WSU's Mike Leach Texted Officials, Blasted Pac-12 for Player Safety, Favoritism

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 20, 2018

Washington State head coach Mike Leach runs onto the field before an NCAA college football game against Utah in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Young Kwak/Associated Press

Washington State head coach Mike Leach went on a tirade against Pac-12 officials stemming from a non-call on a helmet-to-helmet hit against quarterback Gardner Minshew during a Sept. 21 game against USC.

Per Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel, Leach sent a series of text messages to conference executives that questioned the Pac-12's "commitment to player safety and insinuations of favoritism in the league office toward other programs."

On the play in question, USC linebacker Porter Gustin led with his helmet to hit Minshew after he had already thrown a pass in the fourth quarter.

Leach told reporters during his weekly press conference on Sept. 24 he couldn't comment on the situation without being fined.

"I think you ought to call [general counsel] Woodie Dixon at the Pac-12 offices," he said. "I'd be happy to comment on it if I were allowed to, but I'm not allowed to. … But since I'm not allowed to, I'd suggest you call Woodie Dixon at the conference office, and I'm sure he's got a telephone number. I'm sure he's got an email."

Speaking to the Associated Press (h/t Theo Lawson of the Spokesman-Review), Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott stopped short of saying Gustin's hit should have been called targeting.

"As you know, in any given game there are a lot of close calls, and this was a very, very close one," Scott said. "No doubt about it."

Pac-12 Head of Communications Andrew Walker issued a statement to Thamel regarding Leach's texts:

"While we do not comment on private communications with coaches, if there is ever a serious allegation of any kind from a coach, we follow up and discuss the matter with the relevant university athletic department and provide them with an opportunity to request an inquiry into the matter. No such request has been received from Washington State University."

Last week, Thamel reported the Pac-12 overhauled its replay review process after it was determined in the same game that Washington State linebacker Logan Tago should have been ejected for targeting USC quarterback JT Daniels, but an independent third party, later identified as Dixon, overruled the replay officials.

Washington State would go on to lose the game 39-36 when Blake Mazza's 38-yard field-goal attempt was blocked at the end of the same drive that Gustin delivered the hit to Minshew.

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