Mike Leach should make up his mind.
Are the football players he coaches at Washington State weak-minded wusses whose disinclination to initiate contact reflects a general softening of American society?
Or are they the oppressed victims of a small-town witch hunt conducted by a police department that holds a grudge against the Cougars?
The Wizard of Odd made both assertions this week, giving skeptics reason to believe his complaint about how Pullman police target football players was a way of atoning for the rant about his team’s minimal fortitude.
Never miss a local story.
A 31-27 defeat Saturday night left Washington State with an 0-2 record and a coach so angry he said things he likely regretted. When the going gets tough, change the discussion, and there’s no discussion topic more combustible these days than police perceived as aggressors.
It’s easier to blame the cops than to apologize for blatantly sexist remarks comparing the Cougars to a JC softball team.
“I mean, that’s what we are — a JC softball team,” said Leach, using “JC softball” as a euphemism for “girls.”
He continued: “It’s not whether you win or lose. It’s like the team that wins is the team that has the most fun. Crap like that. All that stuff that’s contaminated America where they give every kid a trophy, and they don’t keep score in Little League anymore.”
They don’t keep score? A team from Chicago’s South Side was stripped of its 2014 Little League World Series championship after it was discovered some players were recruited outside established boundaries.
The salient word here is “recruited.” Coaches don’t recruit players to compete in games without a consequential score.
But hey, when you’re born to be a ramblin’ man prone to share observations without recognizing the benefits of a pause key, you just say what you want and deal with the ramifications later.
Like, a day later.
Upon his surly analysis of the Cougars as a JC softball/Little League team symbolic of a play-for-fun mindset that has “contaminated America,” Leach apparently examined his conscience and decided the local police to be an easier target for his darts.
Two WSU players have been arrested in separate incidents during a tumultuous summer in Pullman, where a fraternity brawl broke out involving several other WSU players. Investigations into the arrests and the frat fight are proceeding at a pace that might be called a dawdling — it’s how the justice system works in a country that doesn’t emulate North Korea — giving Leach an opportunity for some obnoxious grandstanding.
“Comments to the media have distorted the facts and already condemned football players in the court of public opinion,” Leach said Tuesday from a prepared statement. “Many of the statements are incomplete or totally false. I’m going to do what I should have done in the first place, which is presume them innocent until proven guilty.”
Got that, fellas? Mike Leach has your back. If you’re implicated in an assault, or a robbery, or a brawl at a frat house, the head coach is assuming the police are picking on you because, well, because.
Pullman cops wake up in the morning just savoring a conflict with some 240-pound linebacker who has quaffed four whiskey shots after polishing off a 12-pack. If negotiating such a potentially volatile situation doesn’t quality as fun, what does?
It’s a mad, mad world, and nowhere is it madder than between the ears of Washington State’s head football coach. One day he rails about how his players have been coddled by a culture that emphasizes the joy of sports, and the next he rails about how his players are victims of police profiling.
I am trying to make sense of Leach’s abrupt transformation from ruthless drill sergeant to tender lap-dog master, and it occurs to me: His fascination with pirates serves him well.
He staved off a mutiny.