a report by the Dallas Morning News, DeSoto High School head coach Claude Mathis has decided that "Washington State isn't welcome at DeSoto any longer." 

According to Mathis, Leach pulled a scholarship offer to defensive back Myron Turner, who had been committed to Washington State since last October. The report states that Turner took his official visit to Pullman, WA last weekend and that since his verbal commitment to the Cougars was made, he "has spurned all other suitors."

The Dallas Morning News elaborates:

Mathis got a call on Monday that Washington State was no longer going to honor its offer, deciding to go with a bigger safety. Mathis thought the new offer was to a junior college prospect that could start right away. That might not be the case; Amarillo Palo Duro safety Montrel Meander (6-3, 185) received an offer from Washington State and committed last weekend.

Yikes.

Of course, that's just one side of the story, and this report seems to indicate that perhaps it was Turner who made the decision to decommit from Washington State. Unfortunately, Leach can't defend himself nor comment on the matter since NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting about unsigned prospects.

So basically, a high school coach can allege a "dirty rotten scoundrel" charge at a head coach and not get called out for it if it's simply not true.

Is that fair?

Probably not, but recruiting can be an oily business.

Still, one has to ask why Leach, if Mathis' claims are true, would pull an offer to a kid who has been a long time commit? Why would the school pay for an official visit up to Pullman and then yank an offer?

Leach, due to his head coaching days at Texas Tech, has built pipelines into college football's most fertile recruiting grounds. DeSoto High School is a suburb of Dallas, TX. 

Why would Leach risk alienating his access to those Texas schools?

It's possible that Leach found a better prospect to commit and pulled Turner's offer, as Mathis' claim seems to indicate in that Dallas Morning News report.

It's conceivable that Leach offered Turner a gray shirt and the kid didn't want to wait.

It's also plausible that Turner didn't tell Mathis the full story or perhaps did something that caused Leach to renege on his offer.

Then again, it's entirely possible that Leach pulled his scholarship because a more coveted recruit was willing to commit to the Cougars and Leach didn't need Turner anymore. But a quick look at Washington State's commit list indicates that, while safety Montrel Meander did commit on January 20, he's a 2-star defensive back, while Turner is a 3-star defensive back. 

That does not compute.

One interesting note about Turner is that on his recruiting profile page on both Rivals and Scout, no other schools of interest are listed, nor have any offers been reported. 

Right now, Leach and the school won't comment on the matter. If or when Turner signs a letter of intent with another school, we may finally hear Leach's side of the story.

I had the opportunity to hold a one-on-one interview with Leach last year and while he is quirky, he is also a very smart man. He knows he has baggage, but that's a result of what he perceives as an inaccurate and damaging public portrayal of him by his former employer and ESPN.

To his credit, Leach received some satisfaction and was granted a temporary restoration of his reputation after Wilson's serious allegations were recanted.

Despite being an easy target, Leach is ostensibly not letting this latest recruiting incident stop him from bringing Washington State football back to prominence.

And to those who dare to challenge Leach's mission or question his tactics?

Somewhere we can hear him probably saying, "swing your sword.

 

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