Mike Leach, Washington State Agree to New Contract: Latest Details, Reaction

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2015

Washington State head coach Mike Leach stands on the sidelines in an NCAA college football game against Washington Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Washington State University and head football coach Mike Leach agreed to a contract extension that will keep him with the school through the 2020 season, athletic director Bill Moos announced Tuesday.

“Mike Leach and his entire staff have done a tremendous job in building our football program, and the goal is to keep moving forward,” Moos said in a statement on the team's official website. “Cougar football has returned to the upper echelon of collegiate football where it most deservedly belongs. I believe I speak for all Cougar fans when I say we want Mike Leach leading our football program for many years to come.”

Leach, 54, is 21-29 in his four seasons at Washington State. The Cougars went 9-4 in 2015, including a win over Miami in the Sun Bowl.    

It was Washington State's first bowl victory since 2003 and just its seventh in school history. The Cougars were also above .500 for the first time in more than a decade. While Leach won just 12 games in his first three seasons at the school, it's clear the promising 2015 campaign was enough for him to stick around.

Washington State finished 22nd nationally in yards per game, with Leach's patented Air Raid attack remaining effective. Sophomore quarterback Luke Falk threw for 4,561 yards and 38 touchdowns against eight interceptions. He threw for 505 yards and five touchdowns in Washington State's upset win over Oregon and threw for 331 and two scores in its win over UCLA.

The result was a season in which Leach won co-Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors with Stanford's David Shaw, and Falk was named to the all-conference team. 

Making matters even better for Leach was defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, who the university also extended Tuesday along with defensive line coach Joe Salave’a.

Grinch rebuilt the Cougars' sputtering defense on the fly in 2015, as it allowed just 12 touchdown passes all season and forced 24 turnovers. While it was still a below-average unit on the aggregate—particularly against the run—Leach-led teams can typically shine when the defense does just enough to keep things steady.

It's been an impressive turnaround overall for Leach, who left Texas Tech in 2009 amid controversy. He was alleged to have engaged in player abuse at the time, particularly against Adam James, who claimed Leach mistreated him when he had a concussion. Those claims would later be called into question, but Leach still sat out two full seasons before landing at Washington State.

Now, with the controversy well in the past, it appears Leach has found his second long-term coaching home. 


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