Quirky Coach joins Washington State

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Washington State signed on one of the most colourful characters in college football coaching, Mike Leach.

The deal, signed on Wednesday, was worth over $11 million through a timeframe of five years, and puts Leach in the top stratum of the Pacific-12 Conference coaches when it comes to salary. It includes a $2 million base annual salary and a supplemental $250,000 income per year, with performance incentives, according to athletic director Bill Moos.

Two years ago, Leach had a controversial firing, although he is greatest known for his records for passes, upsets, and changing the paradigm of offensive college football. He held a record of 84-43 at Texas Tech, and is taking over Paul Wulff who made a salary low of $600,000 per year and held a four-year record of 9-40, with a 4-8 record this season.

Now, he winds up at a university that has not made a bowl from as far back as 2003, with only occasional successes thanks to its isolated location as well as the obvious lack of effective recruitment efforts. It may have been the money coming from a new television contract with the Pac-12 that changed the way the cash moves in Pullman, giving Washington State a chance to afford a clear winner.

The $3 billion television deal signed by Larry Scott, Pac-12 Commissioner, is to thank for the expected rise in Washington State’s television revenue. From an estimated $4 million, by 2012, it is expected to go beyond $16 million. The new model, with a revenue-sharing mechanism, also puts the remote eastern Washington university on a more level playing field with other Pac-12 programs with greater visibility, such as Southern California, Oregon, and Stanford.

Scott described the deal as causing an “astounding leap” in the revenue of smaller-revenue schools in terms of percentages.

As Leach takes over the coaching spot, he will have two highly-talented quarterbacks and a big-play receiver: Connor Halliday and Jeff Tuel, and Marquess Wilson, respectively.

Off the field, though, the situation surrounding Leach is much more complicated. His controversial firing in 2009 was apparently for acts of insubordination which were deemed continuous, in addition to his treatment of Adam James, a wide receiver who was the son of Craig James, broadcaster to ESPN.

Adam James had charged Leach of keeping him isolated in a media room and equipment garage while he was sitting out practice due to a concussion. The mistreatment was denied by Leach, including an allegation of having locked James in a closet. Later, James admitted that he was more locked in feeling-wise compared to its being a literal case.

Leach subsequently sued ESPN for defamation, as far as handling the coverage of his firing went. The lawsuit may have been a major reason why potential college football suitors were scared off, as ESPN has well-established financial ties in the sport.

Fortunately, after two years of being off the coaching scheme, Washington State came out as a willing suitor, with a fresh start and a big payday to boot.

The school will introduce Leach as coach this Tuesday.

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