Is Mike Leach A Glorified Bully?


After another embarrassing Apple Cup loss, Head Coach of the Washington State Football team Mike Leach seemingly had no answers. When a reporter asked Leach what went wrong in the game, he responded by telling him to go “live your meager life in your little hole.” He then called him a “sanctimonious troll.” 

This article is going to examine the way he treats his players and people in general, as well as if he deserves to be the face of a university.


It is undeniable the amount of success “The Mad Pirate” has had since taking over the helm of WSU’s football program. Before him, the team was consistently one of the worst teams in the conference, if not the entire country. Since his emergence in the Palouse, he’s posted a 55-46 record, including five straight bowl appearances, and revitalized a drowning program.

He has brought undeniable fervor back into the WSU fanbase. If it wasn’t for poor showings against rival Washington, WSU could have played in the Pac-12 championship two out of the last three years. The man is an offensive genius, and his success speaks for itself.

But football is just a game.

Before joining the Cougs he was the coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders where his teams were also successful.

However, his tenure with the Raiders ended because rumors circulated about his maltreatment of players.

There are no certainties about the exact circumstances in Lubbock, but one prominent story is that he locked his former player Adam James in a closet while he was suffered from a concussion. And while this story has been disproved, he made a college player feel so uncomfortable that he told his Dad about the situation.  

The story garnered national attention and gained further light because the player’s father, Craig James, worked for ESPN. Leach eventually got fired due to the bad publicity circulating around Lubbock.

Obviously, no one knows the exact story besides Leach and Adam James. But it is highly unlikely that Adam wanted this publicity, no one wants to be known as the guy who snitched on their own football team …

NO ONE! Something was clearly bubbling under the surface.

Now if we fast-forward to the modern day, it appears that Leach is mistreating young kids all over again. After Cougar losses he has consistently thrown his players under the bus.

Earlier this year, he called his team, “fat, dumb, happy, and entitled.” And while he may be right, this is certainly no way to treat kids who are in the midst of finding their own identities.

It’s also ironic that a multi-millionaire is calling college students spoiled. He is making a direct profit off these kids, while they risk their bodies for his livelihood.

However, what may be more troubling is that he puts his own players in harm’s way.

In a game in 2015 versus UCLA, former Coug quarterback Luke Falk took multiple vicious hits to the head. Leach responded by putting him back in the game in which WSU won, but he may have risked a young man’s life in the process.

Obviously, the medical staff granted him clearance but something felt fishy about the whole situation. No human head is designed to take the amount of damage Falk suffered that day, and the Coug faithful took notice. Jeff Nusser a writer at stated: “He is tough, but nobody is this tough.”

The young signal-caller was a driving force in the re-emergence of WSU’s football program, and a big contributor to Leach’s success.

As “The Mad Pirate’s” career continued at WSU, he was the Head Coach during one of the most tragic incidents in college sports history, the suicide of quarterback Tyler Hilinski.

And while it would be thoroughly unfair to blame any of this directly on Leach, he created the environment in which Hilinski spent a lot of time in college.

And while insults, concussions, and suicides may be enough to get some people fired, or even land them in jail, the “Pirate” just got offered a contract extension through the 2024 season.

If this is what the higher powers of WSU want representing their university than that is fine. But hold this same standard to every student and faculty in the institution.

Don’t terminate a professor for calling his students stupid, don’t tell kids to be respectful, and don’t protect sick and injured children. The message being sent is that if you win, rules don’t apply.

Just remember you reap what you sow.


About Author

Nick Bartlett

Hello there ya wild rabbits. My name is Nick Bartlett and I’m a sportswriter, broadcast manager, and youth basketball coach. I’m from the Greater Seattle Area and a graduate of the Edward R. Murrow school at Washington State University. I’ve had over 50 articles and 10 podcasts published in Seattle PI, and my work featured on OregonLive, SportsPac12, and South Florida Tribune. You can contact me at or on twitter @WordsByBartlett. Cheetos and Tuna.

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