Mike Leach anything but conventional at Pac-12 Media Day

By Sean Quinton

Daily Evergreen, Washington State U. via UWIRE

WSU representatives Mike Leach, Jeff Tuel and Travis Long took to the stage before a swarm of media to discuss bear-hunting, Civil War leaders and football Tuesday at the annual Pac-12 Media Day in Los Angeles, Calif.

While media days by and large are an exercise in cliché answers and uninspired optimism, Coach Mike Leach’s blatant disregard for the norm proved to be a refreshing change of pace.

Before calling his first play, the coach is already playing by his own rules, further cementing his reputation as a wildly carefree personality. Leach did eventually talk about the team, but it was his off-base remarks on formidable hunting partners and comparisons to Civil War heroes that stole the show.

Leach compared the players beside him to Civil War leaders saying Jeff Tuel is like Stonewall Jackson because “he’s not afraid to split the force and attack from different angles” and Travis Long is like Ulysses S. Grant because he’s willing to bombard the opponent until they break.

Leach’s personality spilled over to actual football questions as well. When asked about the national perception of the Pac-12, Leach simply responded with disregard.

“I don’t care. If we’re the Pac-12 — I don’t care what the other conferences think,” he said. “I worry about the task at hand, which is being the best we can, playing the best we can against whoever the opponent is that week, you know?”

Two players who will be led by the quirky coach also sat and answered the media’s questions, giving more conventional answers on the upcoming season.

Senior defensive end Travis Long talked about how the players have responded to the coaching change, saying, “As players we latched on to that because we want to be successful this year and we know we need their help and support to get that.”

Quarterback Jeff Tuel talked about returning from an injury-plagued junior season, saying he feels healthy and confident entering his final season as a Cougar.

“After not playing a lot last year I learned continuously,” Tuel said. “Although last year I wasn’t able to play, I still took a lot out of it. I’m a confident, smarter player and I feel like I’m more prepared for this year.”

While Cougar fans who haven’t witnessed a winning season in over eight years are understandably hopeful of greener pastures, a resurgent quarterback and a highly-touted coaching change still have yet to earn the Cougars much noteriety within the conference. In a media vote, the Cougars were predicted to finish fifth in the North Division with USC predicted to win the conference.

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