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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Washington State turns to Leach to improve struggling program

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is the new head coach at Washington State.

The school said Wednesday that Leach had agreed in principle to a five-year contract. Terms of the contract were not immediately available.

Leach, 50, posted an 84-43 record at Texas Tech, leading the Red Raiders to 10 bowl appearances in 10 seasons. He was fired in 2009 amid allegations he mistreated a player with a concussion.

He replaces Paul Wulff, who was fired after four losing seasons.

“I have always admired the tradition of Washington State,” Leach said in a statement. “It’s a university on the move that is experiencing growth. I’m excited about what they are doing with the facilities and it’s a team that has battled through some hard times and shows great promise in the future.

“I’m proud to be a part of this team,” Leach said.

He was hired by athletic director Bill Moos.

“I have spoken about the need to re-energize our fan base and take Cougar football to the next level,” Moos said in a statement. “I believe the hiring of Mike Leach accomplishes both of those goals.”

Leach was at the top of Moos’ list of candidates, in part because Moos wants a high-powered offense at WSU. While at Texas Tech, Leach’s Air Raid offense routinely led the nation in passing and set numerous records.

Leach was offensive coordinator at Kentucky and Oklahoma before becoming the Red Raiders head coach in 2000.

In 2009, Texas Tech fired Leach two days after suspending him after it was alleged he mistreated receiver Adam James, who had a concussion. Leach denied the allegations and later sued for wrongful termination.

Leach has said he suspects an $800,000 bonus he was due the next day was the reason he was fired.

In a separate case, Leach has also sued ESPN Inc. and a Dallas public relations firm, accusing them of libel and slander after he was fired. James is the son of ESPN analyst Craig James.

Leach has been out of coaching the past two seasons. During that time he has put out two books, worked in television and hosted a satellite radio show.

Wulff was fired after posting a 9-40 record in four years during which he was charged with rebuilding a downtrodden football program. The Cougars finished 4-8 this season, the best record of his tenure.

Moos said Tuesday he was looking for a coach who would lead a high-powered offense that would win games, fill the stands at Martin Stadium and prompt donors to open their checkbooks. Leach would seem to fill all those criteria.

Construction has already started on an $80 million project to add premium seating, luxury boxes and a new press box. (December 1, 2011, Page 6)

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