Posted: Sunday November 4, 2012 9:38PM ; Updated: Monday November 5, 2012 10:53AM
Stewart Mandel
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Smaller story, but I'm sure you're following it

Washington State's Mike Leach
Following a 49-6 loss to Utah, Mike Leach is 2-7 in his first season at Washington State.
William Mancebo/Getty Images

Back in the preseason, I was among the many delusional media types that thought Mike Leach would sweep into Pullman and lead Washington State to its first bowl berth in nine years. After all, that's what he did every season during his 10-year tenure at Texas Tech.

As it turns out, the 2-7 Cougars will not be bowling, and Leach has had one of the worst debut seasons of any newly hired coach in the country. It's not just that Wazzu is 0-6 in the Pac-12 (it even managed to lose to Colorado); it's that the Pirate is compounding things with some of his comments and actions.

On Saturday, Utah (4-5) ensured Leach of his first losing season as a head coach with a 49-6 blowout. Afterward, the notoriously oddball coach ripped his players at a postgame press conference, and he targeted his linemen in particular. "A part of it's effort, and some of it borders on cowardice," Leach said of an offensive line that allowed six sacks. "... It was one of the most heartless efforts up front I've ever seen. And our D-line wasn't any better." Then, in what amounts to overt humiliation, Leach ordered all of the Cougars' starting offensive and defensive linemen to come out of the locker room to field media questions (whether the media wanted to talk to them or not).

"In four decades of covering the [Pac-12], I've never seen anything like it," Seattle Times veteran Bud Withers wrote of the scene.

Remember, earlier in the season, Leach lamented that many of his seniors had an "empty-corpse quality." According to Withers, the coach went there again in his postgame radio interview. "That could have been a zombie convention," he said of the Cougars' performance.

You know what you're getting when you hire Leach. He's the farthest thing from conventional, and he says exactly what's on his mind. However, he also got fired from Texas Tech for allegedly embarrassing a player, and with the exception of his opening remarks ("Our effort today was pitiful. It starts with our coaches, with me in particular"), his entire postgame rant was a Bob Knight-esque exercise in verbal bullying. Coaches sometimes call out players as motivation, but with three games left in the season, that hardly seemed the intent here.

"We're going to have a lively spring, I'll tell you that," Leach said. "There's some individuals that aren't going to be here next year.

Don't be surprised if he loses a whole bunch of those individuals' allegiance for Washington State's last three games.

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Looking ahead

Mini-previews for three of Week 11's big games:

Oregon State at Stanford, Saturday (3 p.m. ET): Each team has just one conference loss, and each still has a game remaining against Oregon. The winner here will likely become the Ducks' last remaining challenger in the Pac-12 North. It will be interesting to see how the Cardinal employ new quarterbacking sensation Hogan.

Texas A&M at Alabama, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): These two programs, linked in history by their ties to shared coaches Bear Bryant and Gene Stallings, play for the first time as conference rivals. Yet it seems almost natural. Nick Saban is no fan of hurry-up offenses. Here's his chance to put the kibosh on one of them.

Penn State at Nebraska, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): Last year's game in State College was the first played after the release of the Jerry Sandusky grand jury report and Joe Paterno's subsequent ouster. It was a somber affair. Huskers fans, eyeing a trip to Indianapolis, hope for a celebratory afternoon this year in Lincoln.

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