Mike Leach denied Marquess Wilson’s allegations of physical and verbal abuse by the Washington State staff during his weekly press conference Monday, calling the heated halftime altercation between players and coaches during the Cougars’ 49-6 loss to Utah on Nov. 3 “typical locker-room stuff.”
WSU center Elliott Bosch backed his head coach and provided details of what went down more than a week ago. The incident involved outside linebackers coach Paul Volero, and it involved physical contact.
“Basically, Coach Volero came up — and he was just trying to get us fired up – he grabbed some guys by the chest plate,” Bosch said. “He wanted to take a look in their eyes and see if they really wanted to be here for the right reasons, if they wanted to win.”
Bosch shot down Wilson’s notion that the altercation may have been unwarranted.
“I haven’t seen any sort of physical abuse at all,” Bosch said.
Leach became irritated Monday when reporters pressed the abuse allegations, but he didn’t shy away from defending himself.
“I mean, I’ll categorically deny it,” he said.
When asked if any of his coaching tactics could be construed as abusive, the first-year head man chose to answer directly in the negative.
“No, no, no,” Leach said. “Next question.”
Before waiting for the next question, Leach addressed the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reporter who was sitting in the WSU’s Holland-Terrell Library when Wilson left 20 minutes into a two-hour conditioning session the day after the Utah loss.
“And quite frankly, you in particular should know we don’t have anything to hide around here,” Leach said.
“You were the one sitting up there at the library and everything, right?” he continued. “You saw as good as anybody. You can write the story better than I can. You were there the whole time . . . plus, you were in an elevated view of the whole thing . . . as a matter of fact, you’re going to be one of the first guys I’m going to direct (investigators) towards.”
WSU President Elson Floyd said Sunday the athletic department and the Pac-12 Conference will begin independent investigations to look at Wilson’s claims. Leach said he doesn’t know what incident Wilson was referring to in his parting letter.
“I don’t even know what it is,” Leach said. “He doesn’t specify.”
Unsurprisingly, Leach said he has more important matters to focus on than the pending investigations. His Cougars (2-8, 0-7 Pac-12) travel to Arizona State Saturday in hopes of capturing their first conference victory.
“I don’t know anything about it,” Leach said. “I haven’t talked to anyone about it. I’m not concerned about it.”
Jeff Tuel said he was healthy Monday after suffering an apparent shoulder injury in Saturday’s loss. The quarterback stopped short of denying Wilson’s abuse allegations against the current staff. He said he still remains friends with the former wide receiver.
“Personally, I’m not going to get into that,” Tuel said. “I think staying away from that is the smart thing to do and I’m not even going to comment on that.”
The day’s strongest endorsement of the current staff came from Bosch. The Spokane product said he is tired of losing and wished the previous coaching staff pushed players as Leach and Co. do.
“They are trying to change the culture around here,” Bosch said. “They’re pushing us very hard, like a good coaching staff should. I think they are treating us the way a football staff should treat their players.”
Leach Mum On Starting QB:
Halliday’s relief effort in WSU’s 44-36 loss to UCLA evoked memories of 2011′s Dad’s Weekend match-up against Arizona State. Halliday replaced Marshall Lobbestael in that game, throwing for 494 yards and four touchdowns in WSU’s 37-27 win.
Halliday replaced Tuel in the first quarter Saturday against UCLA, then passed for 330 yards and five touchdowns. Tuel was 11-for-14 with 127 yards, no touchdowns and no picks before he had to leave the game.
Leach declined to name a starter for Saturday.
On a Lighter Note:
Temperatures dipped into the teens right around the time the Cougars kicked off their night contest with the Bruins. So the nearly 29,000 in attendance wisely bundled up with blankets and snow gear.
ESPN caught one particularly enthusiastic WSU fan taking the need for warmth to a new level, even for WSU. To his credit, the national television performance downplayed the longstanding tradition of carefully hiding banned booze at a college football game.
Here’s the link to the Super-Coug in action.