Continuing Review of Our CYInterviews with Late, Great College Football Coach Mike Leach

Today, we continue revisiting CYInterviews with frequent guest, college football head coach, the late, great Mike Leach.

This conversation took place in January of 2013. Mike discussed the offseason, after his first season with the Washington State Cougars. He also discussed the upcoming national title game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the “Fighting Irish” of Notre Dame.

You can read the highlights and listen to the entire CYInterview below:

As we head to the end of football season, America’s best college and professional teams are demonstrating their skills in the big games. To break down Monday’s BCS National Title Game between Notre Dame and Alabama, we welcome back Washington State head football coach, CYInterview friend and regular, Mike Leach to provide his analysis on the most important college football game of the season.

Coach Leach, the 2008 Big 12 College Football Coach of the Year, also provides analysis on his team’s recruiting class and looks back at the toughest season of his head coaching career, among other topics. You can read the highlights and listen to the entire CYInterview below:

Listen to the entire Mike Leach CYInterview below:

Weighing in on the much anticipated national title game between Notre Dame and Alabama, Mike says this:

“I think they’re both really good teams. I mean you can tell Notre Dame’s got a great chemistry about them I think because they’ve had so many close games and they’ve hung together and found a way to win and they’re a real physical team and so, then, I think that Notre Dame has historically, at least recently the last 10-15 years struggled in bowl games. Then of course Alabama, a lot of speed. You know you see how fast they are and they’re pretty physical too and I think this is a very good Alabama team. I don’t think it’s necessarily the best one of the last five years, but I think it’s a good one and so I think it’s gonna be a good game.

It’s gonna be played between the tackles. I don’t think you’re gonna see a lot of balls flying in the air necessarily and you know it’s almost a game of can Alabama’s speed outflank Notre Dame, but Notre Dame is physical. I think Alabama’s gonna be pretty hard to beat. If somebody were to pin me down and have me guess, I would guess Alabama, but bowls are always funny where guys sit for a month and a half and you know some of it really depends how just the unit maintains things in that period.”

It’s more than a month since Alabama and Notre Dame last played a game. Coach Leach talks about the advantages and disadvantages of an extended break between the last regular season game and the championship game:

“The advantages would be you get to develop your young players. So after the season’s over you heal up the guys that are gonna do most of the playing and you get to work your young players and essentially have kind of spring football style work where you develop their skills, which I think is very valuable. As far as the game itself, I think overall it’s somewhat damaging. If you want to see an NFL guy get a funny expression on his face, go tell him that alright, now you’ve advanced to the quarterfinals in the playoffs, but you’re gonna sit for a month and a half before you play the game and I guarantee you the body language will be pretty telling because you know football’s execution, constant repetition with a pretty big unit.

Sometimes it’s hard to maintain where you’re not having a game each week. You’d like to have a little break to heal up, but too long you don’t know how it’s gonna spill out again the second time. … I think as far as games that define things, I don’t think it’s as accurate a picture as it could be just because of the layoff.”

2012, Mike’s first season at Washington State, proved to be a time of rebuilding. The coach provides some thoughts on how the season played out:

“We played a little bit better than our results. I thought that, and part of it is, we just gotta develop an expectation to win and a sense of what we’re capable of in a sense of where our work will take us. … Just focus on individual plays and finish the game as our guys start to develop an expectation of just win your individual battles and allow the score to take care of itself and then you know we gotta keep reinforcing that and keep improving on that.”

Coach Leach will be out on the recruiting trail the next few weeks to convince high school’s best football players to come play in Pullman. He talks about how this year’s 2013 Washington State Cougars class is looking:

“Well, we have a good class shaping up. We had about five midyear guys, we’ve got a good class shaping up and our reception’s been really good and you know our situation’s one where guys are gonna have the opportunity to play early and then also they get to be a part of, and this was the reason I went to Washington State, you get to be a part of creating a legacy and the tradition of going to bowls and they come on hard times and we have the chance to usher it in. … Then of course we’ve got brand new facilities going up too. So we get to break those in and create a kind of a legacy and tradition and I think that’s exciting.”

The offseason will be a great chance for Mike to make improvements as he goes into his second season of coaching at Washington State. He talks about his plans for the offseason:

“We need to have a great offseason. That’ll get started. Players are coming back to town as we speak and that’ll get started here right away and you know the biggest thing is we want to be really competitive, we want it to be demanding, but demanding’s exciting, you know, as people discover what they’re capable of and what they can do and that they can do something that you know now that maybe they couldn’t the month before or something like that. I think you know as you’re building, it’s always exciting, but we have to have a great offseason and that’s really the key to teams in general.”