Mike Leach, Washington State Agree on New 5-Year Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2017

BERKELEY, CA - OCTOBER 13:  Head coach Mike Leach of the Washington State Cougars looks on from the sidelines against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter of an NCAA football game at California Memorial Stadium on October 13, 2017 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Washington State Cougars and head coach Mike Leach agreed to a restructuring of his contract, the school announced Monday.

Leach's deal will run through 2022. Beginning in 2018, Leach's salary will climb from $3.5 million to $3.75 million in 2019 and then to $4 million in 2020. He'll also receive a $750,000 retention bonus if he remains the head coach after the 2020 season.

Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples reported earlier this month Leach had agreed to terms on a deal to become the Tennessee Volunteers head coach. However, Tennessee fired athletic director John Currie, at which point the deal fell apart. Tennessee eventually hired Alabama Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

Leach's original contract with Washington State ran through 2021 after the Cougars' 8-5 record in 2016 triggered a one-year extension. Monday's restructuring represents a slight bump in Leach's pay at Washington State. According to USA Today, he was making $3.075 million as part of his previous contract.

Sports Illustrated's Bruce Feldman noted the contract puts Leach "among the top third of Pac-12 coaches."

Leach's tenure has been an unquestionable success in Pullman. Washington State won nine games in Paul Wulff's four seasons and failed to register a winning record in Bill Doba's final four years before that.

The Cougars went 3-9 in Leach's first season (2012) but won six games in 2013 and lost to Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl, which was Washington State's first bowl appearance since 2003.

This past year, the Cougars started 6-0 and climbed to eighth in the Associated Press' Top 25 poll before they dropped three of their final six games. Still, a second straight Holiday Bowl appearance is a far cry from the years immediately preceding Leach's arrival.

Most importantly, Washington State ranks 23rd in S&P+ defensive rating, per Football Outsiders, which addressed one of the biggest concerns as to whether Leach can get the Cougars to the next level.

Increasing Leach's pay by roughly $1 million may not preclude him from considering another job offer down the road, but Washington State is smart to do whatever it can to keep Leach at the school.

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