Two days after the announcement that Mike Leach will take over Cougar football, fan excitement is high and changes are underway.
WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos said Leach is expected to hire an entirely new assistant coaching staff and keep two of Wulff’s assistant coaches to oversee the transition.
Mike Leach is expected to make $11 million over 5 years, making him the third highest paid coach in the Pac-12.
Moos told media he met with Leach on Nov. 16 in Key West, Fla., where Leach has been living since he was fired by Texas Tech prior to the 2009 Alamo Bowl.
Moos said he stressed to Leach that he would not fire Wulff if the Cougars finished strong, but the team lost its two remaining games.
Moos set out to find a new head football coach and bring back the excitement to the football program. He said he wanted to bring in a coach who runs a “high-octane offense” and someone who puts fans in the seats.
With the first comes the second, he said.
With the announcement that the former Texas Tech head football coach accepted the head coaching job at WSU, the popular social networking site Twitter exploded with fans and alumni praising the new coach. The traffic regarding Leach became so popular that Mike Leach was trending on all social media sites.
“I absolutely think ... lots of people are energized,” junior political science major Matt DelRiccio said. “I know as a fan I’m definitely energized. I can’t wait for Cougar football in the fall. I think we have a great chance to go to a bowl game.”
Since the hiring of Leach was announced, the school has sold more than 350 season tickets and has also received $170,000 in donations according to reporter Melissa Luck from KXLY.
In the hours following the announcement, the Cougar Athletic Fund website crashed due to high traffic volume and the Athletic Department has requested people purchase season tickets online due to an abnormally high amount of telephone traffic.
T-shirts have popped up on the Internet already, emblazoned with a skull and swords, the skull replaced with the WSU logo to adorn the words “Pirates of the Palouse” and “Palouse Pirates.”
Current and future Cougar football players are also excited for the new coach.
“(Leach) energized the players, as well,” junior Jeff Tuel said. “We’re real excited for him to get here and just get to work.”
Increased season ticket sales means more fans at the games, something Tuel said he welcomes.
“Oh yeah, that’s exciting,” Tuel said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about just in one day season ticket holder sales have skyrocketed and that’s real exciting. More fans makes it a little louder, also more eyes, more fun.”
Sophomore business major Peter Roberts looks at it in terms of monetary value to the school, as well.
“I mean, he’s already starting to pay for himself and it’s only been like 48 hours. It’s just going to continue paying for itself when we actually fill the stands because of course going to games this year, we never had a sellout. We have a pretty good shot of selling out at least two or three games next season, and that’s just the first season of him coaching,” Roberts said.
Leach fans are also following him from his former job at Texas Tech.
The firing of Leach from Texas Tech was facilitated by a controversy involving ESPN analyst Craig James and his son Adam James, who was at the time a player under Leach.
“It’s going to be especially interesting to see how many people become fans of him when they actually hear (Leach’s) part of the story,” Roberts said. “Because ESPN didn’t really show (Leach’s) part of the story, they just really showed Craig James and his son’s part of the story.”
There will be a press conference Tuesday at noon to welcome in the new head coach.